One of the most interesting findings in IT Glue’s 2019 Global MSP Benchmark Report is that the two biggest challenges MSPs face are hiring good techs and a lack of time. The two, of course, are related since if you could find good techs easily, you wouldn’t have to do so much yourself. But even when you find a good tech, almost 50% of MSPs report that it takes over 3 months to get that tech to 80% capacity. Normally you wouldn’t sweat that too much, but when unemployment for techs is basically zero, there’s a constant risk of turnover, and so you really do want to minimize the time it takes to get a tech up to speed. Retention is a whole other issue, but the faster you train techs, the more useful time you get out of them.
So how do you get the onboarding time for new techs down to under a month?
If it takes forever to get a tech up to speed, and your senior techs are spending time training them for months, your entire business will suffer. Self service is the key to not only efficient training but to freeing your senior techs from the burden of constantly hand-holding the newer ones. A full library of SOPs makes it easier for new techs to learn how to perform their tasks exactly the way you want them to, every single time. Master the art of writing process documents and you’ll be better able to build a high quality training library.
If a tech has to learn everything in an ad hoc manner from other techs, and those other techs are the sole source of truth for their clients, that is going to add months to new hire training. The more of your clients’ environments you have documented, the less your new tech needs to learn up front. They just need to learn the processes (see above) and then repeat those processes for every ticket or project, rather than learning about each environment from scratch until it finally sinks in. By focusing learning on a handful of repeatable processes rather than memorization of details, you’ll cut the learning time down dramatically.
Define the Onboarding Process
Onboarding techs in less than a month, especially when you’re presently taking much longer, is not easy. To make sure that the process stays on track, you’ll want to project manage it a bit. Have onboard templates and checklists to guide you and the tech through the process. If each person in the company knows their responsibilities and time frames, onboarding becomes a matter of getting into a rhythm, hitting milestones regularly. Formal structure is important to maintain a consistent onboarding experience that hits the one month target routinely.
For the new tech, the job could be overwhelming. They might feel that they are being tossed into the fire when they are told “here’s some SOPs. Get to it.” So, it’s important to set expectations on both sides. If the tech knows what is expected, and you make it clear that you are there to support and troubleshoot, then they are more likely to identify when something is taking too long or is getting too frustrating, and will ask for help. If you also have visibility, you can step in as well. The absence of clear expectations can mean the tech doesn’t get there as quickly as you’d like.
It’s not reasonable to cut down onboarding times instantly. However, great documentation makes it easier for new techs to learn, and the hack of teaching them how to learn means that they don’t need to absorb nearly as much knowledge up front. This alone will allow you to see gains right away, and as you refine your onboarding you can get it down to below a month.
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