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Onsite Kickoff

  • 27 July 2023
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We are driving towards more onsite kickoffs for our larger clients and I’m curious about who currently does that and what it looks like.

 

For us our goal is to use the onsite kickoff for multiple factors to include configuring the integration, importing data, and providing a solid foundation for our implementation discovery. With these clients we will assign all resources immediately (rather than just in time) and work on several aspects of the project in parallel instead of consecutively. 

 

What are your thoughts here?

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Best answer by ccrossett 29 July 2023, 01:08

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I’d be interested to hear if anyone is doing onsite kickoffs as well!

I have done this in the past (pre-COVID) and it’s a total game changer because we were able to implement key accounts faster (instead of 30 days - we did it in a week) and we were able to really get to know the customers! We called it Skip Week. It was a week where the whole goal was to kickoff, implement, and train the whole team within 5 business days. The sales rep did a great job setting the expectations of that week and we were able to ensure the right people were available to get everything up and running! Then at the end of the week we had a company wide “party” to celebrate the launch of our product.

There were lots of advantages to Skip week. Faster TTV, increased adoption, increased brand loyalty, decreased churn just for starters.

I feel like COVID really pushed us to remote onboarding only so it’s good to see that you’re talking about this!!! Let’s bring it back!

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In-person kickoffs and trainings were my ticket to Platinum status on American in record time. My status just expired this year and…. I’m not that torn up about it, honestly. 😂

When we knew we’d be flying across the country for a 1.5 day kickoff/data workshop, we tripled-down during the sales cycle that the client team had to have the people, data, and examples requested BEFORE we walked in the door so we could fast-track the entire operation. Those who played by those rules, went off down the track at full speed. those who didn’t prepare properly…. it really was a sign of the level of commitment we could expect moving forward.

Just before COVID, we had it down to a science...

Day 1 - Lunch-time arrival at office(to allow same-day flights for our team)

  • 1-2 PM… Kickoff Meeting with all interested parties
    • (Any and All Stakeholders Invited) Introduction, Goals, Overview of Journey, Where we start, Q&A 
  • 2-4PM… Initial Working Session
    • Kick out everyone except the previously identified “core group” who would work with our PM thru completion of implementation

Day 2 - Morning Start

  • 9-11.30 AM… continued working session
  • 11.30-12.30… lunch break
  • 12.30-2.30… work continues
  • 2.30… Wrap Up, define next steps and ensure they are assigned

Ending around 3pm the second day gives client some time to get back to work and feel like they didn’t “lose” an entire day. The lunch start on Day 1 and mid-afternoon finish on Day 2 gave our team the flexibilty to make it a one-night trip, rather than 2 or 3 nights. Win-win!

 

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Thanks for the perspective @Casey Wilt. We are actually making the play for longer onsites due to the complexity and overall durations of our projects, which means a minimum of a 3 day onsite with the average being 3-5 days (we had a 2 week onsite recently).  I hate taking my team out of pocket for that duration but due to the length and complexity of our discovery process for both integrations and implementation, we don’t see value in anything less than 3 days. We are also starting to push for onsite UAT as we are seeing a disconnect where UAT drags on because the client doesn’t apply appropriate time, resources, and focus on it and as a result they identify issues post go-live that should have been caught earlier.

It can be challenging to staff appropriately to support onsites like this but we’ve seen significant momentum with this methodology applied.

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@rondeaul totally understood - we spend our first month purely on database line item creation, so after 1.5 days our customer’s team is brain fried from staring at Excel 😂 

Part of our process is what we call a “pilot project”, similar i’m sure to your UAT process - once the environment is all set up, test the hell out of it for 4 weeks (knowing they’ll spend maybe 2 hrs per week per person on it) and we get some absolutely mediocre feedback from groups who fail to see the importance of the testing phase and don’t dedicate the time. There’s something to be said about getting in a room for 3 days and forcing people to get it done! 

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I love this question and it is because of onsite implementations that I am so passionate about onboarding and collaboration. I started my career as a Consultant/CSM/Implementation Lead and I am a big proponent of the model. I did implementations for 5 years (2010-2015)  and over that time I saw the model adapt and mold based on needs of the business. I will share briefly and can elaborate and continue the conversation as needed. Our core product was a CRM, but there were additional add-on products that could be implemented as well. Here was our basic flow:

Prior to Onsite:
Sales closes a deal and then an onboarding manager or project manager was brought in who would then run point in getting preliminary system configuration all setup. This would include adding users, data imports, building out any custom reports, and working with integration partners. This was usually a 2-3 week process and this is the time when I was notified as the lead to start booking flights and hotels for me and my team members. 

Onsite:
Fly out on Monday, time could vary because team members were located across the US and were traveling in from different regions. 

Be at the client from 9 AM to 5/6 PM Tuesday through Thursday. 

Wrap up meeting at 3 PM on Friday and depart from the client at 4 PM. The wrap up meeting was crucial to our success because it gave us the opportunity to set future expectations, make sure stakeholders were informed about the progress throughout the week, and help create the feeling of partnership we desired. Throughout the week there were various training sessions, lots of testing of integrations, customization of alerts and notifications, one on one sessions with power users and going through a variety of implementation checklists. 
 

Post Onsite:

After the implementation the CSM that would be managing the account long term would reach out within the next week to setup two touch points:

  1. 30 Day Call - This was a video conference call to see how adoption had been going and start to understand what pain points had started to surface since the implementation week. 
  2. 45 Day Visit - This was an onsite visit from the CSM who would be at the client for the entire day to address concerns raised during the 30 day call, provide additional training, etc. 

Overtime we adjusted this process to introduce a 2 day install similar to what @Casey Wilt described. This was reserved for smaller clients that were at a lower price point or simply smaller in numbers and didn’t require as much onsite time. We also adopted new technologies at the time like Webex Hands On Labs where you could offer one on one training via a digital experience and be able to offer a robust course list that users could register for as needed. I will stop here because this comment is already too long, but happy to discuss further :) 

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