Successfully setting up a customer on a new software system – known as “onboarding” – is an important process for any software provider. This is especially true when you must onboard a large group of customers with time constraints and deadlines that must be met. I speak from some experience, as Procurant is currently onboarding over 1,000 suppliers on the Procurant One purchasing system. That means 1,000 companies set up, trained and ready to go in three months!
In any software-related project, speed is critical. Today’s technical environments and requirements change so fast that a large project can become irrelevant if the implementation time stretches beyond even a few months. This need for speed has fueled the adoption of agile project management methodologies in recent years, with its greater focus on delivering working software, quickly.
Another important part of the process is communication. When customers know that they have someone to help them through every step of the process you build trust and confidence. Even in today’s digital world, email only goes so far, and building trust may be more easily achieved by simply picking up the phone.
While we should not overlook the capabilities that technology provides, an onboarding process needs to be simple. A centralized hub with all the needed resources and guides is essential for a self-guided onboarding process. The hub needs to be easy on the eyes with precise guidelines and easy to follow instructions. This way it becomes more of a community asset than simply a place to find out what to do next.
Here at Procurant, we centralize information for the companies we onboard in our Supplier Information Center. It is a private web page with information relevant to suppliers setting up their accounts, and it has helped make the onboarding process much easier for everyone.
For customers moving to a new platform, this can be a stressful time as they continue business as normal while figuring out a new system. As you onboard customers you need to be available, following up with frequent communications and ensuring success as people learn and use new platform. Requesting feedback and showing that their opinion matters as you continue to improve and revise your onboarding process goes a long way in building customer relations.
Finally, your product must meet your customers’ needs. If you get bogged down with requests for functionality changes it gets difficult focus on the onboarding activity itself. Every meeting is about when Feature A or Feature B will be available, and will it do exactly what is requested. This is a huge distraction, and I’ve been on projects where the additional features turned out not to be that important.
To summarize: be proactive, communicate with customers, receive their feedback and concerns openly and seriously, and ensure everyone feels that they have someone in their corner no matter how small or large their concerns may be. This will help you whether you’re onboarding 1,000 companies or just one, and it ensures a great experience for all involved.
Procurant is transforming the global food supply chain with technology to reduce waste, increase visibility, improve food safety and digitize business from production to consumption. The company was founded by industry veterans with decades of experience delivering solutions to growers, shippers, distributors, retailers and foodservice operators.