Onboarding vs. Implementation: What’s the Difference?

May 27, 2022
Two men shaking their hands

Congratulations! You’ve just signed a contract with a brand-new client. Now what? Although it may seem like your hard work is over, the next step in the process is just as critical to you and your customer’s success. Now, it’s time to invest in customer onboarding and implementation.

Customer onboarding and implementation are the processes of helping your new users become acquainted and comfortable with your product. These processes should include a consistent, automated plan for frequent communication between the company and its clients, simple walkthroughs or tutorials, recognition of important milestones in using the new product, and, of course, constant availability of customer support.

In each of these areas and more, implementation software can improve, optimize, and even eliminate the need for mediocre onboarding processes. Here are some of the benefits of implementation software for small and large companies alike:

Small companies

  • Increase project manager capacity
  • Solidify company brand and reputation
  • Integrate all project components


  • Increase task capacity
  • Maintain new client contracts
  • Record and report information easily

As you learn the difference between onboarding and implementation, you will begin to see the benefits of onboarding and implementation software for enterprises and small businesses alike.


Onboarding vs. Implementation

Though you may be more familiar with one term or the other, onboarding and implementation mean essentially the same thing: the process of familiarizing new customers with your product. While “onboarding” is a term more commonly used when working with smaller companies, “implementation” typically refers to the process of rolling out a new system for a large enterprise.

For smaller companies, the onboarding process may look somewhat different from the implementation process of enterprises. For instance, while enterprises will likely have had their employees in established roles for long periods of time, smaller companies may have many of their employees fulfilling multiple roles in the onboarding process. What’s more, smaller companies will likely experience fewer new onboarding projects each month and may have fewer resources to allocate to the onboarding process. In addition, smaller companies will likely also work with some smaller clients, resulting in the company working with more stakeholders from the client company due to fewer options for delegation.

In contrast, enterprises will generally experience a somewhat different implementation process. Since enterprises operate at a higher level than smaller businesses, they will likely experience a high volume of new implementation projects each month that require an increased amount of time and attention. Because enterprises are involved in so many different projects, they may also have less time to dedicate to their customers’ needs, both within and outside of the implementation process. Additionally, enterprises often face more regulations and restrictions than smaller companies and may have to produce and keep track of more documentation than small or mid-level companies.

Although each type of company has its own circumstances to consider in the onboarding and implementation process, one solution exists that can benefit them both: Implementation software can resolve a whole host of onboarding complications for companies small and large, making the onboarding and implementation process smoother than ever before.

How can smaller companies benefit from onboarding software?

A man typing on his laptop

For small businesses, onboarding software is a must-have when it comes to speeding up the onboarding process, establishing brand reputation, and organizing and collaborating on projects. Here are some ways that onboarding software can improve the customer onboarding process for smaller companies:

Increase project manager capacity. The goal of many small businesses is to grow, but growth is difficult without significant time dedicated to finding new leads. Onboarding software can help your project managers complete the onboarding process more quickly, allowing them to spend more time on lead generation. In fact, onboarding software can increase a project manager’s capacity by four times because of the amount of time it can save. As another growth option, scaling by hiring is often expensive and less efficient than optimization, making onboarding software the better choice.

Solidify company brand and reputation. Maintaining your company brand is an essential part of building your reputation as an industry leader. While most companies may understand the importance of external brand maintenance, branding internal processes and programs is just as important. With onboarding software, you can provide a clean, user-friendly onboarding experience that is white labeled to your company’s brand. By impressing your new clients with a smooth onboarding experience, you will grow your company’s reputation as an established leader in your industry.

Integrate all project components. For smaller companies looking to get organized, onboarding software is the perfect solution. Use it to plan and organize everything about your work, including file storage, internal communication, timekeeping, and more. With employees that may have a variety of responsibilities across departments, having a system that can allow them to access information about all aspects of the project in one place is crucial.

How can enterprises benefit from implementation software?

Buildings with a reflection of blue sky

Like small businesses, enterprises can also benefit from implementation software. Tools like automation, client visibility, and automatically generated reports are very helpful in allowing larger companies to become efficient and successful. Here are some ways that implementation software can improve the client implementation process for enterprises:

Increase task capacity. When routine tasks are taken off a project manager’s plate, they can spend their time on more important projects. Automation can help larger companies handle a higher task volume and invest more time building relationships with their clients. With implementation software, you’ll be able to automate simple tasks and save much more time than before.

Maintain new client contracts. Maintaining relationships with your customers is easy when you make it easy for them to rely on you. A client visibility feature is an important part of enterprise implementation software and can help your clients figure out what to do next in the implementation process when your team is unavailable. As you help your clients feel empowered and cared for during implementation, you will have a much better chance of retaining them.

Record and report information easily. Since enterprises have to document and analyze high volumes of information, implementation software is a great choice for optimizing these processes. Enterprise implementation software can automatically track important information in the implementation process and instantly generate reports based on the data they collect.

No matter the size of your business, onboarding and implementation are a key part of the customer journey. While small companies need onboarding solutions to speed up the onboarding process, establish brand reputation, and organize projects, software for enterprise implementations can also help larger companies become more efficient and successful. Whatever your company decides to use it for, implementation software is a powerful tool that can take your business to the next level.


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