Reducing Scope-Creep with Better Client Onboarding

By Harris Clarke
Jun 7, 2020
curve ahead sign by the road

The onboarding process is a time when your team is building a relationship with new clients, and as the “first impression” after the sales process is complete, it sets expectations for the future relationship between your company and your client.

Unfortunately, many companies treat onboarding as a time to just check a few boxes but fail to use it as an opportunity to create the right relationship, build rapport, and establish best practices. In the absence of setting expectations early, clients may start making demands beyond the scope of your contract (often referred to as “scope-creep”), and once you go down that path it can be difficult to say no without damaging your relationship. Here are some key steps you can take during onboarding to prevent it.


Outline the Entire Onboarding Process

The most important thing your onboarding team can do when they get a new client from the sales team is to create a detailed onboarding plan. Present this plan to your client in a kickoff meeting, and discuss any questions or concerns before the project begins to ensure you didn’t miss anything important that the client was expecting. If there are significant gaps between the client’s expectations and what is in the contract, you may need to involve your sales team to resolve those things in advance.


Set up Tasks and Realistic Timelines

Once you have a plan in place, the next step is to turn it into a detailed series of steps and milestones, each with realistic timelines. The easiest way to do this is with a client onboarding project management system. GUIDEcx allows you to quickly create new projects with templates that include some of the basic onboarding tasks that are always part of your process, but that can also be completely customized to fit the needs of individual clients.


Be Transparent

One of the biggest challenges during onboarding is transparent communication about the status of the project. Project management software is usually set up to allow unlimited internal communication and collaboration among your team members, but leaves clients in the dark when it comes to schedule, process, and tasks. That can cause frustration if clients feel like there’s nothing happening, and lead to demands that are outside the scope of the contract. GUIDEcx allows you to include clients in the project management process so they can see a project overview, progress indicators, and tasks along the way. It also removes extra work for someone on your team to constantly keep the client informed through manual reports, emails, or phone calls.


Outline the Rules for Expansion

If there are opportunities for your team to expand the scope of your onboarding process, discuss those in the kickoff meeting with any appropriate guidelines for how a client can request it. For example, discuss add-on features or services along with pricing from the start, so there is a clear understanding of what they can add and what it will cost.

To learn more about the benefits of GUIDEcx in reducing the potential for scope-creep in your onboarding process, schedule a demo today.

Harris Clarke


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