How to avoid the #1 most common mistake when onboarding a new vendor

20 Jan 2017 | By Barry Yanowitz

So, you signed a new vendor. You can’t wait to start the onboarding process, get up to speed and start realizing what your new solution can help accomplish. You’re excited to start making progress on a long list of goals that finally feel within reach. This excitement is contagious – but it could stand in the way of your success.

Too many customers try to boil the ocean with every new vendor that comes on board. However, real progress happens when it’s approached in measured amounts – say, one cup of water at a time. Below are three ways to slow down, get your bearings and start every new vendor engagement on a personalized, successful journey.

1. Determine clear objectives – and stick to them.

With your vendor, outline the most important objectives that their solution will help accomplish – then, stick to them. 

For example, you might want to increase the average videos watched by your website visitors on a daily basis, or increase your number of paid subscribers for original content. Both of these objectives are valuable, but vague. By deciding that you’ll work together to increase video views by 200 percent and double the number of subscribers after three months, you’ll be able to measure progress toward your clear goals. 

To avoid a common mistake, be sure that your objectives are shared with key stakeholders on your team. A high-level strategist might be aware of an objective, but the developers implementing the technology may not. Involving your full team from the beginning will help bring shared goals to light and benefit the organization as a whole.

2. Don’t stop training when you understand the product’s basic functionality. 

Throughout the onboarding process, sustainable training practices are one of the most valuable lessons you can learn. Such practices should also extend beyond basic information about how to use your new solution or product. Spark discussions about best practices in short and long-term contexts, how to determine and view success metrics, support procedures, and how to evaluate progress over time. Give your input, as well – you never know when you’ll share new insights that will apply to other customers and use cases which will help improve the offering overall for you and others.  

3. Know there’s no end to the onboarding process. 

When your service goes live with your new vendor, it’s not the end of your engagement with one another; it’s the beginning of a new phase. As you get comfortable using the technology and digging into its capabilities, regular check-ins with your vendor are just as important as they were during the initial onboarding process. The cadence for these communications depends on your preferences and the scope of the service involved, but in any case, it should always be a variety of stakeholders that communicate with one another – from the day-to-day solution users to the C-level executives.

As your partnership evolves over time, constantly review the success metrics that matter to you. By letting your vendor know if they're meeting your objectives, you’ll teach them how they can optimize their product which will only benefit you in the long run. You’ll also be able to share any new objectives that come into play, and potentially uncover opportunities for your vendor to further support you. The technology industry is constantly changing, meaning new goals and challenges will always come into play. With frequent communications and clear goals, brands and customers can overcome roadblocks and stay ahead of their respective competition.