The 5 Steps to a Partner Onboarding Roadmap

A solid and successful partner onboarding roadmap requires following 5 easy steps which are illustrated above with a defined goal for each step. When devising your own partner onboarding roadmap begin with the goals in mind for each step and then determining the execution actions will be much easier.

Lets take our example above and further describe the actions and deliverables for each of the five steps. A Google Slide Template for Partner Onboarding can be accessed here.

Discovery Step

First you should have identified the right partner that will “fit” to your needs. You can learn about how to achieve this through my article on Partner Evaluation for “fit” . In the Discovery stage the main goal is to ensure that everyone in both companies are ready and able to plan for the onboarding of the partner. This would include smooth handoffs to cross-functional teams of both companies. A typical Discover steps should take both teams around 1 to 2 weeks to complete.

Discovery Deliverables:

  • High Level Scope of the Partnership is set
  • Partner Management /Business Development/Sales Team update other cross-functional teams on the partner and the high level scope of the partnership
  • The pre-planning for Onboarding takes place
  • Team and resource needs are identified and in place

Planning Step

The planning step is the beginning of all the hard work it will take to onboard your partners and it is also one of the most critical steps. Not planning correctly will surely result in a poor and unsuccessful onboarding. Do remember the goal of the planning step is simply to have everyone on the same page for all that is required to undertake the onboarding. As this step is so critical you should expect it to take a minimum of 2 to 3 weeks.

Planning Deliverables:

  • Internal Kick-off with your own team to ensure everyone is onboard (a little pun there)
  • External Kick-Offs with Partner so that everyone is on the same page
  • Business processes mapped for the partnership. Who will do which process in the partnerships will be determined
  • Onboarding process understood by all
  • Any partnership specific customizations are discussed
  • Planning occurs and timelines are set
  • Cross-functional teams prepare their areas for onboarding with their specific action plans
  • Communication plans are defined
  • All contractual elements are completed

Onboarding Implementation Step

The onboarding steps is where many of the actions planned previously now take place and the true onboarding starts to happen. The goal of this steps is to ensure that the onboarding is beneficial for both companies and that all are ready for the launch or activation of the partnership. This step can take up to 1 to 3 months to execute dependent on the scope and complexity of the partner.

Onboarding Implementation Deliverables:

  • Joint Teams meet regularly to overcoming any challenges
  • Onboarding teams support the Partners through planning, training, sales education etc.
  • Any technical elements such as setting up environments, development, sandbox, staging, testing, release, post-launch support needs are undertaken if they are required
  • Any customizations for this specific partnerships are addressed
  • Onboarding/Launch support plans ready
  • Cross-functional  teams execute action plans
  • GTM & Sales Enablement materials are ready
  • SLAs defined and agreed
  • Post Launch account management is agreed

Launch Step

Now for the real excitement where we actually launch the partnership or activate it as may be the case. This is where we really start to gain the benefit and value of the relationship. The goals of the Launch step is to ensure that everyone is ready for the upcoming ramp up in value, revenue, referrals or capabilities that the partnership will bring. The Launch step often only takes a few days as all the heavy lifting for the partnership was during the Onboarding step.

Launch Deliverables:

  • Launch or Activation occurs
  • Hand-offs to Support if needed are undertaken
  • Issues escalation and resolution plans ready and in place
  • Continuous improvements such as a (QBR) Quarterly Business Review are scheduled

Post- Launch Step

After all of the work in the pervious 4 steps, you may think that post launch will allow for some much needed downtime. However that is not the case as you will always need to evaluate the benefit of and continuously improve on the partnership. The Post Launch steps is set at 30 to 90 days depending on if you implement monthly or quarterly reviews with your partner.

Post Launch Deliverables:

  • 30 days post Launch review of the partnership success takes place
  • Identification of any critical changes needed post launch is undertaken. This could be changes in areas such as training, support or process changes.
  • Account Management is executed
  • 90 days post Launch the first QBR should take place if doing quarterly reviews.

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