Pre-implementation and why it might be relevant for your business

Preflighters discussed how customer onboarding and implementations become more impactful if you have already laid the runway for your teams.
February 2, 2023
No items found.

Your customer onboarding and implementation could be transformational for your organization if you have already laid the runway for your onboarding and implementation team to take off!

What does laying that runway look like, you ask? Pre-implementation or pre-implementation work, of course!

What is pre-implementation?

Pre-implementation, as the name suggests, comes before implementing a project or system. It lays the groundwork for onboarding and implementation teams to take over or start executing their responsibilities. This includes procuring requirements, devising a project plan, and recognizing the resources needed to execute the project successfully.

Is pre-implementation for you?

Well, it depends! Various factors can determine the need for pre-implementation in your organization: the complexity of your product or service, the average time to onboard and implement your product or service, etc. If you have different bundles for SMB, midmarket, and enterprise SaaS customers, the segment becomes a function of complexity.

In a recent Preflight conversation, onboarding, implementation, and CS practitioners weighed in on pre-implementation work and the questions an organization has to ask themselves when the need for pre-implementation arises:

  • Could pre-implementation be as simple as a readiness checklist or a form with essential information for customers to complete and submit before the onboarding? If so, Who should own this? Is it CS, or do you have some sort of implementation person/solution engineer?
  • Do customers prefer a call to discuss pre-implementation work?
  • At what stage in the sales process is this triggered?
  • Are customers open to doing such pre-implementation work before the deal closes?
  • Would it help to have the account executive endorse the value of completing pre-implementation exercises?

When it comes to pre-implementation work, it is essential that you delineate and define the roles and responsibilities for the post-sales organization. To ensure a successful onboarding, implementation, and transformational customer experience, it is important to have a comprehensive checklist of technical, in-product, and other key requirements that customers must complete during the pre-implementation phase. Taking the time to prepare for implementation adequately will result in customers getting to first value faster, saving time, and enabling personalized implementation that better meets their needs.

Tristan Santos  

We have a very specific pre-implementation checklist, but it's mostly technical and product-related, so there's no negotiation with the customer. They have to do it, or we cannot move on to the implementation phase. The expectation is set during kickoff, and we present the checklist toward the end of the deck. We identify who will be responsible for specific steps and associate them with target dates during the kickoff. Then we discussed the cadence ( it could be weekly, bi-weekly, or sometimes multiple times a week, depending on the account). In our organization, it makes sense for the CSM to own pre-implementation after the knowledge transfer from the AE: We have freemiums, and there are configurations that need to be set up that are managed by the AE and SEs on our side.

I speak entirely for our own org and how it's structured–anything pre-sales is the AE/SE, and post-sales falls under CSM responsibilities. That said, I know CSMs get involved in pre-sales discussions in some ways, so I think it depends on the org.

Elizabeth Whalen  

We have a freemium tier where some of this stuff can 10000% be completed before onboarding kicks off: Technical items  such as setting up a Salesforce integration, for example. Our enterprise clients have various internal stakeholders involved with authorizing the product to be connected to Salesforce, which can cause weeks of delays.

In theory, this can be worked on before the deal closure (even if it's just getting their IT team in the mix early, which could be a checklist item).

I think SE is the right way to go! I would want to keep everything a CSM could own off of their key responsibilities. So the AE works on getting everyone in the org on the same page and getting the right people involved, and the SE executes!

There needs to be some Customer Success inputs pre-closure. However, dedicated CSMs are often a perk of paying for the enterprise version of the product. I am reluctant to get too involved too early. If the AE communicates the value of the exercise in the later stages of a sale, it will work! And lack of interest in preparing for onboarding at that stage is an entirely different signal.

Ed Powers  

Often times, there's a big disconnect between Sales and Customer Success. Clarifying and measuring goals, sharing key success factors, and obtaining commitments from the account's decision-making unit via Customer Success Planning (CSP) are crucial to avoiding the usual disconnect and accelerating TTV. Pre-closure CSP would be essential for ensuring implementation folks engage and complete the pre-work you propose.

If you have ideas, suggestions, and questions for the larger customer onboarding, implementation, and CS community, we’d love to have you join Preflight Community and share it with our members!

If you found this helpful, you might want to take a look at these resources:

  1. Are you delaying your customer's success?
  2. Implementation Stories

Industry insights you won’t delete. Delivered to your inbox weekly.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Usha Kalva
Community & Partnerships @ Rocketlane

Usha is a Community Manager at Preflight. She's been an EIR, runs a successful restaurant, and is inclined toward the social sciences. In a parallel universe, she'd have been a wildlife photographer.

You might also like...
Here are some other posts from us you may enjoy reading
Mastering subscription billing: Best practices for professional service businesses
A must-have guide for professional service firms on implementing subscription billing to drive growth and enhance customer retention.
Mastering modern customer onboarding: Your essential guide to success benchmarks
Explore industry best practices and benchmarks for customer onboarding that use personalization and technology for maximum efficiency.
Subscription models demystified: Choosing the right approach for your professional service business
A detailed guide to subscription models for professional services with core components, pricing approaches, metrics to track, and more.

Move your service delivery into the fast lane

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.