Onboarding Outsourced NOC Support: 9 Steps to Success

IT organizations often worry about the process of turning up outsourced NOC support with a new service partner. It’s understandable! Onboarding any new tool or service into your existing technology environment is often expected to be a headache—because it usually is

Transitioning to outsourced NOC support is no exception. Reaping the benefits that come with a highly capable, operationally-mature NOC without having to endure the typical onboarding headaches requires a well-defined process and a commitment to adhere to it. It also means committing to diligent communication at each stage, ensuring both sides are clear on what’s happening and when. Without such a process, the ensuing mess can cause frustratingly avoidable delays, wasted time, and stress we can all do without.

Here at INOC, we’ve invested a lot of time and energy into developing and refining an onboarding process that ensures a successful transition to outsourced NOC service without creating headaches and needlessly time-intensive work.

We typically get clients up and running on our NOCs in six to nine weeks. And once you’re up and running, you get access to a versatile client portal to see what we’re tracking in real-time. Actionable metrics help your team—and ours—benchmark performance and determine the root cause of ongoing issues to achieve the proactive resolution and prevention IT organizations strive for.

This guide reveals the nine steps we take to onboard new clients, offering you a firsthand glimpse into what you can expect and tips you can use to prepare accordingly.

Be sure to download our free white paper, Top 10 Challenges to Running a Successful NOC, to understand the impediments to an effective and efficient NOC operation and how to solve them.

Network Operations Center Onboarding Process

Stage 1: Onboarding Initiation

Brief summary: In the first stage of onboarding, we identify the onboarding team and compile all the documents and information we have on your support requirements and the scope.

Go deeper: Once we’ve squared away a Statement of Work that clearly defines what services you’re signing up for, we orchestrate the technical setup process on our end. Internally, we make sure everyone knows exactly what they need to do—and when they need to do it—throughout the onboarding process. You meet the Project Manager who will handle your onboarding and schedule your formal kickoff meeting to coordinate the resources required on your side with those needed on our side to make the transition run smoothly.

Estimated timeline to stage completion: 

  • 2 business days from start

Outputs to expect:

  • An introduction to your project manager
  • Your onboarding kickoff meeting is scheduled

Tips to make it go smoothly:

  • None! Stage 1 is in our court.

Stage 2: Service Planning

Brief summary: Our Service Transition team scrutinizes the information we complied in Stage 1 to ensure everything that needs to be addressed has been addressed before kicking off the project internally. Every impacted INOC team member is brought into the loop to ensure everyone knows exactly what they’ll be doing, how they’ll be doing it, and are confident the plan is perfectly tuned to make the transition smooth and successful. You get some tangible output at this stage: a scheduled meeting to present our project plan. 

Go deeper: Stage 2 is conducted entirely on our end and culminates in our internal kickoff meeting. To make that meeting hit all of its goals, we first internally research your organization and plan every component of your particular service in precise detail. We then educate our internal support teams on the services you’re receiving. In addition to planning your service, there’s some technical setup involved. Onboarding tickets are generated in our ticketing platform to manage your onboarding project, and your onboarding portal view is built to view those tickets throughout the process.

Estimated timeline to stage completion: 

  • 3 business days from start

Outputs to expect:

  • Kickoff agenda with welcome packet and workbook

Tips to make it go smoothly:

  • If possible, identify who on your team should be present for our kickoff meeting and be ready to schedule that meeting together
  • If you have questions about onboarding, compile them ahead of time and bring them to your kickoff meeting

Stage 3: Client Kick Off

Brief summary: During your kick off, we introduce our onboarding team and re-confirm our understanding of your support needs from every angle. We guide you through the draft project plan and the entire project schedule. We discuss what’s happening, when to expect important milestones, and where we need your involvement to keep things on track. We adjust the plan as needed then finalize the tasks and schedule and give you real-time visibility into the project plan through the client portal.

Go deeper: Client kickoffs bring your team formally into the process. During the kick off meeting, we explain the plan, set expectations, make sure you’re able to access the portal to see the work and field your questions. We then set up a regular rotation of scheduled calls—weekly touch-bases with your team to ensure the project stays on task.

Estimated timeline to stage completion:

  • 4 business days from start

Outputs to expect:

  • Kick off agenda with welcome packet and workbook
  • Onboarding ticket updates
  • Portal access
  • Scheduled weekly onboarding calls
  • Your portal view with onboarding project tickets

Tips to make it go smoothly:

  • Again, consider bringing questions or discussion points to the kick off meeting
  • Prepare to hold some time each week for scheduling onboarding calls

Stage 4: Platform Configuration

Brief summary: Once all the discovery work is complete and you’re fully confident in the plan, we get to work preparing our monitoring and knowledge management platforms as well as everything else we need to deliver outstanding NOC service.

Go deeper: Stage 4 involves the technical setup components of onboarding. We configure the platform through a series of sub-stages (there are 21 of them) depending on the services we’re turning up for you. For example, configuring the platform for a knowledge base and workflows is its own process—separate from, say, configuring a phone system, monitoring design, or hosting support for your tools. No matter which sub-stages are relevant to your service package, they’ll all be conducted at this stage.

Estimated timeline to stage completion:

  • 25 to 40 business days from start (timeline varies depending on your services)

Outputs to expect:

  • The outputs here vary based on your services, but whatever configurations are needed to deliver service will be completed by the end of this stage

Tips to make it go smoothly: 

  • This, too, varies depending on your service. In general, be prepared to have your complete inventory and critical team members available to collaborate on configuration no matter what form it takes. A smooth and successful configuration requires collecting data and a focus on project management to meet dependent deadlines. Delays here can cascade to affect the entire onboarding timeline.

Stage 5: Service Readiness

Brief summary: We review the checklist and outstanding tasks; we discuss a phased approach with you if necessary, get your approval, identify required phased approach tasks, and continue.

Estimated timeline to stage completion:

  • 26 to 41 business days from start

Outputs to expect:

  • There are no external outputs here

Tips to make it go smoothly: 

  • This one’s in our court!

Stage 6: Service Compliance

Brief summary: Once the tools and your configurations are in place, we conduct exhaustive testing. Multiple departments use an extensive checklist to ensure every system, tool, and piece of data is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.

Go deeper: This is our internal review in pursuit of Ready for Service (RFS) to make sure that the service that’s now been developed and configured is validated and the engineers in the NOC are fully prepared with their support procedures and runbook documentation. Checks are run on all documentation and trainings are scheduled.

Estimated timeline to stage completion:

  • 26 to 41 business days from start

Outputs to expect:

  • There are no external outputs here

Tips to make it go smoothly: 

  • This one’s in our court!

Stage 7: Service Training

Brief summary: With everything validated and ready to go, we ensure our staff is fully trained for service and you know exactly how to use the client portal to view KPIs, your tickets, and every other data point. Before moving any further, you sign off to confirm you’re fully prepared.

Go deeper: Once the systems and documentation are validated, training begins both internally (in the NOC) and client-side. Your Onboarding Project Manager provides all the training your team requires.

Estimated timeline to stage completion:

  • 28-42 business days from start

Outputs to expect:

  • Live training for your team

Tips to make it go smoothly: 

  • Be prepared to hold some time on your team’s schedule for trainings

Stage 8: Ready for Service (RFS)

Brief summary:We schedule an RFS call with you, send a NOC Connection Notice, Service Summary, Contact Escalation Sheet, and Client Acceptance Package. We plan weekly calls for the first 30 days of service.

Estimated timeline to stage completion:

  • 30-45 business days from start

Outputs to expect:

  • A meeting to confirm you are satisfied with all components of your service setup
  • A connection notice and client acceptance package
  • Weekly post-go-live check-in calls are scheduled
  • Your services are live!

Tips to make it go smoothly: 

  • Be prepared to hold some time on your team’s schedule weekly calls throughout the next 30 days

Stage 9: Post RFS

Brief summary: During this 30-day burn-in period, our monitoring team actively checks alarm flows, the ticketing system, and workflows, checks with the NOC teams, and looks for anything else that needs fine-tuning. We identify issues, create and complete RFCs (Request for Changes), and extend the post RFS period if required. We then conduct a post-go-live transition call with you and walk you through our Change Management process for subsequent ongoing changes.

Go deeper: Throughout the 30 days following go-live, issues discovered, or RFCs reported, are addressed. If anything requires extra time, this period is extended as long as it needs to be. Once everything is working exactly as it should, we conduct a post-go-live transition call to receive feedback and explain how the transition from Onboarding to Change Management for ongoing operational support will work. Service is officially turned up and running as it should. As part of transitioning you from Onboarding to Change Management, you receive a comprehensive documentation package containing information about exactly what you wanted INOC to do and proof that the service is being delivered accordingly. With onboarding complete, service operation concepts like Change Management and Continual Service Improvement become the focus.

Estimated timeline to stage completion:

  • 30 business days post-RFS

Outputs to expect:

  • Onboarding exit call
  • Transition to Change Management Team

Tips to make it go smoothly: 

  • None—be prepared to hear from us!

Final Thoughts and Next Steps

Onboarding outsourced NOC support doesn’t have to be another painful IT service transition project. Turn-up is a big undertaking that depends on asking the right questions and gathering a full set of requirements from the start. We recognize the frictions that typically get in the way and designed the onboarding process to navigate those pitfalls—enabling both sides to transition successfully without stealing valuable time away from your other critical projects. 

Beyond the specific steps of onboarding, we try to stress the importance of understanding this process as one where clients are active participants rather than passive recipients. Turning up service can involve quite a few dependencies throughout the process. Ensuring we're armed with the data we need from you when we need it goes a long way in preventing gaps, delays, and headaches. 

Our process is continually being refined to clearly set specific expectations for data gathering and allow you to conveniently deliver the data needed without unnecessary burden. Whether you’re turning up outsourced support on our NOC, optimizing your current NOC operations, or building a new NOC, our onboarding process makes issues, opportunities, and requirements clear and actionable.

Interested in learning more about our NOC services? Contact us to see how we can help you improve your IT service strategy and NOC support or download our free white paper below.

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