CEO at Relevant

What Happens After Signing an MSA: Client Onboarding Process at Relevant

April 1, 2021
Updated: July 16, 2021

Need more developers but have second thoughts about outsourcing? 

Being uncertain is absolutely normal, especially if you’ve never worked with a software development agency before. 

As a software development services vendor, we understand the importance of transparency. And we believe it’s our responsibility to inform you about every step of the process and help you achieve your business goals. 

Here at Relevant, we are convinced that client onboarding is essential. Here’s why.

As a software development company that prioritizes quality over everything else, we want to make sure that our cooperation with clients goes as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Our developers aren’t just freelancers with zero accountability. They are acting as an extension of your team, a business partner if you will. That’s why the relationships for us are extremely important. 

As a client, you’ll probably have many questions. Onboarding is the best time to clarify everything, from the legal issues to the number of video calls per week. Having a well-defined yet flexible client onboarding process helps us ensure that our partnership is off to a great start.  

In this article, we will talk about the process at Relevant Software and tell you more about how we onboard clients in our company. 

Client Onboarding Process at Relevant Software on Product Development 

There’s no industry standard as to what a client onboarding process should look like, but for more than years of serving clients all over the world, we came up with our own approach.  Here’s how it looks. 

What happens after signing contract in software development. Client Onboarding Process at Relevant Software.
Client onboarding process at Relevant Software

Let’s talk about every step in detail.

Signing Statement of Work (SOW) 

So what happens after we sign a Master Service Agreement (MSA)? First of all, we take care of the legal matters by signing SOW. It’s an important addition to MSA, another formal agreement between a company and a client that specifies all the details about the product or service to be delivered. In other words, SOW is a contract that will define the procedural terms and conditions of our business relationship.

SOW covers the following aspects: 

  • Project overview and expectations (requirements, standards, etc.);
  • Project stages, their scope and criteria;
  • Deadlines and deliverables;
  • Estimates costs and payment details;
  • Key KPIs.

The goal of SOW is to prevent any disagreements and misunderstandings between the parties. Dealing with all these questions early in the process gives both sides peace of mind and sets the whole thing up for success. 

Requirements Workshops 

Requirement workshop is a collaborative event of key project stakeholders, the goal of which is to discover, validate, prioritize, and agree on the project requirements. We typically organize such workshops with our business analyst, project manager, and designer. 

A typical workshop takes around 2-3 hours and the goal is to draw mockups and write project documentation. The next step is project re-estimation, which provides a more accurate timeline and resource estimation based on the prepared documentation and design.

At this point, we’re almost ready to start coding, but there are a few more things we need to take care of.

Creating Artifacts 

An artifact in software development refers to any project-related thing created by people involved in the process. First, a dedicated project manager develops a list of all the required artifacts that must be produced by different team members and then puts everything on a shared Google Drive for everyone to view and share.

Here are some of the typical artifacts, which are essential for every project.  

Project Charter. It’s a statement of objectives in a project. This statement also sets out detailed project goals, roles and responsibilities, identifies the main stakeholders and the level of authority of a project manager. 

RACI Matrix. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. It’s a linear responsibility chart that maps out every task, milestone or decision, as well as the roles of each person involved. 

Raci matrix example
RACI Matrix Template 

Change Request register. This is a file where we are tracking requests from any stakeholder. It usually consists of request number, date added, request description, field to implement (FE/BE/BA/PM/DevOps), who requested, and the requested due date. 

Gantt chart. It’s a bar chart with project work breakdown structure (WBS), start and end date for each work.  

Gantt chart example

Project roadmap. It’s a high-level strategic overview of the key project elements. It should include objectives, resources, deliverables, milestones, and planned timeline.

Release plan. In contrast to project roadmap, this is a simple scheme of task-level project details presented on a timeline. A project plan is used for assigning responsibilities and track progress.

Risks register. It looks like two tables with a list of all possible risks, both negative and positive. Risk register also includes qualitative and quantitative analysis and various action plans to be executed in case things go wrong.  

User stories. It’s an informal description of one or more features of a software system. We can’t give an exact estimate until the full scope is described by our Business Analyst. 

Setting up Jira 

Here at Relevant, we use an Agile approach to software development, and to keep track of the process, we use Jira. It’s an issue tracking – slash – project management tool used for task management and reporting. We use it to visualize the progress and plan a working process for our team. 

Developing a Strategy and Planning 

Risk identification 

Before the beginning of the work, a Project Manager must conduct risk identification and evaluation session with all team members, preferably with a customer, too. As a result of this session, we should have two Risks matrixes in a project folder ‒ positive and negative

Project roadmap and release plan 

The better the plan, the easier the execution. Our next steps involve spelling out a detailed project roadmap in a Gantt chart with dependencies and creating a step-by-step release plan. It’s going to be super helpful for the entire duration of the project. 

Scheduling client meetings

Effective communication during the development process is key. We agree on all the details, such as the frequency of interactions (daily standups, weekly/monthly meetings), preferred communication channels (Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts), and the availability (if we’re in different time zones). 

Setting up DevOps and development 

This stage doesn’t require a client’s contribution but it’s an essential part of project planning and it’s critical for the success of the project. Our DevOps team creates CI/CD pipeline diagram, system description, and instructions for developers. We’re also setting up the environment and building the architecture of the project. 

How Long the Onboarding Process Usually Take? 

Depending on the amount of documentation we’ve managed to gather and the complexity of the project, it can take anything from one day to a couple of weeks. In the latter case, onboarding becomes “Sprint 0”, but that’s a highly unlikely scenario. Typically, onboarding doesn’t take more than a week. 

What if I Just Want to Hire a Few Software Developers? 

We still have an onboarding process, which includes the following steps:  

  • Signing SOW. The contract is necessary in any case. 
  • Artifacts creation, writing documentation and creating a roadmap (or requesting it). We have to know where the project is headed so that we can provide business analysis consultation if necessary. Moreover, we should see the load of employees and start looking for more resources when the client needs them. 
  • Jira setup, user stories, and tasks. Even if we only provide developers to be managed by the client, we also have to manage them internally to maximize their performance. 
  • Performance monitoring and code review. This stage is necessary since we want to ensure the highest quality of our services. 


This is pretty much it when it comes to our client onboarding process. We’ve been developing and documenting it since 2013 to provide our clients with the swiftest and smoothest onboarding experience. 

Ready to create your product with a Relevant team? Get in touch with our expert and get your free consultation. 

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CEO at Relevant
My company has helped hundreds of companies scale engineering teams and build software products from scratch. Let's connect.

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