Switching IT providers is a decision that you may have delayed for a long time. The complexity around the IT infrastructure must have made you believe the task is daunting and can adversely disrupt the workflow of your business.
But if your current IT provider is not meeting your requirements or is giving you headaches instead of alleviating them, sooner or later you should switch!
While switching IT support firms is a challenging task, planning the details in advance can make the transition smooth and easy. This includes communicating with different stakeholders – old and new IT providers, employees and senior management; planning the step-by-step process of migration and getting all your access passwords and documentation together.
Following the proper methods can make the switch effective and disruption free.
Gather all the Information
Switching IT providers is not new in the business environment and your existing vendor understands this. At the same time, you don’t have to be insensitive in dealing with them. Adopt a professional approach and communicate to them that you want to make the switch.
Before doing that, evaluate the contract with your existing IT service provider. There might be early termination penalties or a specific communication procedure mentioned in the contract. For obvious reasons, you don’t want to get into a bad spot with your outgoing IT provider as the new Managed Service Provider (MSP) will have to actively coordinate with them. It becomes imperative to do things professionally to avoid any backlash from the outgoing IT provider.
Ideally, the onboarding process should begin before the termination of the contract with your existing IT provider. This will ensure they can be contacted if something comes up.
You should also discuss the onboarding process in detail with your new MSP. Ask them about all information they need – permissions, passwords or documentation. Try to get full information on what needs to be done from your end. Give them enough time to analyze your system and come up with a plan. Most of the work should be performed by your new provider
Keep Full Control
Once you have gathered all the information, the next step is to get all your passwords and documentation from your outgoing IT provider. Your new IT provider will need this information to complete the transition. Make sure you get all the accounts, usernames, passwords and any other documentation of your business.
Some IT providers may show reluctance to pass on the information. However, as a business owner, you own the assets of your company and the same should be shared with you. The last thing that you will want is the IT provider locking you out of the system. While chances of this happening are negligible, it will be smart to get the passwords well before informing them that you are interested in making a switch. This will prevent them from using your passwords as a bargaining chip to continue the contract.
It can be helpful to make an inventory of the assets owned by your company and the outgoing IT provider. You should also know where your data is stored and who owns it. This can avert any last minute misunderstandings from arising.
Backup Your Files
The most important assets of your business are the gigabytes and terabytes of data stored on your network. Losing this data could cost you thousands of dollars. Though the transition process should be smooth, you should always be prepared for uncertain eventualities. Making multiple backups of your files can avert any loss of data that may occur during the transition process.
To make things more organized, request a report of the last 90 days of work from your outgoing IT provider. This will keep you in the loop of the processes that were carried out before making the switch. Your new IT provider can also stand to benefit from this report. They can look at the report and understand what processes they are supposed to carry out for your business.
Keep Your Employees Updated
Sometimes the transition process may result in a short downtime. Inform your employees, if and when this is going to happen. This will allow them to prepare and plan their work accordingly.
Switching IT providers also means there is a change in how your employees can access support. While most times the change will only be about whom the employees have to contact, sometimes there could be a major overhaul in the support systems. If this is the case, ask your new IT provider to train your employees on how to use the new systems.
The last thing that you want is employees scratching their heads off trying to figure out how to raise support with your new IT provider. Your employees should spend their time closing deals and growing client businesses rather than figuring out ways to fix their systems.
Including training in the terms of the contract can be a great idea.
Initiate the Handoff
To ensure the migration from the old to the new IT provider is seamless, establish clear communication channels between both parties. This is important because your old and new IT providers will have to coordinate on many processes. If possible have a joint meeting with both of them and clear out the specifics of the transfer process in the meetings.
Ask them how much time they need to complete the transfer and get a schedule from your new IT provider. There should be a fixed timeline that should be followed to make sure the transfer is efficient and there is minimum downtime. The new IT provider should also test all your resources like printers, networks and computers. Your systems should run smoothly without disturbance after the migration is complete. Your new IT provider should demonstrate confidence about making the switch efficient and organized.
Once the handoff has happened, stay in touch with your new IT provider. You should evaluate your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to understand if you are getting the desired results from making the switch. If there are any problems, communicate the same to your new IT provider. They should be able to resolve your problems and deliver the results you want.
Now you know that having an organized approach can make the process of switching IT providers less challenging at your company. Trying to understand your existing IT resources and reaching out to a trusted IT provider can help you come up with a concrete actionable plan to make the switch. Your business deserves the best resources and having a qualified IT provider is what can make this possible!