30 May 2022
How to Change IT Providers Smoothly
As digitisation has increased, your choice of IT provider has never been more important. As with any other relationship, the needs of each business will vary, and what worked as a start-up may be a poor fit after a few years of growth. Whatever the reason, changing providers can be daunting, so we’ve put together some tips for making the process smooth and painless, so that you can proceed with confidence.
Selecting a New Provider
Change is hard for many of us, so it is natural to feel the urge to cling to the familiar. Taking a look at what is available will give you the chance to assess whether the change is needed. Consider potential suitors in terms of business maturity and core values, to see how well they align with your own organisation. A more mature business will have a good structure, with established policies and procedures.
Whether your business has outgrown your IT provider, or there are other issues that make you decide it is time to move on, it is best not to let it get to breaking point. An amicable, smooth handover is always the best option for all parties, including your outgoing provider. If you have been struggling with limited or slow service, they may be have been finding it hard to meet your growing needs.
Create a List
Bullet point everything handled by your current provider. This is usually readily obtained from your invoices, and may include IT support, Microsoft and anti-virus software licensing, internet, phone system, and web hosting. Then create a wish-list of services, and decide whether everything should be provided by a single partner, or whether you may fare better with, say, a specialist web hosting company for that element.
Check who has all the passwords. When you move your web hosting, you don’t want to find that nobody at your new host can login. It is reasonable to ask your current provider for all passwords, and they are typically wiling to hand this over. Other documentation that will be useful includes maintenance agreements, licence agreements, and network diagrams. The better your incoming partner can see what is in place, the more effectively they can guide you. Still, if documentation is limited, a good IT partner will have a few tools and methods to help straighten it all out.
Ideally, the outgoing provider and your new IT partner will all communicate well, so that no gaps are left, and staff always know who to call for support. A clear plan helps support better communication, especially since there is likely to be a changeover period – many aspects of a change are affected by existing contracts, and establishing new internet connections in particular can take two to three months. The experience of your new partner makes a huge difference when it comes to managing the project.
It is important to consider phone systems and hosted servers. If you are dependent on a proprietary offering created by your current provider, it may be expensive or very difficult to change. Sometimes it makes sense for your new provider to manage that aspect of your environment where it currently sits.
It is vital that your new provider is aligned with your business’s future IT strategy, so that they can go beyond merely taking over support and become an asset to depend on. If your IT strategy has gaps, or needs some adjustment, it may not support your progress. For example, if IT security is a priority (and it should be), your incoming provider may prioritise that consideration when deciding on anti-virus renewal, and raise your protection level. They might also see where additional skills can help, and recommend training, or advocate at board meetings.
When the first day of support comes around, experience pays off. The helpdesk should know all passwords, so they can access systems fast and resolve issues without delay. They will want to impress you with a good experience. This is where the preparation and documentation pay off.
Every step is made smoother by knowing exactly what you are working with. TechPath’s TechAlign service provides an independent technology review and builds an IT strategy. It is a fraction of the cost of hiring an IT consultant to work on strategy, or paying an engineer on call-out. The streamlined onboarding process reduces risk and makes for a low stress way to make the leap.