Moving anything, whether it be your home, bank account, gas supplier or IT provider can cause some disruption, but it doesn’t need to if it’s done correctly.
Businesses have many concerns when it comes to switching IT providers, but they can all be overcome and a smooth transition from one provider to another can be achieved.
Typical objections to switching IT providers:
A good IT provider will have a robust service transition process which will fully document all of your systems, and meet with your staff to see how they’re using your IT systems to do their jobs. This process would cover things such as:
Most business systems will run on core technologies which will be the same across many businesses. Technologies such as Microsoft Server, Office 365, VMWare, Exchange, Outlook, Windows, VPN, remote access are common place in most businesses. You will need to make sure that your new provider is certified and has experience in these systems.
Thankfully, companies like Microsoft provide certifications for both individual engineers and entire businesses. If a provider is a Microsoft Gold Competency Partner, a VMWare Partner and so on, it means the provider has invested in training its staff in these technologies. These are not certifications you will find in very small “one man band” IT providers, so look for a supplier with accreditations in the software you use.
A good IT provider will insist on documenting every system, and this includes getting all of the passwords for the systems you have and ensuring that the old company can no longer access your systems. Once this is done, ask them to provide you with a copy and put it in your fire safe or give it to a director to keep secure at home. You should have the passwords for all of your systems and you shouldn’t ever be in a position where your IT Provider can hold to you ransom.
Sometimes information about your systems is just not very well documented, and other times the old provider may decide that they don’t want to be co-operative as they’re losing a contract. Either way, a new provider should be able to reset passwords to many systems without them being involved if necessary.
Some IT providers have lengthy contracts which are fine if things are going well, but if you have problems with the service you should remind them that they have a level of service to provide and use the contract to ensure they provide it.
If you have agreed Service Levels where issues have to be responded to in a fixed time, then you should receive reports detailing their performance against this. Either way, make sure you know when your contract is due for renewal and take them to task several months before this date - quite often they’ll improve until renewal and then service levels will drop again. Don’t be afraid to get quotes from a new provider in the months leading up to the renewal date.
Many IT providers carry out a monthly visit to complete work which needs doing onsite. Rather than being visited when a problem occurs, staff have to “save up” their problems until the day when the engineer comes onsite. This is a very old fashioned approach which should be avoided. Instead, look for an IT provider who will come to see you when the problem occurs so you don’t have to wait up to 5 weeks for it to be resolved. Many will also charge for site visits, but the best ones will include onsite as standard in the package.
Some providers will tell you that you have to buy all new equipment or licencing as they can’t support the type of firewall, server or storage you have. This is nonsense - it just means that their staff aren’t experienced enough to have seen it before.
A good IT provider will be able to support a wide range of different technologies and the only reason you should switch IT provider is if it makes commercial or operational sense to your business. Many providers will try to sell new hardware with a support contract, this is also nonsense unless you’ve asked for it. The provider should work with you for a while, learn what you need and how you work before making recommendations. They simply shouldn’t be recommending you spend thousands on new equipment when they’ve first met you.
Many small IT providers will work in this way, where you deal with the same person all the time and they get to know you, this can work well if your business is very small, but it’s just not scalable. These individuals are unlikely to have the depth of skills to advise you best, and they represent a single point of failure. For example, when they’re on holiday your service will drop dramatically when their colleagues try to help you. Instead, look for an IT provider who uses a team of staff and a process to provide you with support and consultancy, you should be ringing a company, not a person.
A good IT provider will be very transparent about what they include in the support contract and what is extra. Typically you can expect to pay a fixed monthly amount for unlimited support, this should include maintaining your servers, supporting your staff on a day to day basis, monitoring your systems and day to day administration.
It will typically not include changes such as new hardware, software installation, project work or consultancy. For these extras there should be a clearly defined rate card. This will show you how much you can expect to pay for things like a day’s project work in office hours, weekends and evenings should you need it.
At the start of any new support contract it’s important that your staff know that the provider has been changed. Most importantly they need to know who to call, who to email and how to log into any support systems. You should get an email which you can circulate around your staff to print out. You should also expect a member of staff from the new provider to come on site and meet with your staff and introduce themselves and the company.
Switching IT providers can be a very smooth process if it’s carried out correctly and shouldn’t be something to worry about. When you hire an expert to do anything they should have done this many times before and have a very evolved process. When you meet with your new provider, ask them how they plan to cover off these different aspects and if they cover all of the points above you know that they do this all the time.
At Datek, we have a team of experienced staff to make sure switching IT providers is a smooth process from start to finish.
If you’re nearing the end of your contract, or are just not happy with the level of service you’re receiving, please contact us for more information on how we can help!