Do you wish you could just walk away from your current IT provider? The signs that it’s time for a change aren’t difficult to spot. On a technical level, issues such as frequent outages, staff complaining of emails not getting through, data access problems and project interruption should tell you that something’s wrong. You may also be reaching the limits of your patience when it comes to the type of service you’re getting; especially if problems seem to take ages to get fixed and/or your provider doesn’t seem to ‘get’ what your business is all about.
But even if you’re unhappy, the thought of changing IT provider may seem more trouble than it’s worth. So what’s the best way to switch with the minimum disruption? Consider these simple steps and remember that a bad relationship with an IT provider isn’t a life sentence.
Draw up a list of concerns
Switching provider makes little business sense if the replacement company is going to be no better than your existing one. To avoid this, your first step should be to define what you feel is lacking from the current service – and this may include the type of issues listed above.
When the time comes to place potential new providers under scrutiny, your aim is to ensure that the way they operate means those problems are not going to crop up again. For instance, if you’ve found it an ordeal to get hold of someone when things go wrong, does the proposed new firm provide a dedicated point of contact? If you’re hit with a half-day minimum call-out fee for even very minor on-site problems, should you be looking at someone who’s more local?
Work out your future needs
You need IT services that are actually going to add value to your business. As you hone in on a replacement, you’ll need to be clear on where your business is heading. For instance, if a move to bigger (or smaller) premises is on the cards, look out for providers with a solid track record in dealing with office relocations. As another example, if you intend to roll out the option of flexible working (including working from home) to your staff, you’ll need a provider that has what it takes to deliver remote access alongside robust security.
Request a consultation
By this stage, you’re clear on why you want to move and you have an idea of what you expect from a replacement provider. It’s neither practical nor desirable to switch without having a replacement provider lined up, so you’ll need to narrow down your search before you make your next move. For this, you should check that the services offered by the company tally with your business needs.
But just as important, you need reassurance that your IT and business will be in safe hands. Look for key trust indicators here. If, for instance, you require support for Cloud-based Microsoft applications, is the company a certified Microsoft partner? Does the provider’s website feature profiles of key team members? What level of experience do those individuals have?
Next, ask for a consultation. The proposed new provider should be able to consider what you have in place already and provide proposals for a new package.
Making the switch
The handover process should be planned and overseen by your new provider. As the current contract is terminated and the new one takes effect, the aim is to ensure a smooth transition with no unnecessary interruption of service. For some cases, it may involve a switch from one proprietary platform to another. In other cases, little or no back-end changes will be called for. In either case, the new provider will have flagged up precisely what’s involved and will have measures in place to address any snags that might occur.
All of this assumes that in legal terms, you’re able to walk away from your existing arrangement without penalty and is the reason why a rolling month-by-month contract is far preferable to being locked into a long-term contract.
Do you want to move or but feel you’re too closely tied in with your existing firm? Are you worried about safe transferral of data? Contact our consultants today for a no-obligation chat about your options.