In the United States, over a third of small businesses outsource their IT. Doing so can come with many benefits, but few of these will be realized if your IT provider fails in their basic duties and struggles to help you deploy technology strategically. The effects of poor IT support can manifest in various ways, from frequent outages that hinder workplace productivity to slow, buggy software that damages employee morale. If you’ve ever suffered at the hands of second-rate IT support provider, you’ll know how frustrating it can be, but we know that switching provider is not always an easy prospect to stomach.
You might be concerned that something will go amiss in the switching process, leaving you without the vital systems you need to serve your clients. You worry that the handover may leave your data vulnerable or that leaving your current provider may lead to feelings of resentment and animosity.
However, the reality is that IT companies have time-tested processes for onboarding new clients, with structures in place to ensure no detail is missed and no stone left unturned. While your new provider will do the overwhelming majority of the legwork needed for a smooth transition, there are a few simple tasks you can perform to ease the process along. If you’re a San Francisco business looking to change IT provider, here are 6 steps to ensure your switch goes without a hitch.
Search for a provider that’s the right fit for your business, and make contact
The most critical phase in the process is finding a provider that’s well suited to your business.
Consider whether they have the capacity to support your IT needs, both now and as your business grows. If you have 100 or so end users needing support across multiple sites, enquire about businesses of a similar nature candidate providers have worked with.
Similarly, you’ll want to find a provider who has insights into the pressures and challenges that exist in your industry. Probe prospective providers on the sectors they most commonly work with, ensure they are aware of/knowledgeable about any sector-specific regulatory challenges you face and peruse their client testimonials to further determine suitability.
When considering a provider’s service offering, look for indications that proactive support is offered by default. You should also consider a provider’s geographical location: If your business is based in San Francisco, you want a provider located in the bay area, or at very least Northern California.
Once you’ve assembled a shortlist of suitable candidates, register your interest with them. Most providers have a structured process for delivering their pitch. The discussion might begin with a video call accompanied by a visit to your premises so that they can gain insight into your business and its technology in its current state. Once you’ve selected the provider who’s most attuned to your business’s needs, provide them with your contract renewal date. This will help ensure a seamless handover process and provide a timescale for making the necessary preparations.
Catalogue your reasons for switching, and express these to your prospective provider
At the outset of the relationship with your new provider, be sure to express the motivating factors in your decision to switch. If slow response times were leaving you feeling abandoned, let your new provider know this, and seek assurances that they offer swifter and more dynamic post-incident support. If you felt your previous provider lacked the technical proficiency to properly manage your infrastructure, enquire about the accreditations and expertise held by your new provider.
Seek reassurance that your new provider won’t commit the same blunders and perform with the same lethargy as your old one, and ensure that they’re likely to perform in line with your expectations before committing.
Do some administrative “housekeeping” in advance of the switch
While your new provider will largely steer the handover process, there are a few administrative tasks you can perform to aid the transition.
Make a comprehensive list of the hardware devices you want your new provider to manage and support. Consider whether any of the devices your team use for work purposes fall outside the scope of your current IT support, and incorporate these into your new support contract to ensure they’re properly secured and professionally maintained.
Now it’s time for the slightly laborious task of cataloguing the account login credentials your new provider will need in order to effectively manage your IT. Include (where relevant) admin login credentials for:
Routers and Firewalls
Software (both on-premise & cloud-hosted)
Web Hosting services
Website domain registrar
If any of this information is held solely by your current provider, make a request for it, and remember that they have no legal right to withhold it.
Lastly, gather any documentation that might be help your new provider understand the layout, intricacies and dependencies of your IT system. A network diagram will be a massive help in this regard, and you should offer this to your new provider if you have one, along with a list of users and devices in receipt of elevated user privileges and admin capabilities. It can also be advantageous to gather together software license keys and hardware warranty documents. While your new provider is unlikely to need these items immediately, it’s always good to know where they reside for quick reference.
Request a technical audit from your new provider
A comprehensive technical audit is frequently offered by IT providers at the start of any partnership, sometimes as a sales tactic, but more often as a feature of their onboarding process. Your provider should be able to perform an audit encompassing all your on-premise and cloud-hosted hardware, and scan software for misconfigurations and security vulnerabilities. This process will help your new provider identify latent weaknesses in your network, spot opportunities for optimization and draw attention to hardware components nearing the end of their life.
Begin the “offboarding” process
Now that the wheels of change are in motion, it’s time to serve notice to your existing provider. Unless your current provider has breached the terms of your contract, it’s important to give notice in line with your contractual obligations to avoid the possibility of a legal challenge. While ending any business relationship is never an appealing prospect, your provider will most likely accept your decision to switch, and will be obliging and professional during the handover process. Yes, animosity can occur, but such situations are the exception rather than the rule.
Be aware that you may have to grant access to your office should your provider have to recover any hardware that they own, and they should be similarly obliging in allowing you to retrieve any devices from their facilities. As we’ve discussed, ensure your new provider obtains the login credentials they’ll need to govern your IT. Your new provider will immediately reset passwords to ensure your old provider can no longer gain access.
Notify your team
It’s important to notify your team well in advance of any changes to your IT support provision. Emphasize the date from which your new provider will start managing your IT, and familiarize your team with the new process for requesting support ahead of the handover.
If an opportunity presents, a representative from your new provider may want to introduce themself to your team in person. This helps put a face to the “team behind the tech,” and can be beneficial in building that foundation of trust that’s so essential to any good business relationship.
We help San Francisco businesses leverage technology for maximum reward
Operating from the heart of the San Francisco Bay area, our multi-talented, 20-strong team has the skills and experience required for the most ambitious projects. Our strategy-driven IT support is guided by our extensive experience helping organisations in some of the most technically challenging and compliance-laden sectors, with a desire to allay operational challenges, address regulatory hurdles and overcome commercial constraints central to everything solution we implement. Get in touch today, and find out how proactive, strategic IT support from Centarus could transform your business.