Let’s face it: You probably rely on your IT services provider a lot. And if there’s a substantial amount of knowledge locked up with your provider, it feels easier to stay the course — even if you know you’re outgrowing their ability to deliver the support and services you need.
With a little pre-planning, you can switch providers with confidence that you won’t lose access to critical systems and suffer the lack of business continuity that comes with it. There’s no reason to let fear of the unknown keep you from making a transition that you know will be better in the long run for the growth and prosperity of your business.
A reluctance to make a change is understandable, but also unfortunate because there are many legitimate reasons for making a switch. You might feel that you’ve outgrown your current provider, or are frustrated because the level of responsiveness or quality of IT support isn’t what it could be. But in our experience, the #1 reason for switching IT providers is that the provider failed to provide proactive consulting and business planning. A true IT services partner shouldn’t just be content to keep your systems running—they should endeavor to use IT to grow your business, and make it more efficient and profitable.
Preparing to switch IT providers involves taking a thorough inventory of your IT environment to make sure that the switch won’t leave you without access to systems that are critical for business operations. Especially if you’ve been with the current provider for a while, key pieces of information or infrastructure might be in their hands rather than yours, and that’s a problem. Here are five areas to check:
- Administrative control. Look at network equipment, servers, and applications — whether on-premises or in the cloud — and make sure you have the current logins and passwords. Verify you have the right credentials by logging in, and ensure that those accounts give you full administrative control.
- Ownership of equipment. Are your data and applications on servers that are leased or owned by the outgoing provider? Similarly, who owns the firewalls, switches and other networking equipment? If you don’t have ownership of the infrastructure and licenses, you’ll need to anticipate the costs of a buyout or transfer, or of purchasing new equipment.
- Internet service provider, telephony and other connectivity. Are the service contracts with you, or the outgoing IT provider? Don’t overlook the registration of your domain name and control of the DNS records.
- Software licenses. Who holds the software licenses for Office 365 and any line of business applications your team uses?
- Continuity planning. Before you pull the switch, consider plans for how you’ll keep your business running through the change. The incoming provider can help, but changing IT providers is more complex than simply turning over the keys to someone new. You’ll need a well-thought-out project plan—especially if the change involves moving to new applications or other infrastructure changes.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life in our industry that service providers sometimes put themselves in a position where they own infrastructure or licenses, or keep administrative credentials to themselves. The more dependent you are on them, the easier it is for them to hold onto your business even after you’ve outgrown their service. But if you’re thinking about changing providers now, or can see a need to change at some point in the not-so-distant future, it’s time to start making sure you have the keys to your own kingdom.
At FIT Solutions, we share the administrative logins and full network documentation with our customers, using a third-party service to ensure full transparency. We also have a thorough and documented onboarding process to ensure the change goes smoothly. If you’ve outgrown your current IT provider, we’d love to start a conversation. Call us at 888-339-5694.