How can I change IT Provider? OK, so if you’re reading this blogpost, it’s quite likely that your IT provider isn’t up to scratch and so you’re trying to find out how easy it is for your business to change IT Support Providers or IT Company (or however else you want to term it!). The honest answer to this question is that it depends on the IT providers that you are thinking of changing from and to. That might sound like the process is going to be really difficult, horrible or stressful – it SHOULDN’T be.
OK, so what’s involved in changing IT Support Providers?
The main thing involved in switching is communication. In an ideal world, your old provider will supply you with full documentation around all of your IT Network, that you can supply to your new provider. That would include all sorts of technical information but primarily revolves around usernames and passwords to your equipment and subscriptions that relate to IT. The normal process for this in the IT world is that your new provider puts together a request to your old provider, for all of the information that they see fit to ask for. Whilst it’s normal process, it’s actually back-to-front in our view, because the old provider knows what information they hold on file for you, the new one has no idea what you do or don’t have. In any case, it is the norm as things stand, although we’re definitely going to try to disrupt the norm over the coming weeks and months! Read on to find out more about that.
Other than usernames and passwords, IT Companies hold all manner of other information related to your IT. From licensing information to backup procedures, even disaster recovery policies and such like. There is a myriad of data that your IT Company holds about your business and in our opinion, they should be willing to handover all of that information to the new provider.
OK, but can it be done in a simpler way?
Of course, it can. In our view, there are only 2 real pieces of information that a new IT Provider MUST have before taking over the IT Support for a business. Those are 2 mission critical usernames and passwords. They are for your Microsoft 365 platform (presuming you are using Microsoft, but if not, then Google or another alternative where your emails reside) and your Server username and password (if you have a server). Everything else CAN be reset. Yes it’s a ball-ache having to reset everything in this fashion, but it CAN be done. This means that you can make your life much easier, if you are planning to leave your existing provider. Simply ask for your Microsoft 365 admin credentials and your Server/Domain Admin logon credentials as part of your normal disaster recovery planning and keep a record. Whilst you are in contract, they absolutely must provide you with that information if you ask for it – it belongs to your business! Even if you’re not planning to move away, you should get these pieces of information and ask the company to update you if ever those change.
Will it cost more to switch if we don’t have all the information?
That depends on your new IT Support provider. ‘Onboarding’ of customers is a time-consuming job for an IT provider if they do things correctly. Doing it without access to all of the necessary usernames, passwords, licensing and so on, means it will take up more of their time (but crucially not yours!). They might want to charge you more for that privilege but it’s probably acceptable to you to pay for their time if they are going to provide you with a better service in the long-run.
How SHOULD it be done?
In our view, all of your data should be stored in a software system, that you have access to at all times. It should be stored in such a way that you are able to download it whenever you like. You should be able to delegate to different staff within your organisation, access to the information that they might need, if you so wish (such as network diagrams and so on). This means that you are free to move your business wherever you want, whenever you want. It does come with some danger for IT Providers though – some businesses will fail to pay legitimate bills, and because they have access to all of their information, they can easily switch to another provider and not pay the new provider either! Hopefully, if you’re reading this, your not of that mindset!
What is ESP doing to align with this view?
ESP have built our own Software solution that we use to manage our business. It’s called CORE Software and you can find out more about it by following the link. We are in the process of building a platform that will allow us to store the data of all of our customers’ systems (usernames, passwords and licensing along with diagrams and other things – but not any personal data!) in such a way that it can be shared with our customers. As part of this, we will be giving all of our IT Support customers, their own version of CORE that will allow them to have visibility of their IT systems, along with doing things like requesting new users, requesting that users get deleted and other IT related processes. We’ll be providing this solution free of charge as part of our standard contracts. Of course, if you want to build on top of CORE to create other things within your business, we can talk about that too.
Well, we came up with the “journey” below to describe what our customers will experience when they sign up to use our services. From the moment the Engineer Visits your site, your business is supported, but we go on to develop with you a plan for the future of your IT.
What is an IT Roadmap?
What is an IT Roadmap? Well, the simple answer to that question is that it’s a plan. A plan of how you intend to manage your IT Systems over the coming years. In ESP’s case, we use a 4-year roadmap that’s reviewed every 6 months. The roadmap becomes an agreement, between you, the customer, and your IT Provider, as to how the IT Systems are going to develop within your business over the coming 4-year period. It sets out some standard items, such as contract renewal dates, as well as replacement cycles for equipment such as PCs and Laptops. It’s essentially a documented plan, based on best-practices for businesses, when it comes to their IT Systems. If you and your provider, both stick to the plan, you should have a long and prosperous relationship as neither side never needs to feel hard-done-to, because everyone has a plan that they’ve agreed to. We can show you what the roadmap looks like if you talk to us! But ours is 2-fold. One is a series of “Roadmap items” that are stored in our CORE Software system, that are exportable into Excel for ease of reference and management to allow us to work together to make sure that we both understand the detail. The second document is a PowerPoint presentation that sets out what each section of the 4 year period looks like (for example, it includes categories for Security & Maintenance and such like).
To summarise, switching providers should be quite simple, if you take the necessary precautions beforehand. After all, you own your data. Don’t be afraid to switch – get on with it, if your provider isn’t doing a good enough job. And that includes if you’re a customer of ESP – if we’re not up to scratch – tell us, but if we don’t fix it, then use the advice above and get on with moving to someone that can support you in a way that better fits with your business! Do look to implement a proper IT Roadmap with your IT Partner though – everyone needs a plan! Check out our IT Support Sheffield page here to find out more.
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