Let’s just be honest, switching vendors for almost any reason can be a distraction and a time snatcher. But sometimes it’s the right move for your company long term.
Changing IT vendors doesn’t have to be that hard if it’s planned out in advance.
Perhaps your contract is up, or you’re not getting what you need from your current arrangement. Either way, moving to a new IT provider should be about adding value to your company. But value can be lost in transition if your processes, needs, and expectations are not planned and communicated beforehand.
The transition might be the hardest part of your new IT services contract, but it doesn’t have to be.
Avoid Problems When Changing IT Companies Through Clear Communication
When transitioning, it’s vital that everyone is on board. Not only C-levels, but vendors, employees, and both new and old outsourced IT companies. Communication, as always, is king.
Have a Clear Exit Strategy That Flows Into Onboarding
Whether you’re switching at the end of your IT service contract or terminating it early, your exit strategy is monumental.
The new and old service providers will have to work together for a smooth transition. The incoming IT company handles gathering all the information they need from the existing provider. They should have a comprehensive onboarding process in place that outlines in detail what they’ll need, and when they’re going to get it.
We recommend that onboarding begins before the contract ends with the current vendor. That way, they will be available to help with anything that comes up.
Without an exit strategy and a clear onboarding process, you are leaving much to chance. If things are missed, it could prolong the process, or even shut down critical functions, like email, for days.
As much as we hope all parties will be friendly, hostility is always a possibility. Avoid any negative backlash by sticking to the exit strategy. Be clear with expectations, and keep everyone in the loop.
Make Sure Employees Know What to Do and Who to Contact
Downtime during transition can be prevented if your employees have a plan. Employees should be made aware of the IT company change as soon as possible. Most times, this can be done in advance. Occasionally, however, a situation becomes sensitive and an immediate cutover must be made. Either way, give employees instructions for who, or which company, they should contact if they need help and directions on how to contact them.
There should always be someone for them to contact for help, though support for the first few weeks may be rocky as the new IT provider learns your systems.
Systems are rarely inaccessible during IT company transitions, but it can happen. If a system will be unavailable, communicate that to your staff so they can plan their work accordingly.
Vendor Communication and Authorization
Vendors tend to get left out during some major company movements. And while it’s not malicious, out-of-sight really is out-of-mind in this case.
But vendors, much like your employees, also need to be kept in the loop.
As part of onboarding, your new IT company will likely ask you for contact information for current IT-related vendors. Vendors like your Internet Service Provider (ISP), copier maintenance company, and application vendors.
The IT company will do as much of the legwork as possible, but there may be some that you have to take the lead on. For example, you’ll need to authorize the new IT company to act on your behalf for support purposes and remove the old IT contact(s). This will greatly reduce headaches down the line.
EXAMPLE: If your IT company isn’t authorized to open a support case with your ISP, then that falls back into your lap. This creates a communication gap between the ISP and your IT provider. If the IT provider is authorized, they can make the call themselves and handle it without having to disrupt your day.
The incoming IT company should guide you through this process. Communication with checkpoints that flow with the transition plan will keep everyone on the same page.
Transferring Knowledge and Getting Your IT Provider the Information They Need
Getting a new provider up to speed can feel like a long road, but having a plan will make it easier. The IT company should lead the way and ask for any information they need, but they’ll need your help. Here are some steps to get started.
What to Share
Consider this a start to your roadmap to success. Any IT-related checklists, templates, best practices, or standard configurations used by your company will help your new provider become familiar with your business. Even if your new provider has their own system, there is no such thing as too much information.
Build a communication plan that you can coach. Think of your employees, vendors, the current provider as teammates, and your soon to be new provider as the quarterback. While you are the one who facilitates the game plan, there are many other moving parts working together. Communication between all moving parts is the only way this will work, don’t be afraid to step back and listen while they figure it out.
Who’s in Charge?
Well defined roles will help everyone involved. To avoid finger pointing, make clear who handles what, who they answer to, and the chain of command. Create a clear list of “in case of emergency” contacts. For ease create a spreadsheet with well-defined roles, responsibilities, and supervisors based on projects.
Keeping Your New IT Company Relationship Strong After the Transition
You have weathered the storm and have fully integrated the new IT service provider! Kudos to you and your employees for your hard work and dedication. Now comes the fun part. Your new IT provider is undoubtedly qualified, but performance is everything.
Many IT support contracts have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and/or Service Level Agreements (SLAs) mapped out. Think of it as the plan to keep your company up and running to par.
Is your new provider following the contract? Are you getting the service you are paying for? Are your KPIs being met? You should be communicating with your new provider, especially if something seems off. Just like any relationship, if the other party doesn’t know there’s a problem, they can’t try to fix it. Feel free to speak openly about your expectations.
If they aren’t meeting exceptions, talk to them about why and allow them enough time to work out the kinks, but don’t suffer in silence.
Switching IT service providers can be a big project, but don’t let that deter you. Work with your current provider, employees, and vendors to create a plan that will ensure a smooth transition for everyone. With the right approach and proper checks and balances, switching your IT support provider will be just another Monday.