Changing IT providers | 4 questions you need to answer

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If you're unhappy with your IT provider, you might consider leaving your old provider and hiring a new one. But what does this transition look like? What steps do you need to take to change providers?

Unfortunately, you can't make this switch overnight. There are several steps companies must take before passing the torch on to a new provider. You may be hit with fees or additional complications if you skip any steps.

Once a new provider is hired, they must learn your IT system inside and out during the onboarding process.

For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients build IT strategies and utilize technology to their advantage.

By reading this article, you will learn four things to consider and verify as you transition from an old IT provider to a new one.


4 Questions to ask before leaving your old provider

Before changing providers, you need to know some essential information about your relationship with your IT provider, your contract, and your IT setup. Answering these questions will help create a smoother transition for your company.

You need to know the following:

  1. What went wrong, and can it be corrected?
  2. What is contractually obligated?
  3. What technology does your provider own?
  4. What knowledge needs to transfer to the new provider?

1. What went wrong, and can it be corrected?

In looking at your current IT provider, why are you looking to leave? Was the tipping point a single, isolated event or a series of events? Is it something you think the two of you could correct through open and honest communication?

Sometimes, addressing your concerns with the current provider can bring about the desired change. However, if communication has not led to better outcomes, then, yes, it's time to look for a new IT partnership.

Asking, "What went wrong?" also helps you narrow down what you're looking for in a new provider.

For example, let's say your last provider took days to reply to helpdesk tickets. Yet, when you spoke with your IT provider about the unacceptable wait time, they made no changes. So, you're going to look for a new provider with a guaranteed faster reply time.

Quality IT providers will also ask about your previous (or current) IT provider relationship, struggles, concerns, and expectations. Asking about what drove you to seek a new provider shows that the potential provider cares about the IT provider-client relationship and communication.

2. What is contractually obligated?

Locate and review your contract to see what is required. Some contracts may involve penalty fees if they are broken early.

Some contracts will also auto-renew, making them "sticky" and hard to break.

It's always a good practice to keep copies of all of your contracts. However, if you can't locate your agreement with your IT provider, you can request a copy to review. Check for expiration dates and potential penalties.

Some contracts will require a notice period before cancelation. For example, some providers require 90 days' notice.

You'll also want to look for any terms, conditions, and hidden fees involved in cancelation.

If you feel you cannot wait until the contract expires, you will need to evaluate if the penalty fees are worth breaking the contract early.

3. What technology does your provider own?

Some IT providers will loan you IT equipment rather than leasing or purchasing it on your own. This is often pitched as "If anything breaks, we will fix or replace it because we own it." While this sounds great initially, it makes leaving an IT provider difficult.

It's much harder to leave a provider if they own the technology that built your network. If you cancel the contract, they take the equipment with them, leaving you without the technology necessary to perform daily or mission-critical tasks.

IT Providers may own the following technology:

  • Hardware (i.e., switches, laptops, servers)
  • Software (i.e., Quickbooks)
  • Licensing (i.e., Microsoft 365)

To verify what your provider owns, check the following:

  • Your contract to see if any hardware, software, or licensing is mentioned
  • Your invoices to see if you are charged technology as well as services
  • Your equipment for any "Property of" stickers designating the provider as the owner.

If your old IT provider owns any technology, alert your new provider. It will help match you with new hardware or software, recommend possible leasing programs if desired, and adjust the onboarding schedule to include setting up your new technology.

If you do not let your new IT provider know, you will experience significant delays in your onboarding process.

4. What knowledge needs to transfer to the new provider?

A solid knowledge transfer of your current IT setup and systems is essential to a successful transition.

Your old provider should have current records with crucial information about your IT systems. However, if they do not, your new provider will vet the data and run an audit of your current IT assets.

This information includes:

  • Usernames and passwords for key systems and applications
  • Schematics of your current setup and systems
  • Documentation of processes and procedures

This data will form a map of your IT setup, how your network fits together and functions, your policies and procedures, and your mission-critical applications and processes. Without it, your new provider is coming in blind.


Next steps to onboarding with a new IT provider

Asking these four questions prepares you for transitioning from an old IT provider to a new one:

  1. What went wrong, and can it be corrected?
  2. What is contractually obligated?
  3. What technology does your provider own?
  4. What knowledge needs to transfer to the new provider?

Once you have answered these questions, you can select a new provider and begin the offboarding and onboarding processes.

It's important to note that new providers often ask that the first 30 days of the onboarding process include coverage from both providers. This ensures that your company has knowledgeable coverage and access to all vital equipment during the initial transition.

After the month of dual coverage, the new IT provider will take over completely. The onboarding process is typically completed within 90 days, barring significant emergencies.

For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients build successful IT strategies and processes while utilizing effective technology.

If you are looking for a new IT provider, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how WEBIT can help.

If you are not ready to make a commitment but would like to learn more about evaluating and hiring IT providers, we recommend the following articles: