Switching from one outsourced IT support partner to another is sometimes necessary for businesses that want to avail of the best service available. However, this can present some difficulties and disruptions to processes and operations if not done properly, so below we give you a few tips on how to handle the handover from one external service provider to another.
Ask why you are changing IT support provider
There can be any number of reasons why your business will want to switch IT support companies. The CTO and CFO need to work together to determine what IT support the company needs to meet current demands while fitting into the overall business strategy for growth and development, but they also need to work within agreed budgets, and often the decision will come down to costs. If the current IT support service is too expensive, the company will understandably want to look for a better deal elsewhere, and consider an OpEx model.
It can be beneficial to revisit the contract with your existing IT partner to see if you can agree on more favourable terms, but if this is not possible, shopping around is advisable.
It may be that your current supplier is simply not up to the job at hand, is unable to adequately protect your business from cyber security threats or prepare for data protection standards as set out by GDPR, or is failing to comply with the contract, in which case switching is the obvious move.
It can sometimes happen that a business expands or changes, so that the IT support provided no longer meets your needs. This can happen, for example, when you decide an IT infrastructure overhaul is needed, and the service provider will no longer be able to handle your new requirements, such as if you make the decision to move to the cloud, but they traditionally support only on-site hardware and software.
Most importantly, you need to know exactly why you want to find a better fit for your business – to have an in-depth understanding of the company’s strategic reasons for outsourcing in the first place - so that you can outline what you need to stay competitive, and what to look for when putting your IT support out to tender.
Learn from your experience
If your previous or current IT support service hasn’t worked out, you need to understand why, so that you can find the right outsourced IT partner now. Assess what worked to expectations and what didn’t. Did your IT support team fail to meet your standards? Were they good at break-fix scenarios but not so good when it came to acting as a virtual CTO? Did you fail to put an adequate and comprehensive service level agreement in place that would meet your needs? Did you just not rate them?
Gather information from across your business to find out what IT support is required from each department, what needs were met by the services offered by your old or current provider and what ones were not. It is also advisable to run an IT audit to outline priorities, and where you can improve your IT support. If you can’t do this in-house, it can be the first point of engagement with a potential IT service provider, who will be able to do it for you.
From this, you should learn the type of questions you need to ask an outsourced IT partner, in order to make sure you find the right one for your business.
Reclaim your business IT
Before you start looking for a new supplier, your business needs to ‘reclaim’ all of its IT assets. IT support forms a central cog in every business, and as such, your outsourced service provider will have had access to much of your business-critical systems and IT infrastructure. They may even own the equipment on which your files are processed and stored. This can be an unsettling notion if the relationship turns sour, as they would have the ability to interfere with files, settings, your network, etc, if they proved to be that unscrupulous.
It is unlikely that they would take that step, but it is always best to be safe, and to run regular back-ups, especially when moving to a new IT support partner.
Having found a new service provider, you should also ensure that all passwords for all systems, networks, devices, etc are changed, so that your old provider no longer has access to anything.
Share your IT support needs to get a proper scope
Having discovered your IT support requirements, you should talk to potential service providers to find the one that can most adequately match your needs now, and into the future. A proper scope that outlines your IT infrastructure, the services and processes you need on a daily basis, and the areas in which you are looking to innovate and grow, is vital, so be clear on what you are looking to buy and what your supplier is willing and able to take on.
Clarify the nature of your proposed deal with your supplier, and the underlying cost. It is also important to get buy-in from your CFO and other relevant stakeholders, and keep them informed of any changes.
You need your new IT partner to outline what they will do for your business, with clear performance indicators, and how their pricing model will provide value for money.
When it comes to future plans that may change your requirements over time, outline what defines a change in scope and requirements, whether this will result in increased costs, and define what those costs will be.
Document everything to hand over
Your IT audit should give you a comprehensive picture of exactly what IT assets you have, but you should also make sure to document everything regarding your systems and network in order to make the handover as quick and painless as possible to ensure business continuity. This should include an inventory of all of your software and hardware – including remote devices – as well as network diagrams, usernames, passwords and log-in addresses, etc.
It is also useful to supply a new IT support team with your support log from the previous outsourced partner, as this will help them to understand the main issues faced, how they were resolved (or not), and give them a better view of the overall scale of the operation from an IT perspective.
Ideally, in an amicable handover, your old IT support team can work with the new one to ease the switchover, but you should expect to pay both for this part of the process, and the old partner may not always be open to this arrangement.
Prepare to collaborate, especially at the start
Just as providing all of the necessary documentation will help your new outsourced IT service in the handover, your CTO needs to be prepared to play an integral role in the switch. It is not enough to simply hand over the reins and let them take on the task.
Your business still owns all of its IT assets, and so must act accordingly. Putting the agreed outsourcing arrangements in place as quickly and seamlessly as possible requires an initial hands-on approach that ensures your new IT support partner has everything they need to take on the role.
This relationship between the CTO and support team needs to be ongoing, with IT support in constant communication and collaboration to ensure that needs are being met and innovation is made possible.
It is also important to relay information and updates to all staff members regarding changes to processes and the timelines associated with them.
Prepare for hiccups
It is natural to expect some disruption while the handover takes place, but by working with your new IT support team you can iron out any problems and get back to business as usual quickly. In the end, if you have chosen the right outsourced IT service provider, it will all be worth it.
If you’re looking to switch your IT support in London, or need to find an outsourced IT service provider to help your business innovate and grow, Optimity can provide everything you need. Get in touch to find out how we can help you, and get started by booking an IT audit.