Changing computer support companies is a big decision. Maybe you have been with the firm that currently does your IT support for a little while or they may have been doing your support since you started as a smaller company. It may seem scary and difficult but if you review these key areas, making the transition can be extremely beneficial and it can go smoothly.
1. Why you should Not change IT Support firms
Whenever CEOs or managers come to me, looking to change IT Support firms, the first thing I always ask them is why? What are the pain points where the other firm has let them down?
Sometimes I will hear it is because they are expensive. Other times it is because, yes, they do 90% great, but there is 10% they could do better. These reasons are valid but are they worth the time and risk to change to a new, unknown IT services firm?
Let’s first address the expense. There is a huge shortage of IT support professionals and network engineers. This industry is known to have “negative unemployment”, meaning you have to steal experts from other firms who are not even looking for a change. Even then, they likely have signed non-compete agreements that prevent them from working for similar companies. Salaries that were already soaring have spiked even more. Every IT services company has to pay the same salaries for the same experts so it is likely that changing firms will not get your expenses down lower.
Let’s look at the second reason, where the IT support firm is good but generally responsive but they stumble at certain things. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, there are a lot of bad IT service firms out there. Arguably most IT firms are bad at either support, cause more problems than they fix, slow to respond, or generally just problematic. The good ones are few and far between so be sure you are “trading up”.
2. Why you should change IT support firms
Your service is slow. Technology has changed a lot in the last few years. The days of fixing an issue in a couple of days, or even tomorrow, is no longer fast enough. Waiting for your IT service provider, while one or more people are unproductive, is no longer acceptable.
They fix one thing only to break something else. Does it seem like your IT support firm comes out to fix something only to break another system while fixing the first problem? Do you have a lot of “callbacks”?
They lock you into an expensive contract. This seems to be a hot area for computer support firms lately. There is a big push for these companies to lock every client into a contract making it harder to leave. Often these contracts have mandatory price increases annually and hurdles to clear if you want to leave them.
Do they resist coming onsite to help and try to do everything remotely even when it is more difficult for you or your staff? Computer support experts are known for being reserved, preferring a private working space to social interaction. While many issues can be resolved remotely, many issues are much easier to resolve and quicker if the engineer simply goes onsite to fix everything.
Failure to keep up with modern technology. Technology changes fast. Like really fast! It’s challenging to keep up. Companies can’t fall behind their competitors. If your IT services firm isn’t able to help with modern and more powerful solutions, it may be time to change.
3. Which firm should you go with?
Finding IT service firms is easy. Knowing if they are good is a bit more challenging.
Finding them can be as simple as doing some google searches or asking your CPA or other trusted professionals for recommendations. At this point, you will want to look for certain things.
Look at their online reviews. Specifically Google reviews. Are they are 3-star firm or a 5-star firm? Do they have 2 reviews or 50 reviews?
Next, don’t take their word for how good they are, get testimonials, reviews, or references for their actual clients. Not just clients in the honeymoon stage but clients that have been with them for years. Ideally decades! Thru good and bad. When problems have occurred and big changes, were they there for them 100%?
Also, talk to them about your routine issues and needs. Do they have expertise in your industry or are able to speak to your concerns?
4. When / Timing
Once you have decided to make the change, timing can be a big deal. You should check any contracts to find out if you have to give a 30, 60, 90, or more day notice. Even without being locked into giving notice, when does your current contract expire if you have one? Contract or no contract, you will want to plan well in advance to ensure a smooth transition. A lot should be done before parting ways with the existing IT support firm.
5. How to make the change
This is something you will want to make sure the new IT support firm has experience and expertise in. Ensuring a smooth transition can be done but takes some planning.
You will want to be sure you have all the user names and passwords to everything. Not just the network administrator (boss) passwords but things like Wi-Fi management, DVR camera, all software programs, website hosting, email management, key websites, DNS, internet provider, firewall, switches, and many others. A good IT firm can help you find and test all of these before you pull the plug on the old firm!
You should also look at the invoices you have gotten. Look for any services they routinely provide like licenses (antivirus, email, etc.) and services (backup, patching, etc.). You will need to ensure that the new firm is providing these and that the transition goes smoothly.
Before parting with the old IT firm, make sure the new IT support company can get into and manage all key systems. Last but not least, collaborate on a timeline of what happens and when so there are no surprises.
Changing IT firms can be one of the best decisions a company can make. With just a little planning and evaluation, it can go smoothly and pay big dividends.