How to switch IT support companies

Man using a laptop - how to switch IT support companies.If your business relies on an external supplier for IT support, switching IT support companies gives you the opportunity to start afresh with a new business relationship

Once you've found a new supplier to support your business IT services, you need a smooth handover to create the foundations of a long, happy partnership.

Why do you want to switch IT support companies?

You may decide to move IT support companies for a number of reasons.

Perhaps your existing supplier is failing to comply with your IT support contract. Maybe your own business has changed and your existing contract is no longer adequate (e.g. you’ve moved to the cloud, while they still focus on supporting on-site hardware and software). Or perhaps your IT support costs are too high and you've found a better deal elsewhere.

The contract with your existing support company may determine whether switching is realistic. If you're having problems with the supplier, it is usually best to try to resolve these amicably. Only consider switching if those discussions fail.

Keep control of your business IT services

Your business may be more dependent on its IT support company than on other suppliers.

For instance, if your support company maintains your website and network, some of your company resources (cloud file storage, shared documents, etc) might be stored on computer equipment which it owns.

At the very least, your support company is likely to enjoy high-level access to your systems. This allows them to change vital settings and might give them the ability to lock you out of your own business IT services, effectively holding you to ransom.

This scenario is unlikely to rear its head unless your supplier is seriously unethical. However, you should always run your own, regular backups of data. And once you have switched suppliers, change passwords so your old support company cannot access your systems.

Learn from your IT support experience

When choosing a new IT support supplier, learn from your previous experiences. Consider what worked and what didn't.

For instance, was your service level agreement inadequate? Did your support company struggle to cope with your changing needs?

Collect feedback from across your business to shape revised support requirements. You can then use these to find and select a new IT support company.

Again, use previous experience to make this process more effective. How can you change the tender document you send to IT support companies? Should you ask different questions when interviewing candidates?

Use your IT documentation

It pays to have full documentation when switching IT support companies. This should cover every aspect of your business IT services: network diagrams, usernames, passwords and log in addresses, plus software and hardware inventories.

Give your new support company access to your support log. This will help them identify the main issues you face. They might even be able to implement permanent solutions.

You can try to simplify the handover by getting your outgoing support company to work with the incoming one. This is an excellent way for the new team to understand how your systems work, but may be hard to arrange. Be prepared to pay the outgoing company for this service.

Finally, expect some level of disruption during the switchover. It's almost inevitable that not everything will go smoothly - but it's worth the hassle if you end up with an IT support company you can really rely on.

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