How to Switch IT Support Companies – Questions
When businesses rely on an external IT support company, switching can seem like a daunting task. You might feel like you’re trapped in a contract or that your data is at risk. Maybe you think it’s just too much hassle and will take too long, hampering productivity. Nobody likes downtime. However, it needn’t be as difficult as you think.
Table of contents
Why are you thinking of switching IT Support Companies?
There are a number of reasons why you may want to switch:
- Is your current supplier failing to uphold their end of the bargain?
- Is the support you are receiving no longer adequate enough?
- Have you found a better deal elsewhere?
- Have your business IT services changed?
By talking to your IT company, you might find that you are no longer receiving adequate support because your needs have changed. Did you notify your company that you were expanding? Did you alert them to a batch of new hires or even to letting current staff go? If your IT service needs have changed then you have to accept responsibility. Keep in mind, however, you may have to amend the original contract to accommodate these changes.
If you cannot solve your issues through these discussions, check the small print on the contract you signed to see if switching IT companies is an option. You may learn that you’re locked in a contract for a while longer or you need to pay a cancellation fee to leave early.
How do you keep control?
If switching is your best option, then you first need to look closely at the elements your IT support company has been helping you with. Do they fix small issues when they arise, such as a faulty laptop? Or, do they play a bigger role, maintaining your website and cloud infrastructure – making your relationship with them critical in keeping everything live. You need to figure out which company resources are stored on computer equipment the support company owns.
At the very least, they will more than likely have high-level access to your company’s IT infrastructure. This would allow them to change vital settings and even give them the ability to lock you out of your own systems – effectively holding your data to ransom. This is important to remember when switching IT support companies – change all of the passwords that your existing supplier has access to.
How do you learn from your experiences?
This may well be the most important section in this article – learn from previous relationships, so you don’t make the same mistakes again. When you’re drawing up a contract, be honest and tell your new supplier what went wrong. Tell them what issues you had. Was the SLA inadequate? Did the old company struggle to cope with your changing needs and fluctuating workloads?
To find the answers to these questions, talk to your staff. By gathering feedback from all across your business, you can create new and improved requirements to help you find a new IT support company. Perhaps you should amend your tender agreement and ask different questions during the interview process, based on the findings.
Do you have your IT documentation?
A great way to help the transition between IT support companies (there will be disruptions, it’s inevitable) is to give your new suppliers access to your IT support logs. If you don’t have any onsite, request them from your outgoing suppliers. This will help your new support team identify your most pressing issues and common problems you face – they may even be able to offer a permanent solution.
Another way to make a smoother transition is to have your full IT documentation to hand. If you don’t have any, create some. You should have network diagrams, usernames and passwords, software and hardware inventories, and the original disks for the software you still use.
It may seem like a lot of hassle at first, but the more work you put in before you switch suppliers, the smoother the transition will be.
What questions should I ask a potential IT support company?
Here are what we consider to be the most important questions to ask when looking for the right IT support contract for you:
1. What support packages do you offer?
What kind of support packages does the company offer? Can they cater to the needs of your business today and any demands you may have tomorrow? Most companies will offer one or more of the following:
- Pay-as-you-go support: You only pay an hourly rate for the time you need, or a fixed price fee for the call out. You should ask how they charge – A fixed price might be beneficial for problems that take a long time to fix, but an hourly rate will be more cost-effective in the long run.
- Break-fix support: As the name suggests, if something breaks, they’ll fix it. They won’t, however, show you how to improve productivity or manage workflows. Think of it like an insurance policy.
- Managed service support: This is where your IT support company actively monitors and manages your systems to reduce the chance of things going awry. You should look around, as some companies will offer it as standard when taking up services such as VoIP or Fibre as we do.
The business you choose to help with your IT should be flexible, so they can always offer you the support you need when you need it.
2. Where are you located?
The location of your designated company is more important than you think. For instance, if they are providing services such as cloud hosting or VoIP for businesses, you should find out how many servers and switches they have, and where they are located. This can impact the quality of service they provide and is incredibly important for private or sensitive data. The location of their servers could affect your ability to accept certain contracts in the future.
3. How qualified are you?
Look out for a team of qualified technicians and engineers. What accreditations have they earned? What training do they have? On top of this, it’s always good to ask about what kind of training they are currently taking or planning to in the near-future – the best IT support companies will keep their staff trained to the highest levels possible.
4. Do you outsource your services?
Try to find out whether a prospective team keeps everything in-house or if they outsource some of their services. Often, the best IT companies keep everything in house, so they can streamline the process from receiving a complaint to getting it fixed.
5. Are there any hidden fees or charges?
You need an IT support company that will be there to help you, not one that will sting you with charges at every turn. Before you sign up, find out what you’re entitled to. Do you get unlimited telephone or remote support? Do they charge for onsite support or does it come as standard?
6. What is and isn’t supported?
Although they may offer Windows and Microsoft Office support, you should find out if they can help with other things like Wi-Fi routers and printers. If they can, it means you only have to talk to one person when dealing with any IT headaches. This can make life much easier.
7. Do you offer proactive support?
A good IT support company will fix problems as fast as they can. A great IT support company will stop problems before they cause any noticeable damage by pro-actively monitoring and managing your systems. They will also support ‘out of hours’ administration, updates and maintenance. This is especially useful for those in the health or education sectors.
8. How can we contact you?
When you have an IT headache, the last thing you want to happen is to be left on your own. So, before making a decision, find out how their support request system works. Do they have an online portal or an email-based ticketing system? If your internet goes down, how should you contact them? Do they allocate you a dedicated account manager with a dedicated phone number to contact them on? An account manager can be really beneficial. They’ll get to know your business inside-out and should readily be available to help you when you need them most.
9. Do you offer an SLA?
Will you receive a guaranteed response time with your contract? If your server goes down, can they promise to get you back up and running before the working day is done? With the ever-increasing costs of downtime, you should look for companies that offer a great Service Level Agreement (SLA).
10. How else can you help my business?
You should speak to each company about the other managed IT services and solutions they offer or are looking to offer over the next 12 months. Can they help you with VoIP phone systems? Can they help you connect to the cloud? If your business has any projects coming up over the next 12 months, you should talk to these companies to see if they can help.
Although not essential, do they also offer added value products (where possible) free of charge? If they do, it shows they are committed to their clients and want to offer them the best service possible.
11. Do you know what we need?
When choosing an IT services company, you need to find someone who understands the needs of your business and even better, understands how those needs might change over time. Do they support other companies in your sector or even your competitors?
If a prospective support company does work with other businesses in your sector, you should speak to those businesses and find out what it’s like to work with them. Do they have any problems with the quality of service? This way, you can get a genuine, hands-on perspective; not just a cliché quote about how “our clients love to work with us…”
12. Do you offer any discounts?
Although it may seem rude, you should always ask about any discounts they have on offer. Many IT support companies will give you a better deal if you agree to a longer contract, for instance. However, before signing up for a longer contract, remind yourself that if things were to not go as planned, you’ll still have to abide by your contract until its expiration date.
13. How can we cancel our IT support contract?
Bringing an end to your support contract can seem like a daunting task. So, it’s best to make sure that switching companies is the best option. You want to leave on amicable terms. That’s why you should have any contracts checked over by your business’ legal department or by a solicitor. You need to know if you will incur any charges or fines when exiting a contract prematurely.
Before you decide to switch IT Support Companies, talk to the Synextra Support Team first.