TWT Blog

How to Break Up With Your IT Provider

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“Dear IT services provider: It’s not me, it’s you.”

We all know the feeling — that gnaw in your gut that tells you it’s just not working anymore. It’s time to break up with your Managed IT provider. Breakups are hard and honesty can sting.

But staying with an IT services provider who isn’t meeting your needs will damage your business in the long run. You’re missing out on key business improvements and your data could be at risk. You’re probably also wasting money.

When we show new prospects that the grass really is greener with TWT, they want to know how to make the break from their previous provider as easy as possible.

Based on our experiences, here’s a step-by-step guide to breaking up with your IT support company.

Talk It Out

It’s always best to sit down with your current Calgary IT services provider and discuss the issues you’re facing. There could be a way for you to fix them together and rebuild trust. Consider the fact that changing your provider comes with some costs. Your new IT company will need to learn your business and get to know your unique working style.

If the issues you’re dealing with are minor, and perhaps the result of simple misunderstandings, maybe you can patch up the relationship. Hopefully, the IT company will improve for all their clients thanks to your feedback.

Don’t Base the Decision on Price Alone

Three things to remember: Firstly, IT changes a lot; secondly, prices are often changing too; and thirdly, quality is a big consideration in the industry. Make sure the new company you’re eyeing isn’t just competing on price. They need to also be competitive on value.

Maybe you received a pitch from a new IT service company promising to cut your costs in half. The thing is, it’s always possible to find someone cheaper, but not always someone who provides more value for less money. It may be worth sitting down with your current IT provider to discuss the value of their current services.

Don’t Fall for Scare Tactics

We don’t sell our services with scare tactics. You should never buy from someone who does.

We get that security is huge in IT, but if a salesperson or IT company owner is telling you you’re not protected, don’t take their claims at face value. Discuss the issue they have brought to your attention with your current provider — there may be a reason or a plan to fix it in place already.

In the worst case scenario, you may need to bring in a third party to conduct an unbiased security audit. But don’t choose an IT competitor to conduct the audit.

Many IT security or accounting firms will provide you a report that will explain any security issues without any sales bias or scare tactics. We can recommend several.

Make an ‘Unhappy List’

This list should include your chief complaints about your existing provider. Share this list with your new provider to give them an idea of your expectations. But do this before signing up with that new provider.

Perhaps poor communication was an outstanding issue for you. You’ll want to make sure the new plans and packages you’re offered take this into account. This new provider should help you draft a wish list that meets all your needs.

Ideally, this means you won’t have to change IT providers ever again.

Study Your Contract and Finalize Your Obligations

Before you pull the plug, grab your contract and brush up on the details: when it ends and the amount of notice you must provide before ending it, or before it renews automatically.

If you decide to cancel your contract before it ends, make sure you’re aware of the buy-out fee. You should be able to negotiate this, especially if the IT company realizes they’ve made mistakes or are simply good people. If your provider isn’t happy either and wants to part ways, it’s likely you’ll be able to come to a reasonable agreement. That said, expect to pay out — a contract is a contract.

Confirm Lease Payments

Take the time to check whether or not you have lease payments on hardware that will continue — made to the IT provider or an external leasing company. Generally, these are non-negotiable, as is the case with most leases.

Often, your lease company is different than your IT company, so this won’t pose any issues.

Give Your Notice

Providing adequate notice that you want to end the relationship gives all parties a chance to plan a smooth transition. The standard in the IT services is anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Don’t just stop responding to emails. And don’t stop paying your bill.

Don’t Cut Them Off Cold Turkey

It may be tempting to ask your new IT services provider to manually reset all your passwords without notice to your old provider, but please, don’t do this. It’s not particularly respectful and it just causes more hassles. It’s important to maintain mutual respect, even if you’re ending the business relationship.

If you’re worried that your old provider will withhold passwords, try to clear up any outstanding issues to do with billing or unpaid invoices — which may be the reason they’re acting difficult — before making a switch to a new provider.

Be Honest

This is a tough one, but totally worth it in the end. Let them know what reasons you have for leaving and let them know how they can improve. Keep your feedback civil and constructive. It’s hard to lose clients, but most IT providers will strive to improve.

Introduce Your New IT Service Provider

Introduce your new provider to your old one via email or by phone. Most providers are cooperative and professional, so don’t worry about it being inappropriate. Sure, it’s a little awkward, but most people are amicable in this situation.

Lay Out the Details of Transition

Be clear that you still expect your provider to support you until an agreed-upon date. Your new company isn’t going to support you for free until the new contract starts. Discuss timelines and when your old provider will transfer information to your new provider.

Your old provider shouldn’t bill you for the time it takes to transfer the documentation, but be sure to discuss it with them to avoid surprises.

Outline when you will finalize payment to your previous provider. This will likely coincide with when information is handed over to the new provider.

If your new IT company is taking over before the end of your existing provider’s term, you need to acknowledge that they won’t be liable for anything your new provider does (which includes breaking something).  

But this generally isn’t an issue, especially if you choose a quality provider. They will conduct a full on boarding process, which will include a security audit and lockdown to ensure the former provider no longer has access.

Keep Tabs on Renewal Timelines and Key Dates

Make sure you know when your old provider removes their management tools, such as antivirus protections, and automatic and manual backups. Make sure your new provider puts their solution in place, so that you’re never at risk.

Most of the time, renewals for software or hardware coincide with IT contracts dates. Make sure any outstanding renewals are discussed before the contract severs.

Still feeling uneasy about ending your IT relationship? Give us a shout.

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Topics: Security, Business Continuity, To consider