Well before making the transition to a new IT provider, conduct a visual inspection of your IT system along with the replacement IT staff person or outside vendor. It’s best to do this on a weekend or after hours so as not to attract the attention of the individual or vendor who is being replaced.
During this inspection, be sure to verify that everything about your system is accurate, including system diagrams and passwords. You should also take a thorough inventory of all related information held by your current IT provider or staff, such as technical and administrative documentation, support information, security logs, service agreements and software licensing.
There’s a lot of material to look for and business operators don’t always have a handle on it. That’s why your new provider should be on hand to help you locate what is needed.
Once this inventory is completed, use the information to create a transition plan. This plan, which should include a review of all risks, will guide you through the necessary steps and set a timeline for switching from one provider to another. It must also include requirements for sharing your company’s IT system information with the replacement IT staff or vendor.
A common transition period is typically over a weekend. In this scenario, the current individual or vendor leaves on a Friday and the IT system is immediately secured. Then, the replacement individual or vendor steps in before the start of the next work week. If you’re replacing an outside vendor, know and follow the terms of the contract so you’ll have legal recourse if the outgoing provider isn’t cooperative.
Transitioning to a new IT provider doesn’t mean your IT oversight should end. You should still documenting every IT system and then keep that information current. This is beneficial to you as a business operator because you will now know the system’s makeup—and will be ready if there is a need to switch providers in the future. This transparency is also beneficial to your IT staff or vendor because they will know how to demonstrate their value to your organization.
To recap, here are the recommended steps to help ensure a smooth IT transition once you’ve decided to make a change:
- Gather and inventory the information.
- Review the information for correctness.
- Create a transition plan, hand-in-hand with the new IT staff or vendor.
- Keep your documentation current so you’ll be ready if there’s ever a need to switch providers in the future.
Yes, change related to IT can be a scary proposition. But, careful planning and execution of an IT provider transition can minimize, or even eliminate, discomfort to you and your business.