Have you ever had to consider changing a service provider such as your IT support partner? This poses some particular problems that are unique when you are talking about someone who has complete access to all of your company data. Its rather obvious that if you are facing a hostile transition, the provider could literally log into your network and shut your company down temporarily or worse. This is highly unscrupulous and should not happen, however, in some rather unfortunate circumstances it has happened. On the other hand the transition can be civil and follow the train of thought that “the easier it is to leave, the easier it is to come back”. These situations can lead to headaches, law suits and awkward conversations that nobody wants to have.
We hope that you never have to experience this headache, that being said, it is better to set yourself up for success with a little foresight. After having taken over support for many companies, we have learned a few things that are valuable tips and best practices to keep in mind before things turn sour. Good fences make good neighbors and if your IT partner is smart, they will agree with this statement. You should never feel like you are at the mercy of your IT partner no matter how bad the circumstances get.
One of the most important and ever changing elements of any network is the passwords. Do you have an up to date list of every password on your network? Most business owners do not and in the case of a hostile transition, this can cause a big headache. At the very least, you should have ease of access to all of your passwords from your IT partner whenever you ask for them. Just for general peace of mind, you should be confident that there is a list of passwords. Most IT companies should have a “hit by a bus policy”. This means that, should something tragic ever happen to your IT partner, it will not effect your business because you will have all of your credentials, passwords and network documentation ready to go. In the unfortunate event that something happens to your IT partner, your new support company will be able to pick up where the other company left off. Not only is this best practice for emergency purposes but it is useful when it comes to changing IT support partners because it means that you have complete control of your data.
Another very important peace of the puzzle is knowing who owns the rights to your domain credentials. When you set up your domain, you have to put it under an account and if you don’t own that account, you don’t own your domain. Your domain lets the internet know who you are, almost like an address. It controls your email, website and network structure. Usually, there is no malicious intent involved when your IT partner sets up your domain under their account. Most of the time this is done out of convenience because it is easier to administer. This is great up until the point where you need to change providers and you realize that everything that identifies your business online, is not owned by you. This could be said about any account, not just your domain. In most cases your IT partner can be added to the account as an administrator, however, you should always own your online accounts.
SaaS (Software as a Service) is important to note here as well. In some cases you may not own the software that you use to run your business. Unless you have entered into a contract where you understand your ownership rights, you should always own your software license keys. In most cases you will be on a time crunch and for convenience you will purchase all of your software through your IT partner. If your IT partner is buying the software in their name and not yours, you could find that none of your software belongs to you.
This similar story can repeat itself with the service providers that you have entrusted your IT partner to help you manage. Service provider such as internet and phone provider can be managed by your IT partner but you should always have access and ownership over those accounts as well.
Changing service providers rarely turns out to be a pleasant experience. With a little planning and by setting up good expectations, you can pave the way to an easy transition should a problem ever arise. As a business owner you need complete access and control of your network and all of the moving parts. Having this understanding in place with each IT partner will save you from having unnecessary data loss, lawyer fees, downtime and hard conversations.