One thing that this new normal has taught all of us is that we are very dependent on technology. Therefore we must have the right IT Partner(s) in order to help us manage our software and networks. I have heard from many of my clients that they are not happy with their outsourced IT professionals, either those that support their software, networks, or both but they are concerned about parting ways. The excuses that I get from my clients for not moving on, and some are very valid, but none have to be reason you would keep your current professional IT firm are:
My IT consultants are not very responsive, but they are the only one that knows our network;
It is hard to get them when I need them, how can I switch to someone else; wouldn’t I need these guys to make the switch;
I am afraid to call them as they never have time for me;
They have all my data, so how can I leave them; and
I am afraid if we change service providers, they will sabotage our business software or networks.
None of these excuses should stop you from making sure you have the right IT consultants supporting your business. As matter of fact if you follow the best practice tips described below you should feel confident enough to be able to change, or at least challenge, your IT provider each year if you so desire.
Following are a list of six simple best practices which will put you back in the driver’s seat when it comes to your companies dependency on technology.
1. Make sure you sign all contracts related to the technology you use at your company. The main contract should be under to company name with the business owner as the main point of contact. Your IT provider should only be listed as a IT contact, therefore if you were to part ways you only need to update the IT contact under the contract.
a. The types of IT contracts that we are talking about are:
i. Purchases of hardware and software,
ii. Your internet service provider,
iii. Your domain name provider (Godaddy, Hostgator, or Register.com)
iv. Your telephone support,
v. Any cloud-based services you use in business(office 365 or Salesforce), and
vi. Your backup service (Ex. carbonite) – if you are not using an internal backup appliance
b. You should also request a copy of all contracts listed above be provided to you in scanned electronic format by your IT Provider and they can even be stored on an external storage device that you keep in your possession.
2. Make sure you have usernames and corresponding passwords for all administrative accounts related to your servers and software.
These usernames and passwords can be printed on a document and provided to you in a sealed envelope. When they change, which should happen at least once annually, you should receive a new copy of these usernames and passwords. If you use different software and network providers have each of them provide you separate usernames and password.
3. Make sure that the IT provider does not use any local administrator accounts on your servers.
Using local accounts is a security concern and is an outdated practice, so the answer to the question should always be, "There are no local admin accounts used on your network". If this is not the case, I would consider changing your IT network providers quickly.
4. Make sure you have access to your data.
Make sure you have instructions on how to retrieve a backup of your data
For those who use cloud-base providers, such as Office 365 or Salesforce CRM, there are applications that can be used back up your data separately from the software vendors backup utilities. It is important to have these services as most cloud-base software solutions only will allow you to get into the latest version of your software and not provide you the ability to retrieve data from a previous period, such as a month-end or year-end.
5. Make sure you are part of the Business continuity and Disaster Recovery plan testing and have written policies and instructions on what to do in an emergency.
This will help you not only with moving to a different IT provider, but will also help you in case of an emergency, if you are unable to reach your IT provider.
6. Review your IT providers contract and performance with them annually.
This will let them know that you are monitoring their performance and if they do not meet your standards for service you will move on.
A good service provider should be doing with this with you as part of their normal course of business.
Most IT consultants are reputable and though no one likes to lose a client most would not jeopardize their reputation by hurting you if you were to part ways. If you have all the above information and practices set, you should be able to easily move away from your current IT provider without fear of loss of productivity or data.
If you need help in writing policies or plans or accessing your current IT providers capabilities, please call Dan Stieglitz at 516 770 0781 or email him at Dstieglitz@casww.com to discuss an evaluation.