Switching your IT provider: FAQs answered by Paul Finnie
For any business, choosing to switch IT providers can feel like a big decision. Are there risks involved, and will the new company’s service meet your expectations? Will it cause downtime for your team, and will the value delivered outweigh the effort to switch?
Despite these common hesitations, switching to IT Hotdesk is a very easy, hassle-free and reliable process. We caught up with Paul Finnie, Operations Manager, to discuss the most frequently asked questions we get around transitioning to a new IT company, as well as provide insights, tips and advice.
What are the signs a company should switch IT providers?
“With everything going on at the moment in terms of Covid-19, people are looking to reduce costs as much as possible, which is a big driver for people switching their IT provider. We always try to provide a cost effective solution for the client, with the majority of our contracts working on a per user/per device basis. So we charge a fixed cost based on the number of users and the devices that we support.
“Not being happy with the level of service you’re experiencing with your current IT provider is another big reason to switch. We recently had a client who lacked confidence in their current IT provider; it seemed to be taking them a long time to resolve their tickets and they didn’t seem to be clued up on the technology that they were using. That level of confidence depleting with their current provider is a big reason why people switch.”
From a client’s perspective, why is it so easy to switch providers?
“For the client, there’s no real technical involvement required - just the administrative side of the process and actually signing the contract. When it comes to starting the onboarding process, we might have some communication with a point of contact in the company, just to keep them updated on what’s happening and where we’re at.
“Generally though, our onboarding process is pretty zero touch for the customer and their users. We deploy our agent and depending on the company’s IT infrastructure, we can do that remotely with no need to contact the client at all. If we’re not able to do that, it only takes a quick phone call with each user to do a little remote session on their machine, and it takes 2 or 3 minutes to get the agent installed.
“We really don’t have much interaction back and forth asking the client for things. It’s only if the current IT provider wasn’t able to give us some details that we might have more communication with our client during the switching process.”
What is so good about IT Hotdesks’s onboarding process for new clients?
“We have designed our onboarding process with the customer in mind at all times - our goal is to make this transition as seamless as possible for them.
“As we run our network assessment first, we gain a lot of knowledge about the client’s environment before we even begin the onboarding process. This is really effective, because it allows our engineers to onboard the client quickly, as less time is needed for investigating issues or risks during the onboarding.
“It also really helps the client from a cost perspective, as we can identify what they really need and give them a very accurate monthly cost for our support. The assessment quite often highlights whether there are machines or users that haven’t been used in a long time that they thought had been off-boarded previously. So the assessment gives us a chance to do a little bit of cost reduction at the same time, and really tailor the service to the client so they aren’t paying extra money for services they might not use.
“I think that because there are so many acronyms and technical terminology when it comes to IT, quite often you see that being used to the client’s detriment in the onboarding or quotation process. Your average point of contact in a business may not be as clued up on the technology, so they will just go with the recommendations of the IT company, which means that sometimes they’re paying for services that they don’t need.
“I guess that’s another gold star in our process, as we always endeavor to make sure that everything is explained and demonstrated to the client upfront. Our process is all client-focused so that they can really understand what they’re getting from us and the level of service we can offer.”
How often do you onboard new clients?
“This is a regular service we offer, and we are very experienced in helping companies transition from their old provider to IT Hotdesk.
“I’m generally involved in almost all client onboarding. I project manage and map out the onboarding plan for the client, such as the timescale and movements that we’ll have, then one or two of our engineers will do the technical side. We’ve had quite a lot of onboardings done recently - I would say maybe 3 or 4 in the last week.”
How long does the whole process usually take?
“It’s difficult to give an accurate figure because there are so many factors that could affect how long it takes. Our most recent new client was onboarded in around 4-5 days, but it can vary.
"The biggest delay that we normally see in all of our onboardings is the current IT provider not sharing information with us. If we can get that information from them fairly easily and they’re willing to share it, then it tends to be a quick process after that.
“In the last month, we’ve had quite a variety of sizes of companies being onboarded with us. We’ve had some companies where it’s just one or two people operating from a home office and don’t have an IT provider at all. And we’ve also had a few larger clients come to us in the last month, probably at around the 20 user mark. The process for them has been fairly slick because we can just reach out to the current provider, and when they’re willing to give you information, it’s a quick process to get them onboarded once we’ve deployed our agents.”
What risks are involved in switching IT providers and how do you mitigate against them?
“The main thing that worries a client is the risk that they come on board with a new IT support provider and they don’t receive the level of service that they were hoping for.
“It’s all fine and well going to a provider who starts out by saying they deliver excellent service and answer the phones any time of day, but then to find out that actually they don’t meet that expectation is a big risk for a client.
“We really try to reassure and mitigate against that by doing the network assessment process. This allows us to demonstrate what our level of service and commitment to the client is, and get the information back to them in as professional a manner as possible before they even are a client of ours.
“Throughout the process we always try to be transparent, keep the client up to date with what’s going on and make sure they have a clear path for escalation. So if they have any questions or queries at any point in the process, they’re fully aware of who they can contact and who will be available to help. We’re always trying to reiterate to them to give us feedback on our service as well; if there’s something they’re not happy with, they can just let us know and we’ll get it sorted as soon as possible so we can supersede their expectation. It definitely gives them an insight into how we operate and the service levels that we provide before they commit.”
“Additionally, with the added contractual terms in our agreements, you’re sure from a legal and commercial standpoint that we will deliver service to you within these parameters”
What benefits can companies get from the initial network assessment?
“This assessment allows us to develop a full overview of your infrastructure and how systems are currently being used, as well as uncover issues or risks that you won’t have been aware of. An example of this is a client we onboarded recently during lockdown - they had a remote desktop server that their previous IT provider had set up for them, but this server was exposed to the internet. That means you can just open a remote desktop client on your PC, pop in the address to their server and login credentials, and you’ll get logged in.
“That’s fine for their users working from home, but what we found when running our network assessment was that they were getting over 1,000 unauthorised login attempts per day. So someone somewhere around the world was targeting their server and running a script which basically tries default login credentials for the administrator, such as Password1, Password2, etc. and trying to breach their systems.
“By doing the network assessment, we were able to gather information about where the connection was coming from, what IP address was trying to connect into the server, what login details they were trying to use, and bring that to the attention of the client who had no idea this was happening. Unless you have a monitoring system that looked at that specifically, the user would never have been aware of that.
“We can also identify whether a website you subscribe to has been hacked. Quite often the hackers will pull your credentials out of that third party website and sell them on the dark web to then hack your accounts elsewhere. Again, that’s something you wouldn’t be able to see or find out if you weren’t specifically looking for it.”
What should people look for in their IT provider?
“Definitely look for an IT provider that can be proactive, not just reactive. The IT provider should always be making sure that the client is up to date with the most secure solutions and best in industry solutions.
“You also want an IT provider that partners with third parties that are top of class, especially nowadays when security is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Making sure that they’re the best in class or at least partnering with third party solutions that are best in class is a very important thing to look for.
“I would also recommend looking for an IT provider that is recommending cloud-based solutions above on-prem solutions. The way forward in the IT industry is the cloud, so you want to make sure that your provider is clued up on cloud-based technologies and perhaps have some sort of experience or certifications as well.”
What sets IT Hotdesk apart from competitors?
“Something that we include in our support contracts is patching, where we do a controlled install of Windows and third party updates on clients’ machines and servers. Quite often when those updates take place on a machine, it can cause problems with drivers or applications the user has, and that can lead to potential downtime. So we go through a very controlled process of reviewing all the updates before they’re approved for install, and then arrange installation at the start of a client’s contract so that patchings and updates are always being installed at the most convenient time.
“Having worked for other IT companies, that’s something that I think puts us ahead. A lot of other IT providers might not offer that service, or they might offer it as an add-on service where the client has to pay an additional amount. Whereas with us, it is included in the contract that we have for our clients, as part of the level of service we want to deliver.”
To learn more about how easy it is to switch to IT Hotdesk click here, or fill in the form below to get in touch with our team.