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What To Ask Yourself And Your IT Vendor Before You Switch



This is a common question we get asked by healthcare practice administrators in and around Boston who want to switch their IT services over to us. “Is it difficult to switch IT service vendors for our healthcare business?” Listen, we know healthcare IT isn’t the hottest of topics, nor does it turn any heads. But we find that the worst stigma surrounding changing IT providers is how difficult and lengthy it can be. Is switching IT companies as difficult as you might think? Let’s find out.

To start off, the quick answer is “No.” With an experienced healthcare IT provider, it’s not that difficult to switch. It’s actually very easy if a number of variables are met. How you approach these variables will determine how smooth the transition will be.

Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

1. How much do you know about your current IT environment or infrastructure?

The more you know, the more you can pass on to your new healthcare IT vendor. It’s helpful if you know things like your passwords, firewall, servers, active directory domain, switches, routers, etc.

The more you know, the easier switching will be because you can give this information to your new IT vendor rather than them hunting for it. But you might say “Shouldn’t the IT vendor I’m planning to replace know everything? Shouldn’t they just handle everything on their own?” Theoretically they should — But it’s always best to be educated about your IT infrastructure, and the more you know, the easier the transition will be.

2. How robust was your documentation system?

Does your old IT company have a sufficient documentation of your technology environment regarding passwords, issues, resolutions and more? The better their documentation and the more they share with you, the easier the switch will be. Are they even willing to work with your new IT vendor? This is another question you must address.

3. Who owns your hardware?

Do you own it, or do you rent it from your previous IT vendor? We’re talking about things like computers, firewalls, servers, wireless access points and more. If you own the hardware, then it’s just a simple password swap. But if the hardware is owned or leased out by your IT vendor, then you must either purchase it from them or replace it altogether. However, in most cases, the hardware will be bought out making the switch a straightforward process going forward.

Note: If the IT vendor you’re planning to replace has gone out of business or is unwilling to work with you, your new IT company should be able to perform password resets.

4. Does the IT Vendor you’re switching to have a plan of attack?

What I mean is simply this: Do they have experience migrating a company away from other IT companies? If they have a refined process, there’s very little that will get in their way. There will always be little hiccups and bumps along the way, but for the most part, switching IT companies is about planning for a short period of downtime and migrating the old system to the new. It’s as simple as that…. Well, in most cases.

Questions To Ask Your New IT Vendor

The trick to a smooth transition from one IT vendor to another is knowing what questions to ask. Here are five questions to ask when interviewing a new IT provider.

1. How long is it going to take to transition?

One thing you should realize is that the new IT vendor will be stepping into your current configuration–meaning, if you are up and running now you shouldn’t experience downtime. They will simply install software to give them full insight into your system.

2. What passwords do we need?

Most networks run on an active directory. This means you have an admin account and can remove access for previous providers, locking them out of your system.  All the new IT vendor needs to do this is an account with admin permissions for your system and network equipment passwords.

3. Should we be concerned about anything when switching to your IT company?

There are very few things that should concern you.  However, there are steps that you can take to alleviate any worries:

  • Make sure that you own your domain name.  Some IT companies register client domains under their names. This gives them “ownership” of the domain name. Although this doesn’t happen often, it can be challenging to address.
  • Some companies will buy computers for you and register them in their company name. Make sure that they don’t. Again, this can be overcome, but it presents an additional challenge.
  • Plus, consider these questions:

a. Are you under contract?
b. Does your it company manage your website domain?
c. Are you leasing any equipment?

4. When should we tell our old IT company that we’re switching to a new one?

Start by reviewing your contract or agreement with your current provider. You may get hit with another bill if you don’t give your old IT company the required notice–this is typically 30 days.

In the best scenario (and most common scenario), providers will give you all requested passwords and remove their software in order to facilitate the transition. If you’re concerned that they may be hostile, reach out to your new IT vendor. They should be able to help you create a plan to get passwords and lock your old provider out of the system before notifying them. This can be done very quickly, and if required your new IT service vendor can reset devices to gain control if passwords can’t be obtained.

5. How long will it take for you to understand our network?

One thing to keep in mind is that every network has the same basic elements. There are different brands and devices, which do have varying interfaces. However, your new IT service company will probably be working with clients using your exact same equipment.

Most often they will change passwords for security, and keep configurations working until they’ve had the time to evaluate your setup and are ready to make improvements. The impact on your healthcare business should be a seamless transition with no downtime and minimal inconvenience to your users.

We’re happy to answer all of your questions and more. Remember, often times the stigma surrounding certain IT-related questions can be very negative. But in most cases, it’s the opposite. IT companies with refined processes can make switching easier.

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