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What is your initial thought when you think about potentially switching your IT provider?
It’s okay to feel discomfort at the thought of switching IT providers due to the upheaval and disruption that it will cause to business operations.
You may compare the possibility of switching your IT provider to changing internet provider – and we all know how annoying that can be with having to go without internet for a day or two during the crossover period.
You don’t want your business’s service to suffer or worse, you don’t want to have to go a day or two without working because you have no IT during the switch – like many people experience when changing internet providers. You want continuity throughout the switchover and for you to receive a proper service at the end of it.
It’s understandable if you have been led to believe that switching your IT provider will be a massive business disruptor, or maybe you have had experience of this yourself, which is why you have been reticent to contemplate it – even if your current IT provider is causing your business real pain. You may feel the pain is switching will be greater.
But this guide is here to show you that it does not have to be like this – ‘it’s too complicated’ is only a myth.
This myth was manufactured by the IT service industry to create an illusion that it is too difficult to switch providers, so that businesses have ‘no choice’ but to put up with the pain of bad IT once they have chosen a provider.
Too many businesses today put up with ‘contract-ending’ practises from their IT provider because they are unaware that there are alternatives out there.
This guide will map out the step-by-step process a business will go through when switching IT provider; the level of disruption the business is likely to experience (it’s not as much as you think); and the level of risk to the business during each stage of the process.
5 Simple Steps
A well-managed Strategic IT Partner can switch you over to them from your current provider in 5 simple steps.
For more information on the differences between a strategic IT partner and a reactive IT provider, then click here.
Phase 1: Pre-Contract
The very first phase is self-explanatory as the process must begin with agreeing a contract with your new strategic IT partner and giving notice to your current one so planning the switchover can begin.
It is expected that your current IT Provider will comply with the transition process as this will make it run smoothly, however, it may not always be the case.
If your current IT Provider refuses to comply with the transition, then switching can still go ahead but it may cause a little bit more disruption than necessary.
Wherever possible, an overlap of providers is strongly recommended to not only facilitate a smooth transition but also to hold the incumbent provider to account while they are still under contract.
Phase 2: Onboarding
Time Frame: 1-4 weeks.
This phase allows the new strategic IT partner to learn, secure and preserve the business environment.
There should be a period of dual access between your new and current IT providers so there’s a cordial handover which can be properly communicated. It shouldn’t be a case of a new IT provider comes in and your current provider will immediately lose access to the IT infrastructure.
The crossover period will involve you having to pay both your current provider and the new one – an idea that you understandably may initially feel uncomfortable with. However, this is about managing the risk. If there is no crossover period then the risk of disruption becomes greater and it is you and your business that will carry that risk, not the IT provider(s).
The onboarding stage mainly involves the new strategic IT partner educating the IT users (your staff) about them as a company, how they work, and getting the staff engaged in the process so a positive relationship can be established from the very start; and about securing the IT infrastructure from the current provider. Several audits will be conducted as part of this process to acquire knowledge ahead of the ‘go-live’ date where the new IT provider becomes 100% responsible.
Once the onboarding phase is complete and the go-live day arrives, your current [former] IT provider ceases responsibility for the IT infrastructure and your new provider begin taking accountability.
This phase done well will determine the success of the other phases.
Phase 3: Stabilisation
Time Frame: 1-8 weeks.
The stabilisation stage begins when your former IT provider ceases responsibility for business operations and the new strategic partner has taken complete control of the IT infrastructure.
The success of this phase is heavily predicated on good planning.
Further IT audits will be conducted in quick succession on the current infrastructure to determine how secure it is and how up to date the technology is. The audits are key because to be able to manage something, first you must be able to measure it. It’s important to know what level the IT infrastructure is currently at to then determine where it needs to be.
The audit results will be dissected by the strategic IT partner and taken to the leadership team so a roadmap can be agreed, and a baseline project plan can be drafted. A RAG (Red, Amber, Green) analysis will be drawn up for project management purposes as goals will be prioritised.
Phase 4: Standardisation
Time frame: 1-4 weeks.
The standardisation phase is the most complex part of the IT switchover as this is where the project plans that forms part of the IT roadmap agreed upon in phase 3 will start to be put into action.
Initial high priority projects can include aligning the security systems and ensuring all the hardware and software are compliant.
Phase 5: Transformation Projects
Once the standardisation phase and initial high priority projects have been completed, the rest of the projects to fully develop and secure the IT infrastructure can begin.
Evolving a business’s IT infrastructure to become resilient and have a high level of security maturity is not an overnight job – it takes time and a change in the company culture to embrace new security measures.
There is no average time limit on projects because they are bespoken to every individual business.
A complete IT switchover can happen with minimal disruption in as little as 4 weeks with the average switch taking between 4-12 weeks.
The Disruption for the Business
It is important to manage expectations during an IT switchover and there will of course be change within the business.
Change is disruptive and that is okay – when it is well managed.
There are no serious changes to the business operations during the first three phases, but phase 4 is different. Phase 4: Standardisation, is what brings the change and the disruption to the business, but it’s not going to be as bad as you think.
Change and disruption can bring a level of risk to the business. It can be perilous to change IT providers if you have not carefully researched and evaluated the new IT provider before appointing them.
Let’s explore the different levels of risk in more detail.
It is important to understand how the two different IT providers will approach a switchover and it will give an insight into how they will deal with their clients IT infrastructure in the future.
The ‘riskometer’ image above shows the levels of risk each phase of the switchover brings depending on what IT provider you are switching to.
As the RAG (Red, Amber, Green) chart clearly demonstrates, the first two phases of a switchover carry very little risk because very little change happens here – regardless of what type of IT provider you switch to.
The riskometer begins to change slightly from phase 3: stabilisation, and then the risk gap widens significantly from phase 4 onwards.
There’s a reason why the risk gap begins to widen between the two IT providers from phase 3: stabilisation – and it all comes down to planning.
Phase 3 is essentially the planning stage. A lot of the disruption that is likely to be caused during phase 4: standardisation, can be mitigated with careful planning and communication to staff to ensure disruption is minimal.
A strategic IT partner will take a holistic view of your whole business from the strategic decisions made at board level, right down to how your staff work at an operational level and provide advice on the appropriate IT solutions to implement so they are aligned with the business’s wider strategy.
Because of this, a strategic IT partner must create a detailed plan with the business founder/leadership team to ensure everything is aligned.
The difference with a reactive provider is that they will provide your business with an IT infrastructure without deeper analysis into how the infrastructure can complement your wider business strategy. They will have little regard for how each IT function works with the system holistically.
Because of this, there is little planning undertaken which is why the risk becomes significantly higher when switching to a reactive IT provider. This also provides an insight into how they will manage you as a client in the future.
The nature and scale of disruption of change is proportional to the degree of planning and management of it. A lot of the disruption that change brings can be mitigated with careful planning and communication which is what strategic IT partners thrive at.
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Lumina Technologies have taken the time to understand the requirements of our business and work as our strategic IT partner, enabling us to concentrate on delivering a high quality service to our clients and focus on our growth strategy. They have delivered a 100% cloud solution to our business with no underlying infrastructure costs or maintenance, which gives us scalability for our planned growth. It also means our business critical applications and data are securely accessible from virtually all our user devices. Lumina’s professional approach and strategic expertise is highly valued and their management of our IT – based on their in-depth knowledge, leaves us confident that our systems are available 24×7.
Keidan Harrison LLP
Lumina have supported us so well through the difficult circumstances of 2020. They worked extremely hard to ensure we were able to work remotely and continue to operate our business successfully. The support team are very friendly and knowledgeable, and have excellent response times.
The team have also enhanced our cyber security which is so important in the legal sector, and they continue to provide high quality advice to help us move forward with our IT goals.
Managing Partner, Adams & Remers LLP
The quality of IT Support provided by Lumina Technology is of the highest standard and is complemented by effective client liaison with impressive response times. Trap Oil Group plc has no hesitation in recommending Lumina as a dedicated and specialist group of IT professionals.
Technical Director, Trap Oil Group plc
Richard and his team are a real inspiration to anyone who meets them and I have watched Lumina’s growth over the last few years with interest and admiration. Richard has been an amazing supporter of the Hospice of St Francis, being a Gold member of the Corporate Partner Network for almost two years. He takes an active interest in the community and is passionate about his company and his town: nothing is too much trouble, he is always willing to help, to give up his time and to provide business advice when asked. Lumina is an inspiration to any company wanting to set up business in Hertfordshire.
Corporate Fundraising Manager, The Hospice of St Francis
Lumina Technologies Prism Hosted Desktop has allowed our business to centralise our global corporate data, allowing much faster access for all our staff – regardless of their location. We have also been able to simplify and reduce our infrastructure and management overhead. With the new Prism Hosted Desktop solution all staff now have simple and secure access to corporate data using any device they choose. Prism Hosted Desktop has increased the productivity of our staff and given us a single, consistent and familiar experience for all users from any device, in any location, 24/7.
Chief Executive Officer, Wentworth Resources PLC
The commercially sensitive and regulated nature of Lambert Energy Advisory’s business requires an IT provider able to maintain the highest levels of integrity and confidentiality, Lumina Technologies has consistently been unimpeachable in this regard over the nine years we have employed them.
Lambert Energy Advisory
It has been a great pleasure working with Lumina Technologies over the past two years. They have fully committed to being involved in the local community with volunteering and with professional advice and commitment, helping many local charities along the way. As a growing company it proves that being involved in the local community is helping them attract and retain a talented workforce and I look forward to working with them well into the future.
Hawkstone Management Services Ltd is a small company for which IT Outsourcing is realistically the only viable option. Lumina Technologies have successfully performed this role for over fifteen years. They also provide innovative solutions to keep pace with technological progress. I would have no hesitation in recommending Lumina to similar sized businesses.
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Charles Douglas Solicitors LLP have been using Lumina Technologies for a number of years now and continue to be impressed by the technical know-how and contemporary knowledge of their senior management, who provide a timely, efficient and friendly service. Whether it is a small issue with one computer, or a strategic IT decision, they maintain a current knowledge of available technologies. Lumina are always at the other end of the phone to help resolve issues and minimise business interference. The technical knowledge of Richard and his senior team means that there has not been a problem that they can’t solve to date. I am sure we will continue to use them in the years to come.
Managing Partner, Charles Douglas Solicitors LLP
The team at Lumina Technologies have made the Amoun Travel & Tours office IT transition seamless and problem free. The office set-up has been vastly improved and the IT Support services are flawless. No issue goes unresolved, which is extremely reassuring.
Amoun Travel & Tours Ltd
Lumina Technologies has been Salamander Energy plc’s IT provider since start-up in 2005 and has supported us in London during our expansion across operational offices in SE Asia. Their professional approach, strategic advice and close co-operation have been essential in making this a success.
Group Technical Director, Salamander Energy plc
Richard and his team at Lumina have provided Perrett Laver Limited with high quality strategic and practical IT Services for over ten years. During this period, Perrett Laver has grown from 10+ colleagues based in London to nearly 100 colleagues located in six offices across the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. Richard and the Lumina team have not just been responsive to our ‘everyday’ IT needs, but have proactively sought to work with us on developing an infrastructure suitable for the type of operation we are today, and are planning to be months and years down the line. I would not hesitate to recommend Richard, especially for small to medium size business with growth in mind.
COO, Perrett Laver Limited
Society Limited has been supported by Lumina Technologies since our earliest start-up phase. From large logistical challenges like an office move, through to smaller fiddly issues like fixing a faulty e-template, we know we can count on their support and advice. They’ve also been able to engage with us strategically on the challenge of scaling-up our infrastructure as the firm continues to grow and evolve. We always feel confident going to Lumina with a problem, since we know they genuinely care about sorting things out and helping us to get on with our core business.
Managing Director, Society Limited
The Vita Group HQ staff have worked with Richard McBarnet and Lumina Technologies for over 9 years, with Lumina providing all our PC, server, phone, and software support. The services have included C-level executives based in London, Manchester, the US, as well as supporting home office IT as well. The service provided and intellectual capabilities are outstanding and we would highly recommend Richard and his Lumina team.
CEO, The Vita Group
We worked with Lumina on a GDPR Audit. Richard was knowledgeable and professional throughout, and did the best he could to bring a dry topic to life through lots of real life examples and analogies. We were so impressed with the service Lumina provided and the value we got from partnering with them on this project – we couldn’t recommend them enough.
Holly Cottingham, Vintec Laboratories