It can be difficult to evaluate what you really need out of an IT vendor until you know exactly what you don't need in one. It's unfortunate to learn your lesson after you've already made the commitment, but it's also not a reason to keep a bad thing going. Learn more about when it's time to call it quits, and what it takes to pull the trigger without fearing the repercussions.
It's Just Not Working
Sometimes two companies are just never going to be able to work it out, no matter how much they might want to. It's not necessarily anyone's fault, it's just the way it is. If your current services are just not stacking up, it may push the vendor to step up their game if you threaten to pull your business. Or it may backfire in a big way. In fact, vendors who are challenged as to the value and the quality of their work may become resentful, which could cause them to simultaneously abandon their customer service model as they slowly increase their prices.
Overcoming the Perils
It's not going to be easy to switch your IT services — no matter what anyone tells you. Any change in an organization is going to have its own potential pitfalls that can't be eliminated entirely. It's why some managers and owners don't even bother to pick up the phone to check out their vendor's competitors, even if they do feel they're being overcharged for services they don't want. However, these challenges can be overcome with the right planning. It all starts with having a healthy breakup with your current vendor.
Approach #1: Talk It Out
There are few things worse than having a truly uncomfortable conversation, and some people will do anything to get out of this type of awkward confrontation. But you will almost certainly leave on better terms with your vendor and pave the way for the transition if you're honest and forthcoming. Remember that an IT vendor has a lot of control over your data, and not everyone is as professional as they claim to be when it comes to rejection.
Talk to the vendor about why your business needs to go in a different direction, regardless of what those reasons are. You can temper criticism with praise whenever possible, but be sure to stand your ground if you've already made a decision. If you're still in the middle of a contract, ask the decision-maker directly if they would consider making an exception. It's easy to point to a clause in a contract via email, but it's quite different to have to say 'no' to someone's face.
Approach #2: Offer a Plan
One of the worst things about running a business is having no idea what's on the horizon for the company. Even bad news can look a little better when there's a clean outline of the next steps. While most contracts give general ideas of what a split would look like, they usually fail to account for the special anomalies from account to account. As the one calling the relationship quits, take a moment to sketch out how you see the break-up going. Hit on as many details as possible to show you've done your homework.
When you're forming the plan, take into account the way you do business and the way your IT vendor does business. This does not have to be a long or arduous exercise, it can be as simple as laying out a few ground rules that are as specific as they are fair. A vendor should be more receptive if they feel respected and valued, and should (hopefully) be more willing to comply with what you're asking for. If it makes sense for both of you, present that plan in written form. Finally, make sure you send a written confirmation of termination to the vendor as well after the verbal conversation.
Approach #3: Leave the Door Open
You never know where people will be in a few years (or even a few months!) Let's say you're working with a contact person who was efficient, responsive, and competent. But the actual management of your data was simply not conducive to your way of business. Keeping that relationship going in some form can be a way to open up opportunities in the future. The fast-changing world of IT is always looking for the right talent, so you may end up working with the same people under a different umbrella in the future.
Leaving the door open may be as simple as staying connected with someone on LinkedIn or another type of social media site. When you need a question answered six months down the line, you're more likely to get a response. This is just one of the many reasons why communication and flexibility are so important when it comes to a split.
The glut of vendors has led to some glaring inconsistencies when it comes to the quality of the work done, and unfortunately, it's not always easy to spot the duds from the stars. From financial holdings to turn-around times to the quality of the technology, there's a lot consider before hiring one. In an ideal world, you wouldn't think of your IT vendor as a vendor at all, but as an equal partner in a mutually beneficial relationship.