Making the decision to change managed service providers can seem like a daunting task.  Many organizations stay with their current provider because they feel like it is going to be “too much work” to change, even if they are not completely satisfied with the work, response, and security acumen of the provider that they are using.  It is important to note that there is a cost and “work” associated with staying as well if you are not receiving the value that you deserve from your managed service provider.

If the current provider is not responsive, you could be experiencing lengthened downtime or lost productivity.  If you need to chase them for answers, you are losing the time it takes you to do that chasing which could have been used for productive business operations.  And if they are not security focused, you may have increased cyber risk in the organization which could lead to real expense in the event of a breach.

With all of that said, there are some things that you can do to make the transition from one provider to another go more smoothly and efficiently.

  1. If you have a contract, confirm the agreement end date. Some contracts have cancellation fees if they are not terminated properly within the term of the agreement as long as the termination was not based upon a breach of the contract.  Understanding this may help you time your move.
  2. Once you have verified the above, look at your termination clause. Verify whether you have to give notice in order to cancel your agreement and if so, how much advance notice is needed in order to avoid an ETF (Early Termination Fee).
  3. The new provider will be looking to understand what is in the environment that they will have to support and secure. Pull together a list of active hardware so the new provider has this at the beginning of their engagement.  While they will likely use tools to create their own asset inventory once they come on board, having this as a cross check will help ensure that nothing is missed.
  4. Request a Run Book (with passwords) from your current provider. This runbook will ensure that the new provider has the information, documentation and access that they will need.  Some providers will resist giving you this as it could be an indication that you are looking to leave them, but it is YOUR information and you are entitled to a copy of it.
  5. Understand what you own for software licensing, so it can be seamlessly moved to the new provider. Licensing can be difficult to track down if it not stored in a central location.  During the transition and in the event that you want to upgrade in the future, having the existing licensing is critical.

Ultimately changing managed service providers can be a difficult decision, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult process if you prepare as described above.  In general, all MSPs and MSSPs have lost clients and taken them from other providers and will be cordial and cooperative during the process as their reputation is at stake.  Plus, they know what it is like to be on the other side of the equation.