“How to Fire your IT Guy” – sounds like a catchy title to me. It also sounds a little self-serving, since I’m the owner of an IT business that’s always searching for new clients. The truth is, my business has been “fired” before. It’s only happened a couple times, but it has. We weren’t a good match for a client’s processes or their people, and I got that short and sweet email with the words “we’ve decided to take another path.”

You’ve been there, haven’t you? You know things aren’t working out with a vendor and you know it’s time to cut ties, but it’s never quite as simple as sending that “official notice” email you’ve had on your mind for months. Whether it’s a technology partner, an attorney, or even a subcontractor, some relationships do come to this awkward end from time to time.

When it comes to technology partnerships, there’s more to it than simply lining up a new partner and terminating the old one. What about all of those admin accounts you don’t know the password to? And the networking equipment that is set up “just so”? How about all of those important files you have backed up to the cloud using an account provided by the vendor you’re cutting ties with? In this article I’d like to touch on 3 key questions you should keep in mind.

Is the relationship repairable? Before cutting ties, it’s important to do a thorough evaluation of the current situation. Have things fallen apart for specific reasons, or has a lack of communication just worn down the relationship to the point no one wants to work together anymore? If the decline has simply been gradual or there’s never been a true confrontation over the issues at hand, perhaps there’s something to be saved, rather than discarded.

How will this all go down? When looking for a new IT provider, many businesses like mine will be quick to promise a “quick and smooth transition” before we even take a look at your systems and processes. Simply having an admin password doesn’t mean you have all you need to move forward cleanly, and there may be some bumps along the road that make it worth extending an olive branch of another month of paid service with your former provider. This may prove valuable and smooth the transition from your former provider to your new provider.

Am I part of the problem? If you find yourself changing technology providers often, perhaps it’s time to look for the common denominator. Is there something about your or your staff’s expectations that make your business hard to work with? Do you look at technology as an expense, or as an asset? Do you view your provider as a valued and trusted partner or just another vendor? Do you wait until the last minute and create emergencies, or are you constantly calling your provider with the smallest of issues you could solve yourself?

Moving to a new IT provider is a delicate transition. There’s a lot of knowledge locked up in the heads of your former provider, and getting a good transfer of that information is a path we should tread carefully.

Written by Chet Cromer for publication in the Business Leader