by Thomas Kinsinger
Director of Technology, E-N Computers
20+ years experience in enterprise IT and managed services.
You saw the value of outsourcing all or part of your IT department and signed a three-year contract with a managed services provider. But one year later, things aren’t going well with your IT MSP. Are you trapped for another two years because of your contract?
Not necessarily. We’ll share three tips for getting out of problems with an IT services contract.
Many organizations use an MSP for outsourcing their IT department or as an added resource for their internal IT. There are several reasons that an organization might become unhappy with their IT managed services provider.
Often this will lead businesses to start reviewing their MSP contract. They might find themselves partway through a one-to-five-year contract. While these contracts might be great if you’re receiving amazing service, they will often leave you feeling like a hostage when it’s not going well. The IT services provider may even threaten legal action should you choose to end the contract.
As an IT managed services provider for nearly 30 years, we’ve seen the issue from both sides. At E-N Computers, we don’t tie clients into long-term contracts because we want to avoid this exact situation. However, we have had clients come to us from other MSPs and are dealing with this concern.
First, talk to your IT managed service provider. If you can’t resolve issues, then find out if they will waive an early termination fee. They may want to end the relationship as much as you do.
Talk to your MSP
In the world of IT managed services, it’s easy to have breakdowns in communication. A good MSP has the goal of being an extension of your organization. This can fail quickly if both sides aren’t clearly communicating. This is a 50/50 effort.
As a first step, we recommend having a conversation with your original MSP. Get everything out on the table – all your expectations. If the problems you are experiencing are just a disconnect around communication, this will be totally worth your time. One of my mottos for 2023 is ‘to be clear is kind’. It’s a kindness to you and to your MSP to clarify expectations and solutions.
The MSP world tends to be death by a thousand cuts. Usually, people don’t just fire their MSP for no good reason. It’s usually over a lot of little things that don’t get talked about that build up over time. As an MSP we can’t fix what we don’t know about.
The following are three types of issues we’ve seen that usually can be cleared up without the need to change MSPs.
- A particular technician isn’t working out. For whatever reason, an MSP might have the wrong technician working with a customer, either because they have a different technical expertise than what was needed or maybe there is a personality or work style that doesn’t mesh well with the client. The easy solution is for the MSP to switch out to a different technician. We have found that a different technician can often win the client over and make them happy.
- A high priority issue is misidentified as low priority. Sometimes we don’t get enough details or didn’t ask enough questions, and we set an issue as lower priority, but the customer perceives it as a big issue. Once we correctly understand the nature of the issue, we can take care of it appropriately.
- A third party is involved. Issues sometimes come up when there’s a software vendor or a system vendor that we aren’t fully responsible for and the customer isn’t fully responsible for. If the three parties aren’t all in the same room at the same time, an issue can go around in circles for what feels like days because everyone is talking to only one of the parties. The solution is to get all three parties together and talk it out until the issue is resolved.
If you’re past the point of working things out with your current MSP, consider the following steps:
Not happy with your IT services provider but not sure how to leave?. This termination of services template covers the most common issues.
Don’t have time to use it now? Enter your email address (totally optional!) and we’ll send you a link so you can download it later or share it with your team.
Your MSP may want out, too
Let your MSP know the current arrangement is not working. It’s possible that they will be surprised that you are unhappy. Most MSPs value their reputation, and they will generally work with you to allow for a smooth transition. Most contracts will have a 30, 60, or 90-day termination notice clause. The termination window will allow you to onboard your new MSP.
Often, you’ll have to deal with an early termination fee. As you talk with your current provider, you might find that there is a mutual unhappy feeling. If that’s the case, they may be willing to waive the fees.
If your MSP refuses to release you from the agreement, you will need to spend some time understanding what you signed up for. Most MSP contracts will include service level agreements, quarterly business reviews, patching timelines or other deliverables. As you review these, you might find that the MSP is not fulfilling what it agreed to, which would put it in breach of contract. This might allow you to exit the contract without a fee. You might need to seek legal counsel from a technology attorney to negotiate terms of release from your agreement.
Don’t let fear stop you
Sometimes an organization feels trapped and afraid, and they continue with mediocre IT services. We would encourage you to explore new options. There are many great providers out there, and they can work with you to ensure a smooth transition of services.
Generally speaking, most MSPs are really cooperative about handing off to a new provider. The exception has been when a company comes to us but has not paid their previous MSP for services provided. The old MSP might refuse access to allow a transfer until services are paid for. So, make sure you are paid up with your current MSP to avoid tension.
Some services provided by your old MSP may need to continue for a time after the transfer. For example, some licenses or email solutions can’t easily be canceled. If your old MSP feels it’s going to get stuck holding a big bill for your email or some other license, they may not be easy to work with. If they feel like the exit will be a smooth process for them, they will help make it a great process for you.
To assist, we’ve provided a template for a notice of termination of service for an MSP. It includes language to cover how services will be handled during a transition and can get you started if you need to leave your MSP.
And before looking for a new MSP, you may want to try our no-obligation IT maturity self assessment. It will help you identify if and where your current IT setup is holding you back from your business goals.
Is your business ready to weather changes, including employee turnover? Find out by taking our IT maturity assessment.
You’ll get personalized action items that you can use to make improvements right away. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to book a FREE IT strategy session to get even more insights into your IT needs.