Avoiding Pitfalls when Transitioning Between Service Providers – Wimgo

Avoiding Pitfalls when Transitioning Between Service Providers

Switching service providers can be a major headache if not handled carefully. I learned this lesson the hard way when my small business changed web hosting companies last year. In an effort to save money, we cancelled our existing web host before fully migrating to the new provider. For nearly a week, our website was down and customers could not access our online store. Email was unreliable and we lost several important messages from clients. It was a nightmare that could have easily been avoided with proper planning. 

After picking up the pieces from that disastrous transition, I vowed to approach any future provider change cautiously and methodically. Now, after successfully navigating a recent switch of payroll processors, I want to share some best practices for avoiding pitfalls when transitioning between service providers. Whether you are changing web hosts, email services, payment processors or other critical business functions, following these steps will help prevent major disruptions.

Research New Providers Thoroughly

The first step in any provider transition is thoroughly researching your options for a replacement service. You want to avoid jumping from the frying pan into the fire, so take time to check reviews and talk to current customers if possible. Here are some key things to investigate:

– Features and Reliability – Carefully compare features between your current and prospective providers to ensure the new one can handle everything you need. Check their uptime history and service level agreement to confirm reliability.  

– Reputation – Search online reviews and complaints, looking for any red flags about poor customer service or system failures. Check sites like TrustPilot and BBB for objective insight.

– Security – For services handling sensitive data, review third-party security audits and certifications to confirm the provider has necessary protections.

– Support Options – Check that they offer telephone, chat and email support so you can get quick help if needed. Validate support is based in-house, not outsourced.

– Costs – Do a complete pricing comparison, not just basic fees but also charges for add-ons, data overages, etc. Make sure you know exactly what you are paying for.

– Contract Terms – Understand the length of contract, renewal/cancellation policies, and penalties for early termination if any. Ensure contract terms align with your needs.

Taking time upfront to thoroughly vet new providers gives you confidence you are making the right choice before committing to the transition. It also ensures you will not have any unpleasant surprises down the road.

Transfer Data Methodically 

Once you have selected a new provider, the data migration is where care and precision really pay off. Try to resist the temptation to rush through this critical phase of the transition. Here are some best practices for methodical data transfers:

– Back Up Existing Data – To avoid any data loss, back up everything with your current provider before beginning the transition. Store backups both locally and in the cloud for redundancy.

– Follow Detailed Instructions – New providers usually supply checklists and processes for transferring data from the old system. Follow them precisely and seek clarification if you have any questions.

– Allow Plenty of Time – Do not underestimate how long data transfers can take, especially for large amounts of data. Build extra time into your transition timeline and begin transfers early.  

– Confirm Completion – Once transfers are supposedly complete, double check that all data is present in the new system by spot checking records. Only delete data from the old provider once the transfer is fully verified.

– Get Support If Needed – Many providers have dedicated onboarding teams who can provide hands-on assistance with data migration. Take advantage of this support if you encounter any hiccups in the process.

Methodical data transfers take more time upfront but avoid much bigger headaches from lost or corrupted data down the road.

Update Contacts and Settings  

With your data now securely transferred to the new provider, the next step is updating any contacts and integrated systems about the change. This prevents confusion and errors resulting from people accessing old addresses or logins. Be sure to:

– Send Emails – Notify all relevant contacts about new email addresses, login URLs, server names, etc. Supply instructions for updating any email client settings as needed.

– Update Settings – Change the credentials, keys and connection information in integrated systems like ecommerce platforms, marketing automation tools, payment processors, etc.  

– Update Address – If you have a new office location, mailing address, phone number or other contact info, proactively notify all regular contacts. Update your website, email signatures, letterhead, business cards and directory listings.

– Change Passwords – Use new unique passwords for the new provider (not the same as old provider) and share selectively with key team members as needed.  

– Confirm Receipt – Ask contacts to reply confirming they updated your new contact information to validate the transition went smoothly on their end.

Taking time to widely communicate provider changes helps avoid confusion and ensures you don’t lose touch with important contacts during the transition.

Maintain Service During Switch 

One critical precaution when changing business service providers is avoiding any gap in service during the transition. The worst thing you can do is prematurely cancel the existing provider before fully rolling out its replacement. Be sure to:

– Overlap Services – Keep old provider active as you implement the new one, even if it means paying double temporarily. This prevents any gap in essential services.

– Stagger Rollout – Gradually shift functions from old to new provider one step at a time. For example, switch email systems but maintain old web hosting until email is stable.

– Confirm Functionality – Thoroughly test that the new provider is fully operational and you can function without the old provider before canceling service. Don’t rush but be sure both are not running long-term.

– Get Support – Have dedicated onboarding support from the new provider to quickly resolve any issues switching systems to minimize dual-provider time.

While paying for two service providers simultaneously can be costly in the short term, it is much less expensive than even a short disruption in essential services like transaction processing or email.


Switching critical business service providers like web hosts, payment processors and CRMs can certainly be a headache, especially if not handled deliberately. But by thoroughly researching options, methodically transferring data, updating contacts, and maintaining service during the transition, you can avoid major pitfalls and make the switch seamlessly. Proper planning prevents the sorts of disasters I encountered earlier in my career from lost revenue and damaged reputation. In the end, carefully navigating provider transitions helps facilitate upgrading services and technologies that allow your business to scale successfully over the long term.