If you’re reading this article, chances are, you might be facing the difficult choice to fire your IT Guy (or Gal). Maybe they aren’t answering your emails or phone calls or perhaps your last invoice was written up to provide a nice payday instead of excellent service for your company. Whatever the reason may be, you’ll want to read the bullet points below before you pull the trigger.
1. Be Prepared—When you’re about to give some bad news to the person who has the keys to the kingdom of your company, this is one of the most important things you can do. First, you’ll want to make a list of everything they have access to (servers, web hosting, third party websites, etc.) and start drawing up a plan to revoke access and change all of those passwords. You’ll also want to change any ability they may have to perform a password reset using security questions or PINs. If you already have your new IT support lined up, go over this information with them and decide whether you want to tackle the chore or make it their first assignment. Timing is very important with this. Don’t fire someone on a Friday—that just gives them time to stew and you less time to prepare. Give the bad news on a Monday so you can create your backups, change all the passwords, etc. over the weekend without any downtime. It’s also important to do it fast. Don’t drag it out any longer than it needs to be.
2. Change All The Passwords—How, who, and when this happens are all very important. If you’re a Small Business owner with five accounts or less, you may go ahead and tackle this yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable or you’ve got a bigger list—enlist the help of your new IT support. They’ll know how to check for and remove any loopholes that might be used to try to gain access to the system or third party websites in retaliation. Don’t overlook the simple ones, either. Make sure your company Wi-Fi password is changed, too. It’s all too easy to drive up into the parking lot later in the night and boom—they’ve got access to your network. Make sure you don’t use variations of old passwords. For example, don’t use the same password and increment the number by one. If a third party password is MyCompany01!, don’t use MyCompany02!. Have your new IT support generate strong passwords for you or if you’re tech savvy—Google for password generators and you should find several good ones. If there are some passwords you don’t have, make sure they’re given to you and verified before they leave. This is no different than turning in a company owned cell phone or laptop.
3. Make Backups—Before you fire your current IT help, make sure you have everything backed up. I can’t stress this enough. There are countless stories on the web of angry IT employees sabotaging the backups before they’re let go and erase business critical data. Again, this is another piece of the puzzle where you might want to get your new IT support to make sure you’re good to go. Having good backups is great insurance against any malice that may come from an employee being let go.
4. Check for Backdoors—More often than not, they probably know this is coming just as much as you do. If you’ve got a firewall, server, etc. have your new IT support check everything over. Make sure they look for any additional user accounts that shouldn’t be there, ports open, or services on you’re not familiar with. Your backup won’t do much good if they’re able to get in and interrupt your business operations weeks later with administrative access and a bad attitude. You might even need to call your hosting provider or other companies and have them removed as an authorized user.
5. Execute Your Plan—If you need to delay letting your IT guy go in order to be prepared for damage control, do it. This is part of the overall plan. When you’re finally prepared, take action—quickly. Determine whether you’re doing it alone, with the help of your new IT support, or if you’re turning it all over to them. If you turn everything over to your new support, make sure you're thorough and provide all accounts the old IT support has access to. From here, you’ll have an idea for what sort of time frame you’ll need to execute the plan. It might be easy enough to do on a Friday afternoon and verify again on Saturday that all access has been cut off, your backups are good, and you’re able to give the news on Monday.