Your IT assets are precious but they are not immortal. No matter how well they performed, they will inevitably reach the end of the line in terms of their functionality. An immediate solution presents itself: let’s buy new pieces of equipment. Yet, this is a bit less convincing of an argument if these resources are still working fine. What are other options at your disposal and can third-party IT maintenance providers be not only a viable but more affordable option?
Hard truth: original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) do not have to see eye to eye with you when it comes to your equipment. Guided by the profit motive, they are well within their rights to tell you to buy new versions of the stuff you use once your equipment gets too long in the tooth.
If you shoot that proposal down, they will give yet another option as an alternative: you can enter a service level agreement (SLA) with them that will grant your equipment at least a few years of prolonged functionality.
The downside? These are usually expensive arrangements and, as such, do not offer that much of an advantage compared with buying new equipment.
So, how about going with the maintenance providers for your assets?
Maintaining your equipment smartly means squeezing out every last drop of performance for your money. So, how do you do this smartly? Unfortunately, there is no skeleton key for this, as the right solution will depend on the size of your organization and the depth of your wallet, primarily.
The first option, described above, is to fall back to the OEM you already work with. While being costly, this option will allow you to use your OEM’s maintenance services in the long run. If you are controlling an array of assets, you’ll probably have to enter multiple agreements with your OEM to provide sufficient coverage for all IT assets you need to provide for.
Another option is to use the full-time services of a dedicated team of IT personnel. This essentially boils down to running an IT department of your own - they will be in charge of not only maintaining and servicing your assets but of upgrading them when the time comes as well. What are the downsides of this option? It’s generally cost-prohibitive for smaller and medium organizations to run a dedicated IT team only for the purpose of maintenance and upgrades.
So, are third-party IT maintenance service providers the middle-of-the-road solution? Let’s see what works for them in this case.
First of all, using these services means that you are essentially outsourcing the IT maintenance tasks to a team of professionals who are not on your full-time payroll and are not trying to make you buy new equipment every now and then.
They will keep your equipment operational much beyond its expected life-cycle, allowing you to get more for your buck.
Next, their services go beyond mere maintenance, as their scope of activity usually covers IT support, backup creation, and upgrade management. Yes, this includes technical troubleshooting around the clock at a lower price than running your own IT department.
Finally, speaking of costs, these professionals will optimize your spending in various maintenance segments and, in essence, pay its services off by giving you a bang for your buck.
This one will largely depend on your needs and the availability of providers, but some general best practices still apply.
First, look for a maintenance company with a great track record and a broad range of services on offer. With due diligence performed in advance, you will know that you are working with a team of qualified professionals that can meet all of your needs down the line.
Check what your draft maintenance contract includes to avoid unpleasant surprises. While the scope of these services can be broad, some essentials are simply bread-and-butter here, including backup, support, personnel training, part replacement, asset deployment, and troubleshooting. All of these need to be offered at the same level of availability, no matter if it is a regular operation or an emergency.
Make sure you ask for a customized contractual agreement with a provider of your choice. Also, if you are running a global business, you can check if your provider offers unified services wherever you have your branch offices.
While not exactly being a revenue stream, the IT assets whose functionality extends beyond their life cycle will continue to support your business for less than you initially planned which is a welcome addition to your budgeting projections.
If everything pans out, you will reap not only operational but financial benefits from this arrangement. While procuring IT assets initially is an investment, you can recover a significant portion out of it by handling your maintenance cost in a strategic and intelligent manner.