IT Focus Area: infrastructure operations
May 5, 2015
How to Gain Control of Your Hardware Maintenance Options
Many IT organizations think they have visibility into all of their hardware assets and their associated maintenance contracts, but they may be in the dark.
Without collaboration between IT, business managers, IT asset management (ITAM), and IT procurement, there is a high likelihood that the available options for maintenance coverage will be under analyzed. This will result in higher costs and wasted investment opportunities.
Add in multiple manufacturer programs, contract sprawl, conflicting data sources and frequent personnel changes and there is little wonder why most organizations struggle to keep track of it all. Oh, and let’s not forget those undefined processes for moves, adds, changes and deletes (MACDs). IT organizations must also consider who is responsible for managing manufacturer programs and policies, such as tracking any credits your firm is due on retired assets or changes in coverage levels. It’s easy to understand why shining a light on these matters can uncover significant savings on an annual basis.
Associating your IT assets with your maintenance contracts is a time-consuming endeavor. Most organizations aren’t properly staffed to give it the time, effort and attention it deserves. This is often a part-time task for an individual who already is spread too thin.
When it comes to managing your assets and their associated maintenance contracts, you may not know:
What IT assets you have
If the coverage level that was initially purchased is still required based upon the business function of the asset
Where your assets are located
Which contract they are on
When their contract expires
When their end-of-life support dates are approaching
For example, a manufacturer may send an end-of-life support notice to someone who’s no longer with your organization. Or you may forget to tell a manufacturer when you move an asset to a new data center, causing them to send replacement parts to the wrong location. Failure to sync your data with what a manufacturer has on file can increase your downtime when something breaks.
If a piece of equipment goes down — and it’s not covered by a maintenance contract — you may put your entire organization at risk. This is because everything in your IT environment is connected to something else. If one device fails, it can cause a chain reaction that impacts everything from your security to your ability to conduct business.
When you have on-demand insight into your environment, you can ensure that you have the right level of support for each asset. Then, when something fails, you can get up and running quickly.
When Does It Make Sense to Outsource Your Maintenance Contracts?
“Contracts are written for when things go wrong … not when things are going right."
Maintenance contract management isn’t just about knowing what you have — it’s also about knowing when to refresh your technology, stop maintaining an asset or move an asset to a third-party maintenance contract.
The business drivers for outsourcing your maintenance contracts often come down to two things — cost and support. Consider outsourcing your maintenance contracts to an IT managed service provider if:
You aren’t clear on the level of support that your manufacturer provides.
You haven’t experienced the level of service and response time that your business demands.
You’re tired of speaking with robots. When you contact manufacturers, you’ll often interact with someone who has no idea who you are or what’s happening in your IT environment.
You want to take action on your data. Manufacturers may collect data from your assets. Then, they send this data to massive portals where it goes to die. An IT managed service provider can give you insights and reports based on your data. While a manufacturer makes the data available, an IT managed service provider makes the data actionable.
You want to take advantage of credits. Have you ever received credits on a maintenance contract for decommissioned assets? An IT managed service provider can help you manage these credits, so you’re not wasting your money.
You want to reduce your risk of a manufacturer audit. An IT managed service provider can reconcile the assets you actually have versus what a manufacturer thinks you have. This will lower your chances of getting audited.
You want to know what’s happening in your environment at all times. Proactive alerts can help you identify what’s going on in your environment and make you aware of potential risks. However, how do you know which of these alerts are critical? An IT managed service provider can help you identify the root cause of alerts and provide recommendations on how to fix problems.
3 Keys to Managing Your Assets and Gaining Control of Your Maintenance Contracts
Managing your maintenance contracts and their associated assets isn’t just about tools and technologies — it’s also about process. Here’s how to put the right processes in place, so you can take control of your maintenance contracts.
1. Check out alternatives to a manufacturer’s maintenance contract. You’re not limited to a manufacturer’s contract. At certain points in an asset’s life cycle, it may make sense to purchase a third-party maintenance contract.
For example, many manufacturers offer great support at great prices when an asset is less than three years old. However, their support can get pricy in year four. To keep your support costs down, you can move your hardware maintenance contract to a third party. If the technology has dramatically changed in the past three years, you can also refresh it or purchase a lower-priced, competitive technology.
2. Create a process to manage your moves, adds, changes and deletes (MACDs). A contract without a process behind it results in failure. If you don’t have a process to manage your MACDs, you can significantly drive up your costs and increase your risks for failures. Taking the following steps will help you gain control of “contract sprawl”:
Maintain a database of your assets’ serial numbers, as some manufacturers will ask for them when you phone in for support.
Authorize the right people in your organization to handle support issues.
Know the location of all your assets. Update the manufacturer if you move an asset to a new location.
Verify that your assets are entitled when you purchase them. This improves your visibility, so you won’t pay for support on devices you no longer own. It also ensures that you have the right level of support on all of your devices that are in use.
Have a central repository – either on premises or in the cloud – that lets you view your inventory and see the request process behind MACDs.
3. Apply your asset insights into other parts of your organization. The insights that you gain from your maintenance contract management program can help with other aspects of your business. For example, you can make smart decisions about new investments and find opportunities for consolidation. This can make your business more innovative and agile.
Less Really is More
IT is becoming more complex, with enterprises connecting more devices and applications to their networks. The more devices you have, the more you’ll need a strong IT maintenance management strategy. Otherwise, you’ll overspend on unused devices and maintenance contracts. You’ll also put yourself at risk if an asset goes down and takes your related applications down with it.
Do you need more visibility into your assets? Do you have any opportunities to consolidate your assets and get rid of contracts you’re not using?