Active Resource Management – Choosing Maintenance Services

Posted on August 22nd, 2013 by Joel Nimar

Independent Service Organizations

When you buy that extended warranty with your new hardware, you’re essentially buying a hardware maintenance contract from the manufacturer. That contract covers that one piece of hardware. Buy another piece of hardware and buy another maintenance contract. It’s not inconceivable that right now, you have dozens of these things.

You may have thought you had no other choice. You could take the plan they offered or you could walk the rope with no net at all, and hope it doesn’t come crashing down around you. That might work for a while, but when it doesn’t, it falls apart too fast to put any plan into action.

There is no reason to wait until you have a problem. You can take a more aggressive approach to your hardware maintenance by taking advantage of Independent Service Organizations, or ISOs. An ISO provides a similar service as the manufacturers’ warranties sold with retail purchases, often at a much lower cost.

Active Resource Management

Active management of your resources tends to reduce problems before they occur. Waiting for something to break is just bad for business. And it’s not just the hardware. Software updates are just as important, and sometimes an even more immediate problem. And then there is your data. You do have a recent backup, where you have tested the recovery process, right?

A maintenance service contract with an ISO can simplify your life. In addition to hardware maintenance, your ISO may provide:

1. Multi-Vendor Services
Regardless of the brand name, your ISO will support it. One point of contact for all your hardware makes maintenance concerns simpler.

2. Customized Service Levels
Only pay for the maintenance services you need. Include scheduled maintenance, backups, upgrades and more. Some ISO contracts include everything from hardware to making sure there’s paper for the printer.

3. Server Virtualization and Storage Solutions
Included as part of a maintenance contract or as a stand-alone service, some ISOs will offer off site or on site solutions tailored specifically to your needs.

4. Legacy Systems Support
The older the system, the more likely it is to fail. Your ISO will have plenty of experience maintaining these legacy systems and extending the life of your legacy applications ever when the manufacturer will no longer support the system

Choosing Maintenance Services

Your particular needs will be unique, but these questions will give you a great place to start. A good ISO will be able to give you immediate answers to these questions, as well as help you think of others which apply to your individual situation.

1. Location
Is the ISO located close enough to be there when you need them? If you have another location, will they be able to service it as well?

2. Spare Parts Availability
Does the ISO stock the parts you might need locally, or will they have to order replacement parts as you need them? How fast can the parts be where they’re needed in a critical emergency, and is that in writing?

3. Service Level Agreements
Are the service levels truly customizable? Does the ISO support all the hardware and software you are using? Are the other services you want available?

4. Critical Response Time
How fast are critical system issues handled? Critical response times of 30 minutes to an hour should be expected, with follow up visits on site, if necessary, within 2 to 4 hours or economical next day service.

5. Single Point of Contact/Call Escalation
Is there an individual assigned to be responsible for your agreement? If you have a problem that person can’t handle to your satisfaction, is there an established escalation process?

A maintenance contract with a quality ISO allows you to take an aggressive approach to your management plan. Instead of having to take a one-size-fits-all contract, you can tailor a solution that fits your specific needs. Instead of having many possible vendors to deal with, you can choose just one. Instead of worrying what tomorrow’s maintenance service will cost, you can control that budget up front. Instead of worrying about any of this, you can smile and get back to work.

This article originally appeared on Small Business Tech.
Written by Joel Nimar, President of Pyramid Technology Services

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