Your 2021 Checklist for Hardware Maintenance

Posted on September 7th, 2020 by Joel Nimar

The 2020 Rollercoaster is unlikely to end conveniently on December 31, 2020 – if you didn’t go into the year withy a hardware maintenance checklist, having one for next year will be helpful for right sizing your contracts and maintenance needs.

Hardware maintenance should be a priority for your IT plans

Hardware maintenance contracts can be notoriously tricky to stay on top of. Third party contracts may need reviewed and updated often to account for items that the third party can and can’t cover; OEM contracts are often written in a way that makes them purposely obscure. Ideally, you can work with a multidiscipline partner who can go beyond a limited number of brands for hardware support.

TPS Pyramid is one of the few service providers who can also offer actual hardware – both refurbished as well as brand new – and IT resources to fill gaps in your own staffing much more quickly than internal HR or a headhunting service. That’s great not only for keeping track of maintenance as part of the larger picture, but also brings a quick and simple solution if additional issues arise in the data center that require a more complex response than simply getting system lights back to green.

"IT stakeholders need to vouch for the importance of hardware maintenance."

What should you include on your hardware maintenance checklist?

When reviewing your options for a hardware maintenance partner in the coming year, there are several key features to consider to ensure you receive the right coverage and services at the right price point:

Single-vendor contracts

One of the most common obstacles businesses run into with hardware maintenance is managing the various service contracts in effect for all of their data center and IT equipment. The time and labor required to parse through each one and determine precisely what is covered by different original equipment manufacturers is one of the more costly, unseen expenses related to IT operations.

Cure that headache by working with a hardware maintenance provider that offers single-vendor contracts across a wide range of vendor brands, including IBM, SUN/Oracle, HP and Cisco as well as any specialized brands – across servers, storage, and networking, in other words. The right partner will be able to support both legacy hardware and future equipment purchases down the road; and ideally this vendor can also check the desired boxes when bidding work to minority-owned businesses as many public and large-scale private contracts require. Rest assured, TPS Pyramid offers high-level certified work and is a certified MBE.

Flexible SLAs

The term ‘flexible SLA’ is a little contradictory – you want any given SLA to be an immovable criteria, but you need the flexibility to assign different service levels to different priority equipment and systems.

Hardware maintenance SLAs should spell out specific terms that make sense for your organization And each stakeholder team, taking into account both variations in price point and uptime guarantees. One-size fits all and OEM SLAs like to package in unnecessary features and can ultimately fail to meet your needs – even if the add-one are called ‘free’, they add needless complexity and additional moving parts. If a hardware maintenance vendor is unwilling to budge on the terms of their pre-built SLA, consider going elsewhere for service.

Responsive Support System

A common point of frustration for businesses with OEM support contracts is how difficult it can be to initiate a ticket or actual service when (not if, when) a service issue occurs. Sometimes it really is easier to handle minor issues yourself, and that’s a big red flag that a change is needed. Your internal teams need to stay focused on your own business outcomes, and unless you’re in the business of IT hardware maintenance yourself, any time you spend doing the support provider’s job is time you’re stealing from your own business.

Your provider should be easy to reach, eager to open tickets and diagnose issues, and readily available to lend support. A fast and responsive help desk is the hallmark of a truly dependable hardware maintenance vendor, capable of offering expert advice and assistance at a moment's notice.

Another aspect to consider is where that help desk team is located. Offshore support staffing has fallen dramatically in popularity because it may not be able to meet the level of responsiveness needed to quickly address problems as they arise, especially if on-site assistance is required. Under these circumstances, a U.S.-based support system is ideal. Unfortunately, some firms that rely on offshore level 1 support work hard to obscure that fact, and others are racing to the bottom one pricing and hoping that low-bidding can make up for a bad service experience/. For low-priority hardware it may be tempting to go cheap, but paying a little for no service is worse than paying no money and assuming all the risk yourself.

The ideal partner is flexible enough to offer high-quality, native-country support for the bulk of the contract but can downgrade for lower priority or pull-and-replace gear, or upgrade for every-second-counts critical systems.

Having a comprehensive checklist handy can help your organization ensure it gets everything it needs from a hardware maintenance provider in 2021. For more information on equipment maintenance and what to look for in an ideal maintenance contract, contact TSP Pyramid today!.

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