IT Needs an Independent Third Party

IT leaders today face dilemmas not too unlike the balance of the organization, and the country for that matter, says IT service solutions provider <a href="http://www.maintech.com/" target="_blank">Maintech</a>. They simply are a little more used to the squeeze applied to reduce spending and to do more with less. That stated objective does take on new meaning in the midst of an economic downturn, and it forces those same IT leaders to think of alternatives they might not otherwise consider.<br /><br />Many larger enterprises want to find ways to empower the business through better, more efficient systems, faster hardware, smoother applications, more durable networks, and yet they want the spend to be less than the previous year. In addition, they also want to have fewer people doing the work so the overall task seems more and more daunting.<br /><br />Many larger organizations are quite used to going with the usual suspects: having the OEM&rsquo;s or large, global services firms deliver their technology services. They might hire each of the OEMs to provide the warranty support for their systems, and then they typically hire them or the global firms for post-warranty work, as well. They figure that the warranty work is &ldquo;free&rdquo; so they might as well have the OEM provide the service. <br /><br />What they don&rsquo;t care to realize is that the cost of that warranty service is built in to the cost of that equipment, and while there is no separate line item charge, it is part of the overall cost. It goes into CAPEX and only hits their income statement through amortization. So it seems as though they win the battle, if only temporarily. Then, they continue with the OEM or large consulting firm services, and they start to experience the OPEX growth due to the maintenance agreement for their hardware.<br /><br />Oftentimes, they then are confronted with the decision to either continue to spend the money on hardware support or buy new equipment, which brings along the warranty coverage. They can go through that vicious cycle again and again. The result is typically the same and they don&rsquo;t see a way out because the thought is, &ldquo;The OEM knows their product best so they should support it,&rdquo; or, &ldquo;The big consulting firms provide these same services everywhere and I&rsquo;ll never get criticized for hiring them &mdash; they have the reputation.&rdquo; Some even take the risk of not having service contracts and getting services performed on an as needed basis. Very costly both in dollars and potential risk since the service level agreements are minimal or nonexistent.<br /><br />The other factor that most IT leaders don&rsquo;t readily consider is the cost of managing multiple vendors (each OEM or large consulting firm handling different platforms) and the leverage left on the table by spreading your IT services spend across a variety of providers.<br /><br />Another misconception out there in the CIO/CTO&rsquo;s office is that &ldquo;my warranty will be voided if I use a third party.&rdquo; Much like having your car serviced at an independent shop won&rsquo;t void your automotive warranty (as long as standards are followed) this is not true at all and most of the larger independents are authorized by the OEMs to provide the warranty service. <br /><br />Some CIO/CTOs believe certain software updates and fixes won&rsquo;t be available to them if they contract with someone other than the OEM for the hardware support. While that OEM may want that to be the perception, the reality is that there are other avenues to appropriately obtain all of the updates and fixes required to keep your platform running with the latest required levels.<br /><br />Some might read this and think, &ldquo;So what&rsquo;s the big deal? All of the above are options and there really is no alternative to some combination of these options.&rdquo; Well, that is the crux of this piece: There are other choices. Some IT leaders may not have the vision to consider these other options. The choice could be to give the independent service provider a chance. It is true there have been some problems in the past in dealing with some of the larger independents due to their poor business management skills, which spread themselves too thin to be able to deliver the necessary quality of service. Some of the larger independents are gone or are no longer the players they once were. There are, however, still a few quality independents in the market that can provide a one stop shop for all of an organizations hardware support. <br /><br />Many of the remaining independents have been around for a while. They have skilled technicians, deep-rooted procedures and most of them have this as their sole source of revenue. They have to do the right job to stay in business. There are not as many as there once were but among those that are left, there are several who do an excellent job, especially in regional or vertical markets.<br /><br />One might ask, &ldquo;How do I find a quality independent provider?&rdquo; Well, most of the industry analyst firms can provide you with a list all of the service providers and among that list will be the independents who have weathered the storm and passed the test of time. Another source for finding alternative service providers is to ask your peers. While they may not come out and boast about who they use, if they&rsquo;re not using one of the big name companies, you could almost bet that at least one among your industry peers has found a better solution by going off the beaten path. <br /><br />One thing to be mindful of when looking at the independent providers is to make sure they have no allegiance to any of the OEMs through being a reseller or exclusive service provider. This may only lead you back to path from where you came. <br /><br />Find the independent provider who has no tie to hardware sales. They will be able to provide you with an unbiased view of the system performance within your infrastructure and help you make that next plan to purchase decision based purely on what&rsquo;s best for Your organization. That doesn&rsquo;t mean the company cannot be a services partner for the OEMs, and in fact, they may be service partners with several or most of the OEMs. That is a good sign. It means they do a good job and they truly are out to just provide service, no strings attached.<br /><br />If you consolidate your hardware support with a qualified independent services partner you get one phone to call, greater leverage in your services pricing, top-quality focused support and reduced overhead internally, which reduces your overall cost of running your business. Plus, since a true independent has no interest in when you buy your next set of hardware, they are more than happy to help keep your existing infrastructure running longer and better through proper service and support so that your investment is maximized.<br /><br />So as you face the daunting task of trying to decide where to spend your money and how to reduce your costs, consider calling an independent service provider. Even if you only walk away armed with knowledge about all of your options, you will be better off than you were before you learned that lesson. Don&rsquo;t get bullied into making costly decisions. Explore all of your options and then choose the one that best fits your needs.<br />

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