Darryl Helms, SSCS Service Delivery Manager, Midwestern U.S. & Latin America

While this is my 27th year with SSCS, and across those many years of hardware support and troubleshooting, I must admit this is my very first blog. I was asked to answer this question: “What’s it like to work with an independent hardware support provider?”

  • First, it just doesn’t have to feel like what you’ve experienced with the OEMs. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by the flexibility of an independent provider. But, I expect you’ll be delighted that the independent provider’s support strategies will align with your strategies for stability and resiliency. NO ONE at the independent provider is pushing you for an equipment refresh.
  • Second, the really good independent provider will consistently demonstrate both their commitment and transparency.

In November of 2017, our company made some updates to its brand and its brand standards. Although our new brand values feel the same as the standards that have led to our success these 30 years, the new verbiage better articulates the root cause of our success:

  • Integrity – We absolutely do what we say
  • Commitment – Accountability is essential to teams and to individuals
  • Passion – An inner drive to solve; a contagious vision for the future
  • Transparency – Humble openness leads to better solutions and lasting relationships

From the perspective of a client, I think that Commitment and Transparency are most important. These are items that you can look for, even during the vendor vetting process. While both of these values used to be readily found in the independent hardware support industry (sometimes called, “Third Party Maintenance”), industry trends are severely diluting those traits among several of the best known independent providers.

But, these two values are critical to experiencing Service Quality – as it should be. You should no longer “expect” these values, but instead demand them. Certainly, Transparency is one of the easiest to spot and “red flag.” In your mission critical environment, or even for non-production systems, you don’t need to feel like you did when you worked with the OEM for these assets. Transparency and/or openness are essential to the stability and resiliency you’re looking for in a support agreement.

  • Has the vetting process caused you to feel like the provider does not want to give you specifics about the field engineer (or FE team) that will be assigned to your account?
  • Are they vague in response to questions about backline support for the onsite field engineer?
  • Does it seem like they’re avoiding questions about the exact location of the most commonly used back-up parts necessary for the specific assets in your agreement?

Trust your gut. If transparency seems to be an issue, the provider is likely hiding something that may reduce your confidence in their solution – especially when/if their pricing is significantly lower than the other providers. If truly transparent, responses should feel as though their answers are focused on your best interests.

Will you be able to easily able to spot those vendors lacking in Commitment or avoiding Transparency? I’m confident you will be able to build great questions as long as you know to look for these two traits or values in your hardware support vendor relationships.

Darryl Helms, SSCS Service Delivery Manager, Midwestern U.S. & Latin America

This spring marks Darryl’s 27th year with SSCS. His career started with a 4.5 years stint in the U.S. Navy, where he completed multiple programs within the Navy’s renowned School of Electronics. After the Navy, Darryl joined Intergraph (Huntsville, Alabama) for nine years, where he worked on GIS systems, as well as CAD/CAM equipment. Following Intergraph, he joined SSCS in its early years and has remained with the organization ever since. Darryl and his wife enjoy camping together, some canoeing and recreational fishing. He also relishes the opportunity to spend time with their eight grandkids, along with short road trips to see the countryside and visit the occasional antique store.


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