By Mark Havens, VP, Sales & Marketing, SSCS

While it is exciting to see a far greater percentage of global companies choose Third-Party Maintenance for hardware support of their post-warranty assets, there has been an increase in a disturbing new trend.

The New Trend is this: IT procurement staff are unfamiliar with the standards originally designed by Third-Party Maintainers to proactively earn the credibility they are now receiving. These very high standards were designed to meet or even exceed the standards offered by the OEM for warrantied hardware. Unfortunately, those new to IT procurement are unfamiliar with what to look for and resort ONLY to “lowest price” strategies, placing little-to-no emphasis on service standards designed to protect mission critical assets.

Measures to ONLY drive down cost have enabled some hardware maintenance providers to be less than transparent about what elements of their service will be sacrificed to accommodate reducing margins. This is incredibly dangerous for those accountable for the hardware and efficient data center operations. Shame on the hardware maintenance providers that do not push for transparency in such negotiations!

But, there also needs to be greater accountability placed upon those in procurement roles whom are currently unfamiliar with the original standards of the TPM marketplace. This accountability needs to address those in procurement who do not know how to correlate REQUIRED service components to critical assets verses PREFERRED service components to non-critical assets. A price-only focus is dangerously myopic! But, we’re seeing it every day!

If I were a CTO, CIO or CPO, I would want to make sure my IT procurement team had access to some basic education and were proactively taking advantage of any unbiased information/education available.

To be 100% transparent with the reader, we ARE a Third-Party Maintainer. But, we have done our very best to create a few educational components that are as free from self-serving bias as possible. We offer a three-part video series to address this very subject and to educate your teams on the most important issues to consider when choosing a hardware support provider.

It is our hope that you watch these videos, and then proactively share this blog (and all three videos) with your IT procurement leadership.

Here they are:

1. Third-Party Maintenance: A Competitive Pricing War (Part 1 of 3) (2:07 minutes)

Summary Description: If you’re familiar with Third-Party Hardware Maintenance and work in IT procurement, you might be surprised by the unintended outcomes that impact Service Quality when the greatest focus is placed on driving providers to their lowest price. Creating a pricing war may help drive down OpEx, but are you ready to accept what is likely sacrificed? Do you know whether or not these sacrifices will be made transparent to you by the provider?

2. Third-Party Maintenance: Balancing Cost, Risk & Service (Part 2 of 3) (4:52 minutes)

Summary Description: When choosing a Third-Party Hardware Maintenance provider, you are best served by fully understanding the basic elements of the service and the Service Quality standards that have made the industry a highly credible alternative over the last ten years. Do you know how to balance cost with acceptable risk and expected vs. acceptable Service Quality?

3. Third-Party Maintenance: Looking Beyond Lowest Price (Part 3 of 3) (6:22 minutes)

Summary Description: IT procurement professionals are traditionally incented by maximized savings. But, do you know what questions to ask to make certain that finalized pricing is not opening your infrastructure team to unacceptable risk? Sometimes “lowest price” initiatives can make sense, but other times such initiatives may be myopic. When you build a home, buy a car or hire for landscaping, you make no assumptions and know exactly what you’re getting before an agreement to buy is finalized.

There’s more information and education to come on this subject – you have my word on that!

Mark Havens, VP, Sales & Marketing, SSCS

This year will be Mark’s 23rd year with SSCS Global IT Services. Beginning in sales, he was promoted to Vice President, Sales & Marketing, now responsible for all global sales activities, brand recognition, inbound/outbound marketing and primary messaging. In his previous employment in management with Ritz Carlton, Mark was highly influenced by their industry-leading customer service program, as influenced by the standards of the Malcolm Baldridge quality awards.

In his spare time, Mark is engaged is numerous activities with his daughter, plays the bass guitar and is a vocalist with a band and his church choir.

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