Business owners need to give serious consideration to their hardware maintenance and software assurance policies. If you refuse the extended warranty on a new vacuum cleaner, and the vacuum cleaner fails, you can just go buy a new vacuum cleaner. With technology, things are not so simple. The affect that poorly maintained hardware or software can have on your business goes far beyond the mere cost of replacing it.
Let’s consider some of the benefits of maintenance:
Maintenance is insurance – Most hardware maintenance agreements include a replacement option in case the hardware fails. A next-business-day option guarantees that hardware failure issues will be resolved within 24 hours.
Access to support – If you decide to stick with an older software program, it may not be eligible for technical support from the manufacturer. Hanging on to ancient software programs isn’t good for business if it means paying extra for technical support or, worse, having to resolve the issues yourself.
Better than a warranty – Maintenance or software assurance agreements usually provide not only the right to remediation or replacement if your hardware or software fails, but also the latest upgrades or newest codes. This improved functionality can have a significant effect on your employees’ productivity and your company’s bottom line.
Reduced support costs – Having a current maintenance agreement means spending less time requesting technical support. Your IT staff should have the necessary training to integrate hardware and software into your company’s infrastructure. With a current maintenance agreement, your IT staff can interact directly with the hardware or software manufacturer, which helps them to solve problems faster. Without a current maintenance agreement, chronic problems that fall outside your IT staff’s area of expertise could take hours to resolve, which could have a devastating effect on your ability to do business.
When you’re debating whether or not to update your hardware or software agreement, there are a few things you should take into consideration.
What’s the cost of a failure? If your hardware or software fails, how much will it affect your business? Which would cost you more in the long run, replacing the hardware or software or lost productivity and business operations? For example, how much money would a store lose if its old cash registers stopped working, and they had no maintenance contract to cover repairs? Processing sales by hand is time consuming, and it’s certain that some customers would not want to wait. Make sure you have current maintenance contracts for anything that’s vital to your company’s operations, such as core switch, primary business application and production servers.
What’s the cost of maintenance? Each hardware manufacturer has its own maintenance and support options. For example, if a company has 50 versions of the same firewall deployed, it may be more cost effective to forgo the NBD support option and purchase an extra firewall as a spare. You could also see if it’s possible to get a software assurance or phone support option at a lower cost.
How skilled is your IT staff? Determine your IT staff’s weakest areas and backup those areas with increased maintenance support from the manufacturer.
How much down time can your business tolerate? Many manufacturers have four-hour responses and 24/7 options for those businesses that have to be up and running as quickly as possible.
You can do without the extended warranty that comes with a new microwave. But your business can’t and shouldn’t have to function without current maintenance agreements for your mission-critical hardware and software products.