Although IT equipment is usually sold with a warranty, the warranty typically ranges from one to three years. If it fails while under warranty, the vendor resolves the problem at no additional cost; but what happens if the failure occurs after the warranty has expired? If you call the vendor to repair the system, you have to pay for time and materials, sometimes travel time as well; it all adds up to a costly, unbudgeted expense. The solution to “after warranty care” is a maintenance contract. A contract provides you with an extended warranty for as long as it is in effect.
Maintenance contracts can be obtained from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), with options for you to choose the type of coverage and length of the contract. However, the manufacturers are not the only option when you are seeking a maintenance contract provider. Today’s business world is seeing the emergence of various third party providers of maintenance contracts. So the question is: Do you choose an OEM or a third party provider?
There are three advantages to using a third party provider:
- Low maintenance prices
- Support for multiple manufacturers – all in a single contract
- Support for older systems no longer handled by the OEM
These may sound great; however, you also need to consider the disadvantages, which include:
- Quality of service
- Availability of parts
The technicians employed by third party providers usually will have training on equipment for multiple manufacturers. Generally, they will be lower paid technicians and they will not be top notch. Some of these companies do not have their own service technicians, but contract the repairs to another provider. Under these circumstances, you cannot be sure of the quality of service.
Also, parts can become an issue when getting service from a third party provider, as often they are not stored locally and they will not have the parts the same day. Small third party maintenance companies may not keep many parts in-house, thus having to buy it when your system fails and wait for its arrival. The result is downtime and loss of productivity for you.
Additionally, because of the uncertainty of the quality of service and response time, critical equipment, such as servers that run your business, should not be covered by a third party maintenance contract. You should get an on-site, same day contract from the OEM to ensure minimal downtime.
Usually, maintenance contracts from the OEM cannot compete in cost with the third party provider, as the OEM price is often expensive in comparison; however it offers the benefits of:
- Factory trained, specialized technicians
- Multiple levels of technical expertise to cover all service needs
- Large warehouses of parts with immediate availability
- Multiple levels of coverage
An OEM maintenance contract ensures that your business does not experience loss of revenue because of downtime while waiting for parts and service, and you know the repairs are being handled by expertly trained personnel. Hardware and software is a major investment in any business; the peace of mind that you will have from knowing these valuable assets malfunctions will be promptly and accurately resolved far outweighs the cost of the OEM maintenance contract.
Just remember, when you purchase a service maintenance contract to protect your IT equipment investment, select the best coverage for your business needs that brings you the best quality of work and the least possible downtime.