Hack Your Maintenance Contracts in Five Steps
If you’re like most companies, your maintenance renewals are scattered throughout the year—thanks to the usual asset acquisition and replacement process. If you’re not managing your contracts proactively, your maintenance renewals can soon grow unwieldy.
That leaves you no choice but to renew your contracts without verifying the need. You could be wasting budget on unnecessary contract renewals. Or worse, you may not have the information you need to plan your future purchases.
Fortunately, a comprehensive inventory of your maintenance contracts will get you back on track. Here’s how you can create one:
- Combine all your spreadsheet and maintenance contract information into a single Master Maintenance Record. Depending on your needs, this might be a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, a support contracts portal, or a Configuration Management Database (CMDB). Just make sure you can see your inventory from a single dashboard and that each support contract is associated with its business application environment. That way, you can search, sort, and group asset information according to your business needs.
- Ask each of your vendors for an install base report. That’s a list of all the products and equipment you’ve purchased from them. Then, compare that report against your own inventory and reconcile any differences. (If you don’t have a current inventory, use the install base report as a starting point.) This will help uncover errors in your data—such as transposed serial numbers or missing documentation—that could delay the fulfillment of your support coverage and expose you to expensive, unplanned downtime.
- Research or estimate your EOL and EOSL dates. Vendors rarely publish their End of Life (EOL) and End of Service Life (EOSL) dates. But tracking this information will give you the time you need to research and plan your future purchases. Start by asking your vendors, and then search online. If all else fails, assume that your EOL dates will fall 5 years after the initial product launch. EOSL dates are generally scheduled 7 years after product launch.
- Track and list the locations of your assets. Companies often move equipment between locations, and they forget to notify their vendors of these changes. This mistake can have dire consequences; vendors often stock parts and personnel in key regions to meet their Service Level Agreements (SLAs). If your equipment isn’t where you told your vendors it would be, your vendors may delay or deny the necessary support altogether.
- Perform a true-up. Review your inventory and update it with assets you’ve added or de-commissioned since your last review. Then compare that inventory against your current maintenance contracts. (Don’t’ forget to keep your inventory up to date— schedule true-ups on a regular basis. We recommend once every 6-12 months.) This will prevent you from buying premium-level support for equipment that you’ve repurposed for non-critical applications or retired altogether.
That’s it. Once you have a comprehensive and auditable Master Maintenance Record, you can make informed decisions about your IT infrastructure and budget, such as:
- Finding ways to reduce your maintenance costs
- More effectively analyzing renew-versus-replace decisions
- Taking advantage of new, cost-saving technologies and strategies
For more insider tips, download my free eBook, Seven Strategies for Managing Your Support Contracts (And Reducing Your Maintenance Costs). You’ll get potential savings estimates and validated strategies for managing and renewing your maintenance contracts cost-effectively.