Maintenance and Support Contracts - 10 Management Best Practices Part One
When companies can’t identify the IT assets required to run their businesses, they face a dangerous disconnect between their business operations and the underlying technology that supports those processes. This quandary not only endangers the efficiency of their current operations, but it impairs their ability to take advantage of new, cost-saving technologies and strategies that can reduce capital and operation expenses.
In these situations, the inability to react to change drives up costs and reduces the availability of business applications. Companies need the ability to dynamically map and model their business applications to their underlying infrastructures, so they can reduce any business risk associated with application support, capacity provisioning, and any other ongoing infrastructure issues.
We’ve identified 10 best practices for managing maintenance and support contracts that can help promote cost-effective capital and operational cost controls. Here are the first five:
1. Centralize and consolidate manufacturers’ contracts – To stay informed, you need to see all relevant maintenance and support documentation. That’s why it’s good to centralize and consolidate all your manufacturers’ contracts into a repository, viewable from a single dashboard. This dashboard allows organizations to search, sort, and group asset information according to their business needs. Additionally, you can usually export online support contract information into other data formats such as Microsoft Excel, Adobe PDF, and XML—simplifying collaboration with peers, management teams, and other business analytics applications.
2. Identify the total cost of ownership (TCO) – Efficient data center management demands the ability to account for assets and optimize them for the future. To accomplish this, IT departments should identify the total cost of ownership (TCO) for their IT environment, based on asset inventory information. With this information, you can accurately determine how much your organization currently spends on its application services and how much these services will cost in the future. These calculations help your company develop plans, implement budget controls, and curtail expenses.
3. Get timely expiration notifications – Proper handling of application environments includes proactive management of the underlying hardware and software infrastructure, which is why companies should receive timely notifications of any pending vendor support and maintenance contract expirations. Make sure you can view each support contract associated with each business application environment, including support contract and line item (individual equipment) expiration dates.
4. Determine the support level and support service – Like any financial asset, you have to manage the complete lifecycle—acquisition, configuration, deployment, maintenance, and support; companies that have their support services in place are significantly more prepared for potential business disruptions.
For example, this practice is essential in disaster recovery planning. When establishing recovery time objectives, ask the following:
- Are the support contracts in place?
- What equipment do we have covered by support contracts?
- What does that support entail?
- Have the necessary vendors reviewed the disaster recovery plan?
- Have we included all the vendors in the escalation processes?
Determine the support level and support service for each application environment, and you can easily answer these questions.
5. Make informed decisions – In order to make appropriate budget and management decisions, employers need access to the necessary information. However, this information must be both available and accurate before businesses can make informed decisions regarding their IT infrastructures.
Companies that lack standards for sharing information between individuals often encounter difficulties when other departments attempt to determine the cost outlay of IT assets. Every business should have ready access to the support entitlement details—at the contract and equipment level — associated with each application environment.
Managing application infrastructures is a very demanding endeavor, and most companies struggle to manage their application environment cost-effectively. Business applications require extreme vigilance from IT departments and ongoing maintenance and support for their underlying infrastructure. Our next blog will cover the remaining five best practices for managing maintenance and support contracts so you can reduce ongoing IT costs and increase your business application availability.