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Choosing Third Party Maintenance

Choosing Third Party MaintenanceWhat's the number one difference between a maintenance plan offered by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and one offered by a third party maintenance (TPM) company? Not sure? I will give you a hint: It’s flat and it’s green and you keep it in your wallet.

Yes—money. The biggest difference between OEM and third party maintenance programs is the cost. Most maintenance plans for servers and networking equipment offered by TPM companies will look and feel exactly like an OEM plan. In fact, OEMs often use TPM companies to fulfill their IT hardware service contracts only they charge you much higher rates than the TPM company would if you did business with them directly. Clearly third party maintenance is an excellent cost-saving option for today’s enterprise organization.

Are you wondering how to go about choosing a third party maintenance company? Questions you should ask potential TPM partners include:

  • Are your technicians OEM certified? Reputable TPM companies utilize technicians that are OEM certified on the equipment they service. Don’t assume that your TPM uses certified technicians—ask.
  • What types of coverage do you offer? Most TPM companies offer maintenance programs that mirror what the OEM is offering. Some will offer completely customized solutions as well—so if you don’t see a program that will meet your organization’s needs, be sure to ask if they can customize a program for you. Even some refurbished IT hardware can be covered by OEM and third party plans.
  • What’s included in my maintenance plan? Clarify the specifics of each plan you are considering and what services might cost extra. If a server fails, will it be replaced with the same equipment—or better? Will the replacement parts be new or refurbished?
  • What’s not included in my maintenance plan? Can the TPM company cover all of your technological equipment under one plan? (For example, including your printers with your servers and networking equipment?) Is anything specifically excluded from the plan? If so, what—and why?
  • Who will be my point of contact? Will your organization have a dedicated point of contact for maintenance claims? Are you funneled to the next available agent in a massive call center? Who will answer the phone if your network fails in the middle of the night on a weekend?
  • What number do I call? And is there more than one? An often overlooked detail during the buying process, knowing how many phone numbers you will need to wrangle when your network is down is an important consideration. Ideally, you should be able to call one dedicated number regardless of the type of equipment that failed and get the service you need.
  • How do I file a service claim? What do you need to do in the event that you need to file a claim? Is there an online website where you have forms to complete? Paper forms that need to be submitted? Or will a phone call to the claims center suffice? Knowing what hoops you need to jump through to file a service claim before the server crashes will ensure that you get your system back online sooner rather than later.
  • What does the coverage cost? Is your network covered with your monthly payment or annual contract? Or are there additional fees for particular services such as rush requests and sparing services? If some services are available via ala carte pricing, be sure to get a copy of the pricing list before you sign an agreement so that you can consider total maintenance cost against any other full-coverage programs.
  • Is there a satisfaction guarantee? Does the TPM company stand behind its work and guarantee customer satisfaction? How do you report a concern with service or product quality? How are those concerns handled—and how quickly? Does the company have customer testimonials on its website or references you can talk to?

Third party maintenance is a fantastic way for your organization to fully leverage your IT budget and save money. Most organizations save at least 50% and sometimes up to 80% over OEM maintenance pricing. With that in mind, third party maintenance is a no-brainer, but knowing who you are doing business with and the services they will provide is essential. Do your research. Ask lots of questions. You could be on your way to serious savings.

Questions? Call World Data Products at 888-210-7636 or contact one of our IT Hardware Specialists today for a free consultation.