Clever Supply Chain Strategies for IT Decision Makers – Embracing a Proven Contingency

By George Fardy, Top Gun

News and media coverage would have us believing that global IT supply chains are dismal and may not ease up any time soon. These issues are entirely particular to the production of chipsets, spare parts and systems needed to build or support new products:

  1. Access to raw materials
  2. Labor shortages
  3. Drastic demand fluctuations

Stories of delays, shutdowns, shortages and increased costs are all true and quite real. However, these issues have a direct and immediate impact only on NEW or in-warranty IT hardware. The Third Party Maintenance (TPM) industry should, theoretically, have no such constraints as TPM providers are focused on extending the useful life of existing IT assets, discovering solutions that help delay the tech refresh and providing better service at a better price point.

Consider, for a moment, products that are “outside of warranty,” reached last date of support (LDoS) or end-of-life (EoL), any supply chain problems are entirely different than what is being experienced for new hardware and can be attributed to three unique factors:

  1. Access to a pre-produced population of spares and systems,
  2. The functionality of aged spares and systems, and
  3. Quantity of parts and systems available, within a fixed amount, determined 3-10 years prior.

Is the TPM supply chain for older (legacy) systems healthy?

Absolutely, very healthy!

In full disclosure (and like many businesses), in 2021 the TPM industry experienced minimal delays related to customs/ports labor, but the availability of materials remained healthy throughout this unique period.

For many years (40+), TPMs have been supporting clients’ data center systems in production, providing tested maintenance spares, having built support infrastructures to meet the strict requirements of discerning clients, globally. Solutions-driven and mission critical focused providers are able to help with capacity planning, refurbished whole systems, asset installation, disposition and even OS support and guidance.

As you might imagine, not all TPMs are created equal and some have used Supply Chain as a carefully-concealed “crutch (excuse)” to no longer support select products for which their margin standards aren’t being met. As we’ve heard ourselves, you may also hear that “parts are not available” for assets in your estate and, in most cases, this is entirely untrue and inaccurate.

While some TPMs may avoid products due to margin control, they may not have the parts already in inventory, don’t have the resources to find them or prefer not to invest, but instead prefer to buy on-demand only. Others may simply not have the technical skill necessary to diagnose and repair certain systems in your estate. While this position may seem like a “cherry-picking strategy,” please know there is indeed a very healthy supply chain of spare parts for almost all legacy servers, data storage and network hardware.

At Top Gun, we always maintain a “mission critical” focus on all that we do. So that we never appear to be “cherry picking,” we’ve invested heavily in:

  • People: L3 techs, field engineering and veteran product managers highly skilled in technical advisories indicating product supportability and supply chain expertise with established global networks and proven methods of sourcing (non-counterfeit) spare parts.
  • AI & Systems: Designed entirely to exceed contractual obligations, our systems integrate engineering, automation, analytics and personalization for faster, more effective recovery, along with the ability to establish a robust sparing strategy based on global supply chain facts.
  • Service & Stocking: Quite different than some of our TPM competition, Top Gun spares upfront for all future failures within each client’s infrastructure. By partnering with clients, detailed configurations help ensure the exact spares and systems are acquired prior to service start dates. We don’t wait for machines to break and then begin to procure needed spares. Regardless of selected and contractual service levels, delays caused by parts are simply not acceptable to our organization.

Not all IT decision makers are wringing their hands, unable or unwilling to consider a contingency which bypasses the acquisition of new hardware (and expensive OEM support). During trying economic periods/disruptions, these last 40+ years, many have turned to a strategy of extending asset life in perfect partnership with a Third Party Maintenance provider.

Check out our case studies. When marketplace supply chain issues impact new hardware purchases, TPM is a fiscally responsible contingency that, when partnered with a reputable provider, almost always exceeds service expectations. We would enjoy an opportunity to hear about your initiatives, perceived constraints and an opportunity to discuss impactful solutions. Contact Us.

Blog Author Details

George Fardy

Director, Global Supply Chain

Top Gun

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