Why You Should Check Under the Hood of Third Party Maintainers
By Craig Wilson, Top Gun
This article will help you assess the true technical capabilities of a Third Party Maintainer (TPM) for the Mission-Critical equipment in your data center environment.
Be sure to check out our other blog entitled, “Prevent Unforeseen Risks by Asking Sharper Questions of your TPM / Independent Hardware Maintenance Providers,” which provides useful information to identify the risks presented by using a “support aggregator” and by evaluating these three areas:
- Technical Engineering Credentials
- Service Operations and Governance
- Business Management.
Primary Objective – Safely Extend the Useful Life of an IT Asset
When you drill down through the benefits gained by using a TPM, one key objective that benefits you and the TPM, is to extend the useful life of your IT asset. Of course, cost savings is a factor; but, the most important factor is the ability of the TPM to provide quality support in a safe and consistent manner.
Consider the technical requirements to provide on-going maintenance of mission critical IT equipment from an engineering perspective.
- The Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) engineering teams have a wide focus on designing and developing new products and their service teams work to resolve performance issues during early shipments and through the machine’s warranty period.
- Successful Third Party Maintainers’ (TPMs’) engineering team have a narrow focus on determining how well a machine is performing to determine if it is stable and what service tasks are required to provide ongoing maintenance and preventative support.
The engineering skills present in the highest Level 3 teams determine how well a TPM really understands how a machine is designed to operate and more importantly, what are the requirements to provide ongoing maintenance services. The engineers must have in-depth product knowledge to conduct this analysis.
This knowledge, coupled with hands-on experience, allows successful and reputable third party maintenance providers to build product support programs that are focused on providing high quality service, “just like the OEM” – with innovative, cost-conscious techniques in a safe and consistent manner.
Be wary of a TPM whose support teams are generalists, that cover ALL platforms and believe it or not, rely on Google searches to locate technical information “just in time” during and for a support escalation.
As the old saying goes, “It all starts at the top.”
A TPM’s culture and capabilities are reliant on an Executive Management team that is fully committed to “doing what they say” and has the financial capability to make investments in these crucial areas:
- Multiple teams of skilled engineers that are allowed to focus on their specific product families and remain energized due to real company commitment to provide them important work-life balance.
- Superior Incident Management system (like Top Gun’s ServiceNow® interface) that leverages automation and enables a call flow that engages technical experts early in the process.
- Logistics Operation team that carefully tests and packages spare parts making them ready for shipment to forward stocking locations, strategically located around the globe, so they are readily available for service repair actions.
- Procurement team that has a global network of trusted vendors that provide quality machines, features and spare parts for these generations of machines:
- Legacy models (hard to locate but important for longevity)
- Current models (known good and of proven OEM origin)
- New machines.
- Product team that understands the TPM landscape and:
- Builds “Go to Market” campaigns that consider the complexities of today’s global environment (taxation, employment and customs, IOR and EOR challenges, etc.).
- Is fully aware of the OEM’s published business practices pertaining to TPM
- Capable of customizing service offerings to meet clients’ needs
- Crafts technology-refresh solutions that protect client’s operations and data when a legacy product starts to present too much risk
- Active participation in high-tech service industry trade associations (ex: Service Industry Association – SIA).
- Internal development of service tools that provide digital integration capabilities, including:
- Automated call-home solutions that provide preventive service alerts
- Parsing of machine logs and configuration files
- Data Warehouse containing knowledge bases, Technical “How To” Action Plans and Spare Parts information
- Technology that provides high-grade security measures for remote support connections to enterprise storage machines in data center environments
- Dedicated Research & Development team that studies machines’ performance issues throughout their early shipment to end-of-warranty state.
- Lab machines, spanning a product’s early generation models up to the most current design, that are available locally and remotely, so they can be used for problem re-creation and troubleshooting processes.
- Internal training programs that allow ALL levels of engineering (Level 3 through Level 1) to collaborate and share knowledge while fine tuning techniques as they hone their skills.
If you’re not yet familiar with Top Gun, I’d encourage you to follow our company profile at LinkedIn (be sure to hit blue “Follow” button) and peruse and bookmark our company website.
My greatest recommendation, however, is to first schedule an intro level dialogue with our sales team, then a subsequent dialogue to include sales, product management and engineering leadership.
If you’re proactively seeking a deeper level of technical experience combined with a commitment to thorough communications, Top Gun is a TPM you ought to become familiar with and check references. Top Gun welcomes RFPs and RFIs.
Blog Author Details
Craig’s LinkedIn Profile