Why can some operators not be overloaded

Chapter 8. Prepare for the worst

8.1.1.2. Service contracts

Service contracts make hardware failures a problem for others. All you have to do is confirm that a failure actually occurred and that it was not caused by a software bug. Then you make a phone call and someone will come over to fix the problems.

It seems that simple. However, as with most things in life, there is more to it than it appears. Here are a few things to consider when entering into a service contract:

  • Available hours

  • reaction time

  • Spare parts availability

  • Available budget

  • Hardware to be replaced

Each of these details is discussed in more detail in the following sections.

8.1.1.2.1. Available hours

Different service contracts are available depending on your needs. One of the big variables between the different contracts is the availability hours. If you're unable to pay a certain amount for the privilege, you can't always call and expect a technician to be at the door a short time later.

Depending on your contract, you may only be able to call the maintenance company on a certain day / at a certain time or the company may not send a technician over until after a certain time / on a certain day.

Most availability hours are set in hours and days on which a technician is available to you in the event of a problem. Some of the more common available hours are:

  • Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Monday to Friday, 12/18/24 hours per day (with jointly agreed start and end times)

  • Monday to Saturday (or Monday to Sunday), times as above

As you would probably expect, the more hours you have available, the greater the contract cost. In general, adding coverage Monday through Friday costs less than adding coverage on Saturdays and Sundays.

But even here you can reduce costs if you do some work yourself.

8.1.1.2.1.1. Depot service

Does your situation require nothing more than a technician during general business hours and if you have sufficient experience to determine what needs to be fixed, should you contact us? Depot service look at. Under many names, like Walk-in service or Drop-off service known, some manufacturers have service depots where technicians repair the hardware brought by the customer.

The advantage of the depot service is that it is just as fast as you. You don't have to wait for technical staff. Depot employees do not come to the customer, which means someone can fix your hardware immediately as soon as you bring it to the depot.

Since the depot service is carried out centrally, the chances of available spare parts are pretty good. This can prevent spare parts deliveries overnight or the waiting for spare parts that have to be delivered hundreds of kilometers from another branch.

However, there are some disadvantages as well. The most obvious thing is that you don't have the choice of service hours - you get service when the depot is open. Another aspect is that the technicians leave work at a certain time. So if your system fails on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and you reach the depot at 5:00 p.m., the repair will remain in place until Monday morning.

Another disadvantage is that the depot service depends on a nearby depot. If your business is in the city area, this is probably not a big problem. However, if you're more of a rural or out-of-town location, the nearest depot can be quite a long way away.

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If you choose the depot service, please think for a moment about how the hardware should be delivered to the depot. Do you have a company car or your own car? If you use your own car, do you have enough space and capacity? What about the insurance? Will more than one person be required to charge and discharge the hardware?

Even if these questions seem relatively simple, they should be addressed before deciding on a depot service.

8.1.1.2.2. reaction time

In addition to the availability hours, many service agreements specify a specific response time. In other words, how long does it take to have a technician available after your service request? As you can imagine, a faster response time results in a more expensive contract.

The available response times are subject to certain restrictions. For example, the travel time from the manufacturer to your company has a major influence on the possible response times [1]. Response times around four hours are generally considered fast. Slower response times range from eight hours (which effectively becomes "next day" service within a standard business arrangement) to 24 hours. As with any other aspect of the agreement, these times are negotiable - for the right amount.

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Even if it does not happen often, you should be aware that some service agreements with response time regulations can fully utilize a manufacturer's service. It is not entirely unheard of that busy companies find someone - anyone - Send to a service call with a short response time just to comply with the response clause. That person then supposedly diagnoses the problem, and then calls "Headquarters" for someone to bring "the correct replacement part".

In reality, however, it is only waiting for the person who is then really able to fix the problem.

While this is understandable in special circumstances (for example, if a power failure has paralyzed systems in the entire service area), if this behavior occurs frequently, you should notify the service manager and ask for an explanation.

If your response time requirements are very high (and you have the correspondingly high budget), there is an approach in which you can reduce response times even further - to zero.

8.1.1.2.2.1. No response time at all - a technician on site

In an appropriate situation (you are one of the largest customers in the area), sufficient demand (any Downtime is unacceptable) and adequate financial resources (if you have to ask the price you probably can't afford it) you may be a candidate for a full-time on-site technician. The benefits of having a technician on hand are obvious:

  • Immediate response to any problem

  • A proactive approach to system maintenance

As you can guess, this can be an option very costly, especially if you need a technician 24/7. However, if this is appropriate for your business, there are a number of points you should keep in mind in order to get the most benefit from this.

First, on-site technicians need many of the resources of a normal employee, such as a work station, telephone, access cards and / or keys, and so on.

On-site technicians are only really beneficial if the right spare parts are available. You should therefore provide a secure storage facility for spare parts. In addition, the technician should keep an adequate inventory of the spare parts for your configuration and ensure that these parts are not regularly "cannibalized" by other technicians for their own purposes.

8.1.1.2.3. Parts availability

Obviously, the availability of spare parts plays a big role in limiting the risk of hardware failure. In the context of a service agreement, the availability of spare parts takes on a different dimension, as this applies not only to your company but to all customers in the manufacturer's catchment area who may also need these parts. Another company that may have purchased a larger amount of hardware from the manufacturer in question than yours may also receive preferential treatment when it comes to spare parts (or technicians).

Unfortunately, in this case nothing can be done apart from talking to the service manager.

8.1.1.2.4. budget

As mentioned earlier, service agreements vary in price depending on the type of service provided. Remember that the cost of a maintenance contract is a recurring expense; every time the contract expires, you have to negotiate a new contract and then pay the sum again.

8.1.1.2.5. Hardware to be covered

Here is one area where you can keep costs as low as possible. Imagine you have a service agreement with a '24/7' technician on site, spare parts on site - everything your heart desires. Every piece of hardware you purchased from this manufacturer is covered, even the secretary's PC that is used to perform non-critical tasks.

Must for this PC really someone available 24/7 on site? The secretary works daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is therefore relatively unlikely that:

  • The PC is used between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. (or on the weekend)

  • That a failure is noticed outside of office hours (between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.)

It is therefore a waste of money to pay to have this PC serviced on a Saturday in the middle of the night.

You should split the service agreement so that non-critical hardware is listed separately from critical hardware. This way you can keep the costs as low as possible.

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If you have 20 identical servers that are critical to your business, you may be tempted to get a high-level service agreement for just one or two servers and cover the rest with a less expensive agreement. Then if any of the servers go down, just claim that this was the one with the high-level service.

Better not do that. Not only is it dishonest, but most manufacturers keep a good track of serial numbers as well. Even if you can find a way to bypass such audits, in the long run you will be spending significantly more money if you are caught than if you are honestly paying for the services you need.