Questions to Ask When Considering Third Party Maintenance

Searching for a third-party maintenance vendor who meets the required standards of practice can be mind-boggling. You are presented with an array of options of which choosing the most reasonable person requires your scrutiny.

When searching for a third-party vendor, there are salient factors you should consider asides from individual cost savings advantages. This will not only help you in cost management, but it will also help you pick the right person for the job. The main factors to consider are the vendor’s years of professional practice and the extended security updates provided. These details will help your contingency plan and tailor your search down to only the qualified few

Consequently, when looking to build third-party relationships with a vendor, there are a few more questions you should ask to help you in picking the right person for your business. Some of those questions include

1. Does the vendor provide plans that support Multiple OEM brands?

It is often difficult for every practical tool in a data center to be products from only one original manufacturer. As a result, most items for online service in a data center are from multiple OEM brands such as Cisco, Dell, Juniper, and others.

In dealing with a third-party vendor, the ability to provide identity and access management services for multiple OEM brands should be a plus and one of your topmost reasons for considering dealing with them. The vendor should provide widened support that keeps a record of your maintenance contracts with a clearly defined billing process.

By doing this, TPM providers will give you wholesome support and management that will accommodate hardware across the various brands in your business. This covers data storage, servers, and general networking equipment. What is more, is that you get a detailed billing report at the end of the day which comes at rates far cheaper than what is offered by OEM brands.

2. Can the Third-party vendor be involved in the management of a hybrid collection comprising both TPM and OEM contracts?

For cost savings and to optimize maintenance across all your networking tools it is often important to adopt hybrid maintenance practices. This approach simply combines both the OEM and TPM standards of practice to streamline maintenance according to the unique needs of a business. Not just that, it ultimately helps in cost management and in providing extended security updates to IT systems.

When considering building third-party relationships, be sure that the provider offers hybrid maintenance services for TPM, OEM, and even self-supported contracts. Ensure also that they have an online service that provides 24/7 customer service.

3. What practices are in place for the logistics of stocking and distribution of replacement parts?

When choosing a third-party vendor, it is often encouraged that you build a business relationship with those whose technicians can arrive on time to perform health checks in case of an emergency. More important also is that they arrive with the required parts that will be useful in fixing your network equipment.

To be sure of this, you need to ask the vendor about their practices with stocking and distribution of parts. It will also be important to understand the supervisory relationship that the vendor has with his technicians. Doing this will not only give you an insight into the employer-employee relationship but will also intimate you on how soon you can access an important replacement part for your equipment. It also helps you in making other contingency plans where necessary.

4. How flexible is your TPM vendor regarding service level agreements?

A service level agreement (SLA) is an essential legal requirement between a service provider and a customer.  It is an informed consent process that states what the provider will offer and the standards by which they will be delivered. SLAs help in the management of client expectations just as they also help clients to compare the services provided by TPM vendors based on their stated terms and conditions.

When choosing a TPM vendor, the flexibility of the legal requirements provided by the SLA should always come to mind. They should draft contracts that give you options to choose a plan that suits your business without any long-term forced obligation. Similarly, it will be important to ascertain if the vendor offers a 24/7 emergency response and if they are regularly updating their services to provide accurate records and improve customer experience.

Other things to consider with the flexibility of a TPM vendor’s SLA include.

  • The ability of the vendor to offer services within regulatory requirements to the staff of your business who may be working remotely
  • Means of customer support, whether it is via an automated chat box or real-time support with a contact person who can help fix your problems.
  • Ability of the vendor to meet your specific business needs by tailoring down maintenance practices as it will suit your business.

5. Where are your potential vendors located and can they provide services internationally?

It is important to for you to know the location of your potential vendors and their commitment to providing international services before signing up with them. By doing this you will ascertain their availability to attend to your business needs and their stand if you intend to expand your business in the future.

6. What is the disk retention policy of the vendor and does the vendor possess the ability to keep your disks if it is required by your business?

Generally, a TPM vendor provides security, holds, and manages tools required for services such as disk encryption, password management, and software (or hardware) authentication. The record should be digital instead of paper-based records. The extent to which this service is provided can differ from vendor to vendor. It is therefore important to ascertain beforehand, the ability of the TPM vendor to keep your disk, especially if your business requires accurate records.

7. What other services can the TPM vendor offer if the need arises in the future?

It is recommended that you understand thoroughly the services provided by a TPM dealer even if it requires seeking legal advice. Also understanding other additional services that they offer and all it entails is important.

A good example is the ability of the vendor to assist with the movement of equipment and data center relocation. This is important because most vendors assist with the logistics of moving a data center smoothly while others don’t. Ascertain that the vendor will be present to help you unpack and set up in the new place.

8. Is the TPM provider willing to align with your company’s priorities as your IT needs evolve?

Truthfully, your IT needs will naturally change and evolve as your business grows. In this case, a maintenance agreement with a third party that makes room for this certain growth and diversification is important.

It will be good for your business, to choose a vendor that provides you support to keep afloat in the face of changes and advancements in the data center sector. Endeavor to get answers to this question before committing with a vendor.

9. How willing is the vendor to carry out data elimination according to laid down standards?

Asset destruction for business according to DOD has certain legal requirements that must be followed. These regulatory requirements involve various patterns of overwriting the data and obtaining a certificate that verifies that the process took place. There are other ways employed by the department of defense in discarding classified data that is no longer in use. Such may include physical destruction and/or wiping.

With this in mind, you need to be sure of the TPM company’s policy regarding asset destruction; whether they carry it out, and if they follow laid down regulatory requirements by the DOD.

10. How willing are the TPM engineers in assisting outside their primary job of hardware maintenance?

Engineers from the maintenance provider can be useful in certain areas asides from hardware maintenance. Some of such areas include forecasting time for system upgrades and advising customers on the best hardware that will suit their business operation and other privacy practices. It is important henceforth to understand the disposition of your maintenance engineers towards rendering these extra services.


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