10 Things to Ask a Service Provider for a Long and Happy Marriage

Quentin Birchall, Regional Director – North, avsnet

As in most courtships, the glasses are often rose tinted. Our excitement about the future sometimes clouds our judgement and the same can be true about the purchase of a new collaboration solution. We’re excited about all the great business benefits we’re going to realise, but often don’t think about what happens after the big day.

You see… not every maintenance provider is created equal. There, I said it.

While being courted by your new potential service provider, you will evaluate if what they’re proposing is the right configuration for your business? You will ask about legacy systems? You will calculate if everything is going to come in under budget?

But it’s equally as important that you evaluate maintenance and support. This is because collaboration technology, no matter how robust a solution, occasionally needs troubleshooting and some TLC.

This is inevitable and when support is required, it’s helpful to know that your provider is working tirelessly to get everything up and running again as soon as possible.

Does this describe your provider? Are they working behind the scenes, maintaining system performance, monitoring solutions and ready to act when an issue occurs?

Unsure? Well, here are 10 things to ask your provider to check if you’re a match made in heaven:

  1. Do you have a dedicated NOC? The network is the backbone of any collaboration estate. If you want excellent application reliability and the reassurance of 24/7 support, then make sure your provider is constantly monitoring your network and offers both helpdesk and on-site support services for when something goes awry.
  2. What are your ISO accreditations? Ensure any services are fit for purpose. ISO signifies quality and proves an organisation has been rigorously audited to validate its processes.
  3. What are your SLAs? Really scrutinise the service level agreement. Establish the frequency and format of reporting, insist on quarterly reviews. Ensure there are consequences for not meeting SLAs. Ask to see past performance.
  4. How far-reaching is your coverage? Investigate your provider’s operational and engineering footprint to be sure they meet your specific requirements. How many engineers do they have?
  5. Are engineers qualified? This is often a significant differentiator between providers. Ask to see certificates. Check customer endorsements. Are there any skills gaps?
  6. How about vendor accreditations? Formal endorsements from reputable vendors indicate the provider has received world-class training and has a high level of expertise. The company must prove its understanding of a vendor’s solutions to receive a certification.
  7. How many years has the company been operating? A company with decades of experience can put their finger on the answer to your maintenance question quickly. Experience counts when you are under pressure and need a problem solving.
  8. How proactive are you? Spotting a problem before it happens is a BIG asset, as are suitable aftercare services that ease the operational burden of equipment lifecycle management.
  9. Cost? If your provider is vendor agnostic, this means they are well positioned to specify the best and most cost-effective solution for your individual needs. This should filter through to their maintenance team, support services and warranty management.
  10. What about the people? Most of all, look for passion and commitment. The success of your investment is in the hands of your provider so they need to be demonstrably driven to deliver an exemplary service. Anything less is not good enough.

Contact me to find out more…

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