Here we look at how OEMs maintain control of equipment upgrade paths through their support policies and what alternatives are available to customers. OEM support contracts offer guaranteed, quality support for your equipment. Right up until the manufacturer draws a line making the equipment end of life. At this point it can feel like a clock is ticking against the useable lifespan of your equipment. And it’s for reasons that have nothing to do with the item’s actual ability to perform. Manufacturers are constantly developing newer, more powerful technologies. So their interest in your older equipment tends to wane along with their decision to support it. In their efforts to maximise sales of new products, many OEMs can lose focus. They assert the many benefits of their latest kit, without fully considering the actual needs of the customer. Post-warranty and EOL support fees from the OEM can be extremely costly. Once production on a piece of equipment ceases, it’s often only a matter of time before support is withdrawn. So once a manufacturer announces they will no longer be supporting a product, upgrading to their latest product line can seem like the best, or even only, option. On the contrary, businesses should be encouraged to make decisions based on what is best for them. Not for their manufacturer. This means taking account of technological requirements, short and long-term business objectives, current available resources and financial implications. If your current equipment still meets your business needs, performing to a high enough standard to meet your demands, why upgrade? New functionality, speed and capacity is nice to have. But is it nice enough to warrant the additional investment? Not only in the equipment itself. But in the cost of the operational time required to implement the change. Plus the training to bring your teams up to speed with a new system? The value of the latest capabilities becomes meaningless if they are capabilities you don’t need and are unlikely to use. Asset depreciation on older equipment is, of course, inevitable, but perhaps not to the extent your OEM might lead you to believe. Don’t be fooled into thinking an EOS stamp means the equipment must be nearing the end of its life. In reality, it is likely that the equipment still holds significant value. And can continue to service your business for years to come. By automatically choosing OEM support, you are at the mercy of the OEM’s arbitrary policies and may be prematurely writing off your equipment. So, if your existing equipment still works and continues to provide all the functionality your business needs, how can you ensure continued support to extend its life even after an EOS notification has been issues by the manufacturer?
An alternative option
Comprehensive third party support contracts mean you don’t need to risk having no warranty, support or maintenance cover if you don’t follow OEM’s demands. Providing cost effective cover for post-warranty, EOL, EOS and even refurbished equipment, third party support contracts overcome arbitrary manufacturer restrictions allowing you to rely on your EOS equipment for longer. By helping you to extend the life of your existing equipment, these contracts provide a viable alternative to both expensive OEM support and system upgrades. Furthermore, they provide much greater levels of flexibility. A third party supplier will often hold expertise across multiple different manufacturers meaning they can provide support for all your equipment under one contract. This allows for easier management removing the need for disparate contracts with different companies for each brand of equipment you own. In some cases a third party supplier will also allow equipment in different locations and with different required SLAs to sit under the same contract and will pro-rata any new additions to ensure you are able to maintain one single renewal date. Multi-vendor expertise also puts the supplier in a strong position to offer impartial advice across your entire system, old and new. Recommending the best solution for your whole network rather than just individual items. If greater functionality is required from one particular piece of equipment, necessitating an upgrade, the original item may still be effectively integrated with equipment elsewhere in your network. A highly certified multi-vendor engineer will be able to advise you on this.
What to look for in a third party support supplier
One of the biggest concerns companies have about choosing third party support is the issue of quality. Will a third party hold the same level of expertise as the manufacturer? Support and repair meet manufacturer standards? Will a third party have the facilities to carry out the same level of work? It would be untrue to suggest that all third parties are unable to offer the same levels of quality as manufacturers. But there are certain fundamentals to look out for. In terms of expertise, it is clearly important that the engineers in question are well versed and hold accreditations in the technology of your particular manufacturer. But it is also worth looking out for accreditations across other manufacturers too. The broader a supplier’s knowledge, the more likely they’ll be able to provide balanced advice across your whole network. Likewise, certifications are a good indicator of quality. ISO 9001 and ISO 27001, are reliable markers that high standards of quality and security are being adhered to. If a supplier doesn’t uphold similar levels of certification, it may be more risky to assume they will deliver the quality you require.
The facilities a supplier has available for the testing, repair and refurbishment of your products demonstrate their capability to deliver a range of quality services. If a supplier has invested heavily in state-of-the-art equipment, it is reasonable to assume they have a commitment to delivering the highest standards possible. Another big concern companies express about third party suppliers is the speed of response times. Will a third-party supplier be readily available to address any problems you experience, at any time, day or night? Moreover, do they have quick access to a wide range of spares, should they be required, to fix the problem? Look for a supplier who keeps large volumes of spares in stock in a large number of locations. With capacity to deliver Next Business Day or a 4 Hour basis, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This gives you peace of mind that downtime and loss of productivity will be minimised in the event of failure.
Regaining control of the upgrade path
There is certainly a lot to think about. It can be difficult to know where to start deciding what’s best when it comes to support and upgrade options. As with all decisions, the ability to reach a positive conclusion begins with a thorough understanding of the situation. Building a complete register of all your equipment, its age, expected useable lifespan and its value provides a good grounding. You can use it to make informed decisions about the advantages of upgrading vs maintaining existing equipment. It also pays to be aware of upcoming EOS and EOL products. Announcements will often be made months in advance so there is no need to panic. In the long run, taking the time to weigh up all the options will benefit your business. And your bottom line.
The reality is, EOS equipment is rarely at the end of its useable life. Damaged or faulty equipment can still be recovered and continue to be supported. Upgrading may turn out to be the best solution. But it is only one of a number of options. And the choice between them can and should be made by you. Not your manufacturer. If you really are ready to upgrade, don’t forget you can still recover value from your existing equipment. Professional refurbishment and secure data disposal can restore your equipment to manufacturer standards ready for resale. Many third party suppliers will provide buy back options so you can secure market value on this equipment or trade it in against your new kit.
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