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Wouldn’t it be great if your Doctor could guarantee that you would be healthy 99.5% of the time? “Just eat an apple a day” he says. Too bad you consumed the extra cheeseburger instead! Too bad that your Doctor is always doing a post mortem on your health. You visit because you have a cold, your ears ache, you fell down. The point is that you are already broken. You would be much better off if you went to the gym once a week or just took the stairs at the office.
Your technology needs the same type of focus and attention.
The latest trends and best practices focus on proactive monitoring for better ROI. The success of a project may have everything to do with planning and implementation, but the long term return on investment is directly tied to maintenance and up-time.
In the world of technology almost every company implements a project with the best intentions. Returns have been carefully calculated, costs estimated and budgeted. The project gets implemented, signed off and then starts a slow decline until the next upgrade cycle. But it shouldn’t be that way.
Service Levels Save Money
Technology needs an SLA or a Service Level Agreement. It is the gym membership for your investment. It is the apple a day that can keep the system crash away.
Heavy equipment has regular proactive maintenance. More and more companies are turning to equipment vendors like Caterpillar to perform all service under a contract with guaranteed up-time. While there are certainly costs associated with vendor performed maintenance, the long term returns are clear. More up-time equates to more profit. So many costs are fixed that the extra 3% equipment availability falls right to the bottom line.
In the network and computer technology industry this ongoing proactive maintenance is called Managed Services. The vendor manages the service, performs the service and proactively makes sure the equipment in the field keeps working the way it was designed. Your staff IT guys are paid to fix things that are broken and really like their warm cozy offices. It is hard to get them into the field, get their boots on and fix that busted antenna on the dozer that is ripping overburden in the back 40. Your Managed Service provider however is incented not only to get that antenna fixed, but build a schedule of antenna replacement and proactive upkeep. After all, the contract rewards up-time, not office chair time.
An additional benefit of Managed Services is that the vendor has multiple customers. They can spread the cost of the Cisco engineers and wireless engineers and spectrum analyzers across multiple accounts, meaning that you get more expertise for less cost. This of it this way: If you have a budget of $250k you can hire a couple guys and get a truck. They will take constant training and won’t have any of the tools pre-developed to make them successful. Everything starts out on the ground floor.
For the same money you can pay an army of experts to spend 10% of their time on your project. With their tools and systems they get more done in less time using better techniques. They are experts. They handle the ongoing training internally, the HR issues internally. All you see is contract guaranteed up-time.
The same concept works for fractional jet ownership. You really want a jet and can see how it will save you all kinds of time, but the pilots, the jet, the hangar really add up. And once you have them you spend extra just to justify keeping them. A fractional jet ownership however gives you access to planes anywhere in the world ready to go. Sure you pay a little more per hour, but the long term benefits are pretty stellar.
So, hire an expert, get an SLA and eat an apple!