When it comes to these types of systems, we need them up and running all the time to get the maximum productivity out of our workers. When a system is down you incur hard costs in the lost compensation that you must still pay the worker who cannot work as expected, and you also incur soft costs related to the employee’s inability to offer the highest levels of productivity. While soft costs are harder to determine, they are real and should be accounted for.
When evaluating your support vendors and their proposed products, you should ask some very important questions: <
How important is this particular piece of equipment to my operations? – A failed telephone system will shut down operations and make it impossible to generate new sales and service customers. A failed router will eliminate Internet access completely. A failed switch can render one or more devices on a network useless. A failed server can make access to all network resources impossible. Wouldn’t you be better off with a product with lower failure rates or the option of next business day replacement for five years instead of a short term warranty period can take a week before the defective unit is replaced?
What services are being introduced onto my network with this solution, and what benefits will I lose due to a system failure? We recently worked with a client who had more than 100 employees. While investigating an ERP implementation and evaluating network service providers, it became apparent during my conversations with them that this transition would mean that nearly $2500 dollars per hour in productivity would rely on three single points of failure. Even at 99.9% uptime over 5 years (their judgment of “extremely reliable”), that represents more than $400,000 in lost productivity. Once this number was known, it made sense to them to build redundancy into their systems to minimize disruption of operations due to lost Internet services and failed systems. Make sure that you determine critical vulnerabilities within your network solution and check to ensure that your prospective solution provider has taken reasonable steps to eliminate potential system failures.
Which solution provider offers me this best value? This is a difficult question answer, because solution providers almost never lend themselves for an “apples to apples” comparison. Every provider offers a different mix of products, service coverage, technical expertise, and price. I suggest making a chart, comparing each vendor against these criteria. Give each vender a score from 1 (best) to 10 (worst), based on how you feel each vendor can support your needs. Total each vendor’s numbers, with an eye on the lowest scores. Seriously pursue the top two or three vendors for consideration.
What is my total cost of ownership for a proposed solution? When making a Total Cost of Ownership calculation, hardware tends to be your lowest cost. Ongoing service costs should be in the middle of the expense paradigm, and service failures tend to cost you the most. As such, you should feel more comfortable investing in good hardware and better ongoing service to ensure high availability within your systems. And more reliable systems will not only reduce service failures but ongoing service costs, as well. It’s not uncommon to see that investing more in your solution right away will lead to a much lower Total Cost of Ownership when you factor in long term maintenance costs and the potential for service outages.
A very popular adage states “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” In the same breath, it’s true that many solutions could do a good job in making your organization more profitable and efficient. The organizations that can determine the best solution of them all are the ones that will enjoy the greatest benefit and build the most competitive advantages over their peers. When evaluating your next solution or solution provider, make sure that you address these four key questions to help you make the best choice.