The overlooked price of IT support

Dimension Data warns of the hidden costs of IT support

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The overlooked price of IT support Brent Flint, Middle East and Africa Services Executive at Dimension Data
By  Brent Flint Published  February 25, 2013

The price on the bottom line of your ICT maintenance contract is often not what you actually pay for support.

This is not because your service provider is billing inaccurately; in fact, it has more to do with costs incurred by your own organisation's internal teams and structures, as the bulk of support-related expenses fall outside the scope of traditional support offerings. The goal should therefore be to reduce total cost of support by recognising and eliminating ‘hidden' expenses, and not to cut down on externally provided services that you might later regret discontinuing.

Many vendors, many processes

One example of a hidden cost is the expense incurred in managing the support processes of different vendors. These processes are never the same for every service provider, so the more vendors you have, the more intricate your support environment is to manage. And the more complicated this management is, the more mistakes are made and the more downtime occurs, which in turn drives up your operational costs. At the same time, your organisation would require more service vendor management, which means more work for your procurement department, more effort to keep up with vendor research, and more contract management and renewal complications - all of which add to your total cost of support. By reducing the number of vendors in your environment, you can lower your total cost of support.

Which level of service?

Some of these hidden costs are inversely related to the type of service contract you have in place. The simpler and cheaper the contract, the more costs are carried internally. For example, should an organisation decide not to buy a premium level of service but opt for a simple ‘break-fix' service instead, a large degree of management is required on the business side to initiate and ensure the proper delivery of the service. The internal support team would, firstly, need to be aware that a piece of equipment has malfunctioned, which implies the need for some form of monitoring as well as an internal help desk. The internal team would then have to determine if the equipment is under contract and, if so, with which service provider.

Again, this takes time and effort, and the more out-of-date or incomplete the organisation's asset register is, the longer and more involved this tracking process becomes. When the call to the break-fix service provider is then finally made and the new equipment is installed, the business still has to ensure that the equipment's service to the organisation is restored and runs as smoothly as before. The result of this is that businesses spend far more on ‘cheaper' break-fix services than they realise. Using a service provider to restore equipment as opposed to delivering a simple ‘break-fix' service might seem like it costs more, but the organisation would need far fewer in-house administration and engineering resources to ensure maximum business continuity. Freeing up your internal support team by relying more on a service provider's capabilities can lower your total cost of support.

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