Ken Barhoover, Interactive Marketing Manager at Park Place Technologies (, says:

A 2009 Gartner study surveyed customer opinions about computer hardware reliability and the need for third-party maintenance (TPM) services. The survey results showed that customers are reconsidering the value of hardware maintenance and in some cases, the need for third party hardware maintenance at all.

More than ever, IT managers must rationalize the value of the hardware maintenance services that they purchase. In the past, many large organizations did not consider third party maintenance services because they refreshed their hardware with the OEM every three years. Now about two thirds of these organizations’ IT departments are under such severe budget constraints that they actively pursue TPM options.

With that in mind, here are 5 TPM capabilities that maximize business value:

Maintenance-focused business model. The OEM business model is designed to recoup extensive investment in hardware research and development through the sale of new hardware. By focusing only on providing hardware maintenance rather than on OEM contracts that focus on hardware sales, TPM providers can provide hardware maintenance services at 30% to 60% lower those of OEMs. By concentrating on the resources and capabilities needed to serve customer maintenance requirements, TPM providers can also avoid hardware bias and conflicts of interest.

Highly experienced engineers and a broad service portfolio. To enable organizations to save IT services costs by consolidating OEM vendor services, TPM providers must offer a broad service portfolio and skilled engineers with extensive OEM experience.

Rapid response, mobilization and problem resolution. Minimizing downtime-related opportunity costs requires skilled technical personnel and an infrastructure that puts replacement units and spare parts within quick and easy reach of service engineers. Also, rapid solution delivery is enabled by digital management systems that monitor the process from the initial service request until the customer signs off following equipment restoration.

Established parts purchasing and handling methods. To avoid sunk costs of hardware handling, organizations need a TPM provider that uses industry-accepted best practices and has established processes for purchasing, storing, inventorying, installing, and testing replacement hardware and spare parts.

Flexible, customizable contract terms. By providing maintenance agreements and programs that reflect each customer’s business requirements, TPM providers can help their customers reduce overall maintenance service costs and free up funds that would be locked up in OEM agreements.

When selecting a TPM provider, these should be your baseline requirements.

**ParkPlaceTechnologies is a regular contributor on Data Center POST