This is the second in a series of articles about the importance of Support and Maintenance contracts for your manufacturing OT Systems. In the first article, Chris Barlow, Technical Director at manufacturing software specialist Astec IT Solutions explained why it was important to have a Support and Maintenance Contract. He now moves on to discuss the next phase; revealing what that contract should include.
If you were going to undertake any kind of project, whether at home or at work, you’d want to know a few things beforehand. Other than price, you’d probably want to know exactly what service you could expect for your investment. For example, what the service includes, what hours are included, what the Service Level Agreement (SLA) is, what are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and whether or not there is there a 24/7 helpdesk, etc.
It is always important that these agreements are set out right from the start. We’ve probably all read a horror story about business technology, where large scale system implementations have overrun, or basic deployment standards have not been met. More often than not, these events have happened because of a failure to put an adequate contract in place from the beginning: there have been no SLAs in place and KPIs have not been determined. Therefore, projects run wayward and basic demands are not met.
At Astec, we always make sure these considerations and agreements have been set out at the very start of every project. We offer several flexible support plans which provide expert technical support and ongoing system maintenance. Each of these support plans has clear SLAs, so you know exactly the service you can expect from each of the plans.
From our experience, here is some of the detail you should be looking for when it comes to a support contract:
Does your support plan provide an appropriate service window, which meets your requirements? If your operations run 24/7 there is not much point in having a helpdesk which closes at 5pm. Conversely, if you only need support between 08:30 and 17:00, why pay for more?
Is it clear how quickly your support provider will respond to a request for assistance? What are the different levels of support included in your contract and what are the response times for each of the levels you have in your contract? A good support provider will always be clear about these, because it is in everyone’s interest.
Inclusive Monthly Hours
What are the minimum and maximum hours included in your support contract? This is important, because if you haven’t got the right level of cover and you move into ad hoc hours, your support bill will be quite expensive. Plus, by having a sufficient level of minimum hours, you can ensure that all your preventative maintenance is taken care of too. Thus, you will have minimised downtime due to unplanned stoppages as a result of OT systems failure.
This can really be where a good provider can make a difference. How do you raise a support case and how convenient and fast is the process Should you use email, web or the telephone? Does your plan include service visits? If so, how many? Is remote access available? What about remote monitoring? Finally, if the worst happened and you suffered a critical systems failure, is there an emergency support button you can hit from anywhere?
As you can see, Support and Maintenance Contracts are not all standardised, so it is important to examine the detail. At Astec, we’ve tried to make this simple for you and will work with you to agree service levels and KPIs upfront to ensure you always receive the service that your business needs.
Visit our website to learn more about our range of flexible support plans which provide expert technical support and ongoing system maintenance.