Stelo Blog

What Expectations Do You Have for IT Support? Here’s What to Ask Upfront.

With the rapid onslaught of cloud, Ecommerce, and Mcommerce applications, the boundaries between traditional telecommunications and computer communications and storage continue to dissolve. A mix of technologies is made possible by standards-conforming hardware and software interfaces, but making everything work together is easier said than done.

The melding of technologies has lead to heterogeneous networks, where architectures, data formats, voice, internet communication, storage, access technologies, and machine/network load are meant to interoperate. This complexity has lead to challenges in support, where support delivery may not have kept pace with advances in technology or all aspects of your particular network.

So how do you determine how to best get support for your ever growing and complex environment?

You may have vendor support now, or you may be considering a new vendor and support contract for some component of your IT network. Vendors may be offering to customize your unique support needs, and whether those aspects apply to hetereogenous networks (which requires specific skill sets), in particular.

When it comes to support, there is more than one way to cook an egg, so it’s important to evaluate what a particular vendor is capable of offering to implement their solution. Whether a point solution or a platform, there are almost always integration challenges.

Integrating a solution into your environment, requires skill sets that may not be immediately apparent with a particular vendor or with your IT support team. In fact, according to a recent survey on IT outsourcing by CIO magazine, close to a quarter of clients outsourcing IT will cut ties with their current provider if they have not effectively helped them standardise, automate, or transform their processes.

So what should you look for in vendor support? Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Software/Hardware: Does the contract specify exactly what the vendor is offering?
  • Timeline: When will the equipment or software be supplied and installed?
  • Installation: Where do the responsibilities begin and end with the support provider?
  • Service monitoring / reporting: How will you establish whether the supplier has delivered as promised?
  • SLA: A Service Level Agreement will outline acceptable levels of service and explains what compensation you will receive if the IT supplier fails to meet those levels. Look for uptime and response times to be clearly indicated.
  • Escalation: Does the contract clearly explain how you should proceed in the event of problems or disputes?
  • Terms: What are the up front and final payment amounts?
  • Legal: Confidentiality, non-disclosure information, termination, etc…

All aspects of support are crucial but installation and troubleshooting are the most time consuming. Be sure to understand if your vendor has the right skill set to install and fix typical issues in your particular environment. Asking plenty of questions such as how long this vendor has been in business and how they handled certain issues will help sort this out.

As a point solution provider, the StarQuest support team has an unusually high level of experience dealing with heterogeneous networks. We deliver end-to-end expertise and problem ownership, from host operating systems such as IBM z/OS or iSeries, to the latest Windows and UNIX platforms, database management, networking and application development. Check out our Support options and let us know what questions we can answer about your environment.


[ photo credit]