Service & Maintenance
SAVE MONEY on your AV systems and lock in PERFORMANCE and EFFICIENCY!
Written by: David Allara
There is one aspect of AV and ICT systems which is often overlooked, and that is the importance of putting in place a service and maintenance plan. AV and ICT systems do not work forever defect free, and require ongoing maintenance and support. It is almost always best for the vendor that installs the solutions to also be the company that helps you support and maintain them over their useful life. I therefore recommend that you always evaluate a potential vendor to also be your longer term support partner.
There are essentially two key things to focus on here. Firstly, be clear on your service and maintenance requirements, and distinguish between what can be handled internally versus what an external vendor must cover. Secondly, use the right selection criteria when assessing potential vendors.
Many of the larger organisations we work with have internal support teams that can be tasked with providing first and sometimes even second level support. Depending on the systems and the organisation the internal support may come from IT, AV, Facilities, Client Services or a similar department. First level support is typically very basic troubleshooting that is non-technical. Often, issues are caused by a loose cable or simple user error. Second level support might have a light technical element, but generally can easily be handled internally through training around common troubleshooting procedures. Prior to entering into an agreement with an external vendor for support I recommend you take the time to assess opportunities for some support to be handled internally. It can prove to be a significant cost saving in the long term.
Support and maintenance agreements with external vendors can range from something very simple such as meeting spaces in an office fit out to the more complex such as a command and control centre for a transportation hub. Preventative maintenance with regular frequency is always sensible to consider as this keeps the AV and ICT systems running at their optimal performance. More sophisticated systems and agreements will also feature live monitoring that can provide immediate alerts of current or forecast issues. Reactive support is the other component of most agreements. This addresses response times for phone or on-site support and should also assign priorities to different events or support issues. My advice when drafting up your requirements to include in an agreement is to work with an independent expert that knows the AV and ICT systems you want covered. You will know your organisation and the expert will know your technology solutions. Together you will be able to define your exact needs and craft a document that be given to vendors to price.
Just as you followed a process to select the best vendor in Step 4, a very similar approach should be taken to select the right vendor partner now. The same guidelines apply. You will want to carefully assess the vendor’s processes and workflows to handle support calls. You need to be confident that these align with your specific requirements and, if you are also handling some support internally, it will be extremely valuable for the vendor’s support system to be able to link in with your internal system for tracking and reporting purposes.
- Start by reviewing the support and maintenance activities you can undertake internally. Most issues are user error related. There might be opportunity for you to save money.
- Document a clear and specific brief of requirements. Define what is included e.g. equipment, software, response times, maintenance frequency, issue resolution time frames etc.
- Carefully assess the vendor’s experience, systems and processes. Ensure they align with your expectations and internal systems and processes.