6 Questions You Must Ask Before Selecting a Hardware Asset Management Partner
So much happens “in the cloud” nowadays that it’s easy to forget technology systems still depend on hardware. You can’t afford system downtime while waiting for hardware to be fixed.
Maintaining a robust service supply chain is complicated and expensive. The right hardware asset management partners help by providing expert knowledge and logistics capabilities that reduce downtime and minimize service events.
To choose the best hardware asset management partner, start by asking candidate companies these six questions.
1. Does your company staff a well-balanced team of experts?
Professional service supply chain vendors must staff and retain engineers with deep knowledge and expertise in three main areas: operations, quality, and engineering. Strong staffing in these key areas and a collaborative approach to solving problems are keys to success. If any area falters, it can damage your brand and customer relationships.
Pro Tip: Meet with key people during the decision-making process. Find out how long their experts have been with the company. A lack of seniority could be red flag.
Do the potential partner’s employees have skills that complement or enhance your own staff, and are they readily available? A single point of contact is efficient when everything is going well. However, when there’s a problem, you need access to the team that’s working on your behalf.
Pro Tip: Ask if the company provides specific contact information for key resources that would be assigned to your account. Sometimes the ideal setup involves a single point of contact responsible for the managing the relationship, as well as multi-level integrated relationships with the partner’s internal team. Sometimes, engineers just need to talk to engineers and hash out a solution. If you can’t work directly with their experts, this might also be a warning signal.
2. Do your services offer real-time visibility & traceability?
Professional asset management service providers have systems in place providing accurate and immediate visibility into all stages of the scree, test and repair process. Visibility and traceability drive product quality and help you answer questions such as:
- What is the backlog?
- How long, on average, does the screen-and-test process take for a particular part? What about the repair?
- What is the expected yield?
Reliable data integrity throughout your service supply chain is the basis of accurate planning. Clean data also provides valuable information that adds value to sustained engineering on current products and drives innovation on new ones.
Pro Tip: Have a conversation about key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most to your business. Ask how the partner will provide this data in the cadence you require: daily, weekly, monthly and/or quarterly.
3. How can you help improve quality & strengthen our brand?
Finding a hardware asset management partner who can provide proof they contribute quality to a client’s products is key.
Pro Tip: Ask for documented case studies that clearly illustrate how they helped other customers solve problems or improve metrics. Get specifics such as the company’s first-time fix rate, if they provide failure data for mode and code, types of failures, and when failures are likely to occur.
Avoid any potential partner who can’t provide solid answers. You never want to be the supplier who “shut down the factory” or caused your customers to break commitments to their customers. The No. 1 concern is quality: your brand is built on it, so make sure any partner can support your requirements.
4. How do their screen and test depot locations map to your clients?
Long-distance shipping adds to overall total cost of ownership, and no one wants extended downtime. Choosing an IT asset management provider that can screen and test products in the country or region where you operate is key. This will help control cost and minimize customer downtime. Test and screen procedures can quickly identify products as No Trouble Found (NTF). Since there’s no need to send NTF products overseas for repair, they can be returned to replacement inventory immediately.
Pro Tip: Ask about available forward stocking locations. Hardware asset management providers who maintain parts in multiple regions can also help expedite screen, test and repairs — which helps control costs. Fact is, customers want their products back quickly and will benefit from having parts inventory nearby.
5. What’s your competitive advantage?
A quality hardware asset management partner should tick all the basic proficiency boxes, but a superior service provider will also have something unique that gives them a competitive advantage over competition.
Pro Tip: If you’re concealing the names of vendors competing for your business, carefully construct your questioning here to avoid exposing their competition.
6. Will you be a partner or a vendor?
Choosing the right hardware asset management company can be tricky, especially as negotiations persist. Regardless of the expense, the organization you choose should help solve your problems by reducing total cost of ownership.
The screen, test and repair process is an often-neglected part of supply chain management, but it’s vitally important. Things will break: everyone knows that. The key is getting the equipment back to the customer or back in inventory quickly and doing it right the first time.
An effective technical services partner does this by:
- Offering an all-in-one logistics solution that takes a holistic, not piecemeal, approach so you don’t waste time managing multiple vendors.
- Adapting to your company’s culture and working as a team with your staff, adding synergistic value to your organization.
- Specializing in dedicated end-to-end service supply chain solutions that offer global visibility and real-time data, in a single system. Having this peace of mind will help you sleep better at night.
- Supporting scalable, global solutions that grow along with your business, ready to pivot to any strategic changes to your business model.
All hardware asset management vendors promise to help you cut costs, but only the best add value to your brand and your customers’ operations.
Effective partners combine knowledge, materials, data, and expertise at the right time and in the right place. Any weak link can break the chain.
Flash Global is an industry leader in providing full-service solutions. To find out more about our end-to-end service supply solutions, give us a call at 888-732-6695 or send us a note. We’d love the opportunity to help your business grow.