Let’s face it: in today’s fast paced digital world, technology – that works – is a necessary component for business success, writes Ian Summerfield, portfolio manager: services at Jasco Enterprise.

Downtime can have significant negative impacts on a business however, arguably the biggest impact is its cost. Whether money is lost to halted or delayed production, or due to missed revenue, downtime is an expense few businesses can afford – and they shouldn’t have to.

Downtime is often less the result of an ineffective solution and more that of ineffective support. While most businesses engage in careful deliberation and thorough research before deciding on the right technology and vendor to meet their needs, it could prove ineffectual if they fail to consider the upkeep of their chosen solution. Not all solutions include support, and not all provided support options offer everything required to ensure the solution delivers what’s necessary.

Once the initial excitement of a successful implementation has worn off, organisations could experience a bad aftertaste resulting from a lack of effective vendor support, maintenance and suitable in-house skills and experience.

Planning ahead

Typically, the IT department becomes responsible for the support and maintenance of any technology deployed in an environment. It therefore stands to reason that the IT departments have full insight into the solution at the inception phase. This is not only to identify any potential misalignments with existing infrastructure, but also to be aware of the impact of the technology on the environment, as well as how to support it.

When solutions and new technologies are identified to solve a particular business problem or customer requirement, the support and maintenance of the solution may become lost in the planning of the deployment. It is important that the entire solution lifecycle be considered carefully – with involvement from all role-players, throughout the final technology selection process. It is always the post-implementation support which realises the value of the new deployment, thus it becomes one of the most critical aspects of solution roll out.

However, there are options for those businesses who suffer the results of an unsupported, or unmaintained solution: they can turn to an outsource provider who can take over management and support of the solution, ensuring it delivers for as long as it is required.

Minimise negative outcomes

Very little outweighs industry experience and having a team of qualified support staff available when system failures occur, when it comes to reducing the risk to business. Proper support and maintenance of the solution following deployment, whether through the OEM, catered for in-house or delivered through a third party outsource provider, is required to achieve continued functionality and ensure smooth continuation of services.

When opting for support from a partner, some of the crucial aspects that indicate suitability include their support service experience and product credentials. The partner’s expertise should include day to day support on hardware and software, a professional approach to integration and development maintenance- as well as their ability to be an industry expert across multiple disciplines. The support partner should also act as trusted advisor to the business around all service and support related topics.

The vendor or technology supplier that sold the technology solution should, in most cases, be the ideal partner to support the solution. However, the supplier should be selected right from the start based on their entire offering, including their post roll out support package, or Service Level Agreement (SLA). A technology may be highly suitable and of a high quality, however if the supplier lacks the customer support experience to fully maintain their solution, it becomes necessary to select an alternative partner to support the solution in order to minimise downtime and realise the full value of the solution.