The hardware maintenance and support supply chain is disconnected, in my view, from the real value of SLAs.
Support and maintenance providers have been working to SLAs that have created an adversarial environment. This has created unnecessary holes in service delivery, not to mention a disconnect with customer business objectives and expectations.
SLAs have been created essentially for failure, rather than success.
Silos of service have been created by the disjointed, complex relationship between kit maintainers and their suppliers, and the result has been a major blame game. Diagnostics and scheduling, parts, logistics, as well as field service and repair are all separate cost centres, with different department leaders and conflicting objectives.
Often the repairer, part provider, field technician, diagnostics and logistics provider are from five independent sub-contractors. Sometimes it all just takes more time; sometimes the wrong part is delivered to a person not qualified to install it -- causing yet more confusion and delay.
Today's siloed IT maintenance and support supply chain also penalises customers by charging inflated prices to cover the cost of the suppliers' own inefficiencies.
Yet these fragmented, confused and complex supply chains can be simplified.
For example, leansource methodologies can be used to create a one-touch supply chain solution that delivers cost and service advantages and reduces the opportunity for disconnect.
Isolated incidents and IT down-time affect SLA attainment and affect client business operations while varying suppliers wait for each other to complete actions or deliver components. The industry has created a culture of below-par SLAs that factor in failure.
What is needed is integration of call handling, stock management, field service, logistics, and repair. Benefits can be demonstrated at the back end and the front end of the service supply chain - enabling everyone to have a better understanding of the job and its outcome.
Leansource methodology connects the service provider directly with the end user site, providing information that enables the field service engineer to solve customer problems much more quickly. And a more "connected" relationship means SLAs can be implemented that are better aligned to customer business objectives.
Mike Heslop is the owner of Centrex Services
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