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Is Third Party Maintenance Right for Me?

Is Third Party Maintenance Right for Me?

Every business has tech hardware that they depend on for daily operations. That could be something as simple as a printer or something as complicated as a dedicated cellular network that spans a 15-mile service area.

Since you rely on this hardware, you need the means to take care of it when things go wrong. You can do some of that with in-house IT, but sometimes, you need outside help. When that time comes, you can consider third party maintenance.

What Is Third Party Maintenance?

Third party maintenance (TPM) is a hardware support option. This option directly competes with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) support. OEM support can include warranties and post-warranty support. It also includes service agreements available from a direct manufacturer.

As the name suggests, TPM is where you hire a third party to provide support for you and take care of your equipment.

For this comparison, you can think about auto mechanics. The OEM support is like taking your car to the dealership. There are certain expectations about the quality of service, but the way they do things is less flexible.

Meanwhile, TPM support is like going to the local car shop down the road. They don’t work for the auto manufacturer, and that comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Unfortunately, that’s where the metaphor breaks down, as the pros and cons of TPM vs OEM are quite a bit different from those related to your choice of auto mechanic.

Where TPM Shines

With that in mind, let’s discuss the benefits of TPM. The first point of value is with the service of old equipment. Manufacturers only support equipment for a limited amount of time. Cisco, the most prominent networking equipment manufacturer in the world, is a great example. Every single device has a scheduled end of life where Cisco stops offering support, even if you were willing to pay for it.

In such a case, TPM providers can keep working on and fixing your devices well past their scheduled end of life.

Aside from that niche, TPM generates value through flexibility. If you want to outsource 100 percent of hardware maintenance, you can find a provider to do that. If you only want a little bit of supplemental work, you can schedule that too. TPM is all about flexibility, and it even extends to hardware flexibility. Many TPM providers have vendor partnerships, so they can help you explore competitive advantages when sourcing new equipment.

Drawbacks to TPM

There are a couple of drawbacks to choosing a TPM, and they can’t be ignored.

The most obvious is cost. TPM costs money, and if you have a free warranty on your hardware, it can feel silly to pay a third party for redundant support.

Additionally, TPM providers have limited knowledge. By all means, you can find qualified, certified industry experts who know their stuff, but the OEM employs the engineers who designed the equipment in the first place. That’s a knowledge advantage.

Lastly, TPM providers can be a bit of an unknown. You can check reviews and do your diligence, but you don’t really know a TPM provider until you work with them, and that comes with a bit of risk.

OEM Benefits

Meanwhile, the OEM is the company you’ve already trusted with your money when you purchased the device. In many cases, you can stick with mainstream OEMs, so you more or less know what you’re getting.

On top of having the very highest levels of expertise and offering (sometimes) free warranty support, OEMs provide another advantage. They can guaranteed provide you with the correct OEM parts when part replacement is necessary. It eliminated guesswork.

OEM Cons

What are the downsides to OEM service? It’s usually inflexible and limited in scope. If you need a high level of third party support, you typically won’t get it from OEMs, even if you enter into an expanded service contract.

For flexibility and adaptability, TPM providers win hands down.

So, which is right for you? Only you can decide that, but with a clear view of the pros and cons of each choice, you can think about exactly what you need from hardware maintenance support and plan accordingly.

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