IT ASSET MAINTENANCE
BEST PRACTICES FOR
SUSTAINING LEANER
MAINTENANCE CONTRACTS

Effective IT asset maintenance optimization is all about leveraging the data. Improving your visibility increases your capability. By mastering these five (5) steps, you’ll gain the clarity to make better decisions, from budget planning and contract negotiations to risk prevention and problem-solving.

1: BE PROACTIVE

Knowledge is power. The more you learn about your IT assets and maintenance contracts, the better you can manage them. But you don’t know what you don’t know. Can you confidently answer these questions?

  • How many of your IT assets are currently unaccounted for?
  • Do your maintenance agreements include IT assets that are no longer in service?
  • What percentage of your IT assets are out of warranty?
  • When are your OEM and third-party maintenance contracts up for renewal?
  • How accurate and accessible is all your IT asset’s lifecycle data?

If you don’t know all the answers, don’t worry. This template will help you.

2: IDENTIFY EVERY ASSET

We created the IT Maintenance Optimization template to help you find the gaps in your data. It’s an excellent tool to help manage your maintenance, renewals, and support contracts, but this is just a starting point. Since every organization is different, you may want to add new fields to collect more information about your IT assets or IT asset classes. Go ahead. It’s your template to use however you wish.

If you feel overwhelmed, we can help. Our Owlytica IT asset maintenance platform offers an easier way to review, inspect and capture savings on data center maintenance contracts. Even better, it only takes a few minutes to get started, and your first 30 days are free. So kick the tires and take it for a spin.

3: UPDATE CRITICAL INFORMATION

To use this IT maintenance optimization template, you’ll want to know what the fields mean, why the data is essential, and how you can benefit moving forward. Let’s unpack all this now.

Each of the field descriptions below includes 5 key elements.

  1. The field name
  2. The data type – mandatory or optional
  3. A definition of the specific data to collect
  4. How the data could affect IT maintenance planning considerations
  5. How the data could affect IT Infrastructure planning considerations
Manufacturer/Model (Mandatory Fields)

Definition: [Manufacturer/Model]:The equipment vendor or manufacturer.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:Know who manufactured each device and what models are installed so you can determine exactly what support is needed.

IT Infrastructure:How many different manufacturers and/or models of each manufacturer do you have of a particular type of equipment? For example, if some of your routers are Cisco, and some are Juniper, you may run into compatibility and support issues. Likewise, if your environment is a mix of many Dell and IBM laptops, you may need to purchase multiple support contracts. One to support the Dell units, and another for the IBM units.

Inventory Type (Mandatory Field)

Definition: [Inventory Type]:The type of device installed (routers, switches, servers, desktops, laptops, mobile devices, storage, etc.).

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:Different types of devices have various equipment and service life expectancies. Knowing how many you have of each different type of device will help you determine how many separate support contracts are necessary.

IT Infrastructure:Knowing how many you have of each different type of device will help you determine compatibility and support issues. For example, If you have many workstations in various geographic locations, this will help determine how many routers and switches are needed to support the network connectivity of all those workstations.

Serial Number (Mandatory Field)

Definition: [Serial Number]:The unique serial number or service tag number of each device.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:Warranty support information and service contract support information are usually tied to the device’s unique serial number.

IT Infrastructure:Having an accurate inventory by manufacturer, model, and serial number ensures proper replacement planning. Accurate data makes it easier to identify equipment in the event of loss, theft, or cybersecurity incidents.

Support End (Mandatory Field)

Definition: [Support End]:The date a device’s warranty or extended support ends.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:Knowing the end date of warranties or extended support will help you determine if it’s better to replace the equipment or further extend the contract. It is also possible that the provider will no longer support obsolete equipment because of compatibility concerns.

IT Infrastructure:Knowing when a piece of equipment’s warranty or extended service expires will help determine how many support contracts or equipment replacements are due at any given time. For example, if a large number of devices will have their extended support contracts expire simultaneously, you may want to decide if some of the non-obsolete and acceptably performing equipment can be extended further. This prevents needing to purchase a large amount of new equipment all at once.

Cost to Renew Support (Mandatory Field)

Definition: [Cost to Renew Support]:The support contract renewal cost.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:Evaluate whether it is more cost-effective to renew support or purchase new equipment. Knowing the end date of warranties or extended support will help you determine whether to purchase further extended warranties or completely replace the equipment. If the equipment is still functioning and performing adequately and is not obsolete, extending the service contract may be better than buying new equipment.

IT Infrastructure:Knowing how much it will cost to renew support compared to purchasing new equipment will help determine the cost-effectiveness of continuing support or buying new equipment, especially if many support contracts are set to renew at the same time.

Cost for TPM Support (Mandatory Field)

Definition: [Cost for TPM Support}:The cost of putting the asset on third-party maintenance.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:When assets reach EOSL (end of service life), there are limited options to obtain support from the OEM. Many IT organizations use TPM (third-party maintenance) to complement OEM support. Receiving TPM pricing options is a proactive best practice to save money and shorten contract terms to match the support window (ex. 1-11 months).

IT Infrastructure:Obtaining TPM pricing options are a proactive best practice to save money and shorten contract terms to match the support window (ex. say 1-11 months), should you want to migrate, recycle or decommission an asset within a 12 month period.

Configuration (Mandatory Field)

Definition: [Configuration]:The specifications or features of each device. For example, a Cisco switch with 48 active ports or a Dell workstation with four processor cores and 32 gigs of RAM.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:Knowing the specific configuration will ensure that the proper support costs are assigned to each asset. The same manufacturer, make, and model of a particular device type may come with several different configurations and varying support costs.

IT Infrastructure:Having an accurate inventory, by manufacturer, model, and serial number, as well as configuration, ensures proper replacement planning. There may be different configuration types required for different business needs. For example, accountants and analysts may need more robust workstations than admins and customer service reps.

Asset Name (Optional Field)

Definition: [Asset Name]:The unique “logical” name assigned to the individual device, based on attributes such as geographic location, type (router, switch, server, workstation, etc.), function, or user.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance: None.

IT Infrastructure:Having a consistent and well-organized naming convention for all of your infrastructure devices will enable you to quickly determine the quantity, location, and users for each. For example, TXSAFS01, TXSAFS02, and TXSAFS03 will make it easy to identify the three file servers in San Antonio, Texas. Additional information can be added to the device names to delineate their type or function further. Many centralized patch management, vulnerability management, and hardware/software asset management tools allow you to create custom reports based on the locations or other attributes specified by the whole or a subset of each machine’s name.

IP Address (Optional Field)

Definition: [IP Address]:This is an essential identifier for each device on your corporate network when their IP address is not dynamically assigned.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:This may aid IT maintenance if your OEM or TPM provider performs proactive monitoring of the device.

IT Infrastructure:Knowing your network’s scope will enable you to determine how many and what types of network gear need to be installed. The specific IP address of a device will allow your IT support people to quickly identify a device’s location and aid in quick device identification when seeing suspect traffic or events in your organization’s firewalls or audit log capturing tools. Many centralized patch management, vulnerability management, and hardware/software asset management tools allow you to create custom reports based on network segments.

SLA (Optional)

Definition: [SLA]:The specific support terms in each Service Level Agreement.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:The service level agreement states the agreed-upon service and repair hours, response times, and resolution expectations. For example, an SLA for supporting network equipment and servers may be 24/7/365, with an 8 hour response time. This means that the service provider can be called for service any time, 24 hours a day, and must respond within 8 hours. These service levels are factored into the cost of the service contract.

IT Infrastructure:The service level agreement addresses the staffing and availability requirements for performing in-house, on-call, or third-party service and repairs.

Support Provider (Optional Field)

Definition: [Support Provider]: Thesupport provider’s location (in-house or external) and relevant contact information.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:This identifies who will perform service and repairs. If internal, it may list the IT group responsible. If external, it should indicate how to contact the support vendor.

IT Infrastructure:This addresses the staffing and availability requirements for performing in-house, on-call, or third-party service and repairs.

Support Start (Optional Field)

Definition: [Support Start]:The support contract’s beginning date.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:This will determine the expected end dates of the service contracts. Knowing when and how many contracts are due for renewal will help you plan to avoid having too many renew at the same time.

IT Infrastructure:This will help determine when and if certain pieces of equipment need to be replaced.

EOL Date (Optional Field)

Definition: [EOL Date]The day the manufacturer stopped making the asset.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:Your enterprise may employ a standard to replace a system after it is no longer in production. (consider network switches deployed at each remote location). Therefore you may not want to renew the support for another 12 months. EOL does not mean that the manufacturer will not support the device. Third-party support is also available.

IT Infrastructure:You may want to consider replacing these systems within 3-5 years after the EOL date. EOL systems can be purchased on the secondary market or from OEMs who have a refurbishment program.

EOSL Date (Optional Field)

Definition: [EOSL Date]:The manufacturer states they will no longer provide maintenance services or updates for the device as of this day.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:Replacement parts and updates may not be available for devices at their end of service life. Or, you may need to explore if TPM (third-party maintenance) can be obtained. If not, then the equipment will need to be replaced. New warranties and/or service contracts will become necessary.

IT Infrastructure:This is when updates and support for a particular device can no longer be obtained, and therefore, the device must be replaced.

Target Refresh Date (Optional Field)

Definition: [Target Refresh Date]:The date your organization plans to replace existing equipment with newer models that have better performance and are compatible with new features.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:This is your organization’s plan for when they want to standardize equipment replacement based on numerous factors like EOS, EOSL, feature compatibility, business unit resource requirements, etc.

IT Infrastructure:Some equipment will need to be refreshed to accommodate new desired features that are only available in more recent models. Compatibility may also be an issue. For example, new workstation models may not be compatible with old software, and new software may not be compatible with old workstations. Or, new database engines may have new minimum processors and memory requirements.

Target Disposition Date (Optional Field)

Definition: [Target Disposition Date]:The date your organization sets for the disposal or recycling of legacy equipment.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:Planning your equipment disposition helps determine when new equipment is needed and what to do about renewing service contracts.

IT Infrastructure:Different types of devices may have specific recycling and disposal requirements. Some devices contain hazardous materials, such as batteries or media, to be degaussed or data to be properly erased to protect proprietary and sensitive information.

Location Name/Street Address/City/State/Zip (Optional Fields)

Definition: [Location Name]:The physical location of each device.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:If your equipment is located in multiple geographic locations, you need to know if your support provider has the ability to get to those locations in a timely and cost-effective manner. For example, if your SLA states that service must be provided within 4 hours, can the support provider get to each location within those terms?

IT Infrastructure:Knowing how many geographic locations, and users, and endpoints at each, will help you determine the size of each sites networking infrastructure. The end point’s physical location is also necessary for investigating incidents involving loss, theft, and cyber threats.

Purchase Type (Optional Field)

Definition: [Purchase Type]:Was the asset purchased or leased?

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:Equipment leases may come with various service and maintenance requirements. For example, the supplier may provide warranty service for the life of the lease and specify whether the equipment must be turned in at the end of the lease for replacement with a newer model or if you can have extended service options to keep the older equipment in place. If the equipment is purchased, those warranty and service contract options will need to be explored to determine cost-effectiveness.

IT Infrastructure:If the lease specifies intervals at which the equipment must be turned in and replaced with new equipment under a new lease, this will affect replacement and logistics strategies. IT staff may have to physically replace specific components more frequently under a lease program than if the equipment was purchased?

Lease Start/End (Optional Fields)

Definition: [Lease Start]:If the equipment was leased, this notes the contract’s start and end dates.

Planning Considerations:

IT Maintenance:If leased, the supplier may provide warranty service for the life of the lease and specify whether the equipment must be turned in at the end of the lease for replacement with a newer model or if you can have extended service options to keep the older equipment in place. Equipment warranty and service contract options offered by the lessor will need to be explored to determine cost-effectiveness.

IT Infrastructure:If the lease specifies intervals at which the equipment must be turned in and replaced with new equipment under a new lease, this will affect replacement and logistics strategies. IT staff may have to physically replace specific components more frequently under a lease program than if the equipment was purchased?

4: RECONCILE MAINTENANCE CONTRACTS

Most OEM and 3rd party maintenance contracts are filled with outdated information. Yet, you’re charged for every asset they have on record regardless of its actual status. That’s the point of this discovery process.

Once you identify all of your in-service assets and update their vitals, you can compare your known-good data with your vendor’s stale data to find and reconcile discrepancies. But that’s just one place where your money is hiding. Accurate data gives you leverage over your contracts to shorten, cancel or switch to third-party maintenance. Knowing more about your assets improves the way you support them and their effect on your budget.

5: REPEAT OFTEN

Ever feel like you’re stuck in the weeds? The more you hack at the problem, the more overwhelming the situation looks? This is why it’s so important to have accurate IT asset management and maintenance data. Instead of reacting to problems, be proactive and get in front of them. Clear out the weeds once, then stay on top of them with routine care.

Accurate data allows you to see the bigger picture more clearly. Then you can spot the loopholes in your budget, negotiate better contract terms, predict future pain points, and solve problems faster. Routinely spot-checking and updating this data is the most effective way to manage your IT assets and maintenance.

This free IT maintenance optimization template will help you with the discovery process. Then you can upload your data directly from the template to an IT asset maintenance platform, like Owlytica, for automated management of your IT assets and data center maintenance contracts.

Discovery leads to more control over wasteful and unnecessary expenses that could be reclaimed and reallocated toward more worthwhile initiatives.