Cisco’s SMARTnet technical support service is renowned for its hotline of Cisco engineers ready to help troubleshoot. After all, even IT teams have to call tech support every once in a while, especially when those teams protect complex and critical systems. And the award-winning service lives up to its reputation for slashing downtime.
But to maintain service for all Cisco equipment in use, organizations need to keep a close eye on their contracts and upcoming renewals to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. And too often, renewals become a challenge for many organizations. Many companies hold between 10 and 15 SMARTnet contracts for various Cisco devices. And with so many contracts, businesses struggle to keep track of important expiration dates, terms, and conditions.
No IT team wants to find out their SMARTnet contract has unexpectedly lapsed while on the phone with Cisco to get a system back up. But due to lack of contract visibility, organizations sometimes falsely assume their business-critical devices are secured by SMARTnet. Due to unpaid renewals or missing agreements, devices can slip through the cracks, risking downtime and other damaging network issues.
Just as harmful, many organizations continue to pay SMARTnet subscriptions for out-of-date or unused devices due to knee-jerk renewals on forgotten contracts. And as organizations grow and add more Cisco services and devices, the complexities associated with managing new subscriptions will only escalate.
For organizations seeking greater visibility into their SMARTnet services, here are four easy tips to regain control over contracts.
1. Get ahead of renewals. Many organizations wait until the last minute to renew service subscriptions, making renewals a snap judgment more than a strategic plan and potentially hurting themselves in the long run. Instead of renewing services in the eleventh hour, begin reviewing contracts at least 60 days before subscriptions end. Use those couple months to reassess contract terms, peruse inventory, and determine if coverage matches current needs. By understanding current requirements, organizations can drop unneeded services, add additional contracts for required devices, and renew contracts without ever losing service.
2. Pinpoint current problems. Organizations can’t effectively manage SMARTnet contracts until they identify current contract problems. Request a device report from Cisco that highlights all of your organization’s current SMARTnet contracts. Then cross check those contracts with your devices to ensure you’re not paying for SMARTnet on inactive devices and to confirm that business-critical devices are covered under service terms.
3. Align past, present, and future environments. To fully capitalize on the value of SMARTnet subscriptions, IT professionals must not only understand the intricacies of SMARTnet, but the direction of their company as a whole. Assess your organization’s current environment and pinpoint any past or future changes that might affect SMARTnet contracts. This will give you a better understanding of current SMARTnet needs and highlight any preparation needed in the coming years.
4. Ask for professional help. Some organizations lack the internal systems or manpower needed to effectively manage their SMARTnet contracts, and that’s OK. Instead of struggling through the process in-house, partner with an authorized Cisco partner or reseller to help regain control over renewals. SHI’s team of dedicated SMARTnet administrators, for example, can help explain the SMARTnet renewal process, provide guidance, align SMARTnet with business needs, and discuss early renewals 90 to 120 days in advance.
That translates not only into greater control over SMARTnet contracts, but even streamlined agreements. Cisco Partners and resellers can improve contract management by consolidating same-service-level contracts into one agreement with a single end date. Multi-year renewal options can also simplify the process, allowing customers to renew contracts every three years instead of yearly, saving them money in the long run.
Whether going it alone or seeking the help of a Cisco partner, organizations need to sharpen their focus on SMARTnet contracts in order to ensure they’re gaining the right coverage for the best price. Remember, there are many ways to reposition SMARTnet contracts to ease renewal management and ensure effective contracts for your organization. For more questions about SMARTnet, please email SMARTnet@SHI.com.