How to optimize your SMARTnet agreements

Cisco SMARTnetIT managers, take a second and think about your organization’s management of your Cisco SMARTnet agreements. If a hardware unit fails and needs replacing, how soon must that occur? When are your contracts up for renewal? If an emergency arises and you pick up the phone to call Cisco, do you know what service level your contract entitles you to?

While you think, ponder this astonishing fact: Cisco reports that 82 percent of all organizations that call into Cisco’s Technical Assistance Center (TAC) have incorrect information about their SMARTnet contracts and coverage.

Many customers have relayed uncertainty and confusion regarding management of their SMARTnet contracts to SHI. The disconnect between their contracted benefits and their understanding of those entitlements stems from four main issues: multiple SMARTnet contracts supporting a single organization, varied end dates, unaligned service levels, and SMARTnet purchases made through several different vendors.

Here’s another stat all IT professionals should know: 30 percent of all Cisco products are going end of life in the next three years, according to a recent SMARTnet webinar. Now is the time for organizations to start planning ahead and budgeting for the future.

The confusion about SMARTnet

SMARTnet is a powerful service at IT’s disposal. This service, including a hotline of Cisco engineers to help troubleshoot server and software problems and Advanced Hardware Replacement, minimizes downtime. SMARTnet also gives IT managers access to the latest OS and security updates, patches, and other fixes.

But organizations are often saddled with multiple SMARTnet contracts, a side effect of disjointed purchases made from a bevy of vendors. Because there’s no central management of these contracts, IT is often unaware of the different service levels the organization is entitled to, and in some cases might believe they’re eligible for additional service. When an emergency arises, they might learn that their service level falls well below what they were expecting, and a fix is either a few days away or they do not have access to TAC at all. This lack of contract oversight can result in higher costs, uneven contract lengths, and in the worst-case scenario, extended downtime and loss of revenue.

Optimize your SMARTnet

Similar to other licensing agreements, managing SMARTnet requires careful attention to the nitty gritty details of the agreement. But when organizations unknowingly sign multiple contracts through different vendors, IT technicians can quickly lose track of which agreements allow what service levels for which equipment. This causes a disconnect between expectation – calling Cisco TAC and assuming a hardware replacement is two hours away – and reality – the organization’s contract calls for a next-business-day replacement.

One way to solve this problem is to get away from internally managing SMARTnet agreements, and work with a single, qualified outside firm to manage contract terms and conditions. An outside firm that has an expertise in asset management, like SHI, can assist IT in optimizing and fully understanding its SMARTnet commitments. By working alongside an ITAM expert, organizations that contact Cisco directly for support will know exactly what service levels they’re entitled to.

Another route to simplifying your SMARTnet experience is through consolidating different existing SMARTnet contracts into one agreement. This allows IT, or an organization hired to oversee asset management, to gain clarity into costs, service levels, and other contract stipulations. Through consolidation, organizations can unify coverage end dates as well, which eliminates the confusion of tracking multiple renewal dates and simplifies budgeting. Plus, when the contract is up for renewal, adjusting coverage is more easily done through one contract, rather than tracking down and reconfiguring the terms of multiple agreements.

Taking the next step

Improve your understanding of your SMARTnet contracts by being proactive, and considering the future impacts of your SMARTnet contracts. Can you consolidate multiple service coverages into one contract? Are you paying for unnecessary or duplicate coverage? Is there a specific date – perhaps the end of your fiscal year – that can double as the end date for your SMARTnet coverage? By thinking ahead toward your next SMARTnet agreement, IT can better support the organization and maximize its coverage, all while reducing downtime, unneeded or underserved coverage, and extra costs.

Organizations can also benefit from contacting an outside partner to manage their SMARTnet contracts. This process gives organizations the ability to focus on internal needs while a qualified ITAM expert manages the SMARTnet considerations. By working with an independent partner, organizations can eliminate gaps in coverage and service plans, locking in costs and performance through one contract.

Do you have questions about SMARTnet? Contact your SHI account team to learn more.

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