Death, Taxes and Renewals. One of the most important customer satisfaction indicators is ease of license, support and maintenance renewals. When you call a vendor for technical support you are expecting the piece of equipment or license to have a support contract assigned to it. The seemingly automated process of renewing annual contracts is anything but. One would think that processing a renewal is simply matching a support part number with its corresponding price. That’s simply, not the case. The renewal process can take several hours or weeks to complete depending on the complexity of the renewal.
There are many components that affect the complexity of a renewal. Primarily the number of distinct items that need to be covered, usually associated to unique serial numbers, is the overwhelming factor influencing complexity. Best practices include keeping updated lists of serial numbers and contact expiry dates, tracking returns and the associated replacement serial numbers, being aware of end of life and end of support dates and controlling support costs.
Lanworks has a dedicated practice focused on administrating licensing, maintenance and support renewals. We initiate and get engaged in the renewal process early, sometimes up to 3 months ahead of expiry. Our goal is to streamline the process by following best practices. We would like to say that this is a fully automated process. It is not. No vendor we work with, Microsoft, Juniper, Cisco, Palo Alto etc., has a fully automated renewal system. So, one of the most important activities in our renewal practice is the maintenance of customer serial number lists. Lanworks keeps records of lists, we also work with manufacturer and clients lists. It is rare when all three lists match and much time is often needed to correct and finalize the list.
Once we have updated and audited the numerous serial number lists and we are confident we have captured all serial number in current environment, Lanworks negotiates with vendor and distribution partners to ensure that we obtain the best possible price for our customers. We compare costs and terms of various support offerings to ensure that the correct type and level of support is being purchased. Is a 4-hour hardware replacement necessary? Could we instead purchase hot spares and then go with a less expensive next day or 7-day hardware replacement contract. These are the types of things we need to determine. It is all about risk management.
In some cases, it makes sense to look at the cost of support and license renewal compared to outright purchase of new equipment. Renewing support for older gear may not make sense. Often the cost to renew a three-year contract for old gear is more than the total cost of ownership for new higher performance equipment with the same level and term of support. We work with the customer and manufacturer to determine if this is the case.
In summary, Lanworks works with our clients to minimize the pain and cost of the renewal process. Our goal is to have 100% support coverage 100% of the time, so when technical support is needed, you are not asked to pull out a Visa card.