Keep calm and carry on

How to ensure that your employees get working quickly again when things go wrong.

One of the biggest causes of loss of productivity in business is when systems go down or start to run unusually slowly. In this increasingly competitive economic environment, even a short period of reduced productivity can put your company in a compromised position, giving your competitors an edge. Minimising downtime and keeping employees working is essential, and where your computing equipment is concerned, this is a function of the service and support contract you have subscribed to.

A good service and support contract needs to maximise your uptime. Problems should be resolved as quickly as possible, so your employees don't have to worry about IT and can remain focused on your core business. But, of course, different service levels come at different prices, and the right one for your company and individual parts of your IT provision depends on how important each piece of equipment is, and how long it can be non-operational before workflow is affected. At the very least, all equipment should be covered by an onsite warranty above the basic one that may have come with the product as standard.

HP's Care Pack service and support provides a wide variety of levels and extras, and the appropriate level depends on how mission critical a particular bit of kit is to your business, although they all revolve around a three-year contract. The basic level provides a standard response time of the next business day, between the hours of 8am and 5pm, but for less important hardware it's possible to downgrade this to a three-day window, or upgrade to same-day response. But there's also an upgraded four-hour response time, although this only applies for calls before 1pm, because the standard day finishes at 5pm. If this isn't good enough, the four-hour service can be supplied with a business day that extends to 9pm, so calls up to 5pm will still be responded to in the same day. 

All of these are for just five days a week, but it's also possible to have the extended day all week and during holidays, and there's a 24-hour version of this as well. You can also get the 24-hour service with a fixed maximum call-to-repair time of six or 24 hours. This isn't the time it will take HP to respond, but the time pledged within which the hardware will be returned to operating condition. So there really is a smorgasbord of options, with one to suit any and every level of importance. You might want to have your core server hardware on a 24x7 six-hour call-to-repair option, but the average worker's desktop probably won't need that rapidity of service.

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However, it's worth noting that all these services depend on proximity to an HP designated support hub, and only apply if the distance is less than 100 miles. Up to 200 miles, the four-hour window becomes eight hours, and next business day or third business day takes a day longer. The six-hour call-to-repair service extends to eight hours beyond 50 miles, and neither six- or 24-hour call-to-repair services are available beyond 100 miles, either. So your company may have more limited options if it is in a remote location, although businesses in metropolitan areas should have the full range available.

Extra add-on services are an important consideration, too. The standard process starts with the attempt to fix the problem remotely, after it has been reported via telephone or the Web portal, with the latter available 24 hours a day, seven days a week whatever the response time contract. Once this has run its course, the onsite coverage will kick in. Faulty components will be replaced as part of the cover, with service provided inside the coverage windows as described above. But it's also possible to cover equipment for accidental damage, provided this occurs during the course of regular use. This includes non-intentional liquid spills, impact from a fall, and electrical surges. This is worth adding for a more comprehensive level of security from downtime. Alternatively, costs can be saved by choosing desktop/workstation/thin client/notebook-only coverage, which excludes peripherals like the LCD monitor. Printer cover may also be constrained by a page allowance.

There's another potential thorn in the side of consistent service delivery on the horizon, too. It is predicted that a new EU Data Protection Regulation will come into force in 2017, replacing the less stringent 1995 Directive. The IT world has changed a lot in the last two decades. In particular, the rise of mobile and cloud technology has completely unseated computing from the desktop, and with it the data contained within the devices we use. The forthcoming regulation means that any service that handles personal data is responsible for its protection. This includes cloud storage providers, and any global organisation that might have data on EU citizens. It also includes any mobile devices that happen to carry a copy of the personal data, which has a serious implication if these are lost or stolen, because fines could be as high as 100 million Euros or five per cent of global revenue.

As a result, protecting data privacy will be much more important than it currently is, making any data loss much more serious than the effect this will have on your own operations. HP's remote sharing support sessions use a 128-bit encrypted connection, so any user data on an affected machine will be kept secure. For lost or stolen hardware, there's a Tracking and Recovery Service that allows data to be deleted and / or recovered remotely. With HP Touch Point Manager you will also have the ability to track and manage devices so they can be returned to the owner or disabled. Another important add-on service for the new EU Regulation is HP's Defective Media Retention service, which allows any faulty data-holding media to be retained after replacement, so it can be disposed of securely. Without this service, the customer will be billed for the replacement part at list price.

Picking the right support package for your IT infrastructure is much more than just taking whatever comes with the hardware. Tailoring the response time and add-on services you need for each part of your IT provision is essential, so that your employees can keep working and not worry about twiddling their thumbs when their IT equipment breaks down.

Choose the right HP Care Pack for your business.

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