How To Find The Right AS400 Support and Maintenance Provider For Your AS400 System

Published: 14th September 2011
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Finding a good AS400 technical support contractor is never an easy task, and the trial and error process is unfortunately the norm. If you don't already socialize with other AS400 Shops already, there are a number of online AS400 User Groups that you may want to try. If you feel more comfortable with a local Service Provider, most areas have local User Groups which you can reach out to. If word of mouth isn't an option, be sure to ask a lot of questions and follow up with their references. This approach will often lead you to the best AS400 Technician candidates for the task at hand or maintain your AS400 Servers properly.

Narrowing The Field: Identify Companies That Support AS400 Systems

Many companies forget this step, only to discover down the road that their chosen AS400 support contractor can't support their AS400 System adequately or find more damage than good. Your first criteria should be that they provide basic Operations Support; being able to identify and trouble shoot software and hardware related issue Model and OS400 Version, be able to assist with your backup and recovery needs and especially competent to help you recovery from declared disaster or unplanned outage. If you or another individual at your company isn't already AS400 tech savvy, you may also want to ensure the provider is also willing of providing training as part of their job scope. Having a highly skilled AS400 Technician onsite all the time isn't always the smartest or economical solution, but having an individual at your company that is somewhat capable to minimize some risks is better than nothing.

Look For Comprehensive AS400 Services And Support

Next, you'll want to determine what support services the companies you're considering can offer. Some will be able to do a lot more than just provide AS400 Maintenance, while others will play lawyer and nickel and dime you for every single task. Some services you may expect may not be included or even available from provider to provider. Obvious questions you should have may include: When are standard services hours? What is their policy for after-hours maintenance and support? How long have they been providing these types of services? These are all pretty common questions, but be sure their standards and policies are acceptable with your business needs.

Plan For Your Longer Term Needs

After you choose your IBM Service Provider, Business Partner or Contractor, you'll need to decide what type's services and level of support you need. Some aspects of your AS400 System may already have basic hardware or software maintenance from IBM. But some older systems and OS Versions may no longer be supported or is cost prohibitive to continue. Filling all these gaps needs to be your priority. Virtually every type of support or maintenance contract will include a specified basic level of service, and will likely be limited to days and hours of availability for service, types of services. Just be sure you are covered for the likely event, and plan on paying extra out of pocket expenses for the unlikely events.

Some companies will have you choose between a customized set of services or a pre-determined package. Depending on the scope of your companies needs, this may be a simple decision and ultimately come down to whose the most economical. However, many companies will be stuck with the more complicated process of identifying which provider will be able to service most "if not all" your company's immediate and future needs. Never choose a provider that offers borderline coverage of these services. If in doubt, choosing a la carte services will generally prove the better choice.

A Good Service Relationship has boundaries

Breaking contracts usually don't benefit the end-user. There are a number of reasons you might become unhappy with your service provider over the course of time. Don't tie your own hands to save at best 10-15% up front. Plus, shorter contracts give your provider that additional incentive to keep earning your business.

As your AS400 system continues to age, make sure that you call in your tech support whenever you have a problem or a question. You shouldn't hesitate to use them for assistance that's what they're there for. Following this advice will help you ensure your critical business applications are servicing your users at their optimal ability and for less cost to your company.

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