Implementing a ‘Sparing Tier’ for IT Support

Many organizations do not possess a policy and capability for maintaining spare IT hardware assets as an internal support tier, instead relying on vendor support to achieve the service levels required for any given hardware asset. However, the cost of support agreements that provide parts replacement is in many cases not competitive with an effective sparing policy.  For example, in many cases the difference between the annual cost of basic and premium support levels is the provision of on-site spares, yet the price difference between the levels is more than fifty percent of the equipment’s original cost.

By reducing vendor support levels or in some cases canceling support and using spares to affect repairs, organizations often lower their overall support-related spending. To effectively leverage sparing, organizations typically:

  • Evaluate the availability requirements of common technical assets.
  • Assess the ability to treat the asset as a ‘field replaceable unit’ as well as the ability to affect repairs without immediate vendor support.
  • Determine the economic differential between levels of vendor service required to meet availability and level required if spares are used.
  • Compare the differential to the additional cost of acquiring and storing spares.

At certain quantities and maintenance frequencies, some vendors may provide spares upon request at no charge to facilitate their resources’ time and improve customer satisfaction. Additionally, a critical component of the effective use of spares is the use of a hardware asset management system to track and manage the additional inventory created by hardware spares.