For every decision that is outside your wheelhouse, it’s always a good idea to get an unbiased take. Financial institutions’ core business is not maintaining financial equipment. As a major part of a healthy bottom line, equipment maintenance and how to manage it cost-effectively and efficiently, requires strategic and unbiased counsel. How do you know you are getting the best price on the purchase of new equipment? Do you know what is reasonable and customary for service costs on ATMs in your region? Could you be getting better service levels at a lower cost from a 3rd party vendor rather than through the manufacturer? An independent voice as you wrestle with these questions can prove indispensable.
Here are just a few reasons you should seek an unbiased opinion on your equipment maintenance and management.
1. USING DATA TO DRIVE DOWN COSTS:
An unbiased approach to financial equipment maintenance leans heavily on actual accumulated data on equipment, rather than an arbitrary approach based on the revenue needs of a specific service provider. The right business model is one that looks at the expected maintenance needs of a piece of equipment as a means of setting price.
The data used by an independent advisor can also be leveraged for more accurate capital planning. Knowing the maintenance needs (cost of ownership beyond initial purchase price) of various makes and models of financial equipment ensures purchases are made with complete budgeting information.
Additionally, an unbiased advisor looks to extend useful life, which directly impacts your bottom line. For example, let’s say a major manufacturer tells you that your equipment is obsolete and will not be serviced any longer. You may feel that you are being forced to make an unplanned purchase of new equipment. An independent advisor has information regarding 3rd party service vendors and parts that may extend useful life and allow a new equipment purchase to be postponed until the next budget period.
An independent advisor can share information on maintenance costs that are reasonable and customary based on region, equipment type, availability of parts, and service vendors. A manufacturer or service vendor does not have that broad scope and data to be able (or willing) to provide that level of strategic-level information.
2. CAPITALIZING ON OBJECTIVITY
It’s all about the data. Rather than being swayed by marketing campaigns or fads, an independent advisor looks at data to choose the best equipment choice or service provider. Data is not subjective, the right advisors will accumulate it, assimilate it and translate it to inform their advice to you.
An unbiased voice is vendor agnostic. What does this mean? You will get access to the best service providers at the best rates rather than being tied a specific vendor or manufacturer. Leveraging past experiences and information on service levels, this neutrality leads to better outcomes and pricing for you. Also, vendor neutrality means your provider options are not limited by territorial lines so if you have multi-region locations, you can get best of class service.
Here’s a real-life example of vendor neutrality in action – one vendor recommended replacing an older night depository, stating it can’t be fixed. An independent advisor brought a second vendor (unknown to the financial institution) to evaluate and identified a simple lock repair. While the depository will eventually need replacing, a new purchase could be planned and budgeted for rather than made hastily. The financial impact was that a $7,000 replacement became a $600 repair.
By virtue of being unbiased, an independent advisor acts as your advocate working on your behalf. The focus shifts to align with your goals of maximizing uptime of equipment and using data for preventative maintenance as opposed to following a set schedule that does not take into account the specifics of your equipment maintenance needs. Shared goals of minimizing disruption and limiting service calls means an independent advisor is on your side, seeking the same outcomes.
3. PROVIDING A STRATEGIC VIEW (“the consumer reports of equipment”)
The broad view of an independent advisor gives you a perspective you cannot get working one on one with a vendor. Operating strategically, an advisor has knowledge and data on a wide variety of equipment (e.g., not just Toshiba copiers, but Sharp, Canon, etc.). This knowledge and data can be verticalized and used to get the best service for you.
In contrast, individual vendors will service equipment, but there is very limited (if any) data being harvested from service calls that benefits you or informs future decision-making. A service provider’s goal is to address a symptom, and in the process hopefully fix the cause, while an independent advisor has the additional interest in gathering data surrounding each service event to use in making strategic decisions.
Equipment maintenance is not a high item of consideration, especially at the executive level in a financial institution, so it’s tends to be done reactively rather than managed proactively. The pattern is: something breaks and is fixed, next year fix it again, but pay more because it’s getting older. This cycle continues until the equipment needs replacing. A strategic approach disrupts this status quo to focus on the specific needs of the equipment so data-driven preventative maintenance and a long-term strategy can be implemented that results in cost savings.
The strategic viewpoint offered by an independent advisor has the added benefit of fluidity. Market dynamics change and your needs change. A broad view and approach expand your options and knowledge, so you can adapt your equipment maintenance strategy appropriately.
You save time and money. That is the bottom line argument for obtaining independent advice on the management and maintenance of your financial equipment. Access to actuarial data for strategic decision-making for your equipment (current and future), from an unbiased, expert advocate, can only lead to a reduction in costs, equipment downtime, and staff distractions.