Thursday, September 11, 2014

Buying a Key Control System? Evaluate the Vendor’s Support Options First

Women with headsetAre you thinking about investing in an electronic key control system? If so, you’re taking an important step toward protecting your business from security breaches.

But before you sign on the dotted line, take some time to consider the support options the vendor offers. As with any hardware and software, electronic key control systems can at times require support, so you’ll want to know what your options are ahead of time.

Even if a vendor appears to provide comprehensive support, take a close look at these four areas to determine how support issues will be addressed after the sale.

Who Handles Service Issues?


Vendors might be able to troubleshoot their proprietary software, but many outsource support for third-party hardware components such as:
  • Monitors
  • Servers
  • Fingerprint readers
  • License scanners
  • Third-party software integrations
  • Printers
  • Magnetic stripe readers
  • Proximity card readers
  • Digital signature pads
Make sure you know which system components the vendor supports in-house. If the company isn’t able to provide direct support for any ancillary hardware used with the system, you’ll need to obtain contact information for all the companies who support the peripherals you plan on using.

Does the Company Cover Third-Party Support Costs?


If a vendor outsources support to third-party manufacturers, find out if the company covers any of the support costs or if you’re responsible for paying them in full. Even if the vendor contacts the manufacturer on your behalf, you could be responsible for any replacement or repair costs.

Note that many manufacturers don’t publish service charges, making it difficult for you to control costs. In addition, if the item isn’t fully covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, you could be forced to absorb the entire cost of any necessary repairs or replacements.

What Are the Manufacturer Warranty Terms?


If you’re required to purchase manufacturer warranties for any hardware used with the key control system, familiarize yourself with the terms of the warranty before investing in that system. When third-party hardware is used with software or hardware not authorized by the manufacturer, including key control systems, warranty coverage can be rendered void if problems arise.

In addition, warranties only provide repair or replacement coverage for a specified period. If no coverage is available after the warranty period, any hardware failures can make repairs difficult, if not impossible, and replacement hardware might not be compatible with the key control system.

What Are the Company’s Support Hours?



Clock on top of calendarWhen evaluating key control vendors, it’s important to determine not only what type of support they offer but also when support is available. If the key control company provides support directly, do they have an around-the-clock hotline, or are help desk representatives only available during business hours?

If the company outsources support to a reseller or hardware manufacturer, you should also find out what their support hours are. Keep in mind that time differences can cut down on the amount of time you’ll have access to support.

Hopefully, after examining the support options available to you, you can confidently move forward with your purchase. If you find you need more support coverage, however, check out our post “What to Look for in a Key Management Vendor” to find a company that’s willing to work with you to meet your needs.

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