End of Life Equipment Management: EOL Milestone Planning Tips
With so many software and hardware devices running in a payments facility, the task of managing end of life equipment (EOL) or end-of-support (EOS) can be daunting. Yet it is critical for any in-house payment processor to embrace EOL milestone planning to save time and money and help eliminate potential operational risk due to lack of support.
In the payments industry, NCR – for example — announced that their 7780s are not compatible with Windows 7 requiring customers to upgrade to the iTran with ILM2 cameras within a certain timeframe. They have also announced that the earlier generation iTran with ILM1 cameras are not compatible with Windows 7. This is but one example of a product life change notification that nevertheless impacts the processing environment. At a minimum, this type of change incurs a cost to automatically upgrade to the newer module.
If you call your vendor for support and the service life has expired or the vendor cannot respond, you might have a serious problem.
The ability to prevent this situation from happening is to take a more comprehensive approach to managing equipment and capital expenditure which is why more companies turn to third parties that can not only provide full-service equipment maintenance but can monitor the equipment life cycle in order to mitigate known risks such as unplanned upgrade costs, machine downtime, or being unexpectedly thrown into non-compliance with various regulations.
You Need a Plan
What should companies do when faced with equipment, system or program end of life issues?
There are industry associations like the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) and the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) that offer advice and guidelines for acquiring, tracking, assessing and disposing of hardware or software and other assets as part of the larger discipline of asset management.
And countless third party providers can provide expertise around a strategic approach to managing your total cost of ownership (TCO) – from purchasing and procurement to equipment implementation to managing and monitoring. Solid capital expenditure planning enables companies to boost the bottom line.
A strategic capital expenditure plan will address what specific assets will be bought and when they will be purchased along with detailing specific use of assets, the benefits or ROI and expected payback period for the assets.
Milestones in a Product Life Cycle
Be proactive, not reactive about product life cycle and asset management decisions. Plan from the beginning of the product life cycle or the General Availability (GA) time period which is the same as the time of purchase.
Gain an understanding at the outset of the purchase what the expected shelf life of the equipment or product is. For hardware, the average life expectancy is 10-15 years.
NCR 7780s were designed for a 15-year life span while the IBM 3890s were designed to last for 20-25 years. Both machines are industry work horses and still in the field because critical parts inventory and support remain available even though OEM support has expired.
Years may lapse between each product life cycle milestone so gain an understanding with your vendor or OEM of their common life cycle milestones which would include:
- End of Life Announcement (ELOA)
- Last Order Date (LOD)
- End of Life (EOL)
- End of Service (EOS)
You may be able to automate these triggers to know well in advance the steps you can take to keep your operation running smoothly.
Know when machines and systems may be discontinued from manufacturing and whether there is a support period past the discontinuation. There may be charges from the OEM on extending the useful life of your hardware due to age, operating environment or level of use.
OEMs may not guarantee the ability to repair their machines past its EOL. On the other hand, they might extend repairs from the EOL to the end of service depending on your particular service contract.
The goal of CAPEX planning is to keep physical assets up to date to remain competitive.
Consider partnering with a third party that can help you establish a process for tracking equipment. Your partner can also guide you through a long-term plan to include both large and small equipment as well as software systems. A comprehensive plan would include:
- Facility management
- Spare parts availability
- Repair protocols
- Diagnostics – including preventive
- Uninterrupted machine support despite EOL/EOS announcements
- Complex machine servicing from highly trained technicians
Whatever mix best fits your organization, end-of-life equipment management remains a vital part of an effective equipment life cycle process. One that can keep costs contained and help achieve operational excellence.