Helping Clients Negotiate Every Hurdle

There are times when an honest appraisal of a situation, even if it’s not necessarily what the client wants to hear, is the only way to ensure trust and positive outcomes on both sides.

Such was the case when ACS dealt with a large Government Executive Agency to supply 1,200 devices through the Crown Commercial Services framework on a Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) model. The devices were to be rolled out to employees across multiple departments, and fully supported with Microsoft’s productivity suite for remote collaboration whether in the office, or with hybrid and home workers during and after the pandemic restrictions.

Led by Paul Freeborough, Public Sector Account Manager, the ACS team was tasked with providing Microsoft Surface Pro 7 devices supported with additional lifecycle services. Such services included a secure factory build process, warranty support, data cleansing and rebuild for warranty devices, accidental damage cover and end of life data erasure services all wrapped into a single cost-per-month payment plan. ACS have been a Microsoft Gold-Certified Partner for many years and were recently awarded Surface Gold Partner status.

A Microsoft Gold-Certified partner is a company that has agreed to collaborate and establish a close working relationship with Microsoft. Having that title means the company who applied itself has earned the highest standards of Microsoft’s widely recognised partnership programme. Providing the customer with peace of mind that stock levels were sufficient was one of the hurdles faced by ACS. Availability was a key part of the requirement and ACS were able to work with Microsoft to ensure that the devices would be readily obtainable. Throughout the life of the contract, ACS will continue to work in partnership with said Government Executive Agency and Microsoft to ensure a smooth upgrade transition from the Surface Pro 7 to the Service Pro 7+.

Paul Freeborough said: “The truth is that there are constraints on the market at the moment. Some suppliers will promise the earth, but we know that you can’t shy away from telling customers difficult things.

“Most companies have seen people transition from desktop to laptop over the past year and a half. Laptops have been in high demand because companies want to know that people are set up to work from home if they need to.

“Add to that the factory component constraints, and staffing issues throughout the pandemic, it’s just not always possible to promise that devices will be available in the numbers the customer requires them. But we have a good relationship with vendors and distributors, which means our customers can trust us, and as long as we stick to honest two-way conversations, and try to manage their expectations, they can be assured we’re doing our best to get them what they want, when they need it.”

One of the key benefits of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 7+ is that the devices can be configured with the standard build software built into the server on top of it. This was carried out in a secure environment, with the clients build server connected by a dedicated leased line into a secure facility.

ACS’s discussions with this Government Executive Agency continue to evolve, and as the client looks to provide more flexible device options, ACS and Microsoft are ready to support them in this, helping them to make the process more flexible while remaining secure.

ACS has been accepted onto several Crown Commercial Services frameworks and it’s as an approved supplier on these frameworks that this particular contract will run for a minimum of three years. It includes the entire procurement, set up, warranty, lifecycle services, and the option to provide a dedicated purchasing portal for Microsoft accessories and supplies.  All IT assistance is delivered collaboratively via Microsoft Teams, so any technical support is an message away, via a technical and support team that are in direct contact with the service desk team that manage these devices.

The client added: “We had an existing relationship with Paul and ACS before they were awarded places on the Crown Commercial Service framework, and it’s one based on trust. We’ve already expanded beyond the requirements from original bid, and those needs will continue to be reviewed throughout the contract. “We have found that by having the Device-as-a- Service arrangement, tailored with end-to-end ACS services and support, that we definitely receive a more cost-effective service than had we purchased the devices upfront.”

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