As we continue to navigate through 2022 and beyond, we are finding there are even larger challenges in the IT landscape than previously seen. Read ahead for some insight into how we are successfully navigating through hardware supply challenges to ensure greater business outcomes.

5 mins
2022 Supply Challenges (not just toilet paper)
Mark Butler

Since the beginning of the CONVID-19 pandemic we have seen scarcities of a variety of products, from the 2021 great toilet paper shortage to the current 12 month plus delay on new cars. In the IT industry we are seeing supply issues that have driven lead times up to a massive 465 days, which in years gone by would have been 20-30 days. There have been multiple reasons that have contributed to this, from COVID-19 related staff shortages in manufacturing, shipping delays, clean rooms being repurposed to manufacture critical health care products, a surge in the demand for silicon chips in order to retool people to work from home, and this is to name just a few. This has created a perfect storm that many businesses are still unaware of. A recent discussion with a client uncovered this old way of thinking. They assumed that all new equipment would be available with a short lead time, as per their previous experiences. Fortunately, we have been able to mitigate the issue suggesting an alternative model of equipment, however this could have had significant business implications for the opening of their new facilities.

To combat the current supply climate a multi-angle approach is needed. The first of these is informing the business that increased delays need to be at the forefront of all business planning and any potential changes in the business, from new staff to physical location changes, need to be planned out at least 2 years in advance. We are currently finding that most of the conversations we are having with clients involve in depth discussions around possible future projects scheduled between now and 2024. A positive outcome is the cooperation between different business units involved in these discussions.  It has been quite amazing to hear over the last few months that the IT manager had no idea that business unit X was planning on doing Y over the next year or so.  It is critically important in this current environment that mitigation strategies be put in place for the times when sufficient notice isn’t given or urgent business requirements pop up. As Helmuth von Moltke said “No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the main enemy forces.”

Keeping a few extra switches, access points, laptops, monitors or even just cables and adaptors on the shelf, particularly if you are utilising a standardised environment can be a get-of-jail-free card. The trade-off may be having to convince executives that sinking capitol into equipment to just sit on the shelf is justified. A clear business case outlining current ETAs on equipment (feel free to reach out if you would like some hard data including reports from vendors on real delay times) and explaining the risks that this poses to business growth and continuity could be the silver bullet to any opposition.

Another common theme we are seeing in the marketplace is the change from the traditional single vendor environments to multi-vendor. Many clients that have always bought brand Z laptops and desktops have had adapt to another brand in order to get supply.  There is also a talent shortage in the IT market. Engineers that are multi-vendor are being quickly snapped up. This isn’t just in EUC, it is also happening with switching and wireless where companies are shifting up or down models in the same brand or even basing their whole refresh around availability of stock.

Support is another key lever that we are constantly utilising to ensure uptime and availability. With such lengthy delivery times and uncertainty around stock availability, self-sparing which had become a commonplace replacement for paid SLA backed maintenance support agreements, is going out of fashion as spares are used to fill supply black holes for new projects. Equipment that was not previously under maintenance is either getting a vendor backed support contract or, if appropriate, 3rd party hardware support warranties to ensure that any failures won’t cause serious outages.

Whilst these many and varied supply challenges continue to be present, we are here to help you navigate through them and provide the assistance you require to keep your business moving in the right direction.