By: Scott Mosher
As business needs change and technology advances, partners have taken on larger roles within organizations. Because senior-level management must produce more with fewer internal resources, they seek to increase productivity while reducing cost within their domains. Value-Added Resellers (VARS) and subject matter expert consulting firms often help executives fill this divide. Unfortunately, these third parties rarely provide “value” OR expertise.
The technology landscape is growing and shifting so quickly. Third parties and consulting firms can’t keep up with the technologies they offer from a staffing nor a sales perspective. Many VARS carry every technology product that hits the market, making it impossible to have expertise. The old adage “jack of all trades, master of none” rings true. These firms then promote their “expertise” across the IT and Security spectrum but struggle delivering the granular expertise required to add value and reduce risk.
For example, a national security reseller carries over 350 technologies. The “VA” in VAR cannot stand for value add. These firms are transactional partners – think of them as the supermarket of technology. They have it all, but don’t expect them to provide expertise with everything on their shelves. I have heard from many clients that they bought a technology solution and never heard from the reseller again. Truly, a onetime transaction with no value added.
So how can organizations determine which third party firm can deliver on services and technology solutions? First, understand the DNA of the firm. Here are some questions to consider:
- Are they trying to be “everything to every company” or are they focused in a specific discipline?
- Are they organizationally architected to add value? For example, do they have subject matter expertise and support what they provide?
- Do they have more sales people than technical staff? This ratio is very telling; the more salespeople, the more transactional.
- Do they have long term relationships with their clients? (Notice the term clients vs. customers) Before committing to a partner, ask references for specifics about the value the partner provides.
Long term trusted relationships with partners are critical for success in both private and public sector organizations. Do your homework and check the DNA of a potential partner to determine whether they are built to add value. Bigger is not better when selecting a firm to be part of your success. Deep knowledge in a handful of complementary technology solutions delivers more value than limited knowledge in many technologies. Subject matter expertise and support staff that truly understands “best in breed” solutions will limit risk.
True partners take pride in making sure their CLIENTS are successful, happy, and have their goals met. Listed below are characteristics of a partner with relationship DNA:
- They are willing to put in the extra work to ensure client is delighted with the service delivered. The Statement of Work is the minimum expectation.
- They are properly staffed with tech experts and committed to ongoing staff training.
- These tech teams pro-actively reach out to clients on a regular basis to confirm satisfaction
- They measure their own success by the length and depth of their client relationship
- Their sales people are committed solving challenges with compelling solutions vs. closing a deal before the end of the quarter.
- Their executive management visits (yes, actual visits, not an e-visit!) clients to understand future initiatives to ensure proper planning and preparation is in place to continue the relationship.
If these processes and procedures are in place, you have found a true partner that will form a sustainable relationship that will strengthen your company and minimize your overall risk.