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Experience Counts When Selecting a VAR

Forrester Senior Analyst, Michael Speyer, discusses the nuances for SMBs when selecting a value-added reseller.† He gives insight on what to look for when selecting a VAR and how to manage projects to avoid failure.

Question: What should SMBs look for when selecting a value-added reseller?Speyer: SMBs should look for prior experience, especially when it comes to application deployment and integration. Vertical industry knowledge is also important. Take, for example, a mid-market company that wants to have a reseller do a virtualization project for it. It makes sense to find a reseller that has done this kind of work before. It's no more complicated than that. Similarly, if they are doing a CRM system, if you are in the insurance industry, your needs might be very different than, say, a company in the retail industry.Question: What are the pitfalls that should be avoided in a VAR relationship?Speyer: In the context of hiring a VAR to do a project, SMBs should avoid the following: 1) Project scope creep, 2) Cost overruns and delays, 3) Project not delivering the desired benefits.Question: What is project scope creep?Speyer: For resellers, it's pretty straightforward business practice that they and their customers arrive at an agreement for what's going to be delivered for a particular project, and then that they not allow the customers to start adding things into the project and increasing the size or the focus. Obviously, a little bit of flexibility is a good thing, but at the same time, you don't want to be so flexible that you're doing something that you never agreed to in the beginning.Question: How should the SMB protect against those things?Speyer: Ensure that 1) projects are clearly defined/scoped and costs are firmly nailed down, and the VAR can demonstrate why their solution will work, 2) the VAR and the customers have all the necessary resources to make the project successful, and 3) that project progress is monitored.Question: What is the best way to monitor project progress?Speyer: There is no single "best way." It's more a question of, if there's a project plan in place that lays out the milestones to monitor that, or if there are deliverablesArticle Submission, that what was delivered matches what was agreed to.

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Lora is an attorney and journalist who covers regulatory and legislative issues for IT Business Edge's Managing Compliance Standards weekly report.

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