Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Do you and your Business a Huge Favor, Keep your Business Software Current

The Upgrade Decision
As budgets are tight, the question of “to upgrade or not to upgrade” often arises. The path to the answer can be complex and require a great deal of consideration. Getting your company through an implementation can be difficult. Upgrading can sometimes be tricky as well. It is essential that some basic analysis is done to establish whether an upgrade is right for your organization and if so, which upgrade path you should follow. The upgrade decision involves several points to consider including:
  • cost of acquisition and implementation
  • total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • performance considerations (such as security, reliability, scalability)
  • and management and operations considerations
With each new release, software vendors increase the value of their offerings and challenge their competitors. There is merit to this claim. You should stay up to date as being current often results in enhanced features and capabilities to handle the latest interfaces. But, how do you examine and learn the real value of the new release, decide what new features drive your next upgrade and make the business case to management in a tough business climate to justify moving to the latest edition? Technology upgrades have got to be about more than just the latest and greatest feature—they have to make business sense. Each new release should be properly assessed to establish whether it brings enough business value to implement, or whether to wait until the next release.

Some analysis will be easy. Perhaps the most important factor in making the upgrade decision is whether there will be continued support of your current release. Bottom line, if the software vendor will be discontinuing support for your current release, you really need to make the investment and upgrade. It would be foolish to continue to operate your business on a release that is not being supported.

You’ll also want to consider your operating system and other ancillary software to think about how upgrading one can affect others. For instance, Microsoft phased out support for Windows 2003 Servers. While 2003 users plan upgrades to their operating system, they may consider upgrading other software, which resides on this system, at the same time.

Upgrading to a new release on the basis of new or improved functionality alone is a difficult choice. Like any other business decision, it should be possible to evaluate the benefits to your company and the expenses that will be involved in upgrading.

When looking at new functionality, it is important to keep in mind the strategy and goals of your organization. Do the new features support your current goals? Just as importantly, do the new features provide a strategic advantage for your future technology plans? Will upgrading now enable new technology to be added later?
When considering costs involved in upgrading, make sure you look at:
  • cost to support your current release
  • cost to upgrade to the new release
  • how long the new version has been available and whether you want to be an “early adopter”
  • ongoing cost to support the new release
Once you have costs and a business case to present to decision makers, you should also put together an initial time table estimate for the upgrade. Enlisting the support of your outside technology consulting firm is key because, just like the initial implementation, the upgrade will require someone with the necessary expertise to guide a team of technical and functional experts through the upgrade process. Your technology consulting firm has the project management, technical skills, and training with your specific software to get the job done in the most efficient manner and will be there to offer training on new features as well as on-going support. Your outside consulting firm can also provide additional insight into how the applications may work with your business processes and make sure any new or changed business processes are mapped.

Maybe its time to retire the old systems and consider moving the application to the Cloud.  This poses lots of new opportunities for your business and likely will free you and your staff to perform more important job functions while reducing overall operating costs. 

If you’re struggling with the “to upgrade or not to upgrade” question, feel free to drop a comment back and we will be happy to help you out.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pay as you go or the traditional On-Premise Software Deployment?

Choices: Cloud, Hybrid Cloud or On-Premise ECM Data and Document Capture?

Cloud (or the pay as you go model) has progressed beyond first-generation functionality, and is in a prime position to serve small, mid-size and large firms. It represents an opportunity for organizations to gain competitive advantages through faster daily work processes for far less money than ever, and can be rolled-out in far less time.

Among the many advantages of the Cloud include but are not limited to:

  • No server hardware, operating systems, or server software;
  • No hotfixes/patches or service packs to install or update internally;
  • IT is largely offloaded from internal infrastructure support; 
  • Application administration can be offloaded or outsourced to your Cloud provider.
When evaluating which of the three different consumption methods (Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, On-Premise) of Data and Document Capture software solutions and determining which of the approaches are best for your organization, it boils down to two major decision criteria: Budget and Time to Market. 

Pretty straight forward concept - although here is where you can get creative.   Buying software licenses  usually requires a lengthy and laborious CAPEX process.  CAPEX usually requires lots of paperwork, meetings and can be a very cumbersome ordeal. Using a reputable service organization via the Cloud can avoid the pitfalls of a CAPEX process because it is usually considered an Operating Expense.  The monthly spend is likely less than its counterpart CAPEX purchase.  Operating expenses are where departmental managers have more discretion and can be more flexible with their spend.

Time to Market
No question that time to market is key differentiation between the Cloud and On-Premise. Ask yourself the following questions: how long does it take for your IT department to settle on infrastructure requirements, then how long to procure, install, provision before you ever get around to installing on-premise software solution?   With the Cloud, you literally can be in operation in a matter of hours or days, not weeks, months or quarters.  Your internal IT department can't possibly compete and aside from that point, they probably have more value add serving in other capacities or elsewhere within the organization.

What is a Hybrid Cloud and why should I care?  

Enterprise Content Management is not an entirely all On-Premise or Cloud deployment decision.  Ideally your selected software vendors should provide a Hybrid Cloud Offering in addition to Cloud or On-Premise alternatives.  So what exactly is a Hybrid Cloud Offering in the context of Data and Document Capture?  We can clear this topic up quickly using a fairly simple explanation.

Perhaps your organization is really concerned about data and document security. The final repository - the Content Repository may indeed be best served to be kept internal under IT's lock and key.  Security, control and within the framework of their existing IT infrastructure and management by them sometimes can be the clear choice.  That is completely understandable, we run into that situation frequently. 

However, data and document capture - which is an "on-ramp" into the final destination - the repository or into a business workflow is only a temporary process, not permanent.  The overall lifecycle of the data and documents contained in the Cloud is very short - usually 24 hours or less.  

In this situation described above, the data and document capture solution is deployed in the Cloud and the ECM repository is on-premise.  The data and documents must leave the Cloud data and document capture solution (CAPSYS CAPTURE ONLINE for example) and be sent securely to the internal ECM repository such as OnBase by Hyland, FileBound by Upland, BOX.com, etc.  In this example, we have now created the "Hybrid Cloud" ECM solution.

Now there are all kinds of variations we can put on this scenario and continue to get very granular.  For example, the cloud based data and document capture solution can be a "hyrbid" solution in and of itself.  You could have database lookup or validation routines bouncing against a web-service that is located internal to your IT department's SQL Server originating from your ERP system such as Dynamics, SAP, Lawson, Peoplesoft, etc.  The web service returns back data and that is used by the cloud data and document capture solution to populate Accounts Payable, Expense Reporting, or Human Resource applications.  You want to leverage your existing data but do it in a manner that doesn't require you take unnecessary risk by replicating the data in yet another database outside of the organization.  This approach has become quite common and would be considered a Hybrid Cloud data and document capture solution.  

The point behind all of this is that cloud based or hybrid cloud data and document capture is a very viable alternative to traditional on-premise only approach.  It can be a less expensive alternative to on-premise and the time to market is unquestionable.  It is not an "all or nothing" decision making process anymore.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and your experiences with Hybrid ECM implementations.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The IT MOAB Effect

Internal IT - Your Friend or Foe?

It is rather amazing to see how unnecessarily bloated IT spending has become over the years in Corporate America.  We see it time and time again how the internal IT departments in large corporations block and tackle their own customers.  They are supposed to bring reasonably priced solutions and work in cooperation with their end users to solve their business problems.  Reasonably priced and work in cooperation are indeed the operative words here.
Case in point, we just recently had a discussion with a customer who is getting handed a "ginormous" (h/t Elf, after all it is Christmas season) per server Christmas present from their IT department to support an internal ECM application.  To complicate matters, this particular customer outsources their IT infrastructure and day to day management to a third party under the direction of corporate IT leadership.  They need three servers to run their existing legacy ECM application - which by the way has been deemed end of life by the manufacturer.  The existing hardware infrastructure is outdated and can't adequately support the latest version of the application software.

The Oracle database is also outdated and IT has mandated an upgrade to Oracle DB Version 11. Microsoft is terminating Windows 2003 Server support on July 14, 2015 in which the current application is installed upon.  All this information is news to the business end user who was not prepared nor made aware all of these unfortunate events.  Further, they were not being proactively addressed by IT - the application was neglected.  But wait.... that is not the end of their bad news.  $300,000.00 is the price tag that IT is proposing to charge the internal business user to support and standup three new virtual servers that are required. On top of that, the end user needs to spend consulting service dollars - around $35,000.00 for the ECM vendor to perform the application upgrade to the current release.  So the total project cost for an application upgrade is north of $335,000.00, not including annual software maintenance.  This is why I call it the IT MOAB effect - utter shock and awe news delivered to the end user courtesy of their IT Department.  No advanced warning, no planning, just the deliverer of very bad news. 

What is the end user going to do in light of their holiday gift?  Sit and spin - they didn't see that price tag coming.  Simply amazing! Sound familiar?  From our standpoint, its a broken record, we see Corporate IT behave like this time and time again.

Plan B - Cloud to the Rescue
This client can consider taking a Blue Sky approach - which can equally serve small, mid-sized and enterprise organizations - and in this particular case can serve as an effective alternative to internal IT.  Plan B can quickly and cost effectively solve this end user's dilemma - essentially firing internal IT.  The Cloud represents an immediate opportunity for this end user to gain a significant competitive advantage by getting the solution they need now rather than continue to wait for IT to do its job which in this case, they clearly didn't.

Cloud solutions can be rolled out in days or weeks rather than quarters or years.  With the Cloud (unfair) advantage, this end user no longer has to deal with ongoing internal IT struggles such as hardware, software, maintenance, bureaucracy or bloated charge backs for the organization's internal IT department's fast/friendly service.

The Math doesn't Lie - Lower your Costs
Let’s revisit some of the other harsh realities of an on‐premise solution model: You are still left with having to put in place the necessary infrastructure to operate the ECM application — people, processes, support systems, and of course, vendor software and equipment. Those are some of the hidden costs behind why IT is hitting the end user with such a hefty price tag. After that initial capital contribution, it’s also your job to budget each and every year thereafter for your ongoing support maintenance contracts, software upgrades, hardware/servers/OS refreshes, patching, hot‐fixes, etc.

In the Cloud model, you typically are not required to procure any hardware or software; you may or may not be required to sign a multi‐year agreement (multi-year agreements are a means of negotiating lower pricing in exchange for a commitment), pay a nominal setup charge, agree to a monthly recurring fee and away you go. And, you the end user are now out of the business of dealing with internal IT struggles around upgrades (hardware and software), patches, hot‐fixes and internal IT support nightmares and exorbitant charge backs. Remember, all that non–money making series of necessary events and tasks to maintain an on‐premise solution must be accounted for and performed by someone one way or another.

In the Cloud, the provider who is the resident expert provides that service for you directly.  Your IT department are generalists and value added is likely spent elsewhere within the organization.  ECM is not a generalist application, it requires experts who are proficient in the industry. The Cloud provider has a built in "carrot and stick" to make you a satisfied customer unlike internal IT - you are probably considered a cog in a very large wheel. 

Am I being tough on IT departments in Corporate America here? You bet, but it is well deserved and after 20+ years in the industry seeing this scenario play out over and over, I think it is time the Business End Users are provided with viable and affordable alternatives that work - ECM in the Cloud. 



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What's the big deal with PaperStream IP from Fujitsu?

Recently our team had the opportunity to review and test drive the new Fujitsu 7160, PaperStreamIP (PSIP) with CAPSYS CAPTURE.  Having worked with so many different scanner manufacturers over the years they all begin to look the same and at times its difficult to determine meaningful or memorable differences from one brand to the next.  Every once in awhile, some new feature surprises you, but its not all that often.  At the end of the day, you the consumer are just looking for reasonably priced piece of equipment that will reliably scan documents as fast and accurately as possible with minimal paper handling problems.  As we know, one brand to the next all claim to "do x better than their competitor."  On top of that, you have optional third party image quality enhancement products that sit between the application and the scanner to
Fujitsu 7160
further improve the image quality than what already the scanner manufacturer claims to be superior to all the other brands. It can all get rather technically complicated, watered down and lost in the advertising and marketing communications.  Layers upon layers of software like drivers, image enhancement technologies and applications become a daunting task for IT to manage and support and the end users get inundated with different user interfaces and settings that can leave you in a state of confusion.  We have even seen instances where some of the image enhancement technology requires both ISIS and TWAIN be loaded concurrently confusing matters even further.   Weird anomalies arise such as "set this option in the driver configuration, but configure this option in image processing UI, but set this setting in the application layer."  You set an option in one area, only for it to have unintended consequences elsewhere.  Then a firmware upgrade comes out from the hardware manufacturer to resolve some problem that ends up breaking something in the image enhancement/image processing third party's offering rendering all three components - scanner, image enhancement, application software relatively inoperable at that point.  Sound all too familiar?

PaperStream IP, What is it?
So now Fujitsu comes along with PaperStream IP and you are probably thinking, "here we go again, been there done that."  In all candor, we kind of thought the same thing.   However, we were pleasantly surprised.  First, it would be helpful to understand what PaperStream IP actually does and what it contains.  On the surface you can't tell much of a difference between PaperStream IP and other manufacturer's image processing/enhancement competing offerings.   However, dig a bit deeper and Fujitsu begins to really stand out and substantially differentiates itself in the marketplace.  PaperStream IP can be described as advanced image enhancement (or image processing) recognition technologies, a hardware interface driver of your choosing - TWAIN or ISIS -combined with an intuitive, easy to use user interface.  The image enhancement capabilities include specialized features like auto orientation, punch hole removal, image cleanup despeckle and deskew, edge repair, blur correction for smooth dot matrix print all in an effort to produce better OCR, Barcode, Patchcode and Document Separation and improved image quality results in data and document capture applications.

Prior to PaperStream IP, the challenge to ECM resellers and consumers of ECM was they had to deal with selling/buying/supporting/maintaining three separate license-able software/hardware products in the past to provide the best possible image capture solution which could be summarized as follows:
  1. Scanner with TWAIN or ISIS driver support;
  2. Hardware or Software based Image Enhancement and Image Processing Technologies from a third party;
  3. Data and Document Capture Application software.
With PaperStream IP, items 1 & 2 are combined into a single offering; as well now being supported and enhanced from a single manufacturer, in this case Fujitsu. Ongoing maintenance costs should be lower (one less software package to be under software assurance) and IT / end user headaches should be reduced. ISV's (Independent Software Vendors) will also stand to benefit from the tightly integrated components.   Item two now becomes a non-issue for the Reseller and the Customer.    

Installation Process is a Snap!
It took about 10 minutes to complete the install and have the scanner functional with CAPSYS.  Fujitsu's install process for us consisted of selecting the PaperStream IP with the TWAIN driver and clicking the SETUP button. We ignored everything else.  Before you rush to drop that CD/DVD in the drive and hit install, STOP.  Go get the latest kit from their website, which is a 120MB download.  What you have on your CD/DVD most likely is already outdated.  It was for us and you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you get the newest builds from their online portal.  There were minor bugs we ran into with the early releases that Fujitsu has since fixed.

fi-7160 Compact Design
They too, like other scanner manufacturers throw in a bunch of other software items that they think are beneficial but you will probably largely never utilize if you use a commercially available data and document capture software application.  All the other items contained on the CD/DVD while nice for a consumer who doesn't have a product like CAPSYS CAPTURE or some other full featured data and document capture software takes up unnecessary space and you will probably never use it, so we didn't bother installing it and suspect you will arrive at same conclusion.

Post installation and User Experience
TWAIN UI Simple, Sleek Design
Image quality, speed and setup process are all simply outstanding engineering efforts.  Best we have seen in the ECM industry, ever! The user interface is just downright impressive.  You are not overwhelmed or intimated by the TWAIN setup UI or the Advanced Imaging Enhancement Controls. They even have options pre-configured that you can choose from a menu and Viola! You are GTG.  You see what you need to see and the rest is hidden but easily accessible by a drop down navigation button. Enough said. 

Wait, what about the 7160?
PaperStream IP Advanced Settings
Hey, its a nice scanner, no doubt about it.  Paper handling, speed, durability, packaging, form factor, USB, etc. all that is great.  No surprises here, Fujitsu has always done a very good job with the quality of their scanners.  80 page ADF, 60 pages per minute, color/grayscale/black and white, hard card scanning, can't really find any negatives about it...but in all candor, the real story here is their PaperStream IP and what a significant difference it really makes for end users, IT, VARS and Resellers.  And, the best part about it...doesn't cost you the consumer a penny more to reap the benefits from it.  No more hardware or software based third party image enhancement licenses to purchase, maintain or support!  There is a catch though....you need to have a Fujitsu scanner to get less hassles and all this added functionality. 

Yeah, we love it, but let me know your thoughts!



Thursday, June 20, 2013

How can Cloud IT solutions help your organization go Green?

Going Green is more than a trend; it’s now an everyday reality. Organizations of all types, regardless of industry, are finding that reducing their carbon footprint makes good business sense – it’s good for the planet and the company bottom line.

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and document management systems have long offered the ability to realize quantifiable business benefits, efficiencies, and savings. If your goal is “Green IT,” you should know that ECM systems can support corporate-wide environmental initiatives while positively impacting the bottom line.

Consider the following:
  • Through a Web-based ECM interface, workers in the next cube, on the floor below or across the globe can share business critical information inside the company as well as with partners, vendors and clients – all using just an Internet connection and browser. Costly ECM hardware and software at each workstation is eliminated, as is the need for hard copy documents. Paper use is dramatically decreased, saving trees. The energy, chemicals and costs associated with manufacturing, shipping and delivering paper-based documents is also reduced. 
  • Capturing information electronically, at its source, can eliminate shipping costs associated with moving and transporting paper to a central location for processing. Using a traditional hardware/software ECM system, or the latest capture system built for the Web1, companies can still take advantage of centrally located "knowledge workers" to handle, index and process scanned documents. Not only is money saved by eliminating shipping costs, but fuel consumption and emissions are reduced or eliminated as well.
  • By implementing business process management, a common component in most ECM systems, users can work faster and smarter by automating business processes and working with documents electronically (in some cases viewing electronic documents simultaneously, eliminating the need for copies). This can reduce the time it takes to process work from weeks to minutes. 
  • Web-based ECM and document management systems support mobile workforces and telecommuters - reducing travel for employees, allowing them to be located anywhere around the world. By working with documents electronically in "virtual office" settings, workers can freely connect with each other, collaborate and share documents, and minimize waste. With a robust Web-based ECM system, documents transmit over a secure internet connection individually or in bulk, allowing people at any location to work together to accomplish sophisticated document capture tasks.

The costs involved with paper-based file cabinet storage such as the space itself, the energy to heat or cool it, and the building’s upkeep can be significantly reduced by archiving documents using an ECM system.

ECM System Green IT Benefits

  • Eliminate transportation and fuel costs (lower carbon emissions) 
  • Eliminate shipping and handling costs (lower carbon emissions from your shipping partners) 
  • ECM in the Cloud means you don’t need to buy server class computers – no unnecessary computer rooms and BTUs production, no HVAC requirements, lower power consumption
  • Distributed Capture means you’ll leverage lower power consuming desktop scanners rather than using big, bulky, centralized, power-hungry mainframe or departmental scanners
  • Reduce paper consumption: paper is captured at the point of origin, no copying/faxing/filing necessary (plus reduced printer and toner cartridge usage)
  • Looking at and processing information and documents electronically, beginning at their source, becomes a new way of doing business 
  • Manually filing papers and files is replaced with scanning and indexing documents electronically, increasing efficiency and speeding workflow
Whether using traditional or Web-based ECM systems, many companies are realizing these benefits and more. One day, our first response to view and process information will be to access information through a browser on our computer and not a file cabinet. Until then, it is great to know that you can reduce expenses and while acting environmentally responsible.

Do you have further thoughts or comments? If so, let me know!

# # #

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Forget the Fiscal Cliff: Here’s Why The Cloud Can Secure Your 2013 IT Upgrade

Who’s afraid of the Fiscal Cliff?

You shouldn’t be, especially if you head up IT for your company and targeting 2013 as the year to upgrade. You can still get that newer IT system now, courtesy of the Cloud.

Costs and Comprehension

Sure, there’s economic nervousness, as there is equally unfounded fear of the Cloud. Misinformation about its efficacy is keeping many businesses from understanding its positive value proposition.

A recent survey of small to medium-sized businesses here in the USA and in the U.K found a majority of business owners were unsure of Cloud services – just a quarter of SMBs had adopted some form of Cloud services – while a slightly smaller proportion thought Cloud services were only for large companies.

Among “other factors cited were cost (23% UK/21% US); lack of trust (17% UK/18% U.S.); and the belief the services are too complicated (nearly 10% in both the UK and U.S.)”.  Startlingly, almost one-in-three SMBs (31% in the UK and 28% in the U.S.) said they did not understand Cloud services at all.

The disconnect among the survey respondents between how they use the Cloud for their personal business versus their business business is rather shocking.  There is an over abundance of information about the Cloud generally, with Cloud-based consumer applications, and literally hundreds of stories by IT business publications, both online and off.

How long have these SMB owners been using their personal credit cards to buy from iTunes, EBay or Amazon? Do they do their banking online? They use – and trust – the Cloud constantly.

Companies like Microsoft, Apple, IBM, etc. have enormous amounts of money, people and research poured into the development of their formidable Cloud offerings that take the issues of security, outages, scalability, ease of use and manageability far more seriously than any SMB business could. They are the backbone for thousands of organizations that have already moved to the Cloud. Their brands and reputations are in the public view for all to see 24/7, 365 days a year. 

The Real Reason
Probably the real conclusion about Cloud skittishness centers around that SMBs, because of the soft economy and pending fiscal cliff, are regrettably in lock down mode and tuned out to any incoming messages about promising IT alternatives such as the Cloud, regardless of the value proposition.

It’s also a matter of working with what’s been the new normal since the economic meltdown in 2008. Many SMBs took on complex technology decisions without the benefit of an IT department or outside expertise to guide them. Not that the resources weren’t there to be tapped. VARS who service the SMB market are in fact quite educated on the Cloud alternative and are talking to their customers about Cloud value prop.

Until the economy moves toward an annual 3% to 4% GPD growth rate, the “build it yourself” mentality is what SMBs know how to do because that is what they have been doing for years. But the perception of the Cloud as an unnecessary risk is, well, unnecessary.

The Cloud is a better use of limited capital and looks to avail companies to expand their functionality without having to finance a significant upfront capitalization. Instead, they invest by paying a fractional amount of money over in a managed, predictable outlay without the need for upfront borrowing.

There is an IT path that many companies can confidently take. It’s just a matter of taking a leap based on knowledge, not fear.

Monday, August 6, 2012

VARs: Technology’s Coach, Consultant and Referee

One of the biggest questions faced by companies seeking to make large technology purchases is how to get the job done.

Will you purchase directly from the hardware and software manufacturers? Will you need an integrator? Is your IT staff capable? Who is ultimately responsible to coordinate all the components, people and organization needs to steer the project to success instead of catastrophe? After all, even the best-intentioned decisions can be disastrous if implemented poorly.

Expensive, complex technology purchases have many questions that require the right answers for everything to go right. You know your business. The manufacturer knows their product.

A good Value-Added Reseller (VAR) will know both.

This is where a VAR can play an essential role, or realistically, roles. A VAR is a combination coach, consultant and referee that can bring together the most appropriate products and processes to create the best solution to fit your unique needs.

The Coach (your advocate)
What makes a good VAR? First, they aren’t a box pusher -- they’re a solution provider. It’s important to them to have a full understanding of your business and goals because they want to select the best product(s) for you. They are your advocate.

Seek a VAR that has true expertise in Content Management, Case Management or Data and Document Imaging Capture (meaning the VAR has relationships with several key product manufacturers, giving you multiple product options) and one that has in-house integration capabilities. This (what I call a “super-VAR”) doesn’t just resell a product. It is with the customer from start to finish to ensure project success and solution performance.

VARs have to undergo rigorous manufacturer training to obtain authorization to sell and implement their products. Manufacturers ensure their VARs are qualified to provide you with what you need. That’s not to say any or every VAR is worthy of your business, though. It’s no secret that you’ll have several VARs to choose from.

The Consultant
It is of the utmost importance that you fully identify your business problems before you select your products. You need to answer broad questions such as:
  • What are your pain points?
  • What can’t you do now?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • If you’re upgrading or replacing a current system, what aspects of the current solution were you lacking? 
  •  What’s your vision?
In this process, a good VAR should be able to assist with a complete Requirements Analysis and Functional Design Specification. This analysis helps you identify and clearly state the business problem(s) at hand, then detail the components and work processes involved, leading to the ultimate solution for your company.

The Referee
Likely, you’ll have a combination of the three types of players working with you on your projects. – the manufacturer that makes the hardware or software; the VAR itself; and the Systems Integrator that works to install the products and makes them work.

When considering product knowledge, it’s obvious that the manufacturer will be knowledgeable about what they produce and sell. After all, they are their product. They developed it. They commercialized it. They know it. And most likely, the manufacturer isn’t just trying to “sell, sell, sell.” Odds are they truly believe in their product and that it really is the best fit for your business. However, because manufacturers cannot help but be partial to their own products, you’re not really getting an objective recommendation, which means you’re not getting the best

You need advice that addresses your issues. And like you do for your clients, the VAR should focus on individual client needs, no matter how small. When working with a good VAR, you’ll be more than a product code or a support ticket routing number.

The important thing is to get the balance right. Of course, you want a manufacturer who produces a quality product. And, of course, you want an integrator who will get you up and running smoothly.  But all VARs are not created equal. Choose based on a combination of knowledge, selection, experience, customer and manufacturer relationships and value-added services to find the technology partner that is right your and your business?

So, what’s been your experience working with VARs? Are there any other considerations you would include?