5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Voice and Data VAR

By Kevin Bertschmann

We live in a world of instant gratification. Web giants like Amazon, CDW, PC Connection, and many more have given CIO’s and IT Directors alike immediate purchasing power. However, with great power comes great responsibility. It is now easier than ever to overlook technology resellers that provide IT services—but we’re here to tell you that being an IT Superhero is overrated. 

When the day comes that systems are down, you’re going to want a trusted partner to back you up. The question then becomes, “how do I pick the right partner to work with? How do I know the person who just gave me a quote isn’t just reselling cloud services out of his or her basement?”

In a world full of fake addresses and flashy web pages it has become increasingly challenging to weed out the fakers. So, we wanted to provide some critical factors and answers to questions that will help you become an even more educated buyer.

Certified Resources on Staff:

I really don’t want to deal directly with the manufacturer, if I engage your team for support, how do I know I am going to get a capable certified resource to assist me?

There is nothing more frustrating than feeling helpless. When systems are down, you want to know a certified technician or engineer is going to be available to assist. It is crucial to know if the organization you are about to partner with has a deep staff of certified technicians and engineers. Many resellers/service providers have one product specialist or sales engineer per product line. Odds are this person is in the room with you on demo day for the product dog-and-pony-show. The question you need to ask is, “How many of him/her do you have back at the office?” If the answer is anything other than “several,” consider it a red flag.

Managed Services Offerings:

If I am going to enroll in contracted support with you, what is my money going to get me? 

If you are going to engage in a partnership with a managed services provider, you should always look for offerings that go above and beyond standard support. Look for supplemental day 2 programs like on-site monitoring of your gear; advanced metrics platforms; guaranteed transition and assessment reviews; proactive health checks, etc. If a VAR offers programs like these, it typically means it is committed to a product and has researched how to maximize the end user experience by providing as many tools as possible.


When I am in a crunch with a critical issue, how quickly are you going to respond?

Any legitimate IT services organization will have response time standards in place that will be tied to your contract. If it does not provide these standards, always be sure to request a copy of the SLA. These standards could be broken into different categories or tiers based on criticality. Make sure you understand these response times, as they will directly impact your business. You always want to be sure you have these standards in place because when you engage in a long term partnership, the only way out is often through a breach of contract via a blown SLA.


I would love to integrate this into my environment, but how do I know it’s compatible with my existing applications and/or infrastructure?

In a perfect world, we would have seamless integration across our network and all of the applications running in our environment. Compatibility and inter-operability are critical to running an efficient business. C-Level operations personnel have high demands for converged communications, so avoiding intermittent issues leading to end user frustration is key to having a productive workforce. In today’s world, CRM integration; audio and video conferencing; screen sharing; IM; email integration; transcription services and much more are all expected to work effectively for on-site, remote, and mobile users.

So how do you know the reseller has actually implemented and supported said product in a like environment and isn’t trying to make a quick sale? Always be sure to either request a trial to test and sand box or be positive that the partner has an engineer on staff with a track record of implementing in similar environments.

Industry Experience:

I have to get five quotes from resellers for due diligence and they are all relatively close in price, who gets the edge?

If there is one thing for certain in the current IT landscape it is that things change constantly. We have seen major technology players merge or acquire; huge shifts in client demand; a massive transition to the cloud marketplace; and significant improvements to tech made in just the last five years.

For this reason, you want to feel confident that your partner has been in the game for a long time and can adapt to shifts. Organizations that are unable to learn, adapt, and be flexible enough to transition in sync with the market will always fail. Always ask how long the company has been in business and have they experienced steady growth. This is key when engaging in a long term partnership because when the next trend hits they will anticipate it and will adapt to meet your needs.    

Want to learn more about how a VAR can help your organization? Reach out today to schedule a consultation!

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