The adage “some things are too good to be true” applies across many facets of our lives, yet with proper discernment and consideration, we as IT service providers may find opportunities to flip that adage on its head! Value-added resellers (VARs) are starting to recognize the benefits of subcontracting projects, to include time savings, increased revenue, and adding diversity to their services portfolio.
Too often subcontracting decisions are short-sighted and lack consideration for the long-term strategic goals of the company. All businesses have different histories, goals, and perspectives, and no one-size-fits-all VAR partner exists. Therefore, those that are leaders within the VAR’s organization must carefully weigh their options before choosing to subcontract.
Here are a few questions VAR leaders should ask themselves when deciding to subcontract or keep projects in-house:
Question 1: Is it a core competency?
As part of their assessment, VAR leaders should determine their central strengths and weaknesses. For example, if their business is well-known for superior wireless design and deployments, don't subcontract your wireless service department. On the other hand, if you find that you are lacking the skill set around virtual systems and cyber security, consider subcontracting these roles to a VARs VAR who has strength in those areas. Many of these niche partners exist, but it requires you to take the time to interview, build relationships, and get outside your comfort zone.
Keep doing the things you're good at, and subcontract the projects that require too much time, money or expertise. Your customers value that you delivering them the best service available, even if it doesn’t come from within your doors.
Question 2: How will it affect the whole?
When thinking about subcontracting, many VARs can only see the time savings and won opportunities, yet disregard other potential problems that could arise. Remember to look at the big picture. Additional purchase orders and more flexibility are just a couple factors in determining whether to subcontract; yet other factors should be considered, such as reliability, expertise, and of course the SLA of your subcontracted partner. Additionally, address any concerns that you may have with this VARs VAR to ease any tension you may experience within your company. Employees take pride in their jobs and it’s important they don’t take these relationships as a threat to their day-to-day duties. If the VARs VAR is a good fit, they’ll have the experience and answers you are looking for to satisfy both your customers, and your employees.
Question 3: How do you feel about control?
One of the many decisions we must consider is the level of control we require with projects. Broadly speaking, do you want to surrender control to a VARs VAR, or do you want to keep the reins? If the project is well-established and profitable, and no change of direction is foreseeable, subcontracting might be an option–if you have built trust and rapport with the VARs VAR. On the other hand, if the relationship with the VAR or customer is fresh, it is best to keep tight reigns on the project to make sure all parties experience a pleasant engagement. This is when it becomes crucial to have all lines of communication open between parties and have a measurable tracking mechanism on the progress and status of the project.
Question 4: Who would you be working with?
Selecting the right firm requires more than a Google search and clicking through 4 pages on a website. Find a company that complements your business and has a reputation that you feel would “wow” your customer. Make sure the firm has the proper credentials and understands your vision for the project. Ask for a reference from another partner, and compare several companies before making your final decision. Your customer is doing business with you because they trust you, so when you bring in a VARs VAR, be sure they meet the same standards that your customer expects of you.
Choosing to subcontract is a strategic business decision that is often met with ambitious goals or pessimistic past experiences. As a company who has been the silent “other guy” for hundreds of IT projects, we want to encourage you that positive outcomes and lasting relationships occur every day in our industry. They just require open communication, project organization and management, and the establishment of professional trust.