Do you think your technology partner provides you with the best value? How often do they recommend you purchase software or hardware from other sources? If your technology partner never recommends looking at outside alternatives, this article is for you.
How many times have you heard “XYZ brand has the best products on the market”? If you are like me, you have heard it a million times and you have probably said it a couple times too. The unfortunate fact is that I have yet to see any company with a product line that is the best from top to bottom. Many brands have “sweet spots” where they may actually be the best but if your partner isn’t offering multiple choices, you probably aren’t getting the best value.
Are your suppliers recommending that there are solutions outside their portfolio offerings that may be beneficial to you? Probably not. In my work with many customers, I see vendor after vendor coming in with 100% in-house solutions. While this works in some cases, often no single vendor or manufacturer has the single best offering in-house. These in-house offerings force customers to make decisions based on the best compromise instead of the best solution. What if your vendor cared more about your business than their revenues?
So how do you ensure you’re getting the best bang for the buck? Unfortunately, it’s hard unless someone has pointed you in the right direction or told you what questions to ask. Here are a few questions which might give you some insight:
Are your vendors recommending software purchases from vendors like Programmers Paradise or TechSoup? These companies offer licensing at pennies on the dollar if you qualify for their programs.
Are you getting Charity, Open or Open Volume license program pricing if you qualify? There are significant discounts and benefits available under these programs if your business meets their criteria.
Are you getting retail or OEM licensing? While OEM licensing is often an inexpensive option, it is not the best value long term. OEM licensing ties the software to the system you install it on. If you upgrade the system, you have to buy a new license resulting in a higher cost than buying the right license the first time. Retail licensing is often convenient for the vendor but doesn’t always result in the best pricing and options for you.
Are your vendors recommending a single brand for PC’s, Servers, Printers, Switches and other peripherals? If so, you are probably not getting the best value. While it makes sense from a technical service and management perspective to keep each category the same brand (for example keeping all PC’s- Dell, Servers – IBM, Switches – Cisco, Printers – HP) one brand rarely qualifies as the best in each market space.
My advice is to ensure you are working with a partner you trust who is not afraid to offer a solution spending some of your budget on products and services not offered directly by them. You may decide to use a vendor which has a wholly in-house solution but by confirming that they are willing to work with outside suppliers with different core competencies you can get the best designed solution with the best value for YOU.