How to Tell If Your VAR Is Truly Delivering the ‘V’ in ‘Value’
I've spent almost 30 years in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) industry working with various value-added resellers (VARs) and our mutual customers as an independent solution vendor (ISV). (If that opening sentence doesn’t have enough TLAs for you, check out this blog.) Through my extensive experience, I've seen firsthand the struggles that many businesses face when it comes to not only finding but wanting to keep a reputable and reliable VAR. Unfortunately, there are far too many unscrupulous companies out there that are more concerned with making a quick profit rather than providing quality services and building long-term relationships. I've sat in demos where the owner of a company flat-out lied to a prospect. It was cringeworthy, and—as you might guess—I don't work with that company anymore.
Overselling is the most egregious flaw I see repeatedly. If you sit in any ERP demo, whatever question you ask related to functionality will almost certainly be answered with "Yes!" What's not transparent is that "yes" means "Ye$, we can $urely cu$tomize that for you if you have an unlimited $ource of funds and time."
Providing transparency isn't difficult. I wish more VARs would answer "yes" with a caveat every single time—such as "Yes, that's included in the core module that comes with every implementation," or "Yes, if you purchase the additional customer relationship management (CRM) module, which I'll include in our quote," or "Yes, we can get you a custom quote to do that as it's not offered in the prepackaged solution." Many customers falsely believe their desired features come with the base solution, and false expectations lead to frustration and disappointment.
Another issue that I've encountered is a lack of connection between the VAR and their clients. More successful partners invest in getting to know their customers and the people behind the work that make your business unique. Your ERP implementation will be more successful when your VAR understands you, and more importantly, when you feel like they understand you.
What to Look for in a Reputable VAR
Unfortunately, broken promises are not uncommon in the ERP industry, and they can have serious implications for your business. When a VAR overpromises and underdelivers, it not only results in a loss of trust but could also cause operational disruptions or loss of potential growth opportunities for your company. This lack of reliability could even result in financial losses, especially if you have invested a significant number of resources based on the expected outcomes. Therefore, it is imperative to find a VAR that values integrity, honesty, and transparency—and consistently fulfills their promises to ensure that your business continues to operate smoothly and efficiently. Not every promise will get fulfilled, so a great VAR will have the humility to accept a failure, make it right, and chart out a path to success whenever there's a stumble.
Does your VAR see you as a cash dispenser? VARs do charge for their services, and the great ones provide tremendous value for what you pay. However, if you're on a service contract, and you only hear from your VAR on your annual contract due date, it might be time to shop around. After an implementation, a great VAR will connect with you routinely—at least quarterly—and make sure your system is working well. They should also provide insights and further training to get more out of your ERP. Once you get comfortable with your core business functionality, your VAR should help you learn more from your system, evaluate your current processes, and seek improvement.
Remember, VAR stands for value-added reseller. Is yours providing value? Are they adding to your business success or detracting from it? Everyone deserves a great VAR, and if yours isn't delivering, the best place to start is with a candid conversation with them. Reset your expectations with them because your business success is worth it. If they aren't finding mutual success with you, it might be time to look for a new relationship.