Performance of reseller products: don't let it get buried

Sometimes you need to engage one supplier to get access to another. But then, whose performance do you measure? A question that has come up several times recently is: how do you measure the performance of the products from value-added resellers (VARs)? Most companies are set up to measure the performance of their direct suppliers, which in this case would include their resellers. However, it’s the resellers’ suppliers’ and their products that directly impact the customer and its end users. Yet, the reseller has no control over the quality and the performance of the products it sells. Typically, information on the the performance of resellers’ products and suppliers is not collected and gets buried in reseller performance information, if it’s collected at all. Often large companies do not have a direct fiduciary relationship with the company whose products and services they are using because many software companies require customers to go through VARs. The impact of these products on a company can be large, yet it’s supply chain is somewhat hidden and there may be little or no the visibility into its performance. This situation can result in abdicating responsibilities and finger-pointing, since it’s often unclear who is responsible for what.

The VAR relationship can vary widely. Some VARs do provide installation, training and support. Many do not. If a customer has to contact the software company’s support directly to get help, then they may wish to measure both the support from the manufacturer and the performance of the VAR. However the relationships are structured, the customer may need to collect performance information on both the software and the VAR. The typical way to do this is through internal stakeholder satisfaction surveys — asking those who use the product and come in contact with the supplier for their input on performance. In the case of software, additional types of metrics should be captured, such as uptime, bugs, and issue resolution responsiveness.

While there is more than one way that VAR relationships can be structured, the bottom line is that the performance characteristics and issues around product being procured via the VAR should still be captured and reported separately in an organization rather than becoming buried in VAR metrics. This allows a firm to evaluate both the value of the VAR and the performance of the product being provided. With the increasing prevalence of cloud computing, resulting in fewer or at least different installation issues, the role of the reseller is changing, making the visibility of of the software’s performance even more important.


Sherry R. Gordon

Author of:
Book: Supplier Evaluation and Performance Excellence: A Guide to Meaningful Metrics and Successful Results
CloudDVD: Supplier Evaluation and Performance Management

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