Describe Your Business
Think about an insurance broker. The insurance broker is a “trusted advisor” who carries policies from many different insurance companies. I am a “trusted adviser” technology. I know this industry. I have relationships with over a hundred providers that include services such as internet connectivity, networking, unified communications, telephone service, network security, physical security (access control and video surveillance) and managed services. Basically, it is your network and anything that travels on it.
How do you start the process?
The process begins with a discussion regarding the best methodology to determine what the requirements are. Sometimes my clients have already done some work and other times the project is new. In short, the “needs analysis project” looks like this:
- Determine organizational and user requirements
- Determine the architectural requirements are to support those requirements (there may be several options)
- What are the resources needed (internally and externally) to support the implementation and long-term support of the various solutions?
- What is the economic impact of the various solutions?
How do you get paid?
For many years I have been an independent consultant and I worked for fees paid to me by my clients. These fees were either hourly or based on a project. For the most part my fees are now paid for by the vendor that is awarded the contract.
If you get paid via the vendors, how do you maintain an independent viewpoint
I am still able to maintain my objectivity because the number of vendors I have access to is literally the who’s who of technology. It would be hard to find a vendor that I cannot provide services for. There are instances where one vendor may pay more than the other vendor. I have always had the philosophy that for my business to grow I cannot allow that to cloud my recommendations. I believe in full disclosure to my clients. There have been times when I have said that vendor A pays better than vendor B, please let me know if you feel I am not being objective. My goal is always to find the correct solution for my client.
How do you select the vendors?
Vendor selection is always done by using the list of “requirements”. My “master agents” have agreements with hundreds of vendors. I have access to reviews and bios on all of them. Once I determine what the requirements are there are tools that can be searched on to narrow the list of vendors to vet. This reduces the risk of dealing with a vendor that does not fit.
When is your work “complete?” In other words, at what point to you step out of the way and allow the vendors to take over implementation, etc.
This is one of the things I enjoy about this position the most. Because I am paid on a residual, I am motivated to make sure things are going well. So, I am a resource long term.
How are things handled from your compensation standpoint if we have already been working with one of the vendors you propose?
If the best thing is to stay with the vendor, you currently have I can work with that vendor. Many are open to working things out.
Do you negotiate pricing with the proposed vendors, or do you leave that up to the client?
I am involved in the entire project. I typically do the negotiation with the vendors although I have many clients who like to see if there can be any other concessions, they may be able to receive. These could be extra professional services or a reduced price. Because this is what I do I am aware of current price points for multiple providers, and I can make sure my clients are getting the best package available.