We have all had problems with our cars and have had to seek out a qualified mechanic for repairs. As you search for someone to work with, there is that concern in the back of your mind: can I trust this person? Will they provide quality service at a fair price? Will they take advantage of me and recommend repairs that are not necessary? Well the same may be true when you are looking for a reseller for your document management and workflow needs.
Why is finding the right reseller so important?
Probably just as important as the software you select, is the reseller who will become your integration and support partner. Document management software is not preconfigured, out of the box software. This is especially true if you are installing a workflow solution. The reseller will work with you to understand your needs, educate you on best practices and develop a statement of work that meets your needs. Because every organization is unique, it is critical to spend the proper amount of time upfront on this process. Most reputable resellers will charge a fee for these services, but you will find it is money well spent.
Trust is paramount.
A document management system with workflow is a living solution that will change and adapt over time. This is because your business is always changing and evolving. The system will need to be tweaked and enhanced to meet these shifting needs. Changes in technology will introduce new requirements for you. Forming a long-term partnership with your reseller provides you with a conduit to discuss these changes and react to them. You must trust that your reseller is looking out for your best interests. Without this trust, your experience with the solution will not by nearly as fulfilling.
How do you find the right reseller?
Unfortunately, there is not an Angie’s List for document management and workflow systems. This puts the onus on you have to do the leg work yourself. The process typically begins when you start looking for the overall solution. Not only should you be evaluating the product, but you should also be interviewing the reseller. Does this person seem qualified? What is their experience level? Do you feel you can form a long-term relationship with them?
If they pass your initial test, then investigate them further. What is their experience level? How long have they been in the business? Are they a recognized leader in the industry? What is their relationship with the software manufacturer? Ask for references and call them. But before you do, take some time to write down your questions so that you do not miss anything. Consider contacting the software manufacturer to understand the reseller's relationship with them.
Will your reseller allow you to take ownership of your system?
For me, this is possibly the most important question to ask. Most of our clients want to take ownership of their system. I have also seen many resellers, including many colleagues whom I otherwise respect, want to limit how much knowledge their clients have of the system. The thought process is that the less the client knows about the software, the more they will need to come back to the reseller for chargeable professional services fees. This philosophy seems counter intuitive to me. Enabling your client to succeed creates a much deeper relationship between the two of you. We are very fortunate that our primary software vendor, FileBound by Upland, takes the latter approach. They have created an extensive set of online tools that allow users an opportunity to understand the core workings of their system.
The end result is that our clients, who have taken advantage of these educations tools, have a much more complete solution that truly meets their needs. It does not mean that they have to do it alone. That is where, as a trusted partner, I see our true value. Guiding our clients through the process and adding experienced resources when necessary to fill in the gaps.
We always tell people that this is their system, and they need to take ownership of it. But we are always there as a lifeline when they need us. Does your reseller do that for you?
Jack Arnston is a Principal at The Priton Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.