“Foreword By Chris Young, Sales Director of FunctionEight Limited :-  I am often asked by new staff why FunctionEight do not sign exclusive agency agreements with hardware providers and this article clearly shows the reasons.  At FunctionEight we want to be free to make sure we have the flexibility to review a problem and then select the right solution for that client.  Clients requirements and budgets vary tremendously and so do our ideas to meet their IT demands.  As the article states there’s an old saying “If a company make hammers, every problem looks like a nail.

Here are my top 3 tips for making sure you select an IT service provider that does not engage in percussive maintenance.

1)      Ask for choices – when outlining the issues does your IT Support Partner give you choices in the approach, in the hardware and in the software. 

2)      Proven technology – If your IT partner is constantly pushing the latest greatest technology as a way to improve and enhance your productivity be wary.  Whilst technology is moving fast most office environments still rely on high degree of compatibility to remain productive.

3)      Check the websites and ask– if your service providers website carry’s logos for the hardware vendors ask if they are exclusive,  this will guarantee a lack of independence in assessing your issues.”


The IT industry goes through cycles when everyone wants to be a “solutions” vendor and comes up with bundles of stuff to sell and call a “solution.” Bundles-particularly if they come with discounts-can be attractive, but mixing them up with the idea of a solution can leave customers buying the wrong thing and, worse, even further from fixing their real problems.


Let’s take a moment to talk about solutions and how you might rank the solutions vendors that pitch you.

Real IT Solutions Solve Problems

Certain employees gain the reputation of being a problem solver. This is the human equivalent of a solutions vendor. These employees are hired to fix complex problems.  Problem solvers tend to be generalists, not specialists; if they were specialists, then they’re better known by their specialty.

What differentiates problem solvers is their ability to, well, start with the problem and then craft a solution, based on their broad experience, to actually fix it. You bring in a specialist, however, when you know what needs to be done but you need a specific skill set to do it. A problem solver might call in a specialist to fix a problem he has defined, while a specialist would call in a problem solver if she can’t seem to get her arms around the problem.

You need a solutions vendor when you can define the problem but aren’t sure about the fix. Dell showcased this approach a few months ago.

A customer was experiencing server performance issues. Had Dell approached this as a server specialist-and a typical hardware vendor-the company would have thrown new servers at the problem. Instead, Dell approached this problem as a solutions vendor. Analysis showed that the servers were fine, just improperly managed, so Dell provided software that made the problem go away. Adding new servers would have cost more money-and left the customer with servers that were even less effective.

(Now, had the customer discovered prior to calling Dell that it needed new servers and not management software, it could choose from best-of-breed product specialists to supply the necessary solution.)

When Product Vendors Masquerade as Solutions Vendors

There’s an old saying: If a company make hammers, every problem looks like a nail. This is the problem with a “product” vendor masquerading as a “solutions” vendor.

In the example above, a product vendor would lead with its products (servers) and take little time to understand the actual problem the customer had (server management). Such vendors lack the toolsets and experience to fix these problems. They’re too focused on what they sell to see the broader picture. They have no need to analyze your problem-they already have a fixed answer for everything.

Unfortunately, that fixed answer is generally suboptimal and forces companies to buy a set of products that don’t fix the problem and could actually make the problem more complex.

You will find “solutions” teams at product vendors and “product” teams in companies known for solutions. How do you tell the difference? Look at two things: Their approach to solving a problem and the breadth of their tool set.

A solutions team focuses the majority of its effort trying to understand the problem and has a broad portfolio of tools from both its company and its partners to deal with the greatest variety of problems. A product vendor, on the other hand, leads with its products, lacks broad partnerships and tends to be tied to a particular division of a firm.

Bringing in a solutions team when you already know you need to replace a broken piece of equipment will slow down the fix and add cost. Bringing in a product vendor when you don’t understand the fix will generally result in wasted money and no solution. Just as picking a hammer up to fix your plumbing would be a bad idea, so, too, is choosing a product or a solutions team to fix the wrong kind of problem.

There are a lot of product teams out there, and there are a lot of product teams pretending to sell solutions. Finding a true solutions team is far more difficult-but these problem solvers are generally worth their weight in gold.

Source : http://networksasia.net/article/how-tell-whether-it-vendor-sells-solutions-or-just-products-1376356332

Original article created by Rob Enderle. (Follow him on Twitter)

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