Most IT suppliers can provide a broad range of hardware, software and services, although there may be some differences between them. For example:
- Manufacturers sell their own products and generally offer a basic level of service. This may suit you if you're confident that you don't need advice and simply need someone to supply the IT system.
- Resellers act as agents for hardware manufacturers. Some also offer software and a wide range of IT services and support.
- System integrators select the appropriate hardware and software for your specific needs and deliver an integrated, working system.
- Specialist suppliers have expertise in one specific area, such as customer relationship management systems.
- IT consultants usually provide consultancy tailored to your needs. They also sell services like IT set up and installation rather than equipment or maintenance.
How to identify potential IT suppliers?
You should consider a number of factors when deciding what type of IT supplier to use. These include:
- your IT budget
- your IT requirements, eg if you need equipment, services or both
- the desired level of service
- existing in-house IT skills, or the lack of
- the type of business relationship you hope to establish with the supplier
- the size and location of the supplier
- their previous experience and performance with the products/services you wish to buy
- their ability to provide systems, services and consultancy to businesses such as yours
- their technical support track-record and availability
Advantages of consolidating your technology suppliers
Unless you have IT expertise in-house, it's generally best to consolidate your technology suppliers. This means using a single supplier for all hardware, software, services and support.
Consolidating your suppliers can sometimes:
- save you money and reduce your purchasing and procurement costs
- enable more efficient business processes and service delivery
- help you leverage consolidated spend and negotiate a lower price
- improve relations with a supplier due to their vested interest in your business' success
- minimise the risk of failure of business-critical services
If you buy from multiple suppliers, you'll have to decide which one is responsible when there's a problem - unless you have a service provider prepared to support your whole system.
See more on IT supplier contracts and service level agreements.