IT Procurement

Understanding the Different Types of IT Suppliers

Athena Commercial
June 15, 2021

When introducing new IT practices into your business there are a range of factors that you’ll want to consider, to facilitate a seamless integration with your existing operations. This will likely include where to source your IT from.

IT tools and equipment can be sourced from a variety of suppliers – each of which offer unique benefits and / or disadvantages depending on factors such as your budget, company size, technology requirements and any existing IT systems that you need to integrate your tools with.  

In this post we will explore the different types of IT suppliers available, their pros and cons, and the scenarios in which each supplier-type might be appropriate for your business.

Manufacturers

In the digital era, direct to consumer selling has become increasingly common, with manufacturers are often a key consideration for businesses when looking to source new IT products, especially IT Hardware. The benefits of this are simple - no middleman - meaning that sourcing IT products directly from the manufacturer may offer a cheaper solution to procuring IT supplies, especially when looking to purchase in large quantities and being considerate of discount levels and volume requirements

Further to this, sourcing IT supplies directly from manufacturers also brings additional benefits. Manufacturers will always have the greatest knowledge of their own product and will be able to offer businesses detailed information about the product and whether it’s features will satisfy your IT needs. Additionally, some manufacturers may also offer customisable products, including supplementary features or integration capabilities.

There are also some disadvantages of purchasing directly from manufacturers. Primarily, a lack of post-purchase service. Typically, once IT supplies have been delivered by a manufacturer, there is only a basic level of support offered to assist with implementation and troubleshooting. As such, sourcing IT supplies from manufacturers should be considered carefully by smaller businesses or organisations undertaking significant technological transformations, where significant support and guidance may be essential for successful implementation.

Resellers & Distributors

For smaller businesses or businesses looking to purchase a smaller quantity of IT supplies, purchasing directly from a manufacturer may not end up being more cost-effective. Instead, purchasing IT Supplies from a reseller or distributor may be cheaper as minimum-quantities are not stipulated.

Resellers are intermediaries in the distribution chain and act as the middlemen between manufacturers and end-consumers (you). The most common types of resellers (such as retailers) supply IT hardware and software supplies that they have bought from the manufacturer at wholesale price. However, some resellers offer additional services, such as adding supplementary software and / or applications to hardware before selling on to consumers. These resellers are considered as value-added resellers (VARs) and offer smaller businesses the ability to customise products to suit organisational needs.

Unlike manufacturers which typically specialise in a specific product or a small range of products, resellers usually offer purchasers and broader range of hardware and software making them a more viable option for companies looking to source a range of IT supplies, as well as those seeking advice on product compatibility.

System Integrators

More and more businesses are now turning to complex IT services and undertaking technology transformations to optimise their supply chains and organisational activities. For larger organisations this means seeking a number of different IT solutions to facilitate numerous departmental needs and ensuring that systems are integrated firm-wide. Enter the need for system integrators.

System integrators are a ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ supply service, that specialise in planning, implementing, coordinating and improving a number of technology supplies. Rather than a middleman, system integrators act as the sticky web that hold your various IT hardware and software solutions together and make sure that they cooperate effectively for organisational efficiency.

Further to this, system integrators can also be integral part of the planning process, offering strategic recommendations and solutions for technology implementation.

Typically, system integrators are best suited to larger organisations with complex IT procurement needs.

Specialist Suppliers

For organisations really looking to drill down on one specific organisational activity, specialist suppliers will offer the greatest knowledge to cater for specific business needs.

Specialist suppliers are IT suppliers with expertise in one niche area of IT services such as CRM systems. They typically offer a breadth of product awareness - including the pros and cons of different manufacturers products – and have first-hand experience working with these products. As such, they can offer extensive advice on product value and limitations.

Specialist suppliers are best utilised for smaller businesses or departmental IT solutions, rather than organisation-wide IT transformations.

 

 IT Consultants

 

Many businesses aren’t aware of the various IT products and solutions that available to them – let alone where to source these products and services.

For many, IT consultants are a sensible first step for consulting on specific IT capabilities and obtaining advice on what solutions are available. Consultants can also offer advice on effective budget utilisation.  

Whilst IT consultants don’t typically deal with supplying IT hardware; they do often sell IT services such as product set-up and installation and can offer further advice on where to procure additional products or services such as IT maintenance.

Where we can help you

We can help your business understand what your true requirements are before you make any decisions. Our expertise allows us to assist you when it comes to utilising proper procurement practises that will pay dividend. We can guide you in reviewing your existing technology contracts and what to look for in new ones, so you avoid any automatic price increases, capacity limits, cancellation restrictions and beyond.

Choosing the best vendor for your business can be an overwhelming process. We can help with market research and negotiating price to get you the best deal because we have an extensive knowledge of the market. Once you have decided on your IT requirements and defined the products needed, we can assist with researching appropriate suppliers, contacting them for formal proposals, negotiating your terms and ensuring that penalties are in place if a supplier doesn’t perform.

For further advice or an initial consultation please get in touch at info@myarrowhead.io

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