Educating the Channel on Document Management

As the document management market continues to grow, the channel must become more proactive in helping the customer gain full advantage of the system.

Channel Partners

August 28, 2012

4 Min Read
Educating the Channel on Document Management


By Jim True

More and more businesses are transitioning to electronic document management and workflow software systems, with a number of key factors driving the paperless adoption:




  • Operational inefficiencies due to paper-based process bottlenecks

  • Industry regulations concerning privacy and security of documents

  • Need for remote workers to access and work with documents

  • Concerns about sustainability, disaster recovery and business continuity

  • Integration with business information systems

  • Desire to securely share documents with partners

  • Requirement to streamline and track document-based processes

As this market continues to grow, we are seeing the channel community adding document management services to their existing product lines. By doing so, value added resellers (VARs) can increase their revenue and profits by grabbing the opportunity to help their clients improve efficiency and competitiveness. The benefits go well beyond the initial sale. Document management really drives business efficiency as a products full capabilities are applied. This is where the channel comes in assisting the customer in gaining full advantage of the system by helping set up workflows, apply retention policies, document templates, customized forms, etc.   

As the trusted source for improving or applying new types of technologies, educating the channel is crucial. Training and/or certification programs are a good start for VARs to understand a document management products capabilities. These programs not only educate the VAR, but also broaden their expertise and technical background. The next and possibly more important step is being able to apply their understanding of the products capabilities to address the customers needs. VARs should look for vendors that will spend time educating them on how and when to apply the products capabilities. Vendors that produce industry specific guides help VARs understand best practices as they apply to a particular client type, such as legal, financial planning, health care, etc.


Benefits and Pitfalls of Certification


The benefit of certification is that a defined level of quality and creditability has been established. This builds confidence with the customer and helps close opportunities. Being certified also improves efficiency when deploying new systems because the VAR is already knowledgeable about the product and has gone through the process several times. Implementations go more smoothly and quickly so professional service hours can be applied to more advanced needs.

However, certifications can be vendor-specific and, as we all know, all certifications are not equal. Vendors with a channel focus tend to have stronger certification/training programs so VARs should look for vendors that work directly with them to help win new business, especially in the early stages as the VAR is building up its own expertise.

  • For VARs, some things to ask or consider when partnering with a particular vendor include:

  • What target industries and company sizes are best for your products?

  • Are you looking for products that fit your installed base, or are you looking to enter and expand your client breadth? Look for a vendor that compliments your strategy.

  • What resources will I (the VAR) need to provide? Successful document management VARs understand they need to have sales and technical resources assigned to selling document management.

  • Is there a fee for becoming a VAR? If so, does that fee include training, and Not For Resale (NFR) products?

  • What products will I be able to sell? Look for vendors that make it attractive to sell all the products. Hosted and customer premises offerings are not always made available to the channel. Look for vendors that make it easy to sell what the customer needs by including all products in the reseller agreement.

  • How long has the vendor been in business?

  • How are leads distributed?

  • What are their product margins?

  • How are they going to help you succeed?  Do they offer a certification program?

At the end of the day, vendors need to take a more proactive approach with their channel partners. It all boils down to communications. Pushing programs that do not relate to the channels needs is a waste of time and money. But, maintaining contact and understanding the ups and downs the channel faces lead to positive change. Both VAR and customer needs are continuously evolving and vendors need to remain proactive to the voice of the customer.

Jim True is vice president of product management at Cabinet, a document management and workflow provider, based in Madison, Ala.

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