MSP EACS' union with fellow Cambridgeshire-based firm Excell will strengthen both companies' hands when bidding for framework contracts, according to its COO Stuart Dickinson.
The alliance was instigated by comms specialist Excell, which was seeing a growing number of customers asking advice on IT infrastructure specialists. The two firms had worked in the past but on an ad hoc basis, Dickinson explained.
"We are a mid-sized reseller and Excell is probably similar, and when you are this size you have to focus and invest, and be careful where you invest, in your core services," he told CRN.
"We've absolutely invested in managed services, consultancy, delivery and the Microsoft stack. But we don't do comms or networking and we've always partnered that out to other people.
"We can't be all things to all people; unless you're a Computacenter, you've got to invest in what you're good at and focus. As you start to win new business and new customers, once you're their trusted adviser, they start to ask you ‘Do you do this?' And the answer is ‘No, but I've got a trusted partner that could deliver that for you'."
The venture also bolsters each company's prospects when it comes to winning framework contracts against bigger competitors, the COO continued.
"In the past, you'd enter a framework with one of the big guys and you'd have to have 100 accreditations, so all the smaller guys were out at the first hurdle," he said.
"There's been a lot of talk over the last seven or eight years around how the government want to include more companies in delivering frameworks, but of course you just get thrown out at those initial hurdles.
"Now we can jointly go into these tenders; for example, we're carbon neutral and we've got six ISO accreditations, and Excel has its credentials. As a joint venture going into that tender situation, we can get past those hurdles and then tell them about what we can deliver for them.
"That's where you'll see us both winning new business."
Both firms rank in CRN''s VAR 350, with EACS ranking 197 with revenues of £20m for its year ending 31 March 2018 and Excell placing 114 with a turnover of £37.2m for its year ending 30 April 2018.
The alliance was formalised three months ago and has already seen both firms win significant business and has led to greater credibility with each set of customers, Dickinson said.
"It's already proved very beneficial to both businesses and it just gives you that better credibility within your customer base," he stated.
"If you've had a customer for a long time, they trust you and they'll trust you to bring the right partners on. They don't want to go and have multiple layers of people to deal with, so it's worked really well for us."
Partnering with a peer takes away the heavy cost of implementing a new services model and allows smaller resellers to experiment with areas in which they might not have much experience, Dickinson continued.
"I'm an advocate of it and I think smaller resellers should look at partnership because it's going to enable them to grow because they can't afford to invest in maybe what they want to invest in," he said.
"For example, if you're a hardware-only company, everybody's probably knocking on your door saying you need to do services. This way they can deliver services, either by white-labelling them or via partner and it gives them the opportunity to see how a managed service works, how much it would cost them to invest in it and would they want to invest in it.
"I think a lot of mid-sized resellers really need to look at partnerships because it's a way of strengthening their business for the long term."
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