Distributors Roll Out New Services Programs For VARs

Distributors such as Ingram Micro and Tech Data are leveraging their solution providers as well as third-party companies to provide services resources to any solution provider on a short- or long-term basis.

For example, the Ingram Micro Service Network (IMSN) recently launched a new program, dubbed IT Staffing Solutions, that has been piloted over the past several months. In the program, services personnel placements will be handled by external IT staffing partners that are part of IMSN and already offer these services in their regular business. These partners also will screen personnel being placed and ensure non-compete provisions.

“Not only do [Ingram] customers get to work with their peers for these opportunities, but we feel strongly that our go-to partners understand IT staffing demands better than national headhunters and can help our [Ingram] customers position and sell this service to end users,” said Jason Beal, group marketing development manager at IMSN, Santa Ana, Calif.

Ray Morton, director of technical services at Daly Computers, an IMSN council member in Clarksburg, Md., said the IMSN program could complement his firm’s offerings. “Where I see the most advantage is in skill sets I don’t have,” said Morton, whose company generates $40 million in annual revenue. In particular, he would look to the program to supplement high-end services, Morton said.

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Lester Keizer, president of Connecting Point Technology Center in Las Vegas, a member of Ingram’s VentureTech Network, said he believes IT Staffing Solutions could help during peak periods when his customers need outsourced personnel.

During the November-to-January period, for example, his staffing needs jumped 70 percent. Las Vegas is a particularly “transient” town, Keizer said, and although he regularly interviews potential candidates one day each week, he would rely on the new offering as needed. “I think a VAR needs to look at this [program] and keep the mind open,” he said.

Regarding fees, solution providers will pay a market-competitive, hourly labor rate for short-term projects. If they end up hiring a technician to augment their permanent staff, the solution providers will pay 12 percent of the candidate’s annual salary.

“We have designed this 12 percent pricing in a way that allows VARs to mark it up and make 3 percent to 8 percent of annual salary when reselling these resources to an end user,” Beal said.

One of the third parties Ingram Micro uses to find services resources is SmartSource, which also provides IT staff augmentation services for other distributors, including Tech Data. SmartSource, West Chicago, Ill., also works directly with manufacturers and solution providers, said Joe Iovinelli, president of SmartSource.

The company started offering its virtual bench to VARs about five years ago, Iovinelli said. Now it counts large solution providers such as CDW, Zones and Forsythe Solutions as customers. “If they sell a big project, we have guys go out and do the installation. It’s a great way for them to compete. Say you need an Oracle [database administrator] for one project, you can hire one for $80,000 a year and then try to find work for him or you could come to us,” he said. SmartSource hires out more than 2,000 technicians each year. Its database is searchable by geography and skill, Iovinelli said.

Forsythe, Skokie, Ill., has used SmartSource for three years to hire temporary technicians, said Mike Tainter, national practice manager for IT service management at Forsythe. “We do $40 million in consulting a year. They respond quickly and can break down to find the right candidates,” he said. “They are a key partner. Over time, we use the same resources over and over. Building an [internal] bench of all those resources is a serious expense and hard to manage. This is a model that works well for us.”

Among the most sought-after resources now are those proficient in Active Directory and Internet security, Iovinelli said. “There’s also not a lot of people who can configure or set up some higher-end Cisco products. That’s been hot lately, too,” he said.