Your old VAR knows too many new tricks.
A good VAR will always know about the latest technology, but beware the VAR that's too quick to abandon what's working for what's new. "You want a VAR that's on the cutting edge, not on the bleeding edge," says Sheldon Eveloff, a partner at the Philadelphia-area accounting firm Goldenberg Rosenthal LLP. "By the time the technology they've sold you is stable and reliable, they've moved on to the next new thing."
Your current VAR is behind the times.
Oddly enough, the Independent Computer Consultants Association found itself shopping for a new VAR earlier this year. The problem was a VAR who was too far behind the cutting edge. Says ICCA Board of Director's chair, David Zimmer, "The equipment in use was so outdated that when board members (all VARs themselves) visited the headquarters [in St. Louis] and tried to make minor tweaks, the stuff was too old to upgrade."
You want less bias.
Many VARs work exclusively with very specific product lines. The danger is that they may try and push a product that's not quite right for your business. "If your consultant is constantly recommending products that don't easily interface with existing systems," says Wil Chase, director of operations at Magworks, an e-commerce gaming Web site, "it's time to look for an independent consultant who will be focused on your specific needs."
Your current VAR isn't trustworthy.
Karen McElroy, now a magazine publisher in Minneapolis, Minn., had VAR trouble at a previous place of employment. She learned the hard way that a consultant, especially if given too much free reign, may be tempted to take advantage of customers. Says McElroy, "The VAR [purchased] programs he wasn't familiar with and then charged us for the time he spent learning the basics."
You don't need one any more.
"I was tired of watching a consultant create a problem, leading to a system that wouldn't work, and then being stuck for a day waiting for them to come out and fix things again," says McElroy. So she started doing much of the troubleshooting herself. When she founded KMAC Publications in Osseo, Minn., and launched Twin Cities Internet Guide and Directory, she decided that the best new computer help she could find was right at home.