If your business is undertaking a Google Apps deployment you have two choices when it comes to acquiring your licenses and setting up Google Apps. You can purchase the licenses directly from Google and take on the technical setup and data migration in house. The other option is to work with a Google Apps Reseller for licensing, setup, data migration, training, and support services. This blog post will provide you with strategies on how to select the best reseller for your business.
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What are Resellers
Google Apps Resellers are individuals, and IT Solutions providers, who have demonstrated knowledge and competence in Google Apps deployments. Resellers provide most, if not all, of the following value added services:
- Deployment Management
- Technical Setup
- Data Migration
- User Training
- Systems Integration
- Custom Application Extensions
- Best Practices
Google provides resellers with training, support, and tools to aid in the Google Apps deployment process.
Where to find Resellers
The best place to locate Resellers is in the Professional Services section of the Google Apps Marketplace.
The marketplace is just that, a marketplace of products that integrate with Google Apps and professional services relating to Google Apps like deployment, development, and training. The Google Apps Marketplace is to Google Apps as the iTunes Store is to the iPhone.
You can use the marketplace to search for vendors by category, read resellers profiles, view customer feedback and access trials of the products and services. The Marketplace is managed and facilitated by Google.
You can also find Resellers by a web search or through a reference, but the Marketplace is the most complete directory of Resellers.
How to select a Reseller
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of resellers spread throughout the world. Resellers are like snowflakes, no reseller is the same. You should select your reseller based on your company size, industry, existing software, development needs, training needs and company culture.
Small versus large deployments
The Google Apps Marketplace is divided into two different types of business implementations - small business implementation and medium-large business implementations. The size of your business is based on how many users you have, not how profitable your business is. Resellers have setup their pricing and deployment services to match the needs of these different business sizes. Small business with less than 100 users should review the Resellers in the Small Business Implementation section and Medium/Large/Enterprise businesses should review the Reseller in the Medium/Large Implementation section.
When you interview a Reseller or review their offerings you should check to see if they have served clients in your industry. Some Resellers focus on a specific industry - Financial, Real Estate, Manufacturing, Tech, Government, and Education. Resellers who have worked in your industry may have specialized knowledge about the legal requirements or optimal setup specifications for your deployment. Resellers who have worked in your industry may also have experience integrating other industry applications with Google Apps such as a customer service software, financial software or legal compliance software.
Most small- and medium-sized Google Apps deployments can be completed remotely. It is entirely possible that you can complete a Google Apps deployment without ever meeting your Reseller face to face. However, if you have complex needs or require in-person training, support, and meetings, you should be aware of where your Reseller is located. If your Reseller is in a different region or country, it will be more difficult to schedule in person meetings or visits, than if your Reseller is headquartered or has a field office in your region. However, many of the larger Resellers (and some of the smaller ones too) will gladly deploy their human resources to your location if requested.
When choosing a Reseller you should take your legacy software (Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, Groupwise, etc.) into consideration when making a decision. This is especially important if you plan to migrate legacy data into Google Apps. Some Resellers work with all types of legacy technology and some are more specialized. Some Resellers have even built their own software application to migrate data into Google Apps. Ask your Reseller if they have had experience working with your legacy software.
Just as businesses have different cultures, the Resellers have different cultures as well. It's important to find a Reseller whose company culture matches your company culture. For example, if your company values training and change management, you should look for a Reseller that also values and promotes training and change management services. If your company prefers email meetings and webinars rather than face-to-face meetings, you should find a Reseller who does not insist on weekly face to face meetings. Ask your Reseller about their company values and culture to see if it would be a good fit with your company.
Reviews and ask for references
You can read reviews about the Resellers on the Google Apps Marketplace. Reviewers who have been "verified" will have a special annotation by their reviews. You can also ask your Resellers for references of clients who work in your industry or have a similar setup to your setup.
If you work with a Reseller, you should consider writing your own review on the Google Apps Marketplace to help other business make informed decisions.
Depending on your situation, your deployment can last from days, to months to even years. Make an informed decision when selecting your Reseller, as you may be engaging in a very long working relationship.Disclaimer: Susan Cline is an Authorized Google Apps Reseller who advertises on the Google Apps Marketplace.
Susan Cline is the Director of Training and Change Management at Google Apps Parter Ltech. She is also the author of several Google Apps courses on Lynda.com. Visit Susan at her website http://susancline.com/ or follow her on Twitter @GoogleAppsSusan.