Compaq this week starts the arduous selection process involved with the controversial reorganisation of its reseller channel.
All of Compaq's resellers will be subjected to intense scrutiny from the vendor, including 85 that enjoy a direct relationship.
"It is not a viable proposition to have so many direct partners so we have to see which ones fit into our strategy," asserted Rosalie Boyd, Compaq's channel development manager.
"Basically, we have taken a blank sheet and started from scratch. All of our partners will have a master contract and depending on who they are, a distributor, a reseller and so on, an addendum will be attached to the contract," Boyd said.
In addition to Compaq's selection process, the company believes some partners will be eliminated through natural market activities such as mergers, changing company strategies, and partners that voluntarily choose to separate from Compaq.
The transformed channel structure, first announced at Compaq's In Concert with Compaq road show in March, will be divided into six sections; Compaq Technology Partner, Compaq Associate, Compaq Distribution Partner, Compaq Retail Partner, Compaq Solutions Partner and Compaq Premier Services Reseller.
"There are only half a dozen organisations in Australia capable of being a Solutions Partner," Boyd claimed. "Premier Partners have been part of Compaq's long-term service program so are pretty select. Technology and Associate Partners will be a mix of direct and indirect partners," Boyd said.
"We will be looking at five main criteria when selecting resellers for the new program: financial viability, ability to grow at a comparative rate to Compaq, a value-add proposition, a support infrastructure that encourages customer satisfaction, and a desire to do business with Compaq," Boyd stressed, whilst attempting to reassure partners that the process is "one of realignment as opposed to termination".
Boyd anticipates that the process will be complete by the end of July, hopefully without any serious acrimony. "We want partners, not an us and them mentality." To this extent Boyd claims Compaq is trying to surmount its historically disastrous supply and communication relationship with the channel. "The position of direct reseller is tied up emotionally to a lot of issues. We want to ensure that direct resellers are financially and emotionally happy with their place in the changing market."
And the market is changing, according to Boyd, who insists that it is market forces driving Compaq's actions. "Ultimately it will be the market that will determine sales channels. In the US there have not been direct resellers for a long time."