HP has been working on its own "centres of excellence" programme for the past eight months in a bid to raise the standard of education and practice in its own reseller channel. Now it is proposing the idea of introducing a separate, independent accreditation that can be applied across the entire reseller community.
David Smith, HP UK's small business manager, told CW360.com, "We decided that it's all very well having a manufacturer kite-marking an organisation, but to add credibility and give added confidence to the customer, we thought it would be nice if they were independently kite-marked as well."
If the independent organisation gets off the ground Smith said HP would be prepared to meet some of the costs.
It is hoped that an elected body of resellers will be formed to help determine the criteria for accreditation. Those that fail to meet the criteria will be given help to ensure they make it at the second attempt.
Smith said the company was worried by independent research carried out on its behalf among SMEs. It found that very few SMEs currently view resellers as a source of information when determining how to spend their IT budgets.
"We found that SMEs turn to their friends, family, other small businesses, the Web, the press - everybody but those in the industry - and that is concerning, so we have to build those bridges," said Smith.
"The accreditation will provide the reseller with elevated status and lets customers know where to go for advice," he added. "Ultimately, it is the aim of the industry and government to have a very strong representation in the field that can articulate the benefits of IT in different areas and give a value judgment."
HP's own accreditation programme, which comes online in June, will be funded through a central body of resellers. Members of the group, which will also act as a forum for resellers, will pay a monthly subscription that will give them joint marketing and communications, enhanced purchasing power with HP in addition to covering the cost of the training programme.
"The resellers will be running their own network, we'll just be helping them steer it along," said Smith.