Business travels in Europe and personal vacation time have kept me from my blogging duties. But I am back in the saddle this week and I am heading off to Boston to spend a day with some TSIA members on the topic of working with service partners. Back in May, I posted an entry asking “Who REALLY owns the success of service partners?” At this Boston summit, we will be discussing the actual tactics product companies are employing to help their service partners succeed.
As a precursor to this one day summit, we asked participating companies to complete a survey where they identify what partner management
practices they actually have in place. The twenty-eight partner practices we tested for in the survey were sourced from the TSIA Organizational Development Program for PS organizations. The results from this sample are interesting.
Clear Common Practices
There are some partner enablement practices that appear to be very common among the product companies meeting in Boston, whether those
product companies are large or small, or sell hardware or software. Here are some of their common practices:
- The services organization has primary responsibility for selecting delivery partners.
- There is a formal process for identifying what current accounts will be served directly by the company and what accounts will
ideally be served directly by partners.
- The services organization offers instructor led onsite training for service delivery partners.
- The services organization offers a computer based training option for service partners to learn about product and service
- The services organization creates materials service partners can use to learn about key concepts related to the industry,
company products, and service offerings.
- The services organization segments partners into levels based on capabilities criteria.
- The services organization takes corrective action when partners are not meeting delivery standards.
- The services organization offers a formal accreditation for service delivery partners.
After reading these common practices, it is clear product companies have invested in training their partners on products. Also, it is
common for product companies to establish some type of accreditation or certification program for partners. The most interesting insight in the above list is that these product companies have established a process to clearly identify what customer accounts will be served by service partners vs. the internal services organization. This is a critical practice to help reduce tension with partners. Finally, it is interesting to note that it is more and more common to have the services organization take responsibility for identifying and qualifying service partners.
What is more interesting to Bo DiMuccio and I, are the partner management practices that are not common among the companies meeting in Boston. Here are partner enablement practices that a minority of the companies has in place:
- The services organization offers mechanisms for service partners to learn how to manage and optimize a services business.
- The services organization offers a portal delivery partners can access to request assistance or information.
- The services organization segments partners into levels based on performance criteria.
- The services organization has a process to work with service partners to create service offerings.
- The services organization collects data on the amount of product revenues that are pulled through service partners.
Why are these practices not more highly adopted? Have product companies tried these practices and found them too difficult to
sustain? Is there no internal support for funding these activities? Do partners not really want some of this support? And how does a product company understand the value of a service partner if there is no idea how much product the service partner actually pulls through? These are the questions we will be discussing in the session. Can’t wait to hear the answers. It’s good to be back in the saddle.