Partner implementations

As with choosing a partner to sell for you, selecting a partner to implement (install licensed product or configure SaaS product) your product is very similar to hiring your own professional services team.  You need to determine:

  • Roles
  • Criteria for selection
  • Rules of engagement
  • Training
  • Rates.

 

Roles

As the company establishing a channel, your role is certainly to confirm your prospective partners’ capabilities and overall fit with your business.  More specifically, in the case of implementations, you’ll want to:

  • validate the technical skills of potential partners
  • judge implementation abilities and fit between you and your partner’s professional services organizations
  • align professional services rates and assess availability of suitable partner resources
  • determine when your partner is ready to perform implementations.

Once ready, your partner will be responsible for implementing, or sharing in the implementation of, designated customers.

Partner Implementation Skills Criteria

Typical criteria for partners interested in performing implementations include the following:

  • Domain expertise in your solution area
  • Hands-on experience performing integrations with complementary solutions
  • Extensive project management experience within a software or consulting environment
  • Familiarity and experience with software development and implementation methodologies
  • Successful management of numerous software implementation projects
  • If appropriate, familiarity with SaaS technology
  • Familiarity with specific technologies used to develop/support your solution.

Rules of Engagement

It’s best to set up rules of engagement to govern implementations just as there are rules to govern joint sales efforts.  Following are some suggested rules:

  • The partner who brings the customer “owns” the account for purposes of the product implementation
  • The partner responsible for implementation will provide project management oversight
  • Either partner may be called on to staff a project.  Earlier projects will include a certain number of your consultants in order to ensure the project’s success
  • Both partners will “share” the risk associated with delivery
  • Working with the partner, you will determine if and when and for what price you will provide any customizations.

Implementation Training

 Typically, smaller companies or those with new partner programs will provide training at their facilities for free or via webinars to partners.  Partners will pay for any travel and expenses associated with attending training.  Larger companies will offer training at a discounted price.

Implementation Ramp Up

Whether performing SaaS configurations or enterprise customizations, partners will need to ramp up over time. As soon as possible after training, you should arrange for your partner to shadow you at an implementation. Your partner will not bill for this implementation, but will be able to bill at 50%, for example, at a second implementation assuming the partner is able to perform 50% of the work.  As soon as they are ready, a partner will perform 100% of the implementation and receive 100% of the fee.  Once the partner has assumed responsibility for implementations, your company will provide remote support.

Resources

Partners usually agree to designate a fixed number of qualified and mutually agreed consultants to be trained on your products.  This insures sufficient resources for delivery and reduces your support load since you don’t have to keep training new consultants or answering questions from untrained ones.

Rates

To facilitate contracting of services, rates between you and your partner need to be similar so the customer is not biased in selecting one or the other.  Typically, partners can subcontract services from each other at an agreed discount (somewhere between 10% and 35% is common) off each party’s published prices for deployment services.

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