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SAAS and the new tenets of Partner Engagement

The role played by partners and the extent of their involvement in conventional business is way different in SAAS. Partners in SAAS helps vendors to Search for opportunities effectively and efficiently, support in sustaining and scaling the implementations. Given the change in the role played by partners in the SaaS world, SaaS vendors should ensure their model of engagement with partners also needs to be aligned accordingly. Couple of important aspects which need a relook are

  1. Partner Enablement, beyond Academics: Enablement is not to just execute opportunities but enablement in SaaS world is to identify and create opportunities and then execution follows. Training and supporting to build product CoEs or competency are necessary but not sufficient for enablement. Partners need to be deemed as logical extension of not only delivery but also sales organisation which means enabling them not just with product skills but also all the ammunition required to make a selling impact to customers. One simple example is to have partners access to product and capability to go and do pilot for customers with no or minimal support from vendor. Partner enablement in SAAS world is the ability of the partner to seamlessly work with vendor from presales to sales to implementation and maintenance of the product. It’s no more just enabling to build skills or just resell.    
  2. Partner Governance, no more optional:  SaaS necessitates more autonomy to partners, and it is like a double-edged sword. It does help in scaling faster with less intervention but at the same time it’s important to note that customer success also gets into hands of partner. To ensure customer success there should be light weight but stern governance mechanisms in place in all aspects of partner involvement. Such lightweight governance mechanisms not only support partners but will also help customers gain confidence in partners. It might sound taxing initially but there shouldn’t be no second thought on making such governance mechanism mandatory for all partner activities because it ensures smoother sail in the long run.
  3. Partner Metrics, measure what matters: Metrics to measure partner success shouldn't be just trainings or certifications or capacity anymore it should be similar to the metrics used for internal sales and implementation teams. As discussed above partners in SAAS model should be deemed as  logical extension of  both implementation and sales team and so should be the metric. It should be ideally addition of new logos, renewals, customer satisfaction and JDPs in addition to the usual partner metrics.
  4. Partner Involvement , End – to -end :  Partners cannot be an afterthought in SaaS Scenario as partners tend to play a role covering the whole customer Lifecyle . Partners have to be involved and enabled right from sales to implementation to customer success and if the SaaS vendors are more matured , partners can be involved in engineering too, to make it easy for partners implementation. Role of partners is SaaS is typically not limited to one area in customer lifecycle like sales or implementation or support . Even if they start with one area they naturally tend to percolate into other areas given the way SaaS business model  thrives.
  5. Partner Implementation , Driven by Architecture : Not all SAAS vendors are born as SAAS but in fact most of them are transforming into SAAS and as part of this transformation , its vital to ensure that the products are architected in way to ensure IP and at the same time ensure flexibility and ease of use for partners to implement. Scale is key to SAAS and scale can be achieved only through collaboration of partners and to make that collaboration successful it’s important to have the product architected for ease of implementation with well-defined boundaries. Having well defined boundaries doesn’t only foster collaboration but also promotes innovation.




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Nataraj Sirisilla

Nataraj Sirisilla

Vice President


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14 Apr 2021



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