The Death of Partner Business Planning Series Part II: The birth of dynamic digital partner planning and execution

By Jason Watkins

Develop a digital platform for a partner connection that drives change and results

In part I of this series, we discussed examining how partner business planning is handled in your organization today – and then to consider tossing it all out. That’s right, just chuck it! Think about the ecosystem and what partners are going through. What’s the approach that will drive their growth in the future? You will find it’s more about daily execution with a relentless focus on business transformation and changing customer needs. Start there and create something new.

New Mindset, New Results

So, what does “new” mean? Today it seems as if everything is slowing down. Everything is more complicated. Vendors are struggling to change to multi-partner class ecosystems while partners face changes in customer delivery and key transformative initiatives in a COVID-19 world. If you sense things slowing down, you’re observant. Don’t fall into the trap yourself.

NOW is the time to effect change and transformation. Right now. As in today. Partner business planning between partners and vendors is entering the high season. The planning process’s transformation is crucial to move quickly and impact performance and growth. First, let’s consider why, and then go deeper into the impact of partner planning and execution.

Why speed in a slow world?

Driving performance and sales growth require fundamentally different ways of working and outstanding execution. Advances in digital partner planning and execution platforms can create this reality. By moving with speed, customers, partners, and the vendor are impacted. Consider these two important recent articles from McKinsey & Company:

“Top sales innovators are embedding data and technology throughout their organizations to reimagine sales”, because “sales growth today requires fundamentally different ways of working as well as outstanding execution across large, decentralized sales teams and channel partners“.

The impact can be up to 10 points in revenue growth with the same or even stronger margins. Powerful to any sales leader or business owner. Further evidence to go digital, go dynamic, and go value.

At Siemens Digital Industries Software, we recently implemented a digital platform called Partner Planning & Execution, a unique extension of our PRM system, that facilitates a connection between the vendor and partners around the globe. The purpose is to move from static plans to digital dynamic plans that are agile with a strong focus on joint execution. The goal is to enhance value across customers, partners, and vendors.

Speed to impact

Let’s unpack the value-driven from a digital platform and the impact points. As a reminder, the digital platform facilitates all key planning discussions between vendor and partner, jointly, including revenue planning, enablement/personnel and marketing, but with accurate and timely information for a more profound business conversation about goals, objectives and tasks. The difference is that it’s live and moves from planning meetings (e.g., annual and QBRs) to a daily execution focus. Both vendor and partner remain connected, daily, as new objectives emerge, as goals transform, and as tasks are completed, changed or added.

Let’s consider the impact in this way: Go Digital, Go Dynamic, Go Value. Beginning at a higher level, the focus of this new approach to business planning is to:

  • Drive intuitive and faster interaction through more productive business conversations
  • Develop stronger processes with clear accountability and fewer inefficiencies
  • Drive data-driven decisions and actions, daily
  • Facilitate partner business transformation based on information, objectives, goals and tasks
  • Develop sales analytics, marketing execution analytics, and goal progression dialogue, fast
  • Align resources for execution across the plan
  • Enable effective, more informed business discussions based on real choices in the present
  • Drive a closer connection between partner and vendor

Go Digital:

  • Ensure a digital presence, online with immediately accessible key live performance data
  • Install business intelligence and data-driven decision-making
  • Drive agility and innovation to get ahead of market trends or build new parts of the business
  • Respond faster with resources, marketing support, enablement and training, and more
  • Develop joint plans vs. vendor to-do list and see you next quarter

Go Dynamic:

  • Orchestrate efficiency and productivity gains daily, weekly, monthly
  • Build mutual expectations from the plan. Execute and drive joint accountability in real-time
  • Enable success through the information necessary for completion
  • Flex to adjust to market conditions, partner goals, even faster integration of new products and acquisitions

Go Value:

  • Anticipate and respond to swings in market dynamics
  • Drive data-based business discussions that show an understanding of customers and the partner
  • Leverage analytics for business insights, alignment of resources and execution
  • Decide on actions based on information from accurate reports of the current business situation
  • Ensure agility to changing business circumstance

The call to action is this: Now is the right time to effect significant change and move toward a digital and dynamic solution for partner planning and execution across the ecosystem. The world is slow; you are not. The ultimate results can affect revenue and margin points – as in growth – in your organization. Maintain a focus on the partner and their customer which leads to the right platform customization. There will be a flurry of requirements from multiple constituencies. That’s okay. That’s good. Work the prioritization, pick a platform, work the priorities to customize the solution. New mindset. New results.

At Siemens Digital Industries Software, we work with our partner management team on key business drivers and hone skills, competencies and processes based on contemporary partner, customer and market demands. Working with our professionals and partners led us to embrace and invest in this new business planning approach.

Jason Watkins, Vice President of Global Solution Partner Enablement and Productivity, has over 20 years of experience in sales management and consulting. At Siemens Digital Industries Software, his primary focus is on multi-channel profitable revenue growth and the professional development and advancement of the global Solution Partner ecosystem. Special thanks to Charlie Jonesrebandt, Toni Reszka, Paul Core, Bradley Stern, and Starr Hill-Bennett for their contributions to this initiative and blog post.


5 thoughts about “The Death of Partner Business Planning Series Part II: The birth of dynamic digital partner planning and execution
  • Jason,

    It is very interesting to see the impact in your organization of actually having a planning tool and a plan in it! In our account and opportunity planning system, and in our organization, we see similar results. Developing a strategy in the plan and then executing on it really gives people a way forward. They know where to look for the plan, they know how to understand the plan (since everyone is using the same tool), they can see and understand the strategy without needing someone to present it to them, and they can see how to execute on the plan to keep everyone going in the same direction.

    Another side benefit that we see is the ever expanding need of people wanting to add additional information to the plan. People quickly realize that the plan, in the planning tool, is the plan of record. There is no longer a question of “Is this the latest version?” or “do I have the right plan?” If you want to know information about a particular company you should look in the plan. Thus people are coming out of the woodwork trying to get their information in the plan as well. It really transforms from an old spreadsheet or presentation, to a place of record where people want to store and find data about the account, opportunity, or in your case partner.

    We are digital, we are dynamic, and we are reaping the value from the system!

    • Charlie, thank you for these thoughts. The iterative, agile point is of particular interest. It’s fundamental to our decision to move this direction: Away from static annual planning and quarterly “check ins” to a partner record that’s real time, focused on execution, and iterative in nature as the record (plan) is built. This shift is key: The focus is on accurate and timely data, consolidated, for stronger business discussions, then what’s needed (resource alignment) to achieve the plan – daily, weekly, monthly – at the speed our partners have to move today.

      Great thoughts – thank you.

  • Excellent post and a truly urgent topic. Business planning between vendors and partners is the only real link between strategy and execution … and yet it’s traditionally a slow, inaccurate and universally despised process. Vendors need information about partner coverage, capacity, sales initiatives and pipeline progress. Partners need access to resources and training, enablement, support and sales operations.

    Everyone knows planning is essential … and yet everyone regrets the process. I’ve yet to meet a business professional who said planning is not important. But I’ve also yet to meet a channel professional who enjoys the partner planning process. That’s a massive disconnect … but it’s also a self-inflicted problem, which means it can be fixed.

    The two most vital points in this post are about the scope vs. speed of the planning process and the shift to focus on execution.

    In terms of scope vs. speed, it’s essential to recognize that the plan topics and information you’re including in this process are quite broad — exactly as they need to be. A partner business plan is not “just” a revenue plan, it must also address people and skills and marketing and business process and operational effectiveness. But even though it’s broad, this new digital approach actually makes the planning process faster / easier for both vendor professionals and partner leaders. Business planning doesn’t have to be a long, arduous, painful process. With a complete understanding of all the elements that need to be discussed — and a commitment to coming back and discussing the plan again and again as it proceeds — means that no one has to commit to a brutal slog of a multi-day planning meeting. Get in … set a direction … figure out the definition of success and the objectives … and then focus on the very first action in each area. Not everything … just the first thing. Then check in … verify progress … and do it again. That’s the essence of an agile approach … and it is not just quicker, it’s also much less painful.

    As John Wooden famously said, “be quick … but don’t hurry.” Get started now … and do each task well.

    Which leads to the point about focusing on execution. Having a plan is good … but if it doesn’t immediately and consistently convert into actual work in the real world, the plan is no more than wishful thinking. Another big business brain once said, “A plan without execution is a fantasy, execution without a plan is chaos.”

    It is quite literally impossible to predict the actions that will be necessary to achieve growth one year in advance. If it were possible, we would all have done it long ago and be sitting on a beach somewhere. But it’s remarkable how much effort is put into trying to predict the future. The secret sauce of an agile planning process is relentless focus on short-term, tangible goals and specific, measurable action. Set the direction, define the task, do the work. Repeat.

    But no matter now simple this concept may seem, it’s impossible for a vendor to manage this dynamic approach with hundreds / thousands of partners across a zone or the globe without a single integrated digital platform. It wasn’t easy to build the platform, but the platform is the reason the strategy can actually work.

    Now you just need the people to do the work.

  • Moving from the ‘static’ – the old ways of doing planning with a partner – annual, quarterly reviews, to the new ‘dynamic’ mode of real-time, joint-interactive planning between the vendor and partner based on up to date accurate data – this is the key enabler with the PP&E platform from Siemens. Business meetings between vendor and partner become far more better informed, intuitive, and purposeful, and consequently leading to greater confidence by both parties in the agreed execution activity.

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