Partner business planning as we know it is dead… and understandably so.
The partner ecosystem is alive and well in a multi-distribution model environment. Partners are pivoting their businesses to ensure technology is delivered the way customers want to buy, expanding their functional skills and competencies, and diving deep in technical or industry areas. These organizations are driving varied revenue streams through new IP, enhancing their services capabilities, offering more dynamic training, and building applications on behalf of their customers. Even in this time of COVID-19, they are innovating! Woo-hah!
Buzz Kill: Enter the old business planning process
Annual business planning, quarterly business reviews with the same focus on “assess, discuss, plan, document, blah, blah, blah” then sign off on the actions to be reviewed in three months…three months! It’s 2020 people – anyone not in a coma knows that a lot can change in three months. Article after article – good and accurate articles by the way – provide advice on how to manage the process, collaborate for commitment, and how to execute. Oh, and agile! Make it agile! To name a few:
- 5 Steps to Dynamic and Executable Partner Plans
- A Tested Perspective on Successful Business Planning (Part 1)
- A Tested Perspective on Successful Business Planning (Part 2)
- A Tested Perspective on Successful Business Planning (Part 3)
- The Essential Guide to Partner Business Planning
- Less is More When it Comes to Partner Business Planning and QBRs
- Common Pitfalls of Joint Business Planning with Channel Partners and How to Avoid Them
Agile? Stick to the script until the next QBR…right?
The problem is that partner business planning by definition is not agile. It’s linear. It’s annual. It’s quarterly. It’s too focused on the vendor versus the partner’s dynamic business. Three months can be a year in “technology partner time” (as in stick to business as usual for too long and you may not have a business to plan at all). The truth in the modern environment is that by the time the annual business plan has been completed, it’s defunct. Can’t we do better on behalf of thriving and evolving partner organizations?
Let’s let this process go…please…pretty please? There is a higher value approach.
An evolved…er agile approach
Partner businesses are moving fast, transforming to meet customer needs and enhance revenue streams. Their focus is on daily execution. Daily. The “strategy, execution, success” cycle between partners and vendors should not be annual. Nor quarterly. It needs to be daily – that kind of agile.
The new approach must be digital, fluid, and transparent. Leaders in vendor organizations must take a new approach and partner owners should demand as much.
Recast the Business Planning process into a business execution engine – Woo-hah!
- Go Digital: Source or build partner relationship management (PRM) modules that manage partner business planning. Work the project, buy or build and ensure the right information and data integration for partner management execs and partners alike. Paper, spreadsheets, documentation, and frankly meetings, must go. Let them die. No love lost. The result is more current information and collaboration used to drive alignment on objectives and execution, daily.
- Go Dynamic: Ensure access for both partner management and partners. Core elements that so many articles emphasize across the major elements of planning are still addressed such as revenue, enablement, personnel and marketing but with accurate and timely information for a deeper business conversation about goals, objectives and tasks. The difference is that it’s live and moves from planning meetings 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.
- Go Value: The focus is on the daily steps to achieve objectives and becomes agile, for mutual benefit. The new approach provides transparency to the partner’s business and aligns the right resources at the right time to execute — in real time (read Go Dynamic above). The two entities become one unit working to transform and grow. The value is in the equitability and balance in the daily transparency not in what the partner needs to do to meet revenue expectations set by the vendor.
Evolve or die – cliché but still true
There is much more to discuss. In the meantime, consider this: The current business environment allows for change, for new ideas and new approaches. Instead of “improving the process,” advocate to change the approach altogether.
Whatever method is used for business planning in your organization today consider tossing it all out. 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.
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 growth of the global Solution Partner ecosystem.