6 Key Steps to Partner Automation

October 19, 2011 at 7:44 pm Leave a comment

“Doing the Right Things – Now”

Kevin Rhone – Director, Client Services

Justifying budgets is an unending task for most companies. Can we justify an investment in automation technology? Is our business mature enough to absorb the time and expense to grow to the next level? Is now the right time?

In Amazon Consulting’s last Webinar, “Engaging and Empowering Service Providers Through Partner Automation,” I had the opportunity to interview Patrick Simonds, Partner Program Director at Ciena Corporation, to discuss some of the lessons that Ciena  learned while implementing a partner automation system. 

“Automation for Ciena has been about making our newly documented program real,” said Mr. Simonds. “It makes our partners accountable and helps them see what their program participation looks like. Through automation, we can share requirements and benefits with partners so they always know where they stand.”

The challenge with partner automation has always been how to get partners to use the system. “If you build it, they don’t always come,” claims Mr. Simonds. So, the primary goal of any partner management automation solution should be to actively engage and  empower your partners so they become regular users.

It has been shown that all automation systems should be implemented in stages so you can review success metrics and make process enhancements and then add more functionality as you grow. Here are the key steps to implementing a successful partner automation system:

  • Query your partners – we recommend a cyclical process to automate your partner interactions that first starts with determining the challenges and opportunities of doing business with you, from their perspective
  • Develop a deployment plan – integrate you partners’ needs to enhance ease of doing business with you with your own priorities to streamline your processes
  • Design practices for engagement – automation just enhances the speed of the process, but doesn’t fix broken or flawed procedures.
  • Develop or purchase the infrastructure solution
  • Enroll the partners in using the solution – you need a variety of communication techniques to create awareness, provide education and drive trials for the partners to adopt the solution.
  • Measure – ask a variety of questions to measure effectiveness. Is the automation system increasing partner education, marketing activities, helping to drive sales? Are you meeting the goals and objectives you defined in the plan.

Whether you are looking at automating the functions of content management, deal management, on-boarding, partner directory, training, or marketing management tools, it is most important to take a phased approach and prioritize — match the biggest partner needs that you see having the biggest ROI,  for both sides.

Mr. Simonds, stated it simply…”Do three things extremely well, rather than taking a shotgun approach and doing 10 things average.” Be deliberate, plan, poll your partners and most importantly make your system easy. Something as simple as implementing a single sign-on capability across all your solutions, can score major kudos with your partners.

“Having access to Ciena’s back office has helped make our partners feel valuable and a part of our team ,” added Ciena’s Simonds. “Through automation, we can share requirements and benefits with partners so they always know where they stand. Their access to our back-office, gives them real-time insights to make better decisions.”

So, when is the right time to take the plunge? Teddy Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

To listen to this webinar, click here.


Entry filed under: Industry Perspective, Partnering Tips, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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