Earlier in the week, I found some useful commentary over on Brian Sommer's blog, Software and Services Safari, about what SAP values in its SI, channel and software partners. Brian based his analysis on a conversation he had at TechEd with SAP's Zia Yusuf, EVP, Global Ecosystem & Partner Group. I found his commentary useful not only for vendors and services providers seeking to work more closely with SAP and other large providers, but also for practitioners looking to size up potential implementation and technology enablement partners within their own ERP ecosystem. According to Brian, the ideal partner does five things right.
First, they "have individuals that are deeply involved/connected with SAP's product direction". Brian suggests, "what too few implementers may do is the extra step to connect themselves to the product development side of a vendor like SAP". Moreover, "Software buyers need to review potential systems integrators on this point." What's a good gauge of this in my experience? Look for consultants and vendors who can site co-development work with SAP or other large technology providers in a specific customer situation.
Brian's next point is that providers should "ensure all their SAP implementation professionals are getting the training and product knowledge they need to be successful". And the corollary to this on the practitioner side is that all "Software buyers should insist that their implementers are certified on the products they install. Better still, see what the implementer's overall level of certification is for their practice." One caveat I'll make here is that I know of many "certified" SAP body shops -- come on, that's what most implementation firms really are -- who have still presided over eProcurement implementation failures that get the technology right but everything else wrong, creating supplier enablement, content management and other nightmares. In other words, don't just look for technology certification in potential implementation or technology partners -- look for domain expertise and a track record of referenceable success as well (and don't just rely on SAP to provide the reference).
Stay tuned for further observations from SAP and Brian on what makes a good implementation and channel partner.