SAP's View — The Making of a Good Implementation and Technology Partner (Part 2)

In my first post examining attributes SAP perceives to be important in the making of a good implementation and technology partner, I noted a number of observations from SAP's Zia Yusuf, EVP, Global Ecosystem & Partner Group, and ZDNet's Brian Sommer. In this second post, I'll introduce and reflect on the remaining observations that Zia made and Brian covered and analyzed. The third trait that Brian notes in his post on the subject is whether SAP partners "Can adapt, quickly and easily, to ever-changing markets and market dynamics". For example, "When the marketplace demands a systems integrator possess a global delivery model, can the local, New Jersey firm you're considering deliver a mixed mode solution? If it can't, it better have some compelling other reason for your firm to use them (e.g., intimate industry knowledge)."

Moreover, "Adaptability to changing markets is a proxy to illustrate how well a vendor can adapt to changing customer needs, too." While this observation might tend to play into the hands of larger providers with global deployment models, it does not necessarily have to. I know of one local integrator in the Chicago area which originally focused primarily on implementing solutions from only one provider in the Spend Management world, but later morphed to focusing on implementation of the universe of other technology providers as well.

The fourth attribute Brian suggests looking for is whether partners are "focused on customer service/value delivery". Here, Brian suggests he's "still surprised at how many firms say words like 'We deliver outstanding value to clients' but can't really prove it. Saying and doing are two different things. Smart services buyers get this difference and will ask for proof." What does it mean to focus on customer service/value delivery in the Spend Management implementation and ERP partner world? For one, I'd argue that value-focused partners aren't just looking to maximize the number of resources they can throw at a project. Rather, they bring their own set of capabilities, a toolbox, to minimize actual resource requirements while potentially introducing other technology partners as well that can round out an implementation at an affordable price point.

Brian's final observation is that top performing partners "Tie their revenues to the delivery of value to customers". Here, he suggests "Better firms don't front-load a lot of costs while value delivery is back-ended. Better implementers can craft plans, cost structures, etc. to align these two concepts. Customers will expect and demand this." Unlike strategic sourcing or other cost reduction initiatives, it's often challenging to ask a technology implementer to put their fees at risk based on potential savings or ROI. But even given this restriction, it is possible to have implementation partners put skin in the game by tying major payouts to key milestones and objectives. Of course this requires getting out of the traditional consulting/SI procurement hourly reporting and SOW mindset, but for those who are willing to get more creative with their contracting, there's a world of benefit in challenging the implementer to do the same.

Jason Busch

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