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At the 2020 SAP Global Partner Summit, the software company unveiled its new multifaceted Partner Delivery Quality Framework. The initiative is aimed at increasing the quality of partner implementations and helping drive results for customers—outcomes that both SAP and its customers are vested in.

ASUG had an opportunity to speak with Cathy Daum, senior vice president of SAP’s global partner organization, go-to-market, and scale partnerships, and Hans Uebe, global head of ecosystem delivery success at SAP, about this new framework. The two discussed how the framework came to be, how it helps partners, and how SAP plans to develop it in the future.

Jim: What’s the benefit of SAP’s new Partner Delivery Quality Framework?

Hans Uebe, Global Head of Ecosystem Delivery Success, SAP

Hans: We've established the Partner Delivery Quality Framework because we realize it is very important to work closely with our partners on how they run projects. We need to ensure the consultants who work for our partners have the latest skill and knowledge of our cloud offerings and are capable of delivering value to our customers in running world-class projects. One side of the framework is we want to make sure all stakeholders know the great innovations available in SAP products, and that they are capable of bringing those innovations to customers. The other side is looking at how to stay on the same page once a customer chooses a partner for their project. We believe a project in the cloud is ongoing because you are in this permanent mode of launching, adopting, and going into the next phase of innovation. It’s a continuous engagement, and we’re looking at how to make sure this engagement always brings value to the customer, whilst also ensuring our partners can deliver best-in-class projects and a profitable business.

Jim: Can you explain the three pillars of the framework and how they all tie together?

Hans: With the Partner Delivery Quality Framework, the customer has decided to use SAP and is going into the project with one of our partners. About 90% of implementation projects are run by partners in our ecosystem. They are not run by the customer themselves or by SAP services. Our partners are critical players in the market, helping our customers get the best value out of their investment.

The first pillar is project delivery quality. We established processes to make sure we avoid issues early. Part of this is ensuring we connect the right partner with the right customer. The second pillar focuses on partner service quality. We look at how to build a close relationship with partners and make sure that the people working for our partners are best in class. We have invested significantly in enablement programs that help our partners keep their consultants current, and encourage them to leverage the SAP Learning Hub that delivers continuous knowledge to consultants, as well as the underlying programs for the consultants to get certified and then stay current in their certification. We also look at how to offer complementary services to our partners that help them further develop their practice and move to new service delivery models. The third pillar is a newly created role within SAP, the partner delivery manager, who works with our partners and oversees the projects that are delivered to the customers. This creates a level of accountability and drives execution.

Jim: Can you tell me more about the partner delivery manager?

Hans: We talk a lot with our partners about working together to win new business. In the cloud space, we must stay very close to all partners. When it comes to the delivery of a project, we want to ensure that the project is stable.

Our partner delivery managers are dedicated SAP employees assigned to a number of partners. They engage with the head of the delivery practice to drive the two pillars of partner service quality. They also establish a regular cadence and look at all the projects that the partner is currently running to make sure that we understand why a project is running.

Cathy: While we’ve announced the Partner Delivery Quality Framework only recently, some of our lines of business—notably SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Ariba, and SAP Customer Experience—already have this partner delivery manager. What we’ve done is brought those together under a single framework, so that they all operate in the same way. The idea is to extend them across our other cloud solutions. We’re also adding some automation into many of the processes that Hans talked about so that we can interact with our partners and document where they are in a systematic way.

Jim: Can you tell me about the Drive to Deliver program and how it is addressing the shortage in IT talent?

Cathy Daum, Senior Vice President, Global Partner Organization, SAP

Cathy: We pulled together a team of people internally and some MBA students from the Mannheim Business School. That team worked together with our partners to understand their biggest needs as the market transitions into a more cloud-oriented market. What were the key requirements that our partners had? We heard that they wanted help in the hiring of new talented individuals—whether they are graduates from higher education or more experienced consultants. Our interest was to augment the pool of resources and not to have partners hiring from each other. We want to increase the number of skilled resources for SAP in the ecosystem. Our partners also want to understand how their consultants could consistently stay up to date, how to upskill the team, and how to build an entirely new practice.

So, we built specific programs around those areas of interest. These programs essentially help our partners financially, practically, and logistically to bring new resources on board. We’ve also put in place several initiatives that subsidize our partners’ participation in the SAP Learning Hub.

Jim: Can you walk me through how Drive to Deliver ties into the Partner Delivery Quality Framework?

Hans: If you want to drive delivery quality, you need to have the best people. One key thing that we are experiencing as an ecosystem—and SAP as a company—is a transformation from being an on-premise-centric company to becoming a cloud company. The same is true for many of our partners. That drives the need to bring in new thinking and ideas to your workforce. As I mentioned earlier, quality is one of our key pillars. We want our partners to be at the highest level and driving innovation.

Jim: Where did the Partner Delivery Quality Framework come from? Was this something that partners or customers were asking for?

Cathy: It was a combination of both. We’ve heard from customers that they want to ensure that SAP is supporting partners in an implementation, whether it’s through safeguarding services or providing a good escalation path into the organization. Customers like the security of knowing that the vendor is absolutely behind the partner, not only as it relates to software, but also as it relates to the actual project. Partners also have told us that they would appreciate our support throughout the project. We’ve had a tremendously positive reaction from our partners since we announced the framework.

Jim: How does SAP partner success translate to SAP customer success?

Cathy: For a partner to be successful, particularly in the cloud, they have to have customer success. There is a continuous momentum in a cloud project where projects typically start small and then over time, the customer expands that particular solution footprint and maybe moves into other solutions. The partner has to accompany the customer along the journey. It’s not a single point of go-live with the cloud. There tend to be multiple go-lives. If the customer is going to keep moving forward, the partner has to be successful. It’s a virtuous circle.

Hans: We know that the value in the cloud is all about adoption and consumption. A customer will only stay a loyal customer if they get the value out of the investment. That means we will only see success in the cloud if we have an ecosystem that drives successful projects for customers. The partners that will be successful in the future are the ones that know how to run successful cloud projects for customers. It’s a win-win-win scenario where the customer sees the ultimate outcome.

Jim: What is the main benefit of this framework for partners?

Hans: At their core, the majority of our partners are service partners. We talk to them about their core business and what matters for them. We also try to drive more business together. At the end of the day, the biggest benefit that you can get as a company is broadening your business and growing your market footprint. SAP does that with this framework. With the Partner Delivery Quality Framework, we look at who our best partners are from a service delivery point of view and promote those partners to the market.

Jim: Obviously, this framework was just announced. How will it continue to adapt and change? And what are your plans for it?

Cathy: I’m sure it will continue to adapt and change. I think market drivers will change, and the program itself will mature. We’re starting with a certain number of solutions. The intent is to take it across all of our cloud solutions, maybe even across our on-premise solutions as well. But over time, I think we’ll see things like how partners get trained, how they recruit in the marketplace, and how we ensure customer success adapt over time. In the current COVID-19 crisis, we've seen a lot of partners move to a 100% remote delivery. We will adapt this framework as the market demands. We know we are going to need to change in the future. But we’ll do it in a dynamic way.

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