Last year, businesses around the world received a crash course in how to connect quickly and effectively across long distances and under far from ideal conditions. No matter the circumstances and hurdles, modern enterprises require this high level of connection to support the creativity and speed needed to stand out in today’s crowded markets.

As a recent McKinsey study on future-ready companies noted, increased connectivity is one of the guiding trends that will define the year to come.

At SAP, we are committed to providing the connection that our service partners need. That’s why we are introducing two new services for our partners that will empower them to guide customers through transformational implementations more seamlessly than ever before: partner coaching service and partner mentoring service.

A year ago, we approached 80 partners about how we could best support them. What we found was a surprisingly simple answer: there was a desire for a streamlined process through which they could connect with an SAP expert to answer questions directly. These two new programs do just that.

The partner coaching service allows SAP service partners to gain fast access to SAP coaches’ knowledge, so that they can get the answers they need to support their customers quickly and effectively. It will help them short-circuit complexity to help customers in the midst of an implementation and build up their knowledge for the future.

The partner mentoring service, on the other hand, provides ongoing support from a mentor in the role of a project manager, technical architect, solution architect, or integration specialist. Rather than a one-off conversation, this service is a relationship that builds expertise over the life of a project.

At SAP, we know that when our partners, which perform over 80% of our implementations, succeed, we also win. And we are confident that these new services will aid in the success of our partners and our joint customers.

To learn more about these two new programs, we spoke with John Olson, global vice president and head of Ecosystem Offerings Management, for some insider insights.

Q: What are the key differences between the coaching and mentoring services?

A: The partner coaching service is a reactive service intended to allow a partner to call an expert for 30 to 60 minutes and ask any how-to questions as they arise. The partner mentoring service is proactive and more of an educational service. Say a partner is working in a new competency or they have a consultant who is new, that’s learning and hasn’t had a project on say, SAP S/4HANA Cloud for manufacturing before. They would need to get their certification, and then once they’re on their first project SAP will assign someone to guide them through the project and mentor them.

Based on partner assignment need, we’ll assign a field expert who has experience in that area. The SAP mentor will then meet with the partner weekly throughout the project and guide them — such as, “In this phase, these are the things that you’ll be doing and what you need to be aware of.” It’s not intended to replace the coaching service, although the mentor will, of course, answer how-to questions for the mentee. It’s less ad hoc and more focused on the future, on building longer-term capabilities. Mentors can say, “This is what’s coming that I want you to know about, the pitfalls, and so on.”

What type of questions would a partner bring to the coaching service?

This program is meant to support partners with very specific needs. Our partners are extremely well educated in our products, but may need help in a new skill or a new region that they’re working in, where they don’t have as much experience. Or perhaps it’s a new technology, and they haven’t yet built their competency in that area. These programs will also be helpful to partners implementing a hybrid system who need our help on one part of the implementation.

By plugging these holes for our partners, we’re helping them get to what we’re calling “delivery ready.” By making sure that they’re completely delivery ready, they’ll minimize delays, escalations, and missteps, resulting in a better customer experience.

What are these new services not intended to do?

This is not an issue resolution desk and is not intended to replace the support programs that we already have in place. Most customer issues will continue to be run through SAP Support. However, SAP Support is not intended to address how-to questions or give advice on architecture, design, or project management. Partner coaching is designed to address those questions.

Also, if we can’t answer the question in a 30-minute phone call, it can be extended to 60 minutes. Most issues should be resolved in this time. However, if the partner’s issue is really in depth, we will direct them to another service that is better equipped to handle the deeper issues.

This is something we haven’t previously offered because it’s extremely complex to offer small-scale services when the SAP Services organization is designed to engage in long-term implementations. Think about it as the difference between a taxi dispatch and a long-term car service. It would be difficult for a company designed to hire out a car for six months to suddenly operate an on-demand taxi service. However, we hear partners asking for small services and we believe we can have a big impact by meeting that need.