How do I access the portal? Where can I buy the software licenses I need?
The employees of the Global Partner Operations & Services (GPOS) team can quickly answer such questions. Even trickier queries about services, certification, and products are no problem for them, says GPOS Senior Vice President Jörg Jung: “Our employees really know what they’re doing.” And if they cannot answer a question themselves, they know who to turn to in the SAP organization because they are based in the same places as the product experts – at SAP locations all over the world.
Major partners such as IBM and Microsoft have enjoyed the benefits of all-round support for a long time. But how can SAP offer a comparable scalable service to the 10,000 other partners worldwide? Imran Khan, head of the Integration & Certification Center (ICC) for the Asia-Pacific region explains: “As an SAP-wide umbrella organization, GPOS ensures that our partners receive standardized programs globally, whether from the ICC, Partner Service Delivery, or the SAP PartnerEdge program.”
“The greatest benefit that we can offer our partners on a mass scale is a one-stop shop for all questions, from the ordinary to the highly complicated. And the service is still personalized,” says Jung. “Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM don’t have anything like it.” GPOS offers its services in around 20 common languages; Chinese partners can communicate with SAP in their own language, for example.
The GPOS team works with partner companies to develop both individualized service plans and standardized training courses that are then offered to the entire SAP ecosystem as e-learning offerings. Partners can access the materials on a service portal, where they can also find information on such offerings as SAP Solution Manager. Standardized information is also published on topics that partners commonly ask about, from certification and validation to interfaces, business models, and contracts.
Strength in numbers
The Partner Network in Numbers
Approximately 10,000 partners have signed contracts with SAP or Business Objects, including 3,500 sales partners, 2,500 IT service providers, 600 software companies, 1,000 OEM partners, 1,000 retailers, and other small partner groups. Solutions from 1,700 software companies have been certified.
Being in the “club” has many advantages, as Bettina Spindler, responsible for the SAP Business ByDesign partners, explains: “Our ecosystem enables partners to access knowledge, new markets, and potential customers.” Moreover, partners can use the SAP infrastructure for advertising and sales campaigns and to obtain tools for integrating their software with SAP products. “System integrators can have their solutions tested by us,” says Alexandra Ulherr-McGhee of the ICC in Palo Alto, California. “This ensures the technical compatibility of their products.”
Partners pay for certification and, in return, receive a seal of quality. Every year, some 500 software solutions pass the ICC examination. Customers appreciate this effort because they know that they can rely on the solutions certified by SAP: They are quick and easy to implement and integrate with customers’ other systems, saving time and money.
A platform for everyone
The partner network enables SAP to meet cross-market requirements and develop niche solutions. “Our ecosystem strategy has two main purposes,” says Jung. “First, we can look after customers better, with higher value and at lower cost. Second, we work with customers and partners to drive co-innovation.”
GPOS wants to make it easier for other software vendors to access the SAP platform, which could reduce the investment that partners must make to work on the platform by more than 90 percent. This will enable smaller companies that only use one or two SAP tools to get involved, too. In addition, GPOS is designing a new end-to-end partner experience for maximum value generation.
“Our goal is for a further 1,000 software companies to work on our platform. Many start off small and grow with us,” explains Jung. “The platform really facilitates cooperation. The more vendors work on it, the more attractive it will be – and the better our products.”
SAP’s Partner Offerings
1. SAP PartnerEdge Program
- Infrastructure for managing SAP contacts
- Determination of technical requirements for cooperation
- Provision of marketing materials: brochures, references, logos
- Test and demo licenses for sales
2. Partner Service Delivery (PSD)
- Service organization for supporting SAP partners worldwide
- Locations: Brazil (responsible for Latin America and Iberia), Ireland (North America and Europe), India (Europe), China (Asia)
3. Integration & Certification Center (ICC)
- Questions on integration
- Development of certification plans for smaller software companies
- Solutions currently certified: approximately 2,400
4. SAP Business ByDesign Solution Partner Management
- Point of contact for partners wishing to expand SAP Business ByDesign
- Next version already includes 15 additional partner solutions