SAP advances “Next-Gen Partnering” with new Partner Grouping Agreements (PGAs).

Jeffrey Schwartz

November 10, 2020

5 Min Read
Guide Book

The SAP PartnerEdge program is moving into the next phase of its transformation. SAP has released its 2021 Partner Guide, putting into motion key enhancements of last year’s “Next-Generation Partnering” promise.

SAP announced the new partner guide last week on the eve of Tuesday’s SAP Innovation Day for Partners. The enhancements to PartnerEdge include Partner Grouping Agreements (PGAs) that let partners pool resources to expand their geographic coverage maps. SAP has begun offering cross-border certification, removing barriers to those partners tied to selling in one country.

Improvements to the SAP PartnerEdge program will also give partners access to the same tools used by SAP’s internal salesforce. Among them is SAP’s revamped Partner Finder, which uses AI to help patch customers with partners.

SAP’s chief partner officer, Karl Fahrbach, outlined the improvements in a keynote kicking off Tuesday’s virtual event.


SAP’s Karl Fahrbach

“We’re now positioned to orchestrate the full customer journey with you,” Fahrbach said.

With SAP’s new customer success strategy, Fahrbach tacitly acknowledged the company needed remove barriers that restricted many of its partners.

“For many years, SAP tried to do all things to all customers,” Fahrbach said. “And that approach didn’t work. We just cannot serve the needs of every customer. And that’s OK. We have an ecosystem of more than 22,000 amazing partners, each with expertise in different areas.’

Delayed Because of COVID-19

Originally slated to roll out in July, SAP postponed implementing the changes due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the SAP Global Partner Summit in June, the company announced it was moving to a more phased implementation. Like many businesses worldwide, the pandemic has had a significant impact on SAP’s business and that of its partners.


SAP’s Teri Hamann

“We slowed the timeline because we knew a lot of partners would be focused on clawback [and] delivery, depending upon how they were impacted,” Teri Hamann, SAP’s senior VP of partner experience, told Channel Futures. (Read our interview with Teri Hamann here.)

COVID-19 prompted SAP’s decision last month to accelerate its timeline for transitioning customers from existing software to its cloud platform.

In a LinkedIn post, Hamann said the new PGA will help partners deliver improved customer delivery and service.

“The changes will make partnering with us more attractive and create a better experience,” she noted.

SAP has been working on the changes during the past few months after outlining them at June’s partner summit.

“The Partner Grouping Agreement enables SAP and our partners to manage the partner journey in a more holistic way,” she added. “For SAP’s multi-entity partners, we now can bring together all their affiliates into a single corporate group. Partners will then be able to pool resources to meet specific requirements, simplified invoicing, present a unified profile in the SAP Partner Finder and much more. It is a transformational enhancement that will help partners across the globe and the vehicle we will utilize to deliver future program benefits.”

The PGA will let SAP to move to single invoices, Hamann said. It will also let SAP apply …

… more automation in processes associated with managing partners expanding into different countries.

Cross-Border Certifications

Meanwhile, Hamann said the new cross-border certifications open the door for many partners to expand into other countries. Until now, SAP structured its partner agreements tied to single countries.

“There was no going beyond that set border of a country,” Hamman said. “With the enhanced program, we’re going borderless as much as possible.”

SAP is initially signing the cross-border agreements with its reseller partners, with plans to extend it to service providers. Besides letting partners expand into other countries, Hamann said the cross-border certifications will reduce the operational cost of doing so.

“A partner can take advantage and scale and grow much faster without having to make huge investments in either offices or headcount in the different countries that they want to operate in,” Hamann said. “This will let them pool their consulting resources, which is a big advantage. It will allow them to have a lot more flexibility to meet some of our internal minimum requirements by being able to take advantage of that pooling.”

Consequently, SAP is slashing the cost of its partnership agreements, Hamann added.

“Until now, any partner who wanted to join the PartnerEdge program had to pay a fee in every country for every entity,” she said. “Today, we’re tiering the fee structure at a substantially reduced price. That will let us manage more of the holistic relationship beyond just the border or the country that they’re in today.”

SAP PartnerEdge Focuses on Transformation

The SAP PartnerEdge program enhancements are the most significant since the company introduced it 15 years ago, according to Hamann.

“It has undergone very little change during those years,” she said. “But it was not reflective of the transition of our business to the cloud. When we started the year, we had real ambitious goals to completely transform the program, and then COVID-19 came.”

Fahrbach also emphasized SAP’s expanded industry clouds, announced at its Sapphire Now virtual event in June.

“Our strategy is to deliver solutions for customers in their specific industries such as retail, professional services, machinery, components, etc.,” He said. “Industries are transforming rapidly to meet new customer demands. Because this is occurring at such an accelerated pace, we need to act fast. We plan to provide you with a clear road map to develop and monetize quickly.”

Partners can use the SAP Build or revamped SAP App Center. The company’s early efforts to align partners with the “customer journey” are showing progress, according to Fahrbach. SAP ties partner success to net promoter scores (NPS). Over the past year, he said partner NPS has increased 13%. It’s up 18% since SAP started implementing NPS 18 months ago, he added.

“This is fantastic progress,” he said. “But we have set ourselves a goal to increase our partner NPS to at least 50 points within the next three years.”

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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