Lifting the Veil: Assuring the Quality of Partner Products
When customers are considering partner products, they look for some assurance of the quality of these products. SAP’s partner model helps take the risk out of the equation.
In 2003 SAP decided to invest in Wholesale Distribution, and the brand-new Solution Management team was working hard to pull together the product portfolio to best match the needs of this new industry segment. Interviews with key customers brought to our attention the chargeback process which is a core requirement for their businesses. Unknown to us, a company named Vistex supposedly had a great solution.
Further research showed that the solution had key capabilities that we wanted to include in our portfolio. So we established contact with Vistex which was conveniently located 30 miles from our Chicago office. The rest is history. Currently there are more than 100 customers in all regions of the world, spread across more than 10 different industry segments that utilize the different Vistex applications.
Since those original discussions, the partnership has been elevated to the highest level SAP has to offer, from a local reseller for one product to a global reseller for multiple products which include:
- SAP Data Maintenance by Vistex
- SAP Paybacks and Chargebacks by Vistex
- SAP Incentives Administration by Vistex
- SAP Promotions and Agreements by Vistex
As Cross-Industry Solution Manager for the Vistex products, I have engaged with many prospects and customers over the years. Paybacks and Chargebacks management has been a key process and a key differentiator for all of them.
The initial question that usually comes up in discussions with new companies: “Is it not a risk for us to bring a partner solution into the proposed portfolio mix?”
The answer is pretty simple, especially in the case of Vistex, as the partner model allows us to take all risks out of the equation:
- The Vistex solutions are completely embedded, so cost of integration and maintenance of interfaces is minimal.
- No incremental infrastructure is required. The solutions leverage investments in SAP technical infrastructure, security authorization profiles, training, and personnel.
- Compatibility with each new release and/or service pack upgrades of SAP ERP, BW/BI, etc.
- The solutions are fully integrated into sales, procurement and financial applications, providing data consistency throughout the entire process.
- The same quality criteria applies to these Vistex products as to all SAP products.
- SAP is the single point of contact from first customer engagement, through implementation to post project support.
Over the years it has become clear to me that software companies that lack consistent quality standards in development as well as in project management will not be out there for long. They are either acquired (if they are lucky) and their quality standards and processes are brought up to the standards of real software houses or they will fail. Overall, the number of companies that belong to the first category is not as large as you would expect and is one of the factors that, in my opinion, made SAP and our key partners so successful over the years.
Looking back, it has been a win-win-win situation for the partner, the customer and also SAP. The level of expertise the partner brings to the table gives laser-like focus to their solution, while SAP provides the quality standards and integration that is key to ensure their long-term success. The customer has a single point of contact for contract, consulting and support-related topics that gives him additional security in his investment.