Most partner programs look alike, and some of them look like they would’ve been thrown together from whatever was available. But organizations that don’t place enough care in how they design their partner programs may be wasting a huge opportunity to create and lock-in value.
One of the fundamental pillars of the strategy of an organization is the operating model. There are a few different templates for it, probably the most known is the business model template or “canvas” popularized in Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur’s classic and beautifully illustrated classic “Business Model Generation”. A different version calls out People and Organization, Tools and Technology, Processes, Governance, Metrics and Motivators, and Culture. In other words, who does everything in the organization, how they interrelate, how do they do it, and with what tools; adding to it how is performance measured and rewarded; and finally, what other intangible assets does the organization count with, like their values and culture.
The particular operating model of an organization, is how it uniquely executes on their strategy and delivers value. Deeply ingrained in the building blocks of this model is where the differentiating capabilities of the organization are captured.
For companies that deeply leverage their partner ecosystem for executing on their strategies, this highly valuable operating model must extend outside of the company’s boundaries. If it doesn’t, How can the company have certainty that they are delivering the same value that is created by the organization itself? How are partners supporting the strategy?
The answer lies in the Partner Program, which can be a collection of items, or if done properly, an operating model for the channel that locks in competitive advantages, delivers value, and furthers the organization’s objectives. Partner Programs define in detail which type of partner does the company engage with, and what capabilities and processes must they be able to perform. It creates and defines margins and other incentives, calls out how partners engage with the organization and puts in-place metrics and governance. In addition, it is not uncommon for organizations to offer certain tools and technology for the partners to use.
If these different aspects of the program are carefully designed they will replicate loosely the organization’s operating model outside the corporation’s boundaries, making them effective in delivering the JOINT VALUE PROPOSITION.For a more extent explanation on using the operating model framework to develop an effective partner program, see our free booklet: Joint Operating Model – Developing Effective Partner Programs.