SAP Moves To Improve Standing In The Channel

The software giant by the third quarter expects to unveil a new tiered partner structure, standard certifications, improved lead management and a new partner relationship management system, said Donna Troy, SAP's senior vice president for global small and medium business. In addition, Troy is promising to make SAP easier to work with for partners. SAP knows it has to improve how it works with the channel, she said.

SAP's channel charge comes with the company last week forecasting that 2005 software license revenue will grow 10 percent to 12 percent, compared with growth of 11 percent in 2004. SAP also said it will add 3,000 people to its workforce and will be on the lookout for acquisitions to round out its offerings.

SAP's new attitude is getting noticed. "Are they at the level I'd like them to be or am accustomed to as a Great Plains reseller? No, they aren't mature yet," said Forrest Koch, CEO of Omega Business Solutions, Portland, Ore., which also sells and supports Microsoft Business Solutions. "But they've made progress that's astonishingly fast. They are orderly and structured, they listen, and they are rational," he said.

SAP's challenge now is to create a more programmatic approach, Troy said. "We also want to move into multiple channels, adding consultants, integrators, agency relationships, influencers and OEMs," she said. "We have to make it easier for partners to work with us, order from us, get information from us. And we are looking at financing, because you can't treat a partner like a customer with net 30 days to pay. He has to know he can pay you when his customer pays him."

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The expanded channel effort comes as SAP advances its push into the SMB market with a star roster of channel executives recruited from throughout the industry. Troy moved to SAP six months ago from Network Associates, now McAfee.

New hire Michael Sotnick, senior vice president of small and midsize business solutions, was previously vice president of Americas partner sales at Veritas Software. Responsible for the channel organization and building sales, Sotnick now manages the U.S. channel group for SAP's Business One and All-in-One software.

To build sales, he also will also beef up SAP's U.S. channel, which at last count had about 130 partners. "In 2005, we look forward to continuing to build our market share and are focused on doubling the number of net new customers year over year," Sotnick said. "We would expect to double the number of qualified sales and implementation professionals from our partners over the course of the year."