Be Flexible and Minimize Variables
Suggestion No. 4: Be flexible and minimize variables
Tread slowly so you don't disrupt partners' or customers' existing communication methods, infrastructure and business processes. This includes:
1. Adopting customer and partner existing business practices;
2. Avoiding "rip and replace" by operating in parallel or as complementary capabilities;
3. Adapting to your largest customers' industry and operating standards (for example, EDI and RosettaNet).
Look for SAAS solutions that can mold around your community's needs and also expand for further collaboration down the road. Since SAAS by nature is easy to customize and implement, such accommodations for customers and partners is hassle-free for the brand-owning company.
Suggestion No. 5: Educate and train the team
In a community supply chain, the team starts with key IT and business touch points from inside the brand-owning company and extends to all partner organizations and customers. Once the partner is ready, get your IT onboarding team ready to help with evaluations, implementation and troubleshooting. For some customers, this may mean deploying someone to the partner site for a few days or hosting an Internet-based training program. After all, whether the application technically plugs into your systems or your partners' systems, ultimate success still lies on your company's shoulders.
But what's education without incentives? Create community incentives that will motivate partners for initial onboarding and sustained use: Net 25 payment for SAAS users versus Net 30 payment for non-users, or passing along cost savings to contributing partners.
Suggestion No. 6: Sell the success
SAAS has a low barrier to entry and increased reward compared to traditional software, and partners need to understand how their level of effort will increase their return. The more partners that participate, the more you'll see how a community model is self-improving and self-appreciating. Communicate usage-or lack of usage-back to business leaders. If usage is low, the company can create additional incentives for partners. If usage is high, the benefits can be shared back with the entire community.
Amar Singh is President and CEO of Amitive. Amar joined Amitive in April 2007. He brings over 17 years of supply chain management (SCM) and enterprise software experience to the company. Prior to Amitive, Amar was a senior vice president at SAP, with overall product development responsibility for SAP's entire SCM, product life cycle and manufacturing solutions. At SAP, Amar also led the global product management organization and was the general manager of the RFID business unit. Before joining SAP, Amar spent several years in leading management positions at companies such as i2, Procter & Gamble, Warner Lambert, Logictools and Bain & Company. Amar was the founder and CEO of Simplexis, a SCM software company for the public sector.
Amar graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, earned a Masters in Operations Research from the University of Waterloo, Canada and completed an MBA at the Harvard Business School. He can be reached at email@example.com.