Infor has announced the Infor CloudSuite specialization program for alliance partners. This new program is aimed at ensuring that alliance partners are fully equipped and trained to help move customers from on-premises solutions to the Infor cloud based solution.
When companies first look to expand their market reach they will often engage distribution and channel partners to help them. The labelling of these partners is often done on a series of colours such as bronze, silver and gold. The basis of this classification is generally around the volume of business completed rather than expertise, though for some companies they go hand in hand. The more expensive the colour the better the discount given.
There is an inherent risk to that in that some “box” shifting companies attain gold status on the basis of price rather than a quality deliver and after care services. With the transition of its software to the cloud Infor has taken the sensible step of introducing a new certification level for its alliance partners to accredit themselves against. With the change in technology new skills are required and it is sensible for Infor to ensure that their channel has the right expertise to continue their drive into the cloud market.
For channel partners this announcement, coupled with the new revenue share announced at Inforum EU in December 2015, means that they will have both the tools and motivation to help Infor achieve their 50% cloud revenue goal. Lisa Pope, Global Head of Cloud Sales and Strategy, Infor commented: “We are pleased to have alliance partners that are specially trained to help meet some of the unique needs of our customers. This program is designed to help ensure that every customer is able to take advantage of the speed and flexibility of a modern cloud platform, with the added confidence of a trained partner to help guide the transition onto an Infor cloud solution.”
The program is not aimed at bringing new channel partners on board and it will be interesting to see what Infor do to continue that process following some success last year. Only existing members of the Infor Partner Network (IPN) are eligible and they must be “in good standing”, though what this phrase means is open to interpretation.
The process is completed in four steps: Nomination, application, review and award. The Infor alliance manager needs to be contacted to initiate the application and there is a checklist of requirements that includes training and successful completion of a customer migration before the award is given. Once completed partners will be able to use a Hook & Loop CloudSuite logo and will be named in the quarterly Infor PR Newswire as well as having their Infor Partner finder information updated.
To date seven channel partners have completed the accreditation, these are Avaap, Advoco, Axsium Group, RPI Consultants, TEAMabsolute, Ciber and NTT DATA. The last two on this list are global partners while the first five are based in North America. What Infor will need to make sure is that their European partners are swiftly given the opportunity to attend the training that is required to complete this accreditation process.
Europe is a very competitive market for ERP at the moment. As well as the large incumbents in this space there is an increasing number of new entrants. Rootstock recently announced a new company in Scandinavia led by Per Norling who grew Baan software before Infor purchased it. It will be interesting to see if Infor provide additional help for its Scandinavian partners to help in the battle against Rootstock. IFS recently de-listed are are likely to funds to expand their sales and marketing in the region too.
Details of what is included in the training were not announced but it is interesting that there is no mention of change management. Stephan Scholl, President, Infor spoke at Inforum EU and pronounced that partners would need to be change managers in the future, capable of not just delivering software implementation programs but also looking at business process change. It would be a step too far to perhaps to ensure that their channel was expert at change management techniques.
Infor cannot complete its transition to cloud revenue without its partner channel, as Lynn Sauder, vice president of Infor Global Alliances explained:
“Our alliance partners are a critical component of Infor’s cloud strategy. The cloud specialization program is designed to help our partners deliver an extra level of comfort to customers, by allowing them to see measureable proof that Infor is working closely with each credentialed partner to help ensure appropriate training to help customers move to the cloud.”
“By requiring each partner to complete specific requirements, Infor and the partner are able to demonstrate our ability to work together to help customers’ transition successfully to Infor CloudSuite.”
This program builds on the success of the Infor Micro-Vertical specialization Program which was launched in 2013. It is designed to allow partners to grow with Infor as they seek to bring their existing customers into the digital landscape. For companies looking to move from on-premises software to cloud solutions and who may be looking for a new partner to deliver their cloud-based ERP solution they should consider finding an Infor partner who is accredited.
For those with existing relationships it will be worth discussing whether they can become part of the process. A good partner will already know their customers business processes. By using the Infor cloud training and migration as part of their accreditation process there is likely to be more support from Infor during that period to help ensure that the process runs smoothly.
Often companies initiate accreditation processes as a way of ensuring that their channel delivers a high quality service to the vendors end customers. Infor has realised that the migration to cloud and the rapid change technology means that there is a risk of some channel partners not having the skill set to deliver an adequate service especially during the transition stage. While they are expert at maintaining and supporting existing legacy on-premises solutions they are not familiar with the latest developments such as Ion, Ming.le and the Hook & Loop user experience.
For companies looking to join the partner network it also means that Infor has set aside the resources to help train channel partners as their solutions develop. What Infor should be doing as part of this announcement is to pro actively contact their channel and make sure that there is sufficient training available, not just within North America where it seems the majority has taken place so far but also in other continents such as Europe where there are also a large number of channel partners.