We recently introduced PartnerPass, a new way to acquire professional services to implement and support business software.  One of the reasons we built PartnerPass is that traditional notions of support are outdated, and our customers needed a better way to take advantage of their business systems.

Whether your CRM and other business systems are on premise, or in the cloud, one thing is clear – your users are demanding more frequent updates to their software.  The value that Microsoft, Salesforce and others are selling today is that their solutions can adapt quickly to new competitive challenges.  And they can!  It is getting easier and easier to implement and configure sophisticated capabilities and leverage new technologies like machine learning, automated marketing, and business intelligence.

The problem is that old support agreements are based on the idea that business have static, on-premise software and hardware that breaks down and needs maintenance.  Servers used to crash; now they are spun up virtually, transparently, and on-demand in massive redundant cloud datacenters.  Users required system administrators to configure complex permissions structures; now role-based and department-based security means that business staff can set security.

Databases required careful queries; now report builders and advanced query engines allow non-technical staff to glean insights from reams of business data.  Labor needed to be carefully managed to make sure there was adequate budget for next month’s emergencies; now improvements need to be built, deployed and refined in a predictable way that your business users can count on.

These kinds of support needs generated a whole world of standards and best practices around incident management, service-level agreements, ticketing systems, and 24/7 shift planning.  And while that discipline of support still matters, the cloud has hidden it behind a low monthly fee.  Servers don’t crash, managers can set up users, and everyone can build an ad-hoc report or two.

What does matter now is realizing the promise of highly adaptable business software that can meet your business needs month over month, quarter over quarter, and year over year.  This is where PartnerPass succeeds, as it fulfills the three things you need to achieve the value of your business software investment:

  1. Guidance: You’re busy, and it’s not your job to know how other businesses are using their Marketing, CRM or ERP systems to create better experiences for customers and employees. So we schedule routine advisory meetings to talk about these topics and the direction you should take.  We call this “product roadmapping” and it’s where we build a plan that ensures your systems can best serve you now, and in the coming year.  Also, unlike traditional support, we provide this service on a retainer basis because you need to be free to raise issues as they come without worrying about whether or not the meter is running.
  2. Improvements: If the whole value proposition is adaptable software, you need your software to adapt!  We provide a budget for building the roadmap we discuss during your advisory meetings, so your system is always growing and changing to meet the new challenges your business faces.
  3. Traditional Support: Every now and then, you just need someone to fix things.  Maybe you added some new data to your system and your reports don’t work; maybe your software is on premise and your server did hiccup; maybe someone on your team just needs a little handholding to figure out how to get the software to work – we can be there for you when you need it.

In the time we’ve spent building PartnerPass we’ve already seen that customers are using the bulk of their time for improvements – and that PartnerPass is perfectly situated to roll out those improvements at a predictable schedule that your business can count on.  When your organization is trained to expect – and demand – that your systems change as your business needs change, you will have truly realized the value of your technology investments.