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SAP partner program delivers applications for SMB market

SAP partners are optimistic that a new program for qualifying their applications and making them available on the cloud will drive new business in the SMB market.

A new SAP partner program aims to help partners deliver applications to SMBs.

The SAP-qualified partner-packaged solutions program provides a way for affiliated vendors to qualify their applications and makes those apps available on the SAP App Center. Most of the prequalified applications are packaged and aimed at SMB companies, according to SAP.

Under the new partner program, other sellers can develop applications with SAP platforms, including S/4HANA, S/4HANA Cloud, Analytics Cloud, Business ByDesign, Leonardo and SuccessFactors, and then, they are vetted through a qualification process that examines the technology and the partner's ability to deliver. Once qualified, the partner applications are put up on the SAP App Center, and these vendors can access joint go-to-market strategies with SAP, according to the company.

Packaged applications benefit SMB customers

The SAP partner program helps to get packaged applications in front of potential customers, according to John Froelich, vice president of marketing and strategy for Bramasol, an SAP partner that sells financial compliance software for SAP systems.

"Packaged solutions make sense because customers want to have something they can look at and can touch that they can start out with," Froelich said. "You need to start somewhere, so it makes sense to create a baseline that customers could take a look at to see what you've got and see how they can evolve it."

Packaged solutions make sense because customers want to have something they can look at and can touch that they can start out with.
John FroelichBramasol

The SMB market is ripe for Bramasol's financial services applications, Froelich said.

"[What] we've learned over time is that, for the big companies, everything's custom, but when you talk about the midmarket space -- and even the upper midmarket space -- companies are looking for somebody to come to the table with value add and with intellectual property," he said. "So, we developed a stand-alone package of reporting tools that you can use for revenue accounting, and we worked with the SAP partner program to roll out this package."

Being in the program has a number of tangible benefits for Bramasol.

"You accelerate the sales cycle because you don't have to start with figuring things out, and you've got a starting point and somewhere to go, and it accelerates our sales cycles on the overall consulting projects," Froelich said. "Our organization doesn't really sell software per se; we accelerate the sales of things like S/4HANA. But we're a consulting business, and we find that having a package like this speeds up that conversation."

More marketing resources

The SAP-qualified partner-packaged solutions program provides marketing resources that are not normally accessible to smaller companies, according to Gordon Laverock, U.S. managing partner at Presence of IT, a program member that develops HR software for SAP platforms.

Presence of IT began with applications for on-premises applications with SAP HR functionality in SAP ERP but moved to developing cloud applications for SuccessFactors.

"We started working with SAP to see how we could get our story out … We're not fantastic at marketing and telling everybody about what we're doing, so we wanted to lean on SAP, who has this fantastic program around packaged solutions," Laverock said. "We had already done a lot of the work, so it was more a question of just going through that examination process and making sure that we meet all the necessary key criteria. And then, we got the approval that we were part of the program."

Laverock believes that offering packaged applications through the cloud is a better bet for SMB customers, and Presence of IT intends to use the SAP partner program to grow the business in new markets.

"We've got all of our solutions now going through this program, and we're going to get it to a point where we're going to able to get really specialized in not only providing a solution for HR, but providing vertical industry solutions for HR," he said. For example, Presence of IT is looking at "things like core HR for hospitals, where we've got all the nuances for hospitals built into the design, and SAP will help us package that and market that to the vertical industry through their industry sales teams. So, those are some things that it makes too much logical sense to do, and we're excited about it and excited to be part of the program."

SMBs want vetted applications

Having vetted applications that meet SMB needs in a fixed price and scope model is compelling, but they must be kept simple, easy to sell and easy to deploy, according to Ray Boggs, vice president of SMB research at IDC.

Ray BoggsRay Boggs

Getting a comprehensive, packaged ERP application deployed in a relatively short period of time may cost the partner money for consulting but will mean savings for the customers if the time to deployment is kept manageable, Boggs said.

"There's always the trade-off between functionality and simplicity, and getting partners to think about selling 'solutions' rather than 'hours' will be a challenge, of course," he said by email. "But having a well-defined, end-to-end package, especially cloud-based, will appeal to a growing number of customers. I think partners that get in early [with SAP-qualified partner-packaged solutions] and get comfortable selling the package will be able to expand their customer base considerably."

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