It’s said that technology innovates so quickly that if you’re not constantly looking to move forwards then you’re moving backwards. It’s an axiom that SAP SuccessFactors partner Presence of IT has taken to heart.
The Australia-based company, which won SAP’s 2018 APJ Partner Excellence Award for SAP SuccessFactors, was an early mover to sell cloud-based SAP solutions—but it was its innovative approach to bridge the gap between on-premise and cloud that has helped Presence of IT stand out. The partner developed its own packaged, templated solutions that made it easier for customers to understand and implement, creating a steady revenue stream while demand for cloud was still building, said Gordon Laverock, managing partner, North America.
“Once the shift to cloud started, we knew our traditional model was not going to cut it. Customers were looking for innovative solutions with quicker outcomes, predictability and more fixed costs. They weren’t ready for cloud just yet, so we started to package SAP capabilities in a template approach and it evolved from there” Laverock said.
Presence of IT launched what it called ‘digitally cloned’ solutions in 2014 and the results have exceeded expectations. The company completed over 100 SuccessFactors projects in 2017 globally, most of them involving standardized solutions that are easier for both customer and partner, Laverock said.
“Packaged solutions give us an accelerated starting point. Customers want solutions out of the box, as quick as possible, with employees trained and the business enabled. We can do that in five weeks,” Laverock said. “Within the first week, we can show them a prototype of how their system will evolve. They understand how their business will look on it. The sooner a customer has that visibility, the more chance for success.”
‘Packaged Solutions Break Barriers’
Since 2014, packaged solutions have helped Presence of IT, increase both their pipeline and project revenue, as well as increase renewal rates to 90%. “Not only are customers staying with us longer, they’re reinvesting in the platform, opening more opportunities for us and SAP,” Laverock said. “We have conversations around additional packaged solutions aligned to a clear growth roadmap, each with a very predictable timeline and cost expectation. Our customers love the approach.”
“Packaged solutions break barriers. Whether you have 10 employees or 10,000, you can get value from enterprise-class cloud solutions. There is zero barrier of entry for tomorrow’s growth enterprises” Laverock said.
Discussing a specific customer example, Gordon shared, “They had a positive experience with SAP SuccessFactors Performance and Goals and now they’re implementing the Core HR solution with a multi-year roadmap to implement the entire SuccessFactors suite. We’re having conversations around packaged solutions but we’re also putting a simple roadmap together, saying ‘Let’s do this in logical chunks.’ There are associated packaged solutions that we map to each phase and it’s all very predictable in terms of timeline and cost expectation,” Laverock said.
Over the last few years, Presence of IT has tweaked and evolved its packages, learning that customers expect the solutions to be prescriptive, with built-in content embedded in the system. Second, customers need help getting their data aligned to the system and Presence of IT has created a data visualization tool helping customer bring their data in swiftly and accurately. “While it’s possible to get a project implemented in five or six weeks, in many cases the customer’s data is not ready in that timeframe,” Laverock said. “So, we work with them to ensure a seamless transition leveraging our digital tools.”
One key to success is to not treat packaged solutions as one-size-fits-all SKUs that you install and walk away from, notes Laverock. Rather, use them as introductions to talk about larger projects and additional value.
“They allow a customer to see the reality of the system earlier than later. Customers no longer look at SAP as a concept. They can envision it within a project environment already. As soon as customer project is in their own hands, the more chance for success,” Laverock said.
More Pipeline, More Customers
Presence of IT currently sells six SAP-qualified partner-packaged solutions, with more refined packages in the works. “We’ll get to the point where we’ll have core HR for healthcare as a package. We’ll take a prescriptive approach to any vertical industry. It’s not just a cost-effective performance management system that gets adopted, it’ll be a performance management system prebuilt for hospitals to adapt even more quickly,” he said. SAP currently has over 250 SAP-qualified partner-packaged solutions under the new framework.
Presence of IT now closes more than one-third of prospects in its pipeline, almost double its conversion rate prior to offering packaged solutions, Laverock said. “With a more predictable scope and cost, people are making decisions to process through our pipeline.” he said.
In North America Presence of IT added two net new customers in the first months of the year, traditionally a slower period for SAP and enterprise spending in general. “Our packaged solutions are absolutely the reason for signing those names,” Laverock said. “We take them through iterations to show the solutions better aligned to their specific business.”
The Secret Sauce
Gordon was clear, Presence of IT’s success comes from end-to-end digital delivery model including a project delivery portal and a digital change management platform. Presence of IT developed its own cloud project management portal where customers can log in and check progress around deployment, testing, training and more. The full transparency available has been a valuable component of building customer trust and long-term relationships, Laverock said.
“Customers can drill down into details and it takes pressure off the project manager,” he said. When a customer engages with Presence of IT, they not only get the packaged solutions, but they will also gain lifetime access to our dynamic project portal. Beyond the centralized project portal, Presence of IT also built a digital change management and communications platform with robust analytics to track, measure and proactively manage workforce engagement and adoption.
“It is the digital framework that is our secret sauce. From a customer’s very first engagement with us through to business as usual, we are leveraging our digital platforms and driving successful outcomes for our customers” said Laverock.
Eventually, Laverock expects customers to become so comfortable with Presence of IT’s capabilities that customers will buy packaged solutions online proactively. “That’s the goal. If I put my future hat on, we will evolve to where customers create a buying agreement and purchase directly from our platform. Of course, we’ll still have a sales force that leverages the platform and engages with the client too, but the point is we are creating an end-to-end digital experience for our customers.”
This article was written by SAP's Denise Gonçalves and originally appeared on LinkedIn.