Planning Is a Lesson Vendors Can Teach Partners

Oversight and management will play a significant role in determining a solution provider’s performance and health, as well as overall productivity.

By Diana L. Mirakaj

Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State, knew a thing or two about planning. As a four-star U.S. Army general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he developed a military philosophy called the Powell Doctrine, which calls for applying the necessary force in any armed operation to achieve the mission. He later said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

At one point in the technology industry, success came with little planning. In the 1990s, the adoption of IT and the build-out of the Internet happened so quickly that vendors and resellers were practically picking up money off the floor. Those days have long been over, but there’s still a high degree of low planning in business process and execution. The channel needs to understand and adopt effective management practices that have proven successful in producing substantial results. And it’s vendors that must spearhead this effort.

According to our 2015 Channel Forecast study, 40 percent of solution providers don’t have a strategic plan for growth. Another 31 percent don’t set sales and revenue growth targets or make sales plans. And nearly one-half don’t measure performance on a quarterly basis. Conversely, solution providers that exercise sound management practices and have management teams that employ common business practices and instruments demonstrate higher rates of growth and profitability.

It’s important for solution providers to learn from vendors that have been highly successful in applying and managing technology to help resolve their business challenges. It’s this type of oversight and management that will play a significant role in determining a solution provider’s performance and health, as well as the overall productivity and value of a vendor’s channel program.

Successful businesses have management teams that do the following:

  • They quantitatively assess performance against internal historical data and expectations (goals), and against other leading organizations and competitors.
  • They recognize that stakeholders and program managers must be held accountable for meeting their goals and supporting the overall objectives of the organization.
  • They redirect resources that are scarce to high-value uses through the re-engineering of certain critical functions, while carefully monitoring allocation of investments to ensure cost efficiency.
  • They support cost efficiencies through a systematic process that includes service improvements by enhancing the professional skills of their workforce through progressive training programs.

Too often, vendors and solution providers think success comes from technical training and certifications. While this type of enablement is important to hone and expand skill sets, it’s not the only thing that makes a vendor or solution provider successful.

Great lessons – both from success and failure – can be learned by solutions providers based on the practices implemented not only by vendors, but also by other leading organizations. Size doesn’t matter; what does, however, is a management team’s ability to identify its own strengths and weaknesses, where there’s room to improve, and how to leverage its resources to grow. A strategic plan that integrates a full view of operations is what ensures that a business will remain sustainable.

The 2112 Group works with technology vendors to develop management and business development frameworks for their solution provider partners that translate into better planning and outcomes. To learn more about 2112’s channel business development and planning services, email

dianaDiana L. Mirakaj is president and chief operating officer of The 2112 Group. You can follow her on Twitter at @dlenam.