Standards Set the Pace for Success

Establishing standards and repeatable processes isn’t easy, but efficiency and profitability make it all worthwhile.

By Diana L. Mirakaj

Anything that can be standardized should be, and for one simple reason: Standards free your people from obsessing over routine matters and allow them to focus on the things that will differentiate you from your competitors. Standards are critical to the viability of businesses today. Why? They enable innovation in new areas by ensuring repeatable success in others.

Think of the expression, “Don’t reinvent the wheel.” Once you develop a product – or process – the goal should be to continuously build upon it, or to improve it, not to tear it down and re-engineer it. Continue enhancing all the parts to make the whole better.

At 2112, we’re methodical about this approach – both internally and with our clients. We developed a framework to optimize channel programs, and that framework can be applied to a program from the ground up or in-flight. The key to its effectiveness is a clear understanding of the goals and a commitment to the fundamental steps that must be followed – by both the vendor and the partners.

The responsibility to establish, build, and manage partner relationships on an ongoing basis may rest heavily on the shoulders of the vendor, but solution providers need to play an active role too. Constant bi-directional communication and collaboration are vital for maximizing results.

The following five steps support a standardized channel framework that allows vendors to resolve issues quickly when partner performance isn’t being optimized:

1. Understand the costs of partnership to maximize profitability: To gain true ROI, know what’s being invested by both parties.

2. Deliver relevant training and education: Knowledge is power. If you expect results, make sure you provide employees and partners with the right tools to achieve them.

3. Include partners in planning: According to 2112 research, vendors that conduct joint business planning with their partners experience higher productivity levels from them as a result.

4. Create rules of engagement: This is yet another way to standardize systems and processes.

5. Align incentives and support with desired outcomes: Set goals and give rewards accordingly; monitor performance along the way.

Establishing a productive channel program is expensive and requires a lot of time, but, if done correctly, can yield significant revenue growth and profits. Getting the most out of partner relationships requires a focused approach – with ongoing refinement. Implementing standards doesn’t replace the hard work, but it does create a foundation for future development that leads to increased productivity.

Applying a strategic framework is often complex, but it’s certainly worthwhile. To operate effectively, the underlying strategy must incorporate the right level of control and support. It requires a disciplined approach and the attention of channel leadership on a routine basis to ensure investments and partnerships are being maximized for optimal results.

The 2112 Group works with vendors to develop new – or optimize existing – channel programs for increased productivity throughout their partner ecosystem. Find out how by e-mailing


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