Atlassian's lessons from ditching revenue targets and renaming Experts

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Atlassian's lessons from ditching revenue targets and renaming Experts
Martin Musierowicz, Atlassian

Atlassian is partway through a year-long overhaul of its partner program to get away from revenue targets for software licensing and instead tiering partners based purely on skills.

Australia's most successful software startup prides itself on its "atypical go-to-market model", said Atlassian's global channel chief, Martin Musierowicz.

Central to this philosophy is that Atlassian does not employ traditional salespeople, which is where partners come in.

"Atlassian views the channel as our field organisation. We don't have people in the field – we have people answering enquiries that come into the website but the partners know their region," Musierowicz said.

Many of these partners build their businesses around consulting services, added Musierowicz, who spoke to CRN on the eve of its partner awards, which included several Australian winners.

Atlassian announced the revamp of its partner program at its 2016 summit, with the changes coming into effect at the start of 2017. Partners have this calendar year to get up to speed.

Under the old model, tiering was based purely on revenue: platinum status had a $250,000 target, gold was $100,000 and silver was $50,000.

"[But] instead of the channel being focused on the traditional sales initiatives, we want to ensure they are educated around our products and platforms in region," Musierowicz said.

There was a clash – Atlassian was telling partners it wanted them to deliver the best outcomes for customers, but "we will judge you on how much licence revenue you drive for us".

The new program is based solely on a company's accredited professionals, each of whom must hold two certificates. Platinum partners must employ at least eight accredited professionals, gold must employ four, and silver need one.

"For a partner to move up our ranks, it is based on how many certified individuals they have on their team. They have engineering staff and technical resources who understand the product – that is our goal," Musierowicz said.

He was less excited about another change that took place last year – a decision to rebrand Atlassian's moniker for channel partners, 'Experts', who are now called 'solution partners'.

"When I joined, one thing that attracted me was the Expert name was quirky – Atlassian does things differently. The fact you are an Expert is a lot of fun," Musierowicz said.

"But the problem we ran into was Atlassian thought it was great and quirky but customers were confused on what an Expert was. We got a lot of feedback on solution partners having to explain what their role is because Expert did not describe it well enough."

The decision to rebrand Experts "was customer-driven", he told CRN.

"That was one thing I felt I would get pushback from partners, but everyone realised that having the conversation with the customer, you want to simplify that as much as possible."

Overnight, Sydney-based Glintech was named one of Atlassian's regional partners of the year based on customer growth, the only service provider among the 16 award categories.

Glintech, which is a platinum Atlassian partner, was No.41 in the 2016 CRN Fast50, growing at 33.3 percent to hit $12 million for the year to 30 June 2016.

Three Australian independent software companies were also recognised among the Atlassian's marketplace awards.

Good​ ​Software​ ​Co was named best​ new​ vendor, ​​Code​ ​Barrel​ ​for​ ​Automation​ ​for​ ​JIRA was recognised for fastest-server growth, and ProjectBalm won most innovative market place vendor with Risk Register.

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