SAP is taking steps to aid its more than 21,000 channel partners amid the current economic downturn, offering partner program level protection, flexibility in using market development funds, and subsidies for training and certifications.
SAP’s moves, like those from other leading IT vendors in recent weeks, are designed to help solution providers navigate through the economic turbulence created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re in an unprecedented time as a society, both personally and professionally. SAP is doing all it can to help channel partners adapt to this situation – especially around digital selling and speaking to customers with empathy and understanding of the industry-specific challenges they face,” said Karl Fahrbach (pictured above), SAP chief partner officer, in a statement to CRN. “We put a special task force in place to identify business safeguards, some of which we’ve already introduced.”
SAP’s channel-related moves came the same week when the software vendor said that a preliminary review of the results of its first quarter, ended March 31, showed that total revenue grew 7 percent year-over-year, including a 29 percent gain in cloud revenue and a 31 percent decline in software license sales.
“Business activity in the first two months of the quarter was healthy,” the company said. But as the COVID-19 crisis intensified toward the end of the quarter, “a significant amount of new business was postponed.”
Channel partners are adjusting to the changing economic situation. “It's too early to gauge the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. However, Q2 deals appear to be moving forward,” said Brian Berns, CEO of Knoa Software, a New York-based SAP partner and developer of the SAP User Experience Management software that businesses and organizations use in support of S/4HANA migration projects.
Berns, in an email exchange with CRN, said digital transformation projects “may be a secondary priority to remote user support.”
Topping the list of steps SAP is taking to assist channel partners is a promise to protect partner program levels until further notice, assuring that sales declines during the economic downturn won’t endanger partners’ standing in the SAP PartnerEdge channel program. SAP is also postponing PartnerEdge program fee payments.
Solution providers are being given more flexibility in using market development funds and the expiration date of those funds has been extended from Oct. 31, 2020 to Dec. 18, 2020, SAP said. The company is providing subsidies for virtual learning and certification through the SAP Learning Hub. And the company is providing subsidies to help increase partner consultant capacity, including offering vouchers for 20 free hours of consultant training for SAP S/4HANA ERP applications.
SAP has adopted what it calls an “open door policy” for partners who are facing serious financial constraints, saying they can work with SAP partner managers to find solutions. The company has also set up an online community where partners can promote their free own software offers through SAP channels.
“A partner helpline is also in place,” Fahrbach said. “We’re working closely to ensure business continuity [for partners] and how to think through their recovery strategies as well.”
SAP is providing free access to select SAP software for customers to help address current challenges. That includes Remote Work Pulse, part of the Qualtrics application portfolio that helps managers stay in touch with work-from-home employees and make sure they have what they need to be productive.
Other free software being offered helps ensure supply chain continuity and builds customer confidence by understanding their requirements and expectations.
“SAP has stepped in, offering free software in support of customers. They are very responsive and looking to assist customers and partners,” Knoa CEO Berns said. “The free software has been helpful for us.”
SAP is also offering a number of remote education applications, including Remote Educator Pulse, K-12 Remote Learning Pulse and Higher Ed Remote Learning Pulse.