28 Jul EcoOps Framework – Understanding the Partner Operations Big Picture
July 28, 2022
A few weeks back I wrote a column with my friend Aaron Howerton on The Case For Investing in Partner Ops where we discussed how much PAM productivity is based on having the right investment in EcoOps. Today, we’d like to take the Partner Operations function to the next level with the introduction of the EcoOps Framework that marries our ideas and approaches to GoToEcosystem with the critical importance of partner operations.
Much as GoToEcosystem emerges from the ecosystem strategy bulls-eye, the EcoOps framework follows suit. The EcoOps Framework below highlights the priorities:
- The EcoOps Team (at the center) needs to drive alignment across company operational functions (ProdOps, RevOps, LegalOps, FinOps, and Other Ops)
- And then drive process orchestration of partner and internal engagement across key domains, including enablement, workflows, data sharing and integration, analysis and reporting, and automation and tooling.
Let’s explore each layer of the diagram in more detail.
As Aaron Howerton points out in our column on The Case For Investing in Partner Ops, EcoOps is its own function within the partner team. Though partner teams are launched and often wait 12-18 months to bring on a true operations function, which is a mistake, the ultimate hire needs to have a skill set that includes data analyst, IT systems and technical expertise, process design and change management, and experience within Revenue Operations (RevOps). It’s not uncommon for EcoOps to begin within RevOps but it is essential that the responsibility of EcoOps not be limited to partner and RevOps orchestration.
EcoOps professionals need to apply their skill sets across three distinct functions.
- Supporting the decision making process regarding Partner Operations. Before new functionality can be delivered, a business case must be created and decision makers corralled to commit to a change. For example, leveraging Crossbeam and Reveal to conduct Automated Account Mapping rather than using Google Sheets or some other tool.
- Setting up processes once a decision has been made to develop functionality. Once a new process has been authorized, the process needs to be designed, implemented, and tested. For example, beyond just buying Crossbeam and Reveal, the process by which data will be exchanged (which typically includes a RACI workflow designating who does what) has to be set up, tested, and implemented.
- Enabling, running, and supporting a process once it has been activated. After a process has been built and tested, teams responsible for engaging with the process need to be enabled and change management practices leveraged to drive compliance.
Clearly, EcoOps leaders need to be qualified professionals with the right skill set, incentivization, and organizational mandate to deliver on their charter.
Alignment Across Company Operational Functions
The GoToEcosystem framework is very explicit about the need for Partner and Ecosystem Chiefs to drive strategic alignment across Product, Marketing, Sales, Customer Success, and other departments like Finance and Legal. EcoOps professionals need to do exactly the same thing on a process level by driving operational outcomes across aligned workflows, data, reporting, and tooling. Using the Decide, Activate, and Utilize approach above, EcoOps must work with ProdOps, RevOps (includes Sales, Marketing and CSOps), LegalOps, FinOps, and Other Ops to drive change.
Driving integrations between EcoOps and key functions like SalesOps is complex and helps to explain why EcoOps leaders must be multifaceted. Though a workflow, data exchange, reporting path, and automation decision may result in a fairly straightforward outcome, e.g., install the integration between Crossbeam and Marketo to pump partner account data into the email campaigning process, the path to get there is multi-threaded.
EcoOps professionals must:
- Think like business analysts and explore desired outcomes
- Act like a systems analysts to figure out how processes, workflows, and data will enable desired outcomes
- Think like a change agent to determine the From-To process and RACI model that will drive the right behaviors and actions
- And, finally, think like an IT analyst to evaluate how the tools will interact to drive the right outcomes.
There are 5 distinct areas of orchestration that an EcoOps professional must excel in that touch partners and/or internal teams. Let’s cover each of them in some detail:
- Enablement – Ecosystems are complex and often unfamiliar, particularly to internal teams in Product, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success. EcoOps teams must ensure that the right information is available to the right individual in the right format and at the right time. Not easy, right? And this must be done for both internal and partner-facing as well as 3rd-partner partner personas. Oftentimes, the tools in place for sales enablement or channel enablement are not fit to the purpose of ecosystem (think tech partner) enablement. EcoOps must then explore what workflows, what data, what analysis, and what automation is needed to drive the right enablement outcomes.
- Workflows – Most partner activities occur through a series of sequential or overlapping steps which often need to be orchestrated across internal and partner teams. These workflows need to be designed in accordance with business outcomes, data, analysis, and automation parameters. EcoOps must balance all these dynamics to arrive at best in class processes.
- Data Sharing and Integration – Data and the integrations between systems are needed to ensure that data is at the right place, at the right time, and in the right format. Partner data integrates into Ops functions like ProductOps, MarketingOps, SalesOps, and CSOps is what powers the creation of Ecosystem Businesses. Within this data integration, partners are silo’d and scaled outcomes don’t emerge across the organization.
- Analysis and Reporting – EcoOps need to drive the dashboards that measure partner performance and to harmonize and align measurement and attributions with the other Ops functions. For this reason, PartnerOps often live in RevOps or dotted line into RevOps. CROs have to believe in partner data and having one source of truth for revenue performance that properly includes partner analysis and reporting is crucial.
- Automation and Tooling – Increasingly, in the Era of The Ecosystem, manual tasks across enablement, workflow, data sharing, and reporting must be automated. This means gaining a working knowledge of the EcoTech stack and an ability to sift through the noise of vendor promises to arrive at an EcoTech stack that harmonizes with the tech stacks in the other Ops teams.
If you have a young partner team, don’t fret that you can’t afford EcoOps. As with all things GoToEcosystem, you must take a crawl, walk, run approach. In future articles we will align the EcoOps framework to the GoToEcosystem Maturity Model to provide a clear picture of what EcoOps outcomes are most important across various levels of partner ecosystem maturity.