Adaptive Planning's Triple Play

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Last summer, Adaptive Planning hired a director of alliances in hopes of bringing some structure to its channel program and enlisting more resellers. Since then, the company, which provides Web-based budgeting, forecasting and reporting applications to midmarket businesses, has tripled its roster of partners, and aims to have more than 100 by year's end.

Before hiring Kevin Colgate, Adaptive Planning didn't have one person whose job it was to run the program and attract members, according to Neil Thomas, vice president of sales.

"One year ago, we felt intelligent partners would find us, but we discovered they will not unless they know about you," Thomas says. "Part of the key reason for Kevin's arriving is to outreach to those people and have a good value proposition for them when they come in explaining this is how we work, this is how we will support you and this is why we believe this [software-as-a-service] model will be successful."

Partner Insights

Channel sales currently comprise about 10 to 15 percent of total sales, but Thomas wants to increase that to 20 to 25 percent as soon as possible. Progress is slower than he would like it to be, but that's mostly because Adaptive Planning needs to continue educating prospects.

"A lot of the companies that focus on performance management are oriented toward larger companies, larger deals. So they need to go through a mindshift," Thomas says.

"You may not see that big chunk of change upfront, but you will see annuity. Over time, our way is more profitable. Everyone is more focused on the customer being successful because we all want a piece of that renewal."

Resellers receive a minimum 30 percent margin and earn commission on initial subscriptions and annual product renewals. Typical implementation costs range from $10,000 to $25,000 and companies are usually up and running in two to three weeks. The product's Corporate Edition costs $500 per seat per year and the Enterprise Edition is roughly $700 per seat per year. Enterprise adds capabilities such as multicurrency support and workflow. An open-source version allows users to try the tool for free.

Attraction Strategy

As of July, Adaptive Planning had about 35 channel members, including resellers, referral partners and implementers. About half of those are in North America, the other half primarily in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) and Asia/Pacific.

In order to attract more people, the company is waiving the $4,000 annual program fee for now, in most cases, and plans to measure metrics in 2008.

"We're in ramp-up mode. Our game is to drive attention, awareness and get people in geographies and verticals," Colgate says noting that Adaptive Planning is a horizontal product that allows resellers to customize to the vertical industries they serve. "We're not trying to put barriers in front of people to enter the program, and a fee to enter the program is, quite frankly, a barrier."

Certification is necessary, however.

Resellers must dedicate one sales person and a certain number in services, depending on size. They conduct one or two engagements with Adaptive Planning, then one on their own that the company audits.

"We're highly engaged in knowledge transfer," Colgate says.

Program benefits include lead distribution, access to an online partner portal, sales Webinars, executive partner forums, customer success stories and resources for telemarketing and verticalized demonstrations.

Partners appreciate the portal, which provides PowerPoint presentations to help with sales and marketing efforts, training materials and pricing information.

"[Colgate] ensures the materials are up and even exist. Two years ago, you did it on the fly," says Paul Cammisa, managing partner of Atlanta-based Innovergent, a systems implementation and business/technology consulting company that deals exclusively with on-demand software applications including Adaptive Planning, Intacct and NetSuite.

Two of Innovergent's 15 customers to date are Adaptive Planning customers, but Cammisa plans to augment those numbers "very rapidly." As of July, he had six deals in the pipeline and planned to have at least a dozen on his roster next year.

Adaptive Planning has been supportive of his efforts, fully funding a CEO breakfast with a half-hour demo at his offices.

He also appreciates the fact that the company and channel are collaborating, rather than competing, for customers.

Colgate works with territory managers so the direct sales force doesn't fight with the channel, Thomas says, adding that sales people are paid by the amount sold in their area, regardless of who seals the deal. So, it behooves everyone to get along.

Cammisa would like to see a unified lead management tool to help keep better track of who owns each relationship, however.

"If someone comes to my Web site and decides they don't want to contact me and goes to Adaptive Planning's Web site to learn more, there's nothing that tracks where that person came from. There's no record of them ever visiting our Web site," he explains. "Web contact is almost a simile for 'I talked to them first.'"

Product Perks

As far as the product itself, one of the most attractive elements to resellers is the Web-based software-as-a-service environment.

"We are heavy Salesforce.com users. We were comfortable with that type of model. We like that it was something we could develop and our clients could work off of and we wanted to take advantage of technology, not sending files back and forth," says Tom Hrinowich, president of Chicago-area professional services firm Broadpeak Collaborative.

He discovered Adaptive Planning in the first quarter of this year while consulting for high-growth companies looking to work with employees in other regions without having to worry about version-control issues.

"We were being asked to do some high-powered analysis. We were using Excel and we were really struggling," Hrinowich says. "With Excel, data and the rules are commingled. Adaptive Planning strips away the rules from the data so you can change the rules without hurting the integrity of the data, versus if you don't properly protect the cell you have a mess on your hands."

About 95 percent of upgrades that Adaptive Planning makes are Excel users, according to Colgate.

Hrinowich grew up around Hyperion and Cognos for budget forecasting, and discovered Adaptive Planning while seeking something that would work well for smaller companies, and which was built from an enduser's perspective, without a lot of resources necessary for implementation.

"Adaptive Planning can be rolled out to the frontline manager who has to have a budget but traditionally would have used Excel. They can go right into the financial planning software and manage their budget from that," says Mairtini NiDhomhnaill, vice president and market leader of the Northern California office of Accretive Solutions, formerly Horn Murdock Cole, a nationwide professional services firm that provides consulting and executive search services in accounting and finance, enterprise governance and business and technology. "Any company using Excel for its financial reporting and analysis has a number of spreadsheets that are rolling up into a top-level spreadsheet. So if you're making changes, you're not just making changes to one plan file as you would in Adaptive Planning, you have to have a whole set of spreadsheets for each scenario."

Version 4.0, released in August, further simplifies reporting for everyday users with its report builder module, which allows them to select elements including accounts, time, plans and versions from a menu and dragging and dropping them onto the design interface.

Users can develop multidimensional reports, drill down to explore trends within the data based on permission levels and view results in tables or graphical charts.

"There's a lot more strength in reporting than before, really understanding how people want to look at their numbers," NiDhomhnaill says. "There [is] a lot more flexibility. Very lightweight scenario planning and reforecasting have been improved upon. It allows you to do on-the-fly scenario planning instead of having to start with a whole new reforecast. The intention was always to make it easy."

Alexandra DeFelice is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at alexandra.defelice@sourcemedia.com.

Adaptive Planning Snapshot

HQ: Mountain View, Calif.

Founded: 2003

Offices: 2

Channel partners: 35

Employees: 45

Products: Adaptive Planning

Web site: www.adaptiveplanning.com

Phone: (650) 528-7500

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