Management changes continue to develop at Sage, with a former Microsoft executive taking the reins of a newly formed Business Solutions division.
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Jodi Uecker-Rust served as COO of Great Plains until it was acquired by Microsoft in 2001 and she became a corporate vice president in charge of integration, the Navision acquisition and international strategy.
She left the company in 2004 to spend time with her children, but returned to the industry in February to serve as president of Sage Business Solutions, a combination of the former Business Management and Industry & Specialized Solutions division, following the departure of Nina Smith in January.
Sage, which has 4,500 partners in North America, initially gave Uecker-Rust the title of interim president of BMD because Sage had not yet reorganized when she was hired.
She shared some of her thoughts about the company and what she can bring to the table with her 25 years of experience.
What's your principle role as president?
To make sure we're communicating where we're planning to go as an organization with our products and services. I see it as a looking-forward role, but it's obvious there's accountability for the financial success of Sage and our partners. We have to be focused on customers, partners and our competition. You could choose to focus on one of these areas or the technology area only. How we create a vibrant community with partners and customers is very holistic.
How will the economy come into play?
I lived through the '80s and it was a slow period. We need to get back to basics. We have to make sure we're balancing our focus on existing customers, which is the hallmark of Sage, and also focus on the new customer side. Get into the trenches and take a prospective customer from beginning to end and nurture the process. We lowered the thresholds in the tier program, so partners can receive better margins for more customer adds with less customer adds than in the past.
Any plans for partner recruitment?
Our channel is aging - the average age is 45 to 60. Some lifestyle partners are hanging in longer than they thought they would because of the economy. We have to continue to focus on recruiting in key areas and types of partners. I love the partner scorecard and Net Promoter as a measure of success. A piece of it is revenue, but a piece is customer success and the ability for partners to be profitable.
What opportunities do you see for the accountants' network?
Sage owned that market in the '80s and '90s in the midmarket. In Canada, it's a great deal for Simply. In the U.S., we need to boost that, take some best practices we've deployed in Canada and add what we know accountants want today. They're a huge influencer. It's disappointing how it's eroded, but that doesn't mean we can't change that.
At Great Plains, you headed the VAR program. What are you most proud of there?
We were always 100 percent committed to partners. At Sage we also need to be focused on the partners. They tell me one of the best things we do is the leadership program and things that help them develop and grow - here's how you hire people, what should you do in a down economy. There's a lot of knowledge in Sage that doesn't sit in a five- or 10-person partner. How we work with different partners requires different skill sets. Some relationships should be consultative. We can fit to each partner what they need. We're working on how we value across multiple dimensions besides revenue. I think you'll see more creative solutions, some of them are just resurrections of things we forgot. Microsoft has a very large channel, they don't have the ability to personalize it as much.
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