Managing business partnerships can be complex typically involving multiple agreements, stakeholders, and deadlines that change over time. As partnerships evolve, tracking those changes and maintaining visibility into the current status of the partnership becomes challenging.
For PTC, a $1.3 billion software company, managing partnerships with complementary hardware and software companies is critical to the company's success. The PartnerAdvantage team at PTC is responsible for managing 350 active relationships with hardware and software partners with a staff of five team members. To help manage multiple business processes associated with the partner program, PTC relies on an Intuit QuickBase application that helps document, track, and report on key partner information and activities.
"We all need to stay connected and QuickBase simplifies this. The value we get from QuickBase is enormous," says Andrew Barlow, VP, PartnerAdvantage Program.
Migrating from paper and spreadsheets
The PartnerAdvantage Program at PTC has been contributing to the company's success for over two decades. For much of that time, the team managed partner data, contracts and activities using a combination of paper and electronic documents, spreadsheets, and share drives. As partnerships grew in number and complexity, this practice became unsustainable. Determining who had the latest version of a spreadsheet or tracking email communications through inbox searches hampered productivity for the PartnerAdvantage team, taking time away from other essential partner activities.
The team needed a solution that would store partner records in a central location that was easily accessible by all team members and other groups within PTC. The solution also needed to help the PartnerAdvantage team manage workflows for several key processes, including:
- Onboarding new partners
- Managing software licenses and renewals
- Providing access to technical support
- Guiding partners to their marketing entitlements, including press releases, case studies, and other collateral and activities
- Strategic planning
In 2005 the PartnerAdvantage team selected QuickBase to manage partner records. QuickBase now serves as both a central repository for partner information and a hub that connects to other systems vital to the partner management processes.
"The partner record in QuickBase links to a lot of other internal PTC information. It links to our Oracle transactional system, so we understand the licenses we've provided. It links to a content management system that houses all of their contracts. It links to some spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations which contain summaries of the value proposition of the partnership," says Barlow.
The QuickBase app is tightly integrated with PTC WindChill, a PTC software package that serves as a content management system for the PartnerAdvantage team. Contracts, marketing assets, and other documents are easily accessed from associated partner records in QuickBase.
The PartnerAdvantage team also uses a third-party application called SendToQuickBase to log important email communications between the PartnerAdvantage team and its partners. When emailing a company in the partner database, the PartnerAdvantage team member is prompted by a dialogue box that offers to attach the email to the partner record. This has allowed Barlow and his team to avoid misunderstandings with a tight record of agreements, requests, and other communications.
The team also relies on the ability to create both ad hoc and standard reports and list generation that streamlines communication with groups of partners. For example, the team can generate a report showing active partners by membership tier (Platinum, Gold, or Silver) or active partners with certain marketing entitlements. Any of these reports can be exported quickly for a targeted email list based on what types of information each partner should receive.
Driving value for PTC
Since implementing the QuickBase solution, the PartnerAdvantage team has delivered results both inside its own team and throughout the organization. Internally, the team has dramatically improved its operational efficiency to the point it can handle complex relationships with 350 active partners with only five team members. Having all partner records stored in a single repository ensures that all current and historical information is readily available.
That visibility extends to the rest of PTC, as well. Other groups within PTC - for example, the Mergers & Acquisitions team - can easily search within the partner database to get a better understanding of the partners and their business.
Most importantly, Barlow and his team continue to rely on an application that can be easily updated without help from a developer or PTC's IT department to adapt to changing needs and requirements.
"I'm always amazed at how much you can do with QuickBase with a little bit of study," he says. "As we evolve, QuickBase evolves with us."