I'm fortunate to be part of a community where ideas for content just fly through Slack on a weekly basis. Seriously - I could probably write a daily article from the conversations and the value driven by the questions and answers that come through the #OpsandPrograms channel alone at Partnership Leaders.
Last week one topic stood out when my new friend Jason Lawson asked a really fantastic, seemingly simple question about PartnerOps reporting lines: How does shifting PartnerOps into RevOps impact role alignment and responsibilities? (PS - You'll need a membership to access that link... sorry!)
Guessing you can already sense why this one hits home for me but if not... I host weekly Partner Ops office hours at Partnership Leaders, talk a lot about Partner Operations, and currently work for Atlassian as a Channel Operations Architect. So this chat was 100% my 'jam.'
Jason's question was great for a number of reasons.
- It's a program lead showing interest and concern for the impact of role alignment on his team. PartnerOps or not, this is a great sign of a solid people manager. #Leadership
- It recognized the often nebulous and murky water that ParnterOps works from and attempted to get ahead of the impact for both his team and his operational efforts. #Strategy
- It spurred a lot of great conversation from several of our PartnerOps professionals in the community. #Engagement
This week is pretty straightforward because I'm pulling that question and responses into view for everyone else to see. A big thanks to Jason Lawson for getting us talking and to the following PartnerOps professionals that jumped in to discuss: Jason Ng, Meredith Hayward, Katrina Penny, Jason Breed, and Darren Bibby.
Side note: that's a lot of Jasons.
Here are their responses, slightly edited for formatting but otherwise as stated.
Jason Ng, Senior Mgr, Partner Operations & Strategy, Deel
Overall, I think it is a benefit to be under rev ops. I would say that ensuring alignment on roles and responsibilities is key with the rev ops leader managing the partner ops person.
GTM Partnerships Strategy & Operations Manager, Recharge
A lot depends on what you want your Partner Ops to be, the size of your company, and what the person's career aspirations are. For example, I specifically didn’t want to move into the RevOps org so I could work on more strategic projects on GTM strategy that I wouldn’t have time for if I was in RevOps.
I run Partner Ops & Strategy and report to our VP of Partnerships, but I have a Partner Ops RevOps analyst in the RevOps org that dotted lines to me. This allows someone to be embedded in RevOps to be our champion, while also allowing us to work on all the areas of PartnerOps that aren’t really revenue-related, like program management, partner strategy, etc. This works well for us, but we are a smaller team compared to other companies.
Reporting into RevOps makes sense when:
- The majority of the role is focused on RevOps tasks like CRM, workflow, reporting, ROE, etc.
- There are more overall resources (i.e. larger companies), increasing the potential for PartnerOps to become isolated if not embedded in RevOps
- You want to create more visibility and alignment for Partnership priority within RevOps
Reporting into Partnerships makes sense when:
- The Partnership Leader wants more control over the projects PartnerOps will take on
- The role is more focused on program management support and less on typical 'RevOps' functions that might be already covered
- The company is smaller and you need attention to specific projects within Partnerships
Overall, I think the best answer is based on how you envision the role of partner ops in your company and how many resources you have dedicated to partnerships.
Katrina Penny, Partner Operations & Experience Director
This seems to be a more common situation happening. We kept our partner ops team separate [from RevOps] but we were 100% aligned so we had a weekly joint call together to cross-share.
RevOps only dealt with sales-related tasks - CRM build and monitor, rev management, sales commissions, forecasting, QBRs, etc.
Partner Ops does the above and more - program build and management (including PRM), partner onboarding and queries, team support and so much more.
Jason Breed, Global Lead, Strategic Initiatives - SIs, AWS
One thing I’ll put a highlight on is understanding the role of the Partner Ops person/team and the roles of the RevOps person teams. A lot of times, when combined, you get efficiencies as there are overlaps in needs (data analytics, CRM reporting, etc). The biggest thing to me is simply understanding AND agreeing ahead of time - what you need out of the role. Define the role and deliverables that either you take a KPI/s around it or require a RevOps leader to take a KPI/s around it to keep everyone accountable. The PartnerOps role will need more skills usually than a single person can have.
Darren Bibby, Owner, Aligned Partner
Partner Operations encapsulates many things. For me, Partner Ops was mainly the partner angle of Revenue and Sales Ops. It was said above that you want these people to be next to other Ops people, and have some sense of neutrality which brings credibility.
However, I think for this to work well, you need a Partner Programs and Strategy team sitting under Partnerships / BD, driving what exactly should be worked on in Partner Ops and what the partner programs and strategy need to function well. Partner Ops on their own without this partnership could become more tactical and transactional in nature. Similarly, the Partner Programs and Strategy team (sometimes AKA Partner Experience team) should be helping to drive what needs to be done from Accounting, Pro Serv, Sales, Legal, etc. etc. This is the team that drives and orchestrates. Not every Partnerships / BD team has this leader and team, but they should.
The Wrap Up
Having worked in both dedicated and embedded roles, I can personally attest to all of the advice above and need to highlight Jason Breed's final thought as a critical element to understand.
Regardless of where I have been embedded - Ops, Channel, RevOps - one thing is consistent. Partner Operations is as broad a role as any and one of my primary efforts has always been championing Channel/Partnership needs into the rest of the organization.
PartnerOps is a highly, if not critically, cross-functional role that will demand a variety of skills depending on how the role is shaped. I've talked about this before and will continue to champion a broader understanding of the role, it's relationship to Partner Experience, and increased professional pathways for current practitioners.
This week, a couple of relevant links for this conversation and from last week.
The Partner Ecosystem Roadmap
When Jared first released this I got a little concerned because the roles for Ops don't just jump off the page. On further review, I did find them and wanted to call out the placement as it speaks to how PartnerOps as a function can exist in multiple layers. For my part, I believe Ops is a highly cross-functional position with the potential to carry significant influence on the growth and visibility of the Ecosystem throughout the organization. I also believe in early hiring, or at least fractional support, and would cite Marco De Paulis' story as a highlight.
- PartnerOps is listed as a 'future role' in this map with dotted lines from Program Management. Lots of program managers do Ops inherently in their roles until Ops shows up, and that role is often a 'shared' resource.
- PartnerOps branches out into certain groups, like Tech and Solution Partner, which I believe is warranted as I continue to work with different programs and leaders. This will come at a certain size company or one that carries a heavy priority on Partnerships at a certain stage.
Update on 9-Box Plan: Avoid Prospects!
Last week I posted about a 9-box Strategy and wanted to add this direct response from Blake Williams over at AmpFactor as a follow-up. I was focused on identifying the potential strategies for each box without consideration for prioritization. Blake helps recenter the conversation and it's worth the addendum here. I still think Prospect-to-Prospect has a strategy, but it's definitely worth pointing out that it's not your most profitable area. Thanks, Blake!
Ampfactor... would avoid focusing on Prospect to prospect campaigns. We advise against it, until you've exhasted all other populations.
- Blake Williams, CEO @ Ampfactor