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IBM - Sales Support Team of the Year

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2017, Click to Enter The 2018 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service

Company: IBM, Armonk, NY
Company Description: IBM is a values-based enterprise of individuals who create & apply technology to make the world work better. Today, more than 377,000 IBM employees around the world invent and integrate hardware, software and services to help forward-thinking enterprises, institutions and people succeed on a smarter planet.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Team Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Sales Support Team of the Year

Nomination Title: Driving Excellence in IBM Business Partner On-Boarding Experience

Tell the story about what this nominated team achieved since the beginning of July 2015 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

The IBM team supporting Business Partner On-boarding made tremendous progress during the period of July 2015 - June 2016 dramatically improving the client experience and making it easier for new selling partners to apply for both a PartnerWorld Agreement (PWA) and Business Partner Agreement (BPA).

Over the past several months, the IBM Contract Management team has been on a continuous journey of global transformation. After receiving feedback from the business partner community that IBM's on-boarding experience was lagging behind our competitors, our team launched a focus group in the summer, 2015. The outcome statement of this focus group was to "dramatically simplify and automate the end-to-end PartnerWorld and Business Partner Agreements on boarding process from 30+ days to 1 hour and provide a truly differentiated partner experience while committing to maintain IBM's commitment to integrity in the channel". A team of IBMers from Operations, Transformation, Channel and Tools collaborated to create and execute a roadmap of tactical and strategic actions.

The business partner on-boarding experience consists of three primary areas. Those areas are
1) Business partner application,
2) IBM review and approval of the application, and
3) IBM and Business Partner Contract acceptance.

For the 1st area of the process, numerous improvements were made to the application to improve the business partner experience. By June 2016, the PartnerWorld approval was automated from 2 days to a matter of minutes, the PartnerWorld registration questions were reduced from 42 to 13, and the number of screens the partner had to navigate through was reduced from 25 to 4 with simplified user interface & improved usability. By July 2016, the number of required fields was reduced from 27 to 10, which was followed by a streamlined navigation with seamless transition from PartnerWorld membership application to the Business Partner Agreement application. Ease of use was improved with the addition of a “save as draft” function on every page, and supporting documentation was reduced through the elimination of the requirement to provide commercial registration and tax documents for companies with a Dunn & Bradstreet DUNS®number. Additional enhancements are planned for future iterations to include the convergence of our Hardware, Software, and Services contracts into a single contract with automated, customized contract compilation.

To improve the 2nd area of the process, simplifications were made to improve the IBM execution cycle time required to review and approve an application and get a contract to the business partner. As a result, a cycle time reduction was made for clean applications from 30+ days to 3 days. Clean applications are defined as those applications that are receipted with all necessary information to process. The team identified and documented key wait time and task time bottlenecks in the process which were solutioned through multiple iterations, course corrections and retrospectives. Action items included the automation of manual checks, workload cue prioritization, removal of 99% of approvals, integration of teams to eliminate hand-offs and wait times, and the addition of personal touch support from our relationship team. The team also recognized early-on that a relatively high number of applications come in unclean. Unclean applications are defined as those that are missing key information needed to process. Some key inhibitors identified in the unclean applications were resolved with initiatives that included integration of Integrity Training Registrations, auto-population of most required fields for companies with a Dunn & Bradstreet DUNS®number, and elimination of hard copy documents.

For the 3rd area of the process, an e-Signature solution was implemented for the contract acceptance process globally. This e-Signature solution allows for contract signatures (acceptance) to take place within minutes electronically.

On average we see several hundred of new applications each months and we estimate this initiative delivered over $4Mln in savings for IBM and our partners so far. The IBM Contract Management Team continues to closely listen to feedback from our partners to continuously improve their on-boarding experience and make IBM's process simple and user friendly.