How Knack helped a software company manage partner data
and improve relationships with data-driven insights.
Rogue Wave Software provides tools, components, and services for software creation and deployment. They center on improving the quality of software code, making it more compliant, and finding and resolving bugs.
The company retains a highly distributed community of sales partners around the world. That means a lot of data to manage and a lot of insights to be gained. When VP of Worldwide Partnerships Matt Brown proposed purchasing a commercially available solution to help with this workload, he was turned down.
Instead of letting that stop him, Matt set out to create a tailored, homegrown partner management application. With Knack, not only was he able to effectively manage this data, he ended up gaining better insights and analytics than his team thought possible.
Partner Relationship Management
Ease of development
Process and workflow automation
Analysis and insights leading to increased business
Rogue Wave sells their products and services in the United States and Canada through an in-house salesforce. Beyond North America, sales are conducted through partners, and that’s who Matt’s team is in charge of: the outside sales agents who are helping to extend the audience of Rogue Wave worldwide.
Rogue Wave powers the software that powers the world.
When his proposal for an out-of-the-box solution to manage these partnerships wasn’t deemed necessary, he was frustrated but not demoralized: “I got out of the meeting and I said, to heck with it, I’ll build my own.”
The way Matt saw it, he had two problems to solve. To begin with, his team needed data that would lead to information insights and actions around developing their partner ecosystem. At that point, they simply didn’t have the tools to collect or analyze this type of data.
And secondly, he wanted to show Rogue Wave Software, who’d never had a software dedicated to improving partner relations before, that data-driven insights could directly translate to broader partner success. “We had a lack of data and a lack of ability to collect, analyze, and gain insights from it,” Matt explained.
Knack turned up in his first Google search. He’s process and data-oriented, and a quick look at the product convinced him it was worth a shot. “It was just so easy to get started in,” he said.
"Knack is just easy and quick and I can do what I want to do."
As he was getting his feet wet, Matt had a couple of sessions with Knack’s support team. “They were very, very helpful people who were so patient with me.” It didn’t take long for him to have his “Aha!” moment, after which the floodgates opened.
Part of what appealed to him so strongly was how “grotesquely simple” he found Knack to be. He was thrilled by the ability to create pages completely specificed to his needs, including a variety of different forms and view types, and the option to do things with separate datasets via connections.
Before Knack, whenever team members wanted to add comments about deals, it was done in a static way. They’d hit enter a few times and then write up their thoughts in the same document. The format wasn’t centralized, and only some of them were time-stamped. It just wasn’t possible to go back and review a coherent, chronological sequence of events.
In Knack, though, Matt was able to connect Partner Updates to Partner Accounts, allowing users to see the entire story of a deal. This was crucial, he explained: “The ability to connect disparate objects in an intelligent way that drives a purpose -- that was exactly what we needed. The product is just easy and quick and I can do what I want to do.”
One Rogue Wave's Knack dashboards that give them actionable insights at a glance.
Matt’s finished app has three main components. First, there’s the partner profile. His team manages dozens of partners around the world, and each one has a profile that contains a couple hundred different fields -- “all the information we need, and then some.”
Then there are the partner contacts. These are the people that work with each partner: their roles, their titles, how long they’ve been on board.
And finally, there’s the Partner Expansion Renewal Target by Account (PERTA), where the most insights are gleaned. This is where they collect data to determine what revenue objective partners are expected to meet. It’s also where they follow the sales cycles in all the accounts they sell to and see how are those are progressing.
Matt had clear objectives when he started building: “I was looking to prove that what we were doing with partners was the right thing to do; that we were moving the needle in the direction the company needs. And if we weren’t, then why weren’t we? What were the gaps? What were we lacking in terms of all the things a partner ecosystem needs?”
The Knack app has immediately shown results. It helps the partner and partner development manager drill down and analyze their sales and expansion by tracking sales cycle progression. This helps determine whether those sales are concentrated, and they can better deduce whether or not they’re selling into the right industry segments by product.
With analysis and insights, this then helps determine where the gaps are. Do the partners need help with proofs of concept? Is there a new sales partner that doesn’t know how to do demos yet? “If sales start to lag, now we can ask why,” Matt explained.
In the past, the team had a forecast of opportunities that were going to close. The partner relationships management app, though, is “upstream from that.” Now they can see how they’re developing accounts in the pipeline, as well as committed deals. It’s adding a missing chunk of information ahead of their CRM, enabling analysis, insights, and actions.
A Rogue Wave reporting dashboard.
The app also provides added insights at a product and regional level. They can now see how certain partners are doing in terms of expansion potential, and what the average number of days is in a sales cycle in various regions. Once they know a certain region is taking far longer to close than others, they can begin to investigate why.
“Knack has become an integral part of our KPIs and metrics and how we’re measuring them at all different levels: with our partners, by product, by region. Knack is the absolute key to the whole thing; it’s mission critical.”
This data is invaluable to the executive team. The first time Matt presented the reporting Knack had allowed, the reaction was immediate: “How’d you get this? Where’d it come from?” he was asked. “Knack allowed me to fill a huge, ugly gap in how we manage our business.”
"Knack has helped save my sanity and manage my business."
In the future, Matt foresees the team extending their Knack app into the partner lifecycle, allowing for project planning at various stages. They’ll be recruiting new partners this year, and will take each one on a recruitment cycle. The various substages of that will go into Knack: onboarding, enablement, a selling phase, ongoing management and development. The entire partner lifecycle will be tracked in Knack.
The team is also going to be moving on from using email, text messages, WhatsApp, Slack, and other messaging systems to putting all tasks and notes directly in Knack. These will be connected to the Partner Profile, contacts, and the PERTA information related to sales and sales cycles.
The Rogue Wave team looking very photogenic.
And while the app is initially only used by Matt’s Worldwide Partnerships team, he’s proposing expanding it to the entire partner team. “Going forward, the objective is to make it easier to work with our partners and capture the data that reflects what they’re doing or not doing, and gain insights from it,” he explained. “The extensions here are limitless.”
With time, Matt sees applying the same process automation to help manage different aspects of the sales lifecycle, recruitment, and development.
“It makes it so easy to automate the business processes that we absolutely have to have,” Matt said. “It’s perfect for somebody who’s trying to automate a business process that includes data collection, turn it into info and insights, and tell a story with it, outputting it in a way that can show results.”
If he didn’t have Knack, Matt said, he’d “be using some twisted, knotted spreadsheet thing. I’d just go out of my mind and my time would be spent cobbling together reports and charts -- if we were even able to capture this data. You guys have helped save my sanity and manage my business.”