Certified Special: Guidewire’s PartnerConnect Program Earns ASAP Alliance Excellence Award
Over the past few years, enterprise technology vendors have taken steps to make the partner experience as close to friction-free as possible. “Treating Your Partners Like Customers,” as the title of our Q1 2022 Strategic Alliance Quarterly feature urged, is the order of the day.
For example, vendors are expected to deliver prescriptive, tailored, and automated enablement journeys (see “Self-Guided Tours in Partnerland,” Strategic Alliance Quarterly, Q3 2021), so that partners don’t have to sift through thousands of courses, certifications, and documents on a partner portal for the appropriate education and training resources.
One vendor is taking it a step further and making it just as turnkey for customers perusing that partner portal. A few years ago, property and casualty insurance software company Guidewire unveiled specializations as part of its PartnerConnect Consulting program, in which partners can earn designations demonstrating comprehensive expertise in a particular product area or geographic region. Fast forward to 2023, when customers can now search Guidewire’s database for partners that have a dedicated expertise in billing, policy management, claims, or other core Guidewire applications, or for consultants that can complete complex implementations in North America; Latin America; the Europe, Middle East, or Africa (EMEA) region; or Asia-Pacific, including the continent of Australia.
Today, 27 of Guidewire’s SI partners have earned 200 specializations across these four regions, which helped the insurance software company earn a 2023 ASAP Alliance Excellence Award in the Innovative Best Alliance Practice category.
“Our PartnerConnect Consulting specializations provide customers with more clarity and insight into which consulting partners have proven capabilities within a specific region or solution or product,” said Lisa Walsh, group vice president of global alliances at Guidewire.
Capabilities Like Us
Like most software companies, any one of Guidewire’s 38 consulting partners—including consulting firms, business process outsourcing (BPO) specialists, and insurance-specific consultancies—might be implementing Guidewire and its products on any given business day. In addition to making it easier for clients to find partners with the specific competencies they need, the PartnerConnect program’s other major objective was to ensure that third parties implement Guidewire’s solutions with the care and attention to detail the vendor would if a customer purchased its own technical services.
“We wanted to impart the same high quality of implementation delivery through partners as our own professional services organization would,” said Walsh.
To earn one of Guidewire’s specializations, partners need to certify a certain number of consultants from their respective companies, provide multiple customer references, and meet stringent delivery requirements, and Guidewire’s standards are particularly rigorous. High quality and timely implementation of Guidewire products require close collaboration between the Guidewire team and partners involved in or leading a project. The parties must proactively align and ensure readiness to execute the project plan and promptly address any identified issues. Partners must adhere to the following training and certification requirements by completing:
- Specific training and certification requirements for developers and business analysts,
- Preproject and quarterly reviews of the partner’s staff certification status,
- Training/remediation planning, and
- Project status reporting.
Additionally, partners remain engaged with Guidewire around communication and collaboration, as well as project health guidelines. Partners must meet these criteria or proactively address issues identified across their portfolios to maintain their specializations and their tiering within the Guidewire PartnerConnect program.
“The enterprise software industry is challenged with implementation failures,” said Walsh. “We want to put in as many guardrails as we can in our efforts to reduce the possibility of a bad client experience.”
As Modern as Next Week
Large-scale software implementations are extremely complex. Much of the business world is still transitioning their IT infrastructures from highly customized hardware-software-networking stacks that need to be maintained internally to subscription-based cloud solutions that are hosted by another party. This is especially so in the insurance industry, which was an early adopter of old-guard software. Insurers need these modern solutions if they are going to take advantage of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and digital engagement advanced analytics capabilities.
PartnerConnect is as much of a win for partners as it is for clients and Guidewire. Those in the program are crystallizing how they want to allocate their resources to best support insurers' transformation initiatives.
“Specializations enable partners to decide where and how they want to invest to differentiate their capabilities with respect to Guidewire’s suite of products and service offerings by region and globally,” said Walsh.
Moving forward, Guidewire expects more partners to obtain more specializations, which will in turn help reach the company’s North Star: happier clients.