How the IBM Teaming Agreement for IBM Partners Really Works

How the IBM Teaming Agreement for Partners Really Works
How the IBM Teaming Agreement for Partners Really Works
January 21st, 2021

In our last blog we discussed the IBM Teaming Agreement process and how beneficial it is for IBM Partners and their clients.  Now we will share how the IBM Teaming Agreement for IBM Partners really works.  This is information Lodestar Solutions learned the hard way and is the process we use for teaming with other boutique IBM software partners to add more value to our clients.  If you are an IBM partner that sells software other than Analytics, we want to connect with you.  We are looking for IBM software partners that are experts in their niche.  Contact Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Not an IBM partner yet but looking to become one.  Check out IBM partner world.

Before we dive into the Lodestar’s partner teaming process, let’s give a little refresher.

What is the IBM Teaming Agreement for Partners?

The IBM Teaming Agreement Program was launched by IBM in May 2020.  And, I think I can say, we all missed it because, well the world was changing.  For over 16 years I have owned an IBM Business Partner firm and have been hoping IBM would figure a way to allow boutique business partners like Lodestar who specializes in IBM Analytics to partner with other boutique partners that have other areas of expertise, like security.  My clients know I don’t know everything, but they also know I am very connected with other experts.  So, they come to me seeking advice on areas that I am not the expert.  I love to connect clients with other IBM Partner firms, so they benefit from the best resources available.  In May 2020 IBM, led by John D’Arco, approved a new IBM Teaming Agreement Program that allows two partners to work together to better serve IBM clients, especially the mid-market.  The partner that has the client connect can team up with a partner that has a different expertise and sell the client IBM software products that are out of their usual area.  See our earlier blog on the benefits of this.

The Process of IBM Teaming

After our last blog was released several people reached out to us to learn more about partnering with Lodestar Solutions.  Even some IBMer’s called asking how it works, so below I share my notes on how the IBM process works for partners like Lodestar that want to partner with other experts and boutique IBM resellers.

The Players:

  1. An opportunity is discovered by an IBM Partner that is outside of their approved brands.  This may happen when an existing client expresses, they need help with IBM software products that the partner does not typically work with.  We will call the originating partner or lead Partner, Partner L.  Partner L finds a partner that has expertise in the IBM software products and services the client needs.  This partner we will call the expert partner or Supplying Partner, Partner S.   Partner L and Partner S agree to work together to win the deal and provide services to the clients benefit.
  2. Partners enter a Letter of Understanding as to who does what work and the distribution of proceeds.  This is not an agreement; this is between the partners.  At Lodestar Solutions we drafted our own version of a Letter of Understanding and are happy to share with our Partners.

Involving IBM

3. Partner S needs to send IBM an email requesting a Teaming Agreement Document  nachops@sk.ibm.com with the following information:

a. The subject line must be "Teaming Relationship".
b. The legal name, CEID and Distributor Partner S sending the request. 
c. The Product Family for the teaming relationship. Note IBM will tell you they need the IBM software products but it’s really the product family.  And the contracts they send will most likely state any IBM Software in Passport advantage, so I am not sure why they ask.  The rules for system are different. This blog covers software only.
d. The legal name, CEID and Distributor of Partner L who will participate in a teaming relationship. 
e. An employee contact name and email of the participating Reseller.
f. Identify who is the Lead BP and Supplying BP.

4. IBM will send both partners a copy of their respective teaming agreements to sign.  There are two documents for each program and could be four if you want reciprocating agreements.

5. Signed Teaming Agreement is sent to IBM nachops@sk.ibm.com for acceptance.

IBM Deal Registration:

6. Partner S will register the opportunity in MYSA to receive approval for CVR margins including Solutions if appropriate.  Partner S will have to have an approved solution, and contracts and invoices for services should reference the solution.

7. Partner L sets up a discovery call with the Client and Partner S and explains the relationship with Partner S.  Beginning the sales process where both firms work together. 

a. Both firms should be able to show two-way communication with the client and document their sales process to be able to meet IBM sales audit standards.

Obtain a Special Bid:

b. IBM Partners work together on the configuration and request a special bid from IBM which is sent to IBM Partner S.  Bid request must reference IBM Partner L and their CEID in the comments or justification section and show the client as the end user not IBM Partner L.

8. IBM Partner S sends a copy of the quote to IBM Partner L with any special terms, so that IBM Partner L can provide a quote to the client and include terms. 

a. Note the price the client is quoted by IBM Partner L to the client MUST match the entitled price IBM quoted for the client and the quote should reference any IBM approved solutions that will be provided.

Order is Processed.

9. Client sends the PO to IBM Partner L for processing.

10. IBM Partner L sends a PO to IBM Partner S for the entitled price less agreed upon margin that IBM Partner S and L agree to for IBM Partner L’s sales efforts.  This should have been agreed to in the letter of understanding (LOU).

11. IBM Partner S sends a PO to their VAD for processing.

12. IBM Pays IBM Partner S any CVR payments.  

a. Note IBM has no visibility to IBM Partner S.  IBM Partner S and IBM Partner L decide how to the share the transaction margins and incentives in the LOU and do not have to disclose it to IBM.

Service Agreements.

13. IBM Partner L sends the client a services agreement with a detailed SOW that includes that the services are being provided by IBM Partner S a subcontractor of IBM Partner L, and that the services include IBM Partner S’s IBM approved solutions.

a. Note IBM Partner L can provide their services invoiced as a line item.  If an IBM Product requires Reseller S to provide associated services for that Product to an End User, Reseller S provides those services to the End User and may invoice those services to Reseller L.  Reseller L must invoice those associated services to the End User referencing Reseller S as performing those services. 

Notes from the CVR Team:

Notes from the CVR Team

14. Client signs IBM Partner L’s service agreement

15. IBM Partner L and IBM Partner S sign a SOW for IBM Partner S to provide services to client.

16. IBM Partner L provides detailed billing to client so that if IBM decides to do a sales audit on IBM Partner S’s sales transaction, IBM Partner L can provide the details to IBM Partner S.

a. Services should reference who is doing the work (IBM Partner S) and any IBM approved solution included.

Yes, that is a lot of steps, but the most important thing is to know that if you know the steps it’s not difficult.  The IBM Partner Teaming Agreement works even if the IBM Partners use different distributors or VADs. 

Renewals Under an IBM Teaming Agreement

In the future the renewal will be assigned to IBM Partner S as the incumbent because in IBM’s eyes they acquired the software from the distributor.  But we learned that as long as IBM partner L provides an email from the client asking them to quote the renewal in the future year, they can quote the renewal. 

In Conclusion

Lodestar Solutions is looking for IBM Software Partners that specialize in all areas of IBM software!  We want to help you grow your business and introduce you to our clients.  We are discriminating as we only want to work with the best in their area of specialty.  Are you the best?  Are you looking to grow your IBM Software business?  We shared how the IBM Teaming Agreement for IBM Partners really works.  Now we ask you contact us and share your details.  We can all grow through partnering and better serve our clients.  Email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

When IBM Partners Work Together the Clients Win

Benefits of an IBM Teaming Agreement
Benefits of an IBM Teaming Agreement
January 14th, 2021

IBM Teaming Agreement Program allows IBM Partners to Work Together for the Benefit of the Clients.

Last month I received a distressed email from one of Lodestar Solutions’ longtime IBM Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics TM1 clients.  They were desperate to find an IBM Guardium expert because they recently had a system issue and when they called IBM support, they were told they would not help until they upgraded IBM Guardium to a currently supported version.  The client knew Lodestar was not experts in Guardium, but they trusted that we had connections with other boutique IBM Partners that were experts in Guardium.  In May 2020 IBM launched a new IBM Teaming Agreement Program that allows IBM Partners to work together for the benefit of the clients.

Why You Might Need an IBM Teaming Agreement

If you are an IBM reselling business partner and you specialize in a specific area, your clients may approach you asking for help with another IBM software product that you do not typically support.  Maybe the client has a question or needs support on IBM Security software licenses like Guardium, but you are not the expert on Guardium and not authorized to sell it.  You have a few options.

1. You can call IBM and have them handle it.

You could turn to IBM to connect them with the client but if you have strong relationships with your clients like we do, the client may say they want to buy it from you.  Additionally, if they were rejected by IBM support, like our client was, for not being on a supported version, they may want to work with someone they know and trust.

2. You can scramble to get your IBM certifications for the new product family.

You can take the steps to get your IBM certifications and add a new product to your IBM Business Partner Agreement.  But this can take a lot of time and may not be in your business growth roadmap.  Here’s more information on IBM certifications. 

3. Sell the licenses to the client at list price.

A while back IBM changed the rules and now allows IBM partners to sell software and support that is not in the category or brand family that they are certified to sell.  The problem with this is the margins are very low and even worse you can’t get a special bid to help save your valuable client money.   At Lodestar Solutions, we pride ourselves on getting the best value for our clients and would rather tell the client to buy from someone else then lose their trust in our commitment to getting them the best price.

4. Enter an IBM Teaming Agreement with another Partner to serve the client. (NEW)

Historically IBM did not allow reselling partners to buy IBM software from another business partner and sell it to their client.  If you did not have the certification for the brand family you are trying to sell, you could not buy it from anyone other than your value-added distributor (VAD).  

But in May 2020 IBM launched the new IBM Teaming Agreement Program that was designed to empower two boutique partners that are specialists in their specific niches to partner together, get the best price for the client and work together to solve the clients’ issues.  This change was huge!  Too bad they forgot to tell anyone it existed!   

What is the IBM Teaming Agreement Program?

Lodestar Solutions recently discovered that IBM now allows partner to work together if they sign an IBM Teaming Agreement.  The agreement consists of two IBM contracts that are signed by the two partners that want to work together.  By signing the agreements and submitting them to IBM, the IBM Business Partner that has the product expertise can sell the software and services to the Business Partner with the client relationship.  Without the teaming agreement in place, I believe it is still a violation of IBM partner channel rules for one partner to sell software to another that is planning to resell to the customer, but I defer to IBM on this. 

Benefits of IBM Teaming Agreement

The IBM Teaming Agreement Program offers several benefits to both partners, the client and IBM. 

The benefits to the clients:

  • The clients get to work with a partner they have a long relationship with and trust.  
  • The partner that will sell them the software is already an established, authorized vendor in their procurement system.
  • The client and the partner may already have a Master Service Agreement in place and any new services can be provided under a new Statement of Work, saving time going through legal review.
  • The client will still get the benefit of any promotion or a special bid offering a discount on the software.
  • The client will have an improved customer buying experience by purchasing multiple IBM Products from one BP.
  • The clients will benefit from the higher service level they get from boutique partners that choose to focus on a specialized area, and therefore higher level of expertise.

The benefits to the partners:

  • The IBM Business Partner with the close relationship with the client is viewed as the trusted advisor that can connect the client with other boutique partners.
  • The two business partners can create a profit-sharing agreement to be rewarded for their efforts.
  • The partners may qualify for all IBM CVR margins available including engaged/solutions as long as one has the correct IBM Certifications.
  • Both IBM Partners benefit from growing their businesses by sharing their clients.

How Does the IBM Teaming Agreement Process Work?

Candidly discovering how the IBM Teaming Agreement process works, was painful for me.  I spent hours talking to several IBMers and Ingram Micro team members, but I believe we finally were able to put all the parts together including CVR, registration, legal documents…  Now that we know the process, we are shocked how easy it is when you have a checklist of the process, which Lodestar created.

Call to Action – Connect with Lodestar Solutions

Now that we discovered the process, Lodestar is looking for other IBM Business Partners to create Teaming agreements.  We have fabulous connections with our clients, and we are happy to introduce boutique partners that are passionate about adding value to clients!  If you are experts in any of the IBM software portfolios we want to connect.  To learn more about us go to our website.

Maybe we will share the details on how the program works in our next blog…  email me at hcole@lodestarsolutions.com to start the conversation.

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