Evolution of Frappe's Partnership Model and Benefits
Learn how the partnership model evolved, challenges faced in the journey, and the partnership benefits offered in today's model
Enterprise softwares like ERP and CRM are high touch softwares, which requires reasonably high efforts in implementation. While software is at the center of everything, it probably contributes ~ 30% in a success. The other important factors are buy-in of the customer, their availability, and availability of a partner who does the last mile delivery. Yes, partners, a proven recipe that almost all enterprise software businesses have adapted. For us at Frappe, being an open-source service provider, the partner model was challenging from very beginning, but not any more. Here is the brief history of the model we tried, and what seems to have worked for us, finally.
Previous Partnership Models
The very first version of partnership, which offered 10%-30% commission to partners, attracted few enthusiastic and loyal partners. But community partners offered our own product at a much lesser price. That didn’t help partners sell our support services. Slowly and steadily, the team churned, and partners followed.
In the second attempt, we decided to give implementation business to partners. Commissions were not good enough, so they had to make money on services. Our condition was simple, all they had to do was to host with us. And the partners said, “no sir, your deployment platform doesn’t allow us to install custom apps and write server scripts”. That’s also one reality we ran-away from for years.
In the third attempt we decided to leave the SMB space for the partners, while making sure they got us enterprise customers. However, only a few partners could make it work. The enterprise game is about marriage of equals. More than a software, they want assurance, or perhaps large enough to take blame for large goof-ups. Enterprises were skeptical to completely trust small partners without having OEMs in the picture. But then, the partners didn’t have a mind-set to offer Frappe plans, as it would make the ticket-size uncomfortably big. The model collapsed again, like the house of cards flattening in seconds.
So while opportunities always existed for the partner model, it never clicked for other external factors. Community partners would still deliver ERPNext themselves on a cost effective server, hosted over Amazon or Digital Ocean. But there was a problem! You can manage hosting and upgrades only for a few number of sites.
In parallel we were working on "Frappe Cloud" a more flexible could platform that could allow custom apps and scripts. This brought perfect alignment with the ecosystem and the boat of Frappe Partners started to sail. We finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel!
Hosting is a hard problem to solve. You can do hundreds of implementations. But when you hit a certain scale, you need a small army of engineers to ensure all the sites are running on the latest version, with bugs and security vulnerabilities taken care of. It’s a task in itself. And one fine day, the server decides to betray you, when you don’t have a replica. It can destroy the credibility of years in a few hours. For partners, this restricted the potential to offer Frappe services at scale.
Enter the scene, “Frappe Cloud”. It allows partners to set up thousands of sites together, without ever seeing the terminal console.
- Do we have custom apps to install on specific sites? Covered.
- We want to run on a custom bench? Taken care.
- We want to have control upgrades? Available.
- We want to pay as much as we pay to shared hosting providers? Beat us on the pricing if you can. We offer ERPNext for $10.
Frappe Cloud solves the major piece of the puzzle when it comes to the deployment of multiple sites, with complex customization. In fact, it enforces the best practices like customization via custom apps only, which automatically keeps your site upgradable all the time.
Frappe Cloud came as a blessing to partners who were stuck in doing DevOps at the cost of their business growth. Out of all the sites on Frappe Cloud, around 40% of sites are partner sites for which DevOps is completely outsourced to us. One of the most important benefit for the partner is listing on our website. Your contribution as a partner to FrappeCloud hosting is directly impacts your listing levels.
But it will work only if you have enough projection in the community. How does partnership help fix it?
ERPNext is a mission-critical operation. Companies opting ERPNext as their organization’s backbone would like to work with the service provider who can assure local support and success in their implementation. Since ERPNext is an open source application, we can have hundreds of freelancers offering support on ERPNext. The listing to Frappe Partners helps them stand out from the crowd. Also, the listing on erpnext.com itself adds to the credibility of the listed partner and helps prospects in deciding to work with them.
But the listing doesn’t ensure they are well versed on the product. Someone can get into agreement with Frappe and enjoy listing. Right?
Partner Training and Certification
Getting listed as a Frappe Partner isn’t as simple as buying an item on Amazon. We do understand that the prospects give an extra trust to our listed partners, and hence we make conscious efforts to sustain it. This is how we ensure Frappe Partners are really equipped to deliver success to their customers.
Frappe School is our latest offering which focuses on building competence of community members on Frappe Framework and ERPNext. Each course has a comprehensive coverage of features which are spread across various modules. Also, these trainings are conducted by our consultants who have rich industry experience of 20+ years put together.
We have clubbed the partner training and even certification with the personalized training courses. Infact, we have bundled two certifications in the first year. We have already conducted multiple trainings on both Frappe and ERPNext. Till the time partners don't complete evaluation and get certified on the product, we keep highlighting that on their listing.
Does Frappe also offers services? No!
At Frappe, we really believe in capitalizing on our core competencies, which is building new products and maintenance of the same. With years of experience, we have developed expertise in managing multi-tenant hosting of deployment. This has helped us develop platforms like Frappe Cloud, which is another source of revenue for us.
However, converting an ERPNext implementation into a success story takes a lot more than hosting and support. It requires a partner who can understand the customer's pain points and device an implementation strategy around it. We trust Frappe Partners to drive the later part. Hence at Frappe, we have completely withdrawn our consulting services, so that we can focus on what we do best.
This is very well proven by our lead-sharing initiative with the Frappe Partners. We have been generously sharing the contact details of sign-ups (of course those who give consent) and direct leads who have budget constraints and wish to work with the local partner. Our partners are already enjoying the conversion of these leads.
Consulting is a hard ball
The real depth of the river can only be measured by diving in. So, while organized training covers training on the concepts and product features, there is always that crucial and last mile learning which happens when you drive real implementations. These issues have deep context and need very focused discussion for finding a resolution.
To ensure we are enabling partner development around real-life use-cases as well, we introduced a new partner benefit of Q&A session with our consultants and developers.
In these sessions, we bring in our experienced developers and consultants so that our partners can pose the hard balls thrown at them by the customers. We together try to find a solution and leave a partner with the suggestion to tackle that ball smartly.
Discounts and PRM
Frappe apps are an open-source solution and we can host anywhere. What’s in it for us to promote Frappe Services?
Capitalism has its own magic and really works. We incentivise our partners as well for reselling our hosting and support services to their customers. This is over and above what partners can bill directly to customers for their consulting services.
If you honestly ask me, it should be a moral imperative for all the ERPNext service providers, who are building their businesses around Frappe products, to resell our hosting and support services. Only if Frappe Technologies sustains, the entire show of of product development, upgrades, fixes will run. On a positive note, we have seen many Partners who consider FrappeCloud hosting as their first choice for hosting.
Also, we have a newly developed Partner Management System which helps partner with:
- Dashboard on their performance
- Track of credits available and consumption history
- Receive new leads from Frappe
- Access training and marketing assets developed exclusively for the Frappe Partners
Assistance for Closing Deals
Closing is where it all ends and matters the most!
In the open-source ecosystem, you have a rock-bottom competition to face. What you offer for $100, someone would be ready to fulfill the same at half the price, perhaps even less than it. It’s an honest reality of the market, like it or not.
But if you have an OEM of the product on your side, assuring product warranty and promoting your services, you have more weight on the table. You can certainly use this to your advantage to quote the customer what you really deserve, and don’t settle for what the market forces on you.
It’s a unique partner benefit which assures Frappe Partners to get us (OEMs) on a call with their prospects and build a next level of trust and credibility in the eyes of prospect, and convert faster.
If you look at Frappe’s vision statement, it isn’t restricted to an ERP solution and running a profitable business. We are here for much more. We are here to create an ecosystem that can bring a positive change in society with technology. Also, to help people find their livelihood with our products, and do justice with their talent.
Frappe Partnership or certification is the only channel to formalize it and create a platform for collective learning. It’s driven with the hope to create a cycle where Frappe empowers the ecosystem by giving products. In return, the ecosystem gets us a chunk of clients which empowers Frappe’s growth. So that Frappe continues to expand its offering, and keep giving it back to the ecosystem, through open-source. And the cycle goes on, forever.
It is our goal to find a win-win solution with our ecosystem and we will continue to strive for finding the right model. You will find the partner team at Frappe very receptive to your ideas and feedback.
Interested in multiplying your business a Frappe Partner? reach us now!
Umair is Frappe's co-founder, VP - Partnerships, and mentor for Frappe School team.