IBM has tweaked its software partner program with several new initiatives to help the channel improve their sales.
The latest two pieces, Practice Accelerator and Solutions Builder Express, are available free of charge to all software systems integrators, ISVs and VARs certified under its Business Advantage channel program.
IBM software channel programs manager, Sue Hope, said both were designed to equip partners with the tools required to set up a more comprehensive IBM-based business.
Under the Practice Accelerator initiative, IBM had established templates which it would use with partners to set up their business model, she said.
"Partners are getting certified, but they are asking us 'what do we do with that?'" she said. "This program helps them to build up a practice in security or portal technology for example.
"We will work with partners and hold hands to understand what they need to do, what skills they require and how deep they need to go. It's not just about product, but also services."
The Solutions Builder Express (SBE) program would then act as the next step for partners trying to ramp up sales or introduce their solutions to new customers, Hope said.
The global initiative incorporated go to market tools, such as sales materials, technical support and implementation guides, as well as architectural facilities like sample code and demos.
To illustrate how the program could be used, Hope pointed to one of its systems integrators which had developed a paperless boardroom application for a customer using Lotus Notes.
IBM was working with the organisation to devise a suitable market strategy, as well as providing funding to bring the solution to multiple clients, she said.
"SBE allows us to sit with them and build and deploy something together," Hope said. "A partner might have developed IP around enablement with an iSeries customer base. We could build that into a solution bundle to take to the market more rapidly and cost effectively."
IBM globally also had access to about 50 software solution bundles that all partners would have access to, she said.
Six partners were now utilising IBM's Practice Accelerator initiative, Hope said, while 14 had signed up to SBE. There was no limit on the number of partners that could participate.
"Everyone is working at different stages of advancement," she said. "Some partners are ready to jump off the cliff, others are not quite ready and need the Practice Accelerator program.
"What we are after is the best solution and getting high volume relationships with customers."