SaaS Channel Compensation

Channel Compensation models

Channel Compensation modelsSaaS Channel compensation is one of the hardest things that software vendors are facing today. If you have a nice traditional software business model with good software maintenance revenue and mature channel, you are reluctant to change or touch it. Let’s dive into some of the difficulties that software vendors are experiencing.

I am currently running educational sessions in SaaS channel development where my audience is given the task to present the business case of a channel partner for a given software vendor. We are using Business Model Canvas to model the business. The task that I am giving to my students is to represent the software vendor leadership team that is trying to recruit a channel partner to become a reseller. The way this is done is to present a Business Model Canvas to the channel partner management team.  If the software vendor management team can’t convince the channel partner of the benefits, then the business model is broken.  I have done this exercise with many software vendors and it is one of the most powerful ways to get the software vendor to think about the partner, not about themselves.

I have bad news for you. There are no exact rules what kind of compensation models a software vendor should have for its channel, but what is known is how to calculate whether a business can be profitable for the channel partner using different compensation models. Why is this? The biggest issue that software vendors have is that many of the processes and tasks that the channel partner has taken care of in the past, have now moved back to the software vendor. One of them is the monitoring the cloud infrastructure, provisioning the solution, upgrading the software etc. In the end of the day, it is all about roles and responsibilities that the software vendor and the channel partner have to agree on. The more the software vendor moves responsibilities towards the channel partner, the more margin the channel partner expects to get and this is very typical in the traditional software channel model. The software vendor delivered the CD or download to the channel partner, but in the new SaaS world, the instance is provisioned by the software vendor and the channel partner becomes the “middle man” between the end user customer and the software vendor. Let’s review some of the industry “standard” commission models and some implications around them:

SaaS Channel Margins

If you look at the percentages, the one that is missing is the typical 10% which is really more of an opportunistic percentage that anybody will give out regardless of business model. If you call a software vendor and tell them that you have a lead, they will pay you at least 5%, but 10% is not uncommon.

When you add an additional 10% (now the total is 20%) it adds more interest to the channel partner. The software vendor can not expect any active sales with this percentage and can’t really ask the channel partner to do any serious account management. This is mainly lead generation activity and typically there are other products that the channel partner is reselling as well.

If we add an additional 10 % (now the total is 30%), this is still too small to be able to build an organization and requires the channel partner to have many different products that they are reselling. Larger reseller with deep pockets to build and maintain an organization, 30% is doable.

When the percentage is 40% or more, the software vendor can expect investments from the channel partner and reporting responsibilities on pipeline to the software vendor channel account manager. This type of percentage is also doable for smaller channel partners that want to build a business around the solution and build a dedicated team.

The biggest surprise that most software vendors are facing when we discuss about the roles and responsibilities is the amount of additional work that the software vendor has to take on. In a pure SaaS channel scenario, the border of responsibilities are blurred and the end user customer ends up in many cases in direct relationship with the software vendor. This has been a big no-no in the past for channel partners as they have wanted to “own the client”. However, the reality is that the cloud is changing the roles and channel partners have to make changes in their models as well. This is a behavioral change that is taking place and can be compared with the changes that are taking place how software sales people are compensated. Nobody wants to change the way things were in the past, but the market and competition is forcing the change and the ones that keep doing the same thing as before, will eventually be on the loosing side. We have already seen this in many organizations.

Before talking about channel margins, the software vendor has to decide what kind of role they expect the channel partner to play and then define how much they can afford to give a way of the margin. Some software vendors have even decided that a channel is not an option in their new business model and this is of course an option if the company has the resources to build its business with its own direct sales and internet marketing methods.

 

 

photo by: woody1778a

Complexity of Building a SaaS Software Channel Program

Complexity of SaaS Pricing

Complexity of SaaS PricingIn my previous blog entry, I discussed about the complexity of channel development and channel alignment. I recommended for SaaS software vendors to use Business Model Canvas to compare the business model with the assumed business model of its prospective channel partner.

During the past few months I have spent time building a SaaS channel development educational program, a program that I wanted to be not only actionable, but providing information of all of the needed drivers that SaaS software vendors should be thinking about when building its channel strategy.  Call me old fashioned, but my  philosophy is to educate people of things that I have personal experience in. There are lots of consultants that “help” their clients doing things such as channel development, consultants that have never sold anything, but have read about it in books.  My strategy is to build something that is concrete and actionable (not academic) that my audience can use when thinking about their SaaS channels.

The way I initiated the development of the channel development alignment educational program in http://www.tellusacademy.com was to reflect on my own channel development experience (both as channel builder as well as reseller) and list the main things that I felt were crucial in getting channel partners to become excited. The way I started working on it was not from a traditional channel perspective. I asked myself a simple question: how is the channel partner going to make money? Once we identify this, we can worry about the software vendor (ISV) as without a profitable business model for the channel partner, there is no need to invest time and energy to plan something that will not work anyway.

If the financial success of the channel partner should be the foundation for the software vendor to evaluate the channel strategy, it is easy to assume that it is important for both the software vendor and the channel partner to understand how SaaS financial will change the business model and what kind of drivers each party needs to be thinking about. Therefore, I believe that every person working in the SaaS world needs to have a good and solid understanding in how the financial and operational model will change when running a SaaS business. I am sure that the CFO of the ISV and channel partner appreciates this.

I spent considerable time in reviewing the topics that both ISVs and channel partners should be thinking about. Besides having a solid understanding in SaaS financials, any vendor in today’s world has to be thinking about business model innovation and topics around that. How do we stay relevant today, tomorrow and next year? What is happening in our marketplace and what kind of actions do I have to take to ensure that my services or solutions are also appealing in the future? You would not believe how many organizations ignore this….it is amazing.

Another important factor to think about is to understand the expectations from the channel and ISV perspective. What can the ISV expect from the channel and what should the channel expect from the ISV? This is a also something that has changed in the last couple of years as channel partners have a tough time to adjust to the recurring revenue model from the traditional “one big lump sum model”. Besides this, traditional channel partners are not very good at account management and this is a huge issue for SaaS vendors as upselling and ensuring retention is a top priority to any SaaS vendor. The ones that have negative churn can say that they have been successful at least in the upsell to existing clients.

Channel roles and responsibilities is a topic that seems to be very unclear to both software vendors and channel partners. Basic questions such as “who is going to provision the cloud instance” is not clear and questions such as billing is also a question that many struggle with. Should the software vendor manage the billing or should it be the channel partner? What if the end customer does not pay the bills, should the software vendor still bill the channel partner and even take them to court for unpaid balances? In the traditional channel world we can argue that most of these types of questions could be easily sorted out due to known practices, but the SaaS/app world is still a bit unclear who does what.

Part of the channel profitability discussion should be a discussion of channel margins. In my course, I will give examples of a typical channel partner scenario where we will model one sales rep and his/her targets and what it means to the channel partner. This type of exercise is extremely health for any software vendor to see the reality of a channel partner and their desire to build a solid business. If you are a software vendor, have you modeled the channel partner business and how your solution might play in that space?

And finally, any software vendor will either become successful or fail and it is going to be based on the channel program that the organization is going to build and maintain. During my SaaS channel development course, I will also address the main drivers of channel management and key issues that an ISV need to be thinking about.

It was fun to create this course as everything is based on experience either from my own work or the teams that I have worked with for more than 20 years. As said, I do not believe in education of best practices if the person does not have any personal experience. This type of experience comes with blood, sweat and tears.

 

 

 

 

photo by: Sean MacEntee

Business Modeling is a process and requires experience

Business Modeling is a process

Business Modeling is a processEverybody talks about business models and business modeling, but not many have been exposed to different types of scenarios and organizations when applying it. I learned today after having talked to a person that had used Business Model Canvas in the past and felt that the use was a bit messy.  I am not surprised about this experience at all. Using Business Model Canvas takes time to master and reading a $22 book does not make you a master. You have to go out there and test it out, make mistakes, learn to pros and cons and most importantly, learn that it is not about the tool/framework, it is about the people applying it and whenever there are people, there is a chance for confusion and disagreement.

I still remember vividly the day when I used Business Model Canvas the first time. I decided to try out Business Model Canvas on a company that wanted me to help with their product/solution business modeling. I must admit that I was a bit nervous as I did not know whether the Business Model Canvas would help me out to run the workshop.  I was also nervous to get too many questions of use cases in the Canvas use… I did not really have any… I did not even know if it would work…

I learned really quickly that the Business Model Canvas is just a tool and the entire business modeling excersise is based on human interaction and how to be able to extract and guide people to think about their business, how to get them to agree on things and how create an effective action plan. Business modeling is just the start of a journey that an organization has to commit to and also understand that there might be a need to pivot the business model every now and then when the market or other circumstances change. We are living in the era of agility and business models need to be agile as well.

Today, when I run workshops using Business Model Canvas, I put emphasis to the group chemistry to ensure that everybody in the group/teams are contributing the goals of the workshop. Specifically in smaller companies it is very common to have one or two very strong individuals that “take over” the discussion and this is why I usually want to divide the group into two or more teams to get more discussions among the participants.  It takes time to learn how a business modeling session process and to learn to read the group/teams when they get stuck or become frustrated.  If there are more than 6 people in the group, I typically want to divide the group into two teams of 3 people. The teams should be assembled in a way that people that interact less during regular work are put in the same group.

In some cases I have people in the group/teams that want to argue how to use the Business Model Canvas framework and the discussion becomes more academic. My recommendation is not to put too much time in learning in-an-outs of the framework, as each person has his/her subjective way to view it. It is enough if the entire group/teams agree a common set of rules.  A good example is the discussion if a key partner should be listed as channel or the other way around. It is enough as long as everybody agrees how it is defined. A key partner to me is an organization that you work with either long term or an organization that you need to deliver your solution to a given market segment.

In summary, a Business Model Canvas is just a framework that enables you to view your business, but the key is the process how you end up with your business model. It is also important that your facilitator knows how to deal with different types of situations when you have business owners and/or senior level executives defining the future of the company. It is very easy to get lost in the process and the day could lead to a situation where you loose face with your group/teams and the Business Model framework becomes something that nobody wants to hear about anymore.

 

Complexity of Channel Development for SaaS Software Vendors

Let's have some complexity

Let's have some complexityChannel development can be complex if you have a SaaS solution and you want to ensure that your growth comes through the channel. I have spent my past 20 years involved in software channel development on many continents and I have seen many different variations in both failure and success. I think the biggest obstacle for many software vendors to become successful with their channel is when they ignore to recognize and understand the business model that their channel partners have or are building. SaaS software vendors assume that their solution is the only one that makes sense, but a typical channel partner have tens of other solutions that they can represent.

What SaaS vendors forget in many of the cases is to realize that a channel partner has to make a sizable investment in personnel, marketing, support and any other functions that the company has to have to become successful. What it means in real terms for the SaaS vendor is that a channel partner is making a considerable investment on behalf of the SaaS software vendor. That is what the SaaS vendor is really asking for. Invest in us, and we will then pay you your share of the success. If you do not sell anything, you will be left with your investment. I think every Channel Account Manager (CAM) making outbound calls to potential channel partners need to first figure out how the channel partner can make money and how they can help their business to become better. If the CAM focuses on the product/solution and not on the channel partner business, the relationship will never take off. I have experienced this so many times during my career and every relationship that I have put time and effort to, typically has paid off.  Today, I got a call from a document management software vendor and the CAM not only presented his case well, but gave the reasons why I should take the next steps in the discussion. It takes skills to do what the CAM did and he was focusing on my business, not on how good his solution was technically.

SaaS Channel AlignmentOne way to understand the channel partner is to create a Business Model Canvas for both the channel partner and the SaaS software vendor and then analyze them side-by-side and see if there is business model alignment. What it means in real terms is that each side has an interest to do business, both parties have an opportunity to make money and become successful. I have run workshops using this type of approach and the typical reaction from the software vendor is to realize that some of the foundational thinking has been based on wrong assumptions. It is important to realize that this has nothing to do with the skills of the software vendor, it is just a perspective that they never had and thought of when setting their channel strategy. The key is to help to build the “story” for the channel partner and part of the story is also to identify how your solution fits in the other solutions that the channel partner might be representing. If you want to become successful with your channel, stop focusing on yourself and put some time focusing on the channel and how you can make them happy and successful.

photo by: futureatlas.com

Chicken and egg – sustaining revenue model first?

La mamá de los pollitosI had an interesting discussion this week about whether a software company should have its revenue model defined first, or should the software company be focused on other factors such as value proposition and market segmentation. The question by itself is very interesting and typically our initial “gut feel” is to analyze first how much money we can make and make it a profitable business.

Based on my experience, the revenue model does not come first. What comes first, and is typically the most difficult discussion in any management team is to identify the real and true value of the solution that is going to be sold. The other big question is what market segment we should be focusing at.

I told in my previous blog posts that I really did “not get it” when I started my role as CEO for a business intelligence software company while back and thought, like many other technologists, that “our solution would do everything under the sun”. It was just the customers that did not get it. I loved to read a Gartner blog entry this week about the challenges that technologist face when telling the market about the solution. Following example is a typical “pitch” that technologists give of their solution (example by Hank Barnes, Gartner):

“We analyze transactions and clickstreams and combine that with sentiment analysis and text analytics to provide your with deep insight into what your buyers are doing and thinking.”

If you read the sentence carefully, it is easy to say that it is just garbage and does not give anybody anything…  This is unfortunately how we often articulate ourselves when offering our solutions.

Back to the initial question about the business model questions. After a tremendous amount of workshops and seminars, it is easy for me to conclude that revenue model is NOT the first one to think about. Revenue model will be a very important element in the overall schemes of things, but if you use Business Model Canvas in your analysis (like we do), it is clear that there are many other questions that one has to answer before the revenue model. First and foremost, is there a market segment that is willing to pay anything for the value proposition that you have defined (the pains that you are taking away from the users and the gains that you are giving your users with your product/solution). I you look at the included Business Model Canvas with the numbers included. That is the typical order which we use when analyzing a business model. In some cases, the market segment is “given” so number 1 and 2 are analyzed at the same time. If you look a the picture below, you can see how each one of the building blocks in a Business Model Canvas relate to each other:

Business Model Canvas

Business Model Canvas

In same cases, the market segment (number 2) is given, so organizations analyze number 1 and 2 together. My recommendation even in those “clear cases” is to really make sure that the market segment is what one expects, as it could be too big, to complex and the value proposition does not fit into all of the scenarios in the target market segment.

I have become a proponent of “storytelling” that is a better way to explain things and for the audience to grasp what you are really trying to accomplish. People want to hear stories, they do not want to hear how many new widgets/features you have developed in your solution. I think the TED speeches is something that every software company management team members should think about when thinking about the solution and how to express its power to the audience.

 

Does your channel partner program play a strategic role in your cloud business?

La Villette - 22-08-2006 - 19h32In preparation to my upcoming workshops and seminars, I am updating myself on multiple different things in respect to ISVs (independent software vendors) and one of the key drivers based on the workshops we have delivered the past 2 years is by far the question how ISVs should align themselves with channel partners. Today when doing some reading, I run into an interesting study by Forrester Consulting (commissioned by Avangate, September 2012) where 79% of the researched ISVs (53 US and UK SMB enterprise software publishers) feel that their channel partner program is of strategic importance.

One of the key concerns that ISVs had in this study was that channel partners are ill-equipped in changing their business model from front-loaded licensing model to a recurring model where partners are incented to renew customers as to acquire them. As much as 49% of the ISVs where concerned that channel partners are not going to be able to support new or evolving business models.

Another key finding in the study was that smaller software vendors are ill equipped to expand to new markets and this mainly due to support-related issues. Channel partners expect ISVs to help in marketing and generating demand, but smaller ISVs are typically not funded to be able to support this type of activity.

The study revealed many other factors that the channel partners were concerned about such as channel partners now been able to support end customer over the lifetime of the contract, inadequate efforts in renewing the end customer contracts and overall bad visibility over the end user customer. The roles are responsibilities are definitely changing in respect to ISVs and channel partners and this I have had the opportunity to run a bunch of channel alignment workshops where we map the ISV business model with the channel business model and if there is any misalignment between these, the results are typically miserable.

ISVs have a tendency to dream that their solution is the only solution on the planet that matters, but unfortunately there are others with the same belief. I like to use Business Model Canvas in the channel alignment exercise as it portrays extremely well potential issues that ISVs have to deal with such as giving the opportunity for the channel partner to become profitable. That is easier said than done.

Pricing alone does not make your business model

Most software vendors (ISVs) struggle how to price their solution, specifically when moving the cloud. Many vendors are trying to “retrofit” the current model to the new cloud model, but this just does not work. You just can’t make your pricing to reflect your current business model where everything is based on higher cost structure such as Cost of Customer Acquisition (CAC), cost of having a different operational model in your organization such as support, marketing etc.

When I look back at all of the workshops that I have done in the cloud transformation field, each and every ISV has had to recognize that something has to change in the model and we use the Business Model Canvas to do a simple “sanity check” what kind of things the organization has to change to be able to make this transition. I am not talking about organizations that are “born in the cloud” but  organizations that typically have a successful traditional software business with good but declining maintenance and support revenue. Many of these organizations are now forced to rethink their current business model as smaller and nimbler organizations are “eating their lunch”.

This does not impact only ISVs, but also Systems Integrators (SI) that are used to the “big ticket” development projects and many end user organizations are tired to the ongoing and inflexible “platform” that has been created. This comes back to my previous blogs where I recommend organizations to go to the roots and identify what is “good enough” as a solution for people to be able to manage their business without having to deal with monster projects.

In the end of the day, pricing is just one small piece of the overall puzzle and therefore it is easy to say that without value, people are not willing to pay and if you do not bring value, your overall business model will never work. The Business Model Canvas has 9 building blocks and if one of these building blocks equal zero or is dysfunctional (some are not needed like channel), then the entire business will fail sooner or later. Check out the Business Model Canvas Structure that has been defined by Dr. Osterwalder:

Business Model Canvas

I am a believer in value-based pricing with the recognition that there are competition out there that will eventually force you to evaluate the pricing levels. Just look what is happening with Amazon and Microsoft on the cloud infrastructure front. It is a bloody battle but this is of course great for the consumers and businesses as the cloud becomes even more affordable and non-brainer as development platform.

 

Aligning your business with your ecosystem

Your business is always part of an ecosystem. So is mine. I am completely aligned with Microsoft business cycle that starts 1st of July and ends last of June. Therefore Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is the most important event for me and my TELLUS team. Why? Because during WPC I will get the first hunch of the direction that Microsoft is taking for the new fiscal year. This year, it will be all about devices and services (with lots of measure around this) and I have to align my services to reflect this direction. What it means in practice is that all our offers have to reflect and build upon devices and services for us to be able to help both Microsoft and Microsoft partners to align themselves with these objectives. If I continue stubbornly to message the “old fiscal year” objectives that do not reflect what the field needs to do, then please do not expect to have much support from your ecosystem, because they are not incentivized to care about that anymore. It might seem shortsighted (which it is many times), but that is they way it is with businesses today. Everybody has to cut their checks and to be able to do that, one has to look at where the money is coming from.

During the years, I have become pretty brutal in focus when it comes to my own business. I have see too many examples of entrepreneurs that are “all over the map” trying to do different things, but really not doing anything well. I do not want to be in that boat. Have I made mistakes? Sure, and lots of them. As an entrepreneur, I see money all of the place and it is one of the hardest things for me to look away from these opportunities especially if they do not contribute anything to the TELLUS “platform”. If these is value add to the platform, then I am willing to invest time in checking it out, but if it is not, then I have to walk away.

Do you have a focus in your business? If you are an SI, do you spread yourself too thin to too many things and then your team is perplexed as they seem not to know anything really well. If you are an ISV, do you have a focus in a vertical or functional area and become world known for it? If not, you need to revisit your plan as being “too many things to all is like not being anything to anybody”. I have witnessed this so many times that it is not even funny anymore. I suggest you run a small exercise using Business Model Canvas to see if your business makes sense.

What I would like you to do is to really contemplate who well you know your ecosystem and the internal working of it and if the answer is: “I really do not”, then you might want to consider doing something about it. Also, if you work within Microsoft ecosystem, you might want to segment it into smaller segments as there are more than 600k Microsoft partner to work with.

 

How to become successful with your Channel–a case study to learn from?

In my yesterday’s blog entry, I gave a few hints of channel development and what kind of things the software vendors should avoid.

Today, I thought to share some perspectives on a case study that David Skok gives in his excellent blog entry.  Like in my previous blog entry, I will give my perspective on the findings of this case study.

The case study software company is SolidWorks and this company is specifically known within modeling for mechanical design. This company grew rapidly and one of the key reasons was an effective and well-managed VAR channel. According to the blog, the success of the channel was based on three distinctive phases:

  1. Hiring an executive that had been part of the channel in the past, so this person really understood the channel and how a VAR business works.
  2. Understanding that the success of SolidWorks
  3. Realizing that the VAR channel as an un-optimized  resource and how decide that it was worthwhile for SolidWorks to educate its channel on business skills. This meant every aspect of the business, almost like a mini-MBA

During the spring/summer 2012 I did some research in the VAR/MSP channel and one of the findings was that a key obstacle for many VARs and MSPs specifically in moving the cloud business is lack of expertise and the business model was seen to be unclear like can be seen in following picture (Source: CTTA 2012):

Obstacles in moving to cloud-2012

The latter is specifically relevant to the discussion of SolidWorks and what they did to make the channel successful. What happened in the case of SolidWorks was that the channel account teams became business mentors for the VARs and educating them to run a better business. In retrospect, I think this is exactly what ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini is trying to do with its resellers in its annual User Group Meeting IT Nation in the beautiful Orlando, Florida in November 2012.

He even brought in my favorite author Jim Collins that has written many bestselling business books and the latest book “Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All” was given to all conference attendees.

I had the opportunity to hear Jim Collins keynote and I think it was one of the best speeches I have heard in my life. He brought up things in an interesting way and without every loosing the audience in the session.

In the next few blog entries, I will review what a good VAR channel program should look like and what kind of VAR development program did SolidWorks have to run its VAR business. I will also give my own add to this by looking it from a Business Model Canvas perspective which we use every day for everything we analyze in respect to Business Models. Stay tuned for more!

An Independent Software Vendor (ISV) moving to the cloud – what are the financial implications of this?

I have to say that I am living in a nirvana from a researcher perspective (even if I am an entrepreneur on daily basis working with practical execution). Nobody of us will have the chance to experience too many profound transformations in our lifetime. I was asked to write a report on ISV transformation from traditional software business to cloud business from financial perspective and I loved the nights and weekends that I spent on the Internet doing research. Coffee, music in the background, two large screens side-by-side and the feel of really learning and assembling pieces of information together is a feel that is hard to explain. No wonder I like to write books, dissertations, and reports…

My personal background is that I came from school when minicomputers such as HP3000, VAX/VMS and later UNIX computers where the ones that software was built to. The next era was the move towards client/server architectures where I really made my personal career in product development. Then we all remember the short period of web-enabling solutions and the huge investments in hosting facilities which many have now disappeared. This new cloud/SaaS era is much more than just making your solution web-enabled. It will change not only the way you build software, but it will change the way you run your business. Let me explain how by reviewing the picture:

The Cloud ImpactI will start with the business model in this blog entry and continue with the others in later blog entries. The change from perpetual software license model to subscription-based model will change the way the ISV sells its solution and it will change the way the ISV structures its partner channel. It will also change the way the ISV markets its solution. The main driver for this is that the ISV will not be able to sustain its cash flow with a traditional sales model as the sales team needs to keep much higher pace in sales when moving to the cloud environment. The sales model for an ISV has to be either fully automated with customer self-service or it can be highly transactional where you can have some human elements but the amount of transactions will cover the cost of maintaining people to close the deal. The ISV has to be able to control the Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) as that is one of the key drivers to be able to achieve break-even point and start generating pure profit. This does not typically happen in less than a year, whereby the ISV has to maintain a happy client so they sign up for a new contract period assuming that the contract period is 12 months. I will analyze the metrics in my later blog entries. This just gave you an example of the operational changes that an ISV will experience.

How does an ISV manage to plan appropriate scenarios that it can take when moving to the cloud? Obviously, the assumption is that the Board of Directors have made a decision that the ISV has to make the move to survive in the new global competition where anybody from anywhere in the world can enter the competitive field. There are no geographical borders that will keep the ISV from competition. If you are an ISV from Italy, you can expect to get somebody to enter your territory from France, Germany, Brazil or Bolivia. Once the strategy has been set, you will have to use a model to operationalize your strategy and I am used and thrilled about Dr. Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas that provides all of the needed elements to analyze and “paint the picture” on a high level. I have witnessed several experienced senior management team members to become enlightened of the power of the canvas and it really has become our number one tool when working with ISVs. The Business Model Canvas consists of nine building blocks: Value Proposition, Customer Segmentation, Revenue Streams, Cost Structure Key Resources, Key Activities, Channels, Customer Relationships and Key Partnerships.

Business Model CanvasThe power of a business model framework such as Business Model Canvas is that the management is compelled to take a position on each of the nine building blocks on a Business Model Canvas. Each building block can also have its own key metrics and these can become the foundation for a dashboard that the management team tracks on the monthly basis.

Besides the question whether the ISV has the right core competence to move towards a cloud business, the key question that any ISV has is how this change is going to impact the financial model and the canvas above shows how the Revenue Stream building block has to be in balance with the Cost Structure block. In the perpetual software business model the metrics on the cost structure and Revenue Streams are completely different.

To summarize, the ISV and its management has many different questions to answer in its journey to the cloud. The first is to make sure that the owners, the management team and the Board of Directors have a common understanding where to go with the strategy. The role of the Business Model Canvas is to help the ISV to lay out a few possible operational scenarios that it can take in its cloud transformation. In my next blog entries I will explain in more detail the financial impact on an ISV when moving from traditional perpetual software license business to subscription-based business model. Stay tuned for more.