How many partners does it take to justify PRM?

I have a customer who has planned on launching a channel program with a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) system for a while now.  I visited this customer at least once per quarter for the past two years on other business.  Each time I saw him I would ask “When are we going to build that Partner Portal and launch PRM for you?” Almost inevitably he would respond with “soon”. 

He called me last week and told me the time had come to implement his Portal/PRM system.  A little stunned, I was very curious as to what the motivation was for starting now when the program had been in development for the better part of two years.  His answer really hit home with me and I thought that others may benefit from the experience so I am sharing it here.

Essentially, my client’s answer was that his program had now exceeded his ability to manage it manually.  At 5-10 partners, he could personally respond to requests for documents, manually transfer deal registrations into his CRM, generate and distribute logos, copy etc.   He was also able to execute trainings on a one to one basis with each new partner. 

Now, however, his program had grown to almost 100 partners and he was spending almost all of his time and the better part of another team member’s time responding to the needs of partners.  This was not beneficial for him nor the members of his partner network.  Thus, he needed to implement a PRM so partners could have self service access to the tools and training they needed to successfully sell, service and support his company’s product line when they needed them.

That got me thinking.  How many partners does it take for PRM to make sense?   Below are a few analyses that take a very conservative approach with respect to what resources a partner may need, how often during a year they might need them and the estimated time to respond to each.  What shocked me was how few partners it took to completely occupy the time of a full-time employee.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments.

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