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Behind the SaaS (Retired - Look for PartnerOps Partner!)

Behind the SaaS (Retired - Look for PartnerOps Partner!)

By Aaron Howerton

This podcast has been retired and shifted to PartnerOps Partner - all episodes are available across all major streaming platforms as far as I know, but to keep up with the conversation, you'll need to follow me there!
Currently playing episode

Partner Experience is Shifting (AI & LLM Models)

Behind the SaaS (Retired - Look for PartnerOps Partner!)Apr 05, 2023

Partner Ops is a Strategic Role

Partner Ops is a Strategic Role

This week we clarify the purpose of Partner Ops - delivering strategic value. That's it - skip the episode if you want because that's what we talk about or listen in for a reminder of what you already want/believe.

  • Upcoming Changes/Housekeeping
  • I got a new mic! Audio quality is improved
  • Defining Partner Ops as a Strategic Role
  • Strategic Mindset = Asking Questions
  • Examples of strategic value add
  • How to train other people on your new outlook
  • Balancing strategy to higher level OKRs/MBO's/whatever to learn strategy
  • Bonus Tips on tracking work: Brag Book and Metrics

Check out the newsletter tomorrow for the write-up that goes two steps further to discuss challenges you'll face in early stage companies as well as the existing, established companies as you grow a career in Partner Ops. Also, check out the archive and touch-base on anything that resonates!

Thanks - Aaron

Apr 11, 202311:52
Partner Experience is Shifting (AI & LLM Models)
Apr 05, 202312:03
Partner Influence: Purpose, Architecture, and Caveats
Mar 22, 202313:10
What happens when you put PartnerOps Under RevOps? Community Response
Mar 15, 202313:03
Account Mapping: 9-Box Strategic Plan
Mar 08, 202312:58
Building CRM for Partnerships: Don't Skip the Ice Machine
Mar 01, 202312:42
Salesforce Views for Partnerships (Making what you have work for you)
Feb 22, 202311:49
Design Principles and Building a Partnership App in CRM

Design Principles and Building a Partnership App in CRM

Although this focuses on Salesforce, the concepts are the same for any CRM with comparable tools. Join me today for a quick discussion on:

  • Why we need a partnership app 
  • Design principles for building a space 
  • Steps on setup 
  • Considerations for Home Page
  • Custom Pages

As always, this post is available in detail on LinkedIn and now, weekly at PartnerHacker! 

Got questions or thoughts? Shoot me an email and let's chat - No website, but the email is real... I promise... 

Feb 15, 202311:27
Partner Recruitment Model Using Tools You've Got
Feb 08, 202310:10
Crossbeam + Spekit: Just-in-Time Learning Enhances Overlap Data in Salesforce

Crossbeam + Spekit: Just-in-Time Learning Enhances Overlap Data in Salesforce

Geez what a title.... but why not be specific? 

In this episode, the value of enhancing your Crossbeam (or really any) Salesforce widget with the power of Spekit, a just-in-time learning platform designed to bring enablement and education to where your teams work in real time. 

I put this tech together for the first time at 6sense and found it incredibly helpful for improving how the organization sees partnership data cross-functionally. Once you see it, it makes sense. 

For images, links, and supporting content, check out my newsletter on Linked or search for me at where these articles go up every Wednesday. 


Feb 01, 202310:02
Measure What You Give - Building Trust with Ecosystem

Measure What You Give - Building Trust with Ecosystem

Building trust with Partners, like with people, takes time. 2023 is going to be a hard year for many and the word of the year is going to be 'Retention.' 

Shift the narrative with your Partners and start measuring what you GIVE instead of what you GET. Tune in for ideas on:

  • Leads
  • MDF 
  • SPIFFs
  • Training
  • Account Mapping
  • Renewals and Retention
  • Reporting

The main idea? Give more. Track it. Share it. 

See the write-up on LinkedIn:

Jan 18, 202311:10
Show Me the Money... by Program and Partner

Show Me the Money... by Program and Partner

SaaS has a well established book of metrics as an industry that tend to revolve around a few key pillars of Revenue, Customer Behavior, and Marketing Costs. There's a lot to talk about within that space alone. If you've been listening then you know I tend to drill down toward Ecosystem. I'll come back to a primer on SaaS metrics soon, promise, but today is a conversation around the way I'd love to see Partner metrics evolve. 

There's ongoing conversations around lagging indicators v. leading indicators and I went deep on a concept called Pipeline Velocity over the past few weeks. I think it's really fascinating and would love to see it applied to Partnerships. However, as I worked on a great comprehensive list of leading and lagging indicators FOR Partnerships.... I came up a bit short on the leading side. Even ChatGPT didn't help much. 

I realized that all the metrics  are built around lagging data, things that HAVE happened, and got back to what I really, truly want to see happen. 

I want to see it all... by Program and Partner. 

Jan 11, 202310:25
Back to Basics: Foundations of Partner Architecture

Back to Basics: Foundations of Partner Architecture

Another week, another podcast! 

This week we go back to basics and review foundations of Partner Architecture. Yup... I know that's also obvious in the title. 

What do we cover? 

- Why Architecture Matters

- Core Assumptions 

- Ideas for a Good Foundation 

Also, if you're interested in building your network around Partner Operations use this link to sign up for a monthly connection event network thing I'm working on: 

Finally, get the written details on this podcast at the newsletter page on LinkedIn:

To all my loyal listeners - I appreciate the lot of you. Stay tuned as I have high hopes for making 2023 a great year! 

Jan 04, 202311:35
Self-Care Tips for 2023: Brag Book, Networking, Connecting

Self-Care Tips for 2023: Brag Book, Networking, Connecting

Closing out 2022 with a podcast is just fun. This is far and away my favorite 'thing' outside of work that's still professionally oriented. My apologies in advance as this one goes a couple minutes past my typical 10 minute goal, but there's just a lot of good things to say. 

This week's episode covers the ideas in my weekly newsletter over on LinkedIn (link below). It's all about self-care in 2023! 

Here's the big ideas... 

- Build a brag book.

- Expand your network. 

- Join a community. 

- Do things you like that aren't work. 

I'm also starting up a monthly session for Partner Ops professionals in January 2023, sign-up link below if you're interested in learning more. We'll talk about a lot of things with a goal of keeping it loosely structured and value-add. 

And.. that's it for 2023! 

Partner Ops Monthly MeetUp:

Partner Experience Digest: 

Dec 28, 202212:57
Working in SaaS #5: Finding a New TEAM (Job Search Update)

Working in SaaS #5: Finding a New TEAM (Job Search Update)

Continue the journey as I shared where I've landed, why I picked it, what I'm excited about, and why I still have some concerns. 

As always, I approach this with transparency and honest thoughts. I feel fortunate to have landed quickly at such a strong company with a manager that comes with stellar reviews from my personal network and a chance to start before the end of the year. There's a lot to be thankful for in this entire process, including this podcast being born because I'm only just getting started. 

This process was really interesting and opens the door to a different future than I expected.  I see the upside and look forward to... oh.. you know what? Just listen along. It's only 10 minutes after all. 

Aaron, Behind the SaaS 

Dec 19, 202210:45
If not Partner Ops... Partner Experience

If not Partner Ops... Partner Experience

This week I got a challenging response from a new friend - it's more than Partner Operations. 

I'll admin, I get sucked into existing frameworks pretty easily. I think it's the nature of my personality, lots of fun personal history we can talk about sometime over a beer, but ultimately it's this desire to figure out what IS and work WITHIN that model to drive change. Not wanting to rock the boat, etc. etc. 

It's apparently also got me talking Partner Operations when what I should be saying is Partner Experience. 

Join me for another 10 minute, one-way conversation as I think about this change, why it makes sense, and why hiring Channel/Partnership leaders without an operational background or at least a plan to fill that gap is just a really bad idea. 


Dec 09, 202209:21
Working in SaaS #4: Job Search Update and Offers

Working in SaaS #4: Job Search Update and Offers

Working in SaaS #4: Job Search Update and Offers 

Another lightning fast discussion around my job search! Tune in to learn about: 

  • The three different roles I got into process on within a couple of weeks of being laid off
  • The disparity between three roles all tied to 'Partner Operations' 
  • How I got into those processes (hint: people make the difference!)
  • What the processes looked like and why I didn't mind 5+ interviews for some of these roles 
  • How the offers were presented (i.e. the main components of each offer) 
  • How many offers I got (and didn't get)
  • Why I think one fell through - rationalizing 'rejection' after a great process with 100% conjecture on what may have happened
  • Which offer I decided to take..... naawwww just kidding. That comes later so you have to come back. 

Here's what I DON'T talk about, but would be willing to chat through in a 1-1:

  • The companies I interviewed with 
  • Details on the packages (restrictions may apply here, just being fully transparent)
  • Detailed thoughts about each process - what I liked and/or didn't like with each role
  • My final decision (also coming in a future podcast)

I am having a BLAST putting these together, so I certainly hope you enjoy them, too! Subscribe, like, share, and send feedback! 

Aaron @ Behind the SaaS 

Nov 29, 202210:42
What the heck is Partner Ops?

What the heck is Partner Ops?

The short answer: A jack of all trades supporting a wide set of initiatives to drive Partnership process deeper into the org they serve. The long answer: It's really not well defined and will largely depend on your organizational maturity around Partnerships. This role could be responsible for the following (non-exhaustive) list of "things" within the organization: 

✅ #PRM Implementation and ongoing management/enhancements (often a driving reason for the initial hire) 

✅ #Reporting and #Dashboards in CRM/Reporting systems 

✅ #Inbound referral process management/enhancements 

✅ #Data hygiene and program modeling 

✅ #Product level reporting for ISVs/OEM utilization/analytics 

✅ Daily support of inbound partner issues for system access, quote support, license allocation, etc. etc. 

✅ #Enablement systems tied to PRM or LMS delivery 

✅ Account mapping solutions and ongoing reporting requests 

✅ #Territory creation/alignment into direct rhythms for affiliates and resellers + conflict resolution 

✅ System training and enablement, internally and externally 

✅ Partner Onboarding - technical and otherwise 

✅ Requirement gathering for Partner based initiatives 

✅ #ProjectManagement for a variety of partner-related projects extending from every program deeper into the organization

✅ #Enterprise Architecture for #ecosystem tools such as LSM, PRM, SSO, etc. 

✅ Turn ideas into scalable solutions to support Partner oriented growth/expansion Basically, your #partnerops role is a #partnermanager without the day-to-day responsibility (or potential financial upside) of managing partners. 

▶ They will #advocate for more support and partner inclusion. 

▶ They will #educate on what Partners do for the business. 

▶ They will #collaborate with literally everyone in the org.. 

▶ They will #support... ucate.... (and it was going so well....) all the initiatives needed to make Partnerships successful. 

The trend right now hiring a PartnerOps role between 12-24 months into program development, often tied to a major PRM (or other system) project and without a lot of clarity for the potential scope and influence of the role.

Nov 17, 202206:26
Working in SaaS #3: The Bad Stuffs

Working in SaaS #3: The Bad Stuffs

Working in SaaS is not all roses and sunshine, as we're seeing in the news week over week. One big risk for anyone in and around SaaS - layoffs. 

This week, I talk about my first experience with layoffs, how to spot them coming (hint: it's all about growth), and the strange upside around perception that comes from being included in the cut. 

Pull up a saddle and let me bend your ear for a minute... you might just enjoy it. 

Nov 08, 202209:40
Working in SaaS #2: Great Things about SaaS

Working in SaaS #2: Great Things about SaaS

I stumbled into SaaS almost 15 years ago after working for low pay as a restaurant manager coming out of college. I got a referral in, underbid the salary, and they took a risk. I'm now here to tell you - there are great things about working in SaaS. 

A few things I talk about in this episode:

  • Education requirements for SaaS work (hint: there are basically none)
  • Career mobility
  • Do you need to know code? (hint: nopers)
  • Remote work and flexibility
  • Innovation and pace of change 
  • Rewards (comp, increasing pay, etc.) 
  • The great people
  • Where to go for training (hint: 

Special note, this episode was NOT sponsored by Aspireship - I've been on the platform and evaluated the training and think it's a great place to get exposed to thought leaders and the initial ideas that build the framework for SaaS. Other great places include Partnership Leaders, PartnerHacker, RevGenius and other online communities. 

Bonus Hint not in the episode: your best way in is through REFERRALS. We can get into that in yet another episode but it's worth knowing now. 

Come along if you like, but... if not... that's okay, too. 

Oh, I also end this 'good luck partnering' because I'm still looking for a good signoff catchphrase. Send me ideas, please. It's... starting to feel weird. 

Nov 02, 202209:48
behind the Saas: Job Search Update (Working in SaaS #1)

behind the Saas: Job Search Update (Working in SaaS #1)

You ever wonder what a job search in SaaS looks like following a layoff? 

Yeah.. me either, but here we are and if talking through it offers some encouragement for the people I know recently impacted, why not be open on the journey? 

I was going to talk about the pros and cons of working in SaaS but after a few tries realized those were worth their own shorts, so tune in next week for those. 

Also, a word from one of my biggest sponsors.   ;o) If you only get 30 seconds in, you'll be glad you did. 

Good luck partnering.

Oct 28, 202209:49
The Ecosystem Mindset for Professional Services

The Ecosystem Mindset for Professional Services

If you work in Professional Services AT a software company, your job is not about Professional Services. Yes, that's what you do each day, but you do it in service to the Total Lifetime Value of the customer. The TLV impacts retention, which impacts valuation, which impacts shareholder value. Professional Services itself is wrapped up in the Customer Acquisition Cost so there should be a vested interest in keeping those costs low. 

Enter the ecosystem. 

In todays' cast I talk about the mindset of Professional Services for Ecosystem and the difference between non-partner centered PS teams and partner-centered PS teams. I also talk about Chris Murray over at Lead Forensics, but in a nice way because he spurred these thoughts on this morning. 

Feedback? Find me on linkedin: and let's have a conversation. 

Oct 27, 202207:49
The Best Ops Moves are Often Invisible

The Best Ops Moves are Often Invisible

Operations is almost an entirely 'behind the scenes' function for your average SaaS company. Projects in this space invariably touch 'live' environments where people are working and downtime is extremely limited or prohibited, depending on the system. The result is that most of the best moves happening in your ops ecosystem are nearly invisible to anyone outside the team, much less the company. This makes it easy for companies to undervalue operations on the whole. 

In this episode I ramble a bit about these invisible projects, the impact on organizations, and the simple plan to improve that visibility and recognize your ops pros for the value they bring (hint: you just ask and share - boom! Saved you 7 minutes...) 

Thanks for coming along. Let me know what you think over on LinkedIn ( 

Oct 26, 202207:48
Welcome to Behind the SaaS

Welcome to Behind the SaaS

In 2022, I was unexpectedly laid off from what I thought was going to be a much longer and more lucrative journey in a SaaS unicorn. This podcast is born from that time, driven to explore the unknown side of SaaS companies and the constant ebb and flow of new technology. It was originally called 'The Partner Syndicate' but... well... I changed it. 

I got to thinking about how many people I know that just don't understand SaaS, or even those within SaaS that still undervalue the complexity of the SaaS model and what it takes to operate well. I wanted to take people behind the scenes, talk about the different operational and business challenges of growing a successful SaaS company based on my own experience working inside these companies. 

So here we are... looking behind the SaaS to discuss all things operations, partners, ecosystems, growth, failure, and success. 

Thanks for taking a minute to check your interest - see you behind the SaaS! 

Oct 24, 202201:19
The Future of Partner Ops: Enter the Ecosystem

The Future of Partner Ops: Enter the Ecosystem

Day 5️⃣ The future of #PartnerOps (hint: think #ecosystem)

Time for some speculation! Where, exactly is PartnerOps heading in an ecosystem driven world? Getting to the future requires we consider a bit about the current state.

#PartnerOps is not like other careers.

❌ There's not a clear entry point - usually pivoting in from program management (where ops begins) or an internal transfer from another ops role.

❌ There's also no clear end point - anyone ever see a C-Level Partner Ops role? Anyone? ... Bueller... Bueller.... (seriously, please comment and get me introduced to nail down that path...)

❌ We often work across multiple other departments but have no direct reports (i.e. lack management control and/or experience).

❌ Our mandate (as already discussed this week) can be broad, foggy, and lack prioritization.

❌ True expertise and opportunity tends to exist in only in the largest organizations (i.e. your Salesforce, Orcale, Atlassian, etc. etc. etc.

So we exist in this weird cross-section of roles where much is required in terms of corporate knowledge, collaboration, and cross-functional skill sets but little is offered in terms of growth and development.

Where is this all headed? Enter the #ecosystem.

As companies shift to #ecosystem thinking, #partnerled mindsets will start to emerge throughout the organization. This will lead to a lot of new opportunities that are partner-centric or partner-tangent roles. Those working in and around #PartnerOps right now will be the natural option to niche down into the roles needed to support a vibrant ecosystem.

What kind of roles?

➡ Partner Business Analysts

➡ Partner Project Managers for integrations and internal cross-functional project delivery

➡ Partner Experience Managers helping guide the overall experience (also coming out of and in collaboration with #enablement)

➡ Ecosystem Architects guiding the partner tech stack and tracking,

➡ Partner Support Managers inside or next to CS Managers

➡ A continued breakout of all the work of PartnerOps in organizations that truly understand and embrace the value of an #ecosystem mindset

The PartnerOps manager of today is the Ecosystem Leader of tomorrow, helping organizations navigate the change in mindset alongside the Partnership/Channel leader.

Looking for a place to connect with other experts in #partnerships? Then join Partnership Leaders , the home for the home for everyone in partnerships!

Oct 21, 202206:51
Tips for New or Simply Worn Out Partner Ops Hires

Tips for New or Simply Worn Out Partner Ops Hires

Day 4️⃣ New #PartnerOps Hires - Tips for Success

If you're new to #PartnerOps or just feeling a bit lost in your current role you might benefit from a few tips on getting started that can also help an established role get re-centered in an off season.

✅ Map the Partnership Processes. Go find every process tied to Partnership, write it all down, get it reviewed, and collect it into a single SOP to build from.

✅ Map the Relationships. Sign up for Lucid or another charting tool and start mapping all the people that are in any way connected to Partnerships. This helps you keep up with names/roles but also clearly demonstrates the company-wide culture of Partnerships.

✅ Map the Data. Part of process mapping will be figuring out the data model, during which time you can build out some basic reporting to check for quality issues like "Do we know how many partners are in X program?" or "Do we have a definitive list of Partner Contacts for event marketing?" Find all the gaps in process and data quality that need filled up.

✅ Map the Technology (are you seeing a trend here?). How does the tech stack support or, more likely, not support the larger partner ecosystem? Do they have a PRM? Do they offer SSO for partners? What's the LMS for enablement? How are they managing integration projects? What are they using for contracting? Just ask questions - every process likely has or needs supporting technology. Write. It. Down.

✅ Find the Reports. Pretty straightforward - find them, bookmark them, figure out how they are made, look for innovation.

✅ Ask about program prioritization. Which program matters most to the org, and why, so you can properly set your own agenda and work effort. Something will eventually have to give and you shouldn't have to make that call on your own.

✅ Setup Recurring Meetings. Program leads will appreciate regular touchpoints to share grievances an ideas. Start with bi-weekly half-hour sessions if the schedule affords it and then shift to monthly once the meetings close out in less than 15 minutes. Ask all the questions you think of throughout the week in this space to help drive the agenda. Listen listen listen.

✅ Define the process for change. If you want to drive change you'll need to know the who and how behind it. Do they have a well established framework for requests tied to CRM updates, data changes, etc? Do you do that work or do you write up requirements? If not you, who does and where do you send it? You may find they don't have anything like this, super flexible org, etc. so be prepared to offers ideas. IT/Systems will need to be your best friend here.

Looking for a place to connect with other experts in #partnerships? Then join Partnership Leaders , the home for the home for everyone in partnerships!

Oct 20, 202209:26
Refining the Scope: Partner Operations v. Partner Analyst

Refining the Scope: Partner Operations v. Partner Analyst

Day 3️⃣ Refining the Scope: #PartnersOps or #BusinessAnalyst?

Partner Operations, more than many other operational roles in my experience, tends to be a catchall title reflecting a deeper need for operational AND programmatic support. Operational work falls to the first few program hires trying to stand things up and by the time an Ops hire shows up on the scene there's a mixed bag of work that needs done.

The difference in skills overlap but the jump back and forth from daily operational work into deep research and analysis on how to drive improvement can slow down delivery and be mentally exhausting (i.e. being all things to all people, always saying yes, etc).

You might benefit from refining the scope of your need and balancing that against the maturity of your company to drive the results you really need, right now.

Below is a loose breakout of how you might visualize each role to more clearly delineate value and purpose in your hiring process and deployment of the role into the organization.

Partner Business Analyst:
✅ High level project management as core function
✅ Requirement development and road-mapping for strategic projects
✅ Cross-functional collaboration to drive partner initiatives internally
✅ Strategic program support - dedicated or multi-pronged
✅ Drives requirements into Operations to deliver

Partner Operations:
✅ Core reporting/dashboard development and maintenance
✅ Enterprise architecture/Ecosystem management
✅ Data enrichment/hygiene management
✅ SOP development and enforcement
✅ Daily support rhythms for team and external partners
✅ Maintaining and improving manual processes into automation
✅ Technical system ownership/representation into core business tools

Personally, I think early stage companies would benefit by leaning into the Analyst definition more heavily than the Ops as part of that role is driving or-wide awareness and resource alignment toward Partnerships. This ultimately benefits the company-wide effort to make partnerships an integral part of the organizational fabric and pushes ownership deeper into the org as those operational functions build out and support partnership solutions.

What do YOU think?

Looking for a place to connect with other experts in #partnerships? Then join Partnership Leaders, the home for the home for everyone in partnerships! Also check out their upcoming report on the state of Partner Operations:

Oct 20, 202207:40
Your First Partner Ops Hire - Internal or External?

Your First Partner Ops Hire - Internal or External?

Todays Post: 2️⃣ Making Your First #PartnerOps Hire

Yesterday (see link in comments because LinkedIn posting needs help), I covered a laundry list of things that typically fall into/around Partner Operations. The potential scope of the role combined with the timing of your first hire determines whether you look INTERNALLY or EXTERNALLY for your first partner ops role. Let's talk about the benefits and challenges of each.

✅ Well suited as early hire due to cost and ability to ramp with program growth
✅ The know the #organization, #product, and players already, making #collaboration easier and improving long-term performance potential
✅ Start part-time to help you define your true needs and make a more intentional hire/decision later based on actual program success
✅ Backfilling any other Ops role is easier than finding experienced PartnerOps hire in the open market right now
✅ It's likely more affordable that hiring outside the org
#blunt: If you fail at scaling the program, an internal hire's existing relationships improve their own position to shift back into another role

❌ Ground up training means you likely go slower at the start
❌ No experience means a lack of best practices, tech debt, rework, etc.
❌ Taking talent from another team may create some tension if your partner culture isn't established
❌ Risk of mismatched talent that goes with any internal transfer
❌ May lack the technical skills or project management capacity of experienced hires

✅ Would prefer to be an earlier hire but capable of coming in a little later and making an impact
✅ Outside experience brings knowledge of best practices, rhythms, and program models to support scale
✅ Familiarity with industry = help developing program model, definitions, and norms
✅ Will have existing relationships with vendors/platforms to leverage
#Experience adds strategic value to #decisionmaking
✅ Collaboration and project management basics are already present

❌ May need 2-3 months to get to know the product, players, and program as well as decipher what's already been done to build a roadmap
❌ May come with higher upfront cost, challenging for younger programs
❌ As with any 'experienced' person, may be entrenched in specific ideas not suited for your program
❌ May have a different view of the role that does not reflect your goals

In an ideal world, companies investing in Partnerships would bring in experienced ops support right behind their first Program leader. This would allow your program to scale faster from the start and at every point along the way.

Oct 20, 202207:15