Looking to take the complexity out of contract management and renewals for all concerned, networking vendor Cisco is rolling out a new tool that automates much of the process of renewals for partners and inventory for customers.

Cisco Systems, based in San Jose, Calif., also announced that it is creating a new online service for Tier 1 partners, offering access to the best practices from Cisco’s consulting arm and to customized information—both designed enhance partners’ revenue and profits.

The Web-based contract management and renewal solution will provide partners with a set of processes and an online tool for contract management.

“The majority of our business, 80 percent plus, goes through our partners,” said Karl Meulema, vice president of Marketing and Channels, noting that the contract renewal opportunity per quarter at Cisco is worth $1.3 billion, and the new program is designed to help partners capture that full opportunity. “It is crucial that our partners have full insight into managing contracts. Renewals are one of simplest sales processes there is. In this case our new solution provides the partner with exactly what to sell.”

Let Your Voice be Heard! Vote on the Most Significant New Product Introductions in the Channel. Click here to fill out our online ballot.

For example, a customer may acquire new equipment, take equipment out of service or move equipment to a different site, said Steve Blunt, senior director of Global Business Operations at Cisco. All those changes need to be reflected in the renewed contract. Cisco’s new Web-based tool enables partners to easily incorporate those changes. A separate site allows customers to keep their equipment inventory up to date.

“Partners told us they wanted it to be easier to generate reports and place an order,” Blunt said. “The longer it takes to do these things, the more time partners lose.”

Cisco will be rolling out the program in waves from now until the end of May.

The networking giant also announced Cisco eConsulting—a packaged self-service program for partners that gives them access to the benefits of Cisco Consulting—a program which helped participating partners improve their return on working capital by 150 percent, according to Meulema.

Click here to view exclusive channel research from Amazon Consulting.

Meulema noted that the Cisco Consulting service previously offered to partners consisted of four steps: assessment of data, analysis of the gap between where a company is and where it should be, a sharing of best practices, and an ongoing monitoring of performance.

“We’ve done this in a high-touch fashion with over 300 partners around the world,” and those that implemented the changes are the ones that realized the significant returns on working capital, Meulema said.

But to scale the program to accommodate its entire Tier 1 partner roster, Meulema said, Cisco had to move away from doing it in such a high-touch way.

Cisco eConsulting allows the company’s 4,000 Tier 1 partners to access individual profiles regarding their performance on the renewal and attach rate for the products and services they sell within various technology categories. The tool provides partners with a sense of how they rank against their industry peers.

The tool then provides partners with recommendations for improvements and access to the company’s large database of best practices, according to Meulema.

Partners will be able to access the tool when it rolls out in May.