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During its first year as a formal channel program, Hewlett-Packard Co.’s PartnerOne was rolling out significant program updates and revisions almost quarterly.

In its second year, the company limited major announcements to the change of the fiscal calendar.

As the program enters its fourth year this month, PartnerOne executives are confident the system in place is a solid one, and they are keeping the revisions to a minimum.

“That much change isn’t healthy for partners,” said Tom LaRocca, HP’s vice president of partner development and programs.

“They need predictability. Some of them are making quarterly decisions and investments 12 and 16 months down the road. They need to know, ‘Am I going to have a consistent investment from HP down the line?’”

HP, LaRocca said, kept most of the PartnerOne changes this year, which are under way, to the procedural:

  • Announced last month, distributors—Agilysys, Arrow Electronics, Avnet Inc., Bell Micro, Ingram Micro, Synnex and Tech Data—will administer PartnerOne resources in their relationships with VARs.
  • Storage product lines were realigned to designate them as either enterprise products or commercial to emphasize commercial capabilities for those VARs selling the line as such. Rebates are aligned accordingly.
  • Gold and Platinum level partners are no longer responsible for the TCE (Total Customer Experience) survey. HP will administer the survey, which partners said was a burden to complete, and report the results to VARs.
  • Partners may review the certification status and eligibility of employees through a Web-based Certification Look-up Tool. The Gap Analysis will quickly display what is needed to earn additional competencies.
  • PartnerOne Membership Status audits to ensure a credible disbursement of partner benefits.

    The changes are part of new CEO Mark Hurd’s channel directives to make sure channel resources go to the channel partners who are most productive, and the revisions are deigned to meet that end, LaRocca said.

    Click here to read The Channel Insider columnist Elliot Markowitz’s reaction to HP’s channel progress.

    Partners contacted for this story, many of whom have been critical of HP’s channel program this year, said they were unmoved by this year’s revisions.

    “Understanding [PartnerOne] is difficult; it takes a lot of administration,” said Mark McBee, vice president of vendor management at MCPc Inc. of Cleveland, a PartnerOne VAR.

    “We spend four to five hours each quarter with [HP] channel reps trying to determine if we met the requirements. We don’t have those challenges with any other partners.”

    These revisions are unlikely to fix any of those frustrations, McBee said, but they’re also unlikely to cause any new ones.

    Most popular should be the Certification Look-Up Tool, which he said should serve to clear some of the fog surrounding the issue.