Caroline Santander, Senior Vice President of Global Professional Services & Enablement at Rootstock Software chats about the evolution of cloud ERP systems:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat, Caroline. Tell us about yourself and your role at Rootstock Software…
I’ve been with Rootstock Software since 2018 and was recently promoted to Senior Vice President of Global Professional Services & Enablement in April 2023. In this role, I oversee two areas of the company. First, I’m honored to now be managing the Global Professional Services team. This group of highly experienced professionals have both technical and subject matter expertise. And with in-depth understanding of the industry, they’re able to quickly grasp a customer’s business requirements and help design their Rootstock ERP solution to enable a shorter time to value. We’re also working to establish our company as the Center of Excellence in terms of defining the best practices for implementing and configuring Rootstock Cloud ERP for our valued system integration partners.
The second area I manage is our Enablement Program. I’ve managed this department for about four years now. In this capacity, I make sure customers and partners have the Rootstock product knowledge they need to succeed. Since the program began, I’ve overseen the launch of the Rootstock Success Community and the Rootstock Learning Center. The Success Community serves as the online portal to access our product knowledge, including the Learning Center. The Success Community also provides a platform for customers to network with one another, along with Rootstock subject matter experts and other business partners.
How are you seeing the cloud ERP segment transform and evolve in today’s business environment and how are you seeing demand for these features grow?
It’s good timing for this question, as we just completed a comprehensive survey of manufacturers to gain a deeper understanding of their use of technology. We found that even with inflation and current economic conditions most manufacturers view cloud ERP as a strategic investment that will help position them for growth, efficiency, and competitive advantage.
Our study revealed that two-thirds of respondents (62.6%) said they were considering upgrading their ERP solutions. The most tech-savvy manufacturers have already moved to cloud ERP, but others are rapidly following suit as early adopters and industry analysts have shown the benefits. For example, Nucleus Research found that on average cloud deployments achieved four times the ROI compared to on-premises legacy solutions. In addition, since Rootstock Cloud ERP is built on the Salesforce Platform, it was shown to provide an accelerated time to value, a reduced total cost of ownership, and improved operational efficiency in this same Nucleus report.
Another issue driving demand is the ongoing labor shortage. Today, manufacturers see cloud ERP—with its modern interface and user-friendly experience—to attract and retain talent. Workers want to avoid a stagnant skillset, which they see as being tied to IT environments with outdated systems and manual, time-consuming administrative processes. On the other hand, Cloud ERP empowers staff to be efficient and strategic, as it’s configured to automate and streamline workflow, while also providing Enterprise Insights to make informed business decisions.
When it comes to creating and strengthening enablement programs to serve end users: what best practices do you feel B2B tech teams should keep in mind?
I’m very passionate about user enablement. Rootstock’s customer enablement program has a strong foundation with several key best practices other B2B tech teams can keep in mind.
First, we believe customer enablement should provide easy, proven, and innovative ways for customers to onboard quickly, so they can realize an accelerated time to value. Our enablement program includes product training, technical product knowledge, engagement in the Rootstock Success Community, and organizational change management. Enablement also extends beyond the customers’ go-live date, so they can continue to grow in how they use and benefit from Rootstock Cloud ERP.
Second, one of the most important best practices is to get users trained early in their company’s implementation process. Users should have access to a blend of different training modalities to accommodate different learning styles and preferences. For instance, Rootstock’s training material is available in both a self-study option, conveniently available on-demand at a user’s fingertips, as well as instructor-led training, which allows for quick, intense, and efficient learning experience.
Third, customer enablement should provide ongoing and recurring learning opportunities. At Rootstock, we offer bi-weekly Learning Hours, in which product experts share knowledge on select product capabilities and the latest product releases.
Finally, creating training material shouldn’t happen in a vacuum. Prospective customers should feel their solution provider will listen and learn from their feedback to understand what type of instruction is missing or what areas of the product they might still require training on. One of our strengths is that we create new material by analyzing customer cases, as well as using input from our Success Community, discussion forums, and direct user feedback. In this way, we know our material is designed with the users’ needs in mind.
In your view: how can modern day sales leaders and business heads use partner programs more to their brand’s growth benefit?
When I first started with Rootstock, I oversaw our partner program and helped to build and fortify this partner ecosystem. As such, I know how critical a partner program can be in supporting rapid business development and company growth. Our partners, such as Salesforce Deloitte Digital and Workday, have helped raise awareness about our Manufacturing Cloud ERP and helped extend our capacity to serve an increasing number of customers worldwide. This is one way our company has grown rapidly is by leveraging partners that can successfully adopt our sales strategies and implementation methodology.
Today, our partner program is managed by our Senior Vice President of Global Alliances Matt Wolf. We’re always on the lookout for new partners aligned with our goal to help manufacturers digitally transform their operations. As I mentioned, we’re striving to establish Rootstock as a Center of Excellence that enables our partners to succeed. This starts with understanding that different types of partners have different needs. For example, a systems integrator has a different core business and strengths compared to a referral, channel, or complementary technology partner.
To meet the various needs of these different partner types, we’ve bolstered our partner enablement program. Of course, this program provides product training and knowledge, so partners can effectively handle referrals and sales. But soon we’ll also offer a partner certification program to certify partners in our implementation methodology. This is all part of building that Center of Excellence, and this plan will help us increase partner-led implementations in the next three to five years.
What can B2B tech teams today, given market dynamics, do more of to create user communities that help with retention and longevity?
Today, there are several key factors that contribute to successful user communities, as well as to customer retention and longevity.
For us, it starts with a successful implementation and the trusted partnership that customers build with our Professional Services team. During the implementation process, customers learn how to use all the product knowledge that’s available to them for their own long-term success. Keep in mind that users don’t want to wait long to get the answers they need. Instead, many prefer online self-service options, so they can quickly and conveniently arrive at answers themselves.
Next, customers want to feel invested in their solution and engaged with other users. In our Success Community, they experience these benefits, as they’re able to discuss industry challenges with one another, as well as exchange best practices, lessons learned, and tips and tricks to make their jobs easier. All these factors positively impact not only our customer experience, but also our customer retention rate, which is currently above 95%.
Our customers have also taken it upon themselves to form their own customer-led user group, known as The Root Group, which has our full support. This group provides another avenue for users to feel ownership over our ERP solution. In fact, this group’s Customer Advisory Board is an integral part of Rootstock’s product strategy, helping us to define our product roadmap.
Can you highlight more about the future of the B2B tech market and in what ways you expect to see it grow?
The future holds many tech advances, but a key one that manufacturers want to leverage is moving to a single, unified cloud platform. According to our 2023 State of Manufacturing Technology Survey, many believe a key risk of not engaging in digital transformation is the continued problems caused by data silos.
As such, manufacturers want to tackle this challenge first. Having Rootstock Cloud ERP built on the Salesforce Platform is a major advantage as it creates a connected enterprise. With it, customers can align production with digital signals from key areas, including customer demand, supplier collaboration, and inventory management. Our ERP acts as a centralized hub to manage and shift production and supply chain strategies as needed.
Organizations must be advised against half measures. For example, trying to stick a legacy application on the cloud won’t cut it. Instead, a true signal-chain manufacturer desires a true cloud platform, so they can connect signals from the frontend to the backend of their business. In this way, Rootstock Cloud ERP operates as a centralize hub that provides leaders with a complete 360-degree view of their business. These insights will help manufacturers continually adapt in a volatile market and remain empowered with the agility to navigate to what’s next.
Rootstock is a provider of the #1 Manufacturing Cloud ERP. In using the Rootstock ERP solution, manufacturers have been able to digitally transform their businesses and turbocharge their operations.
Caroline Santander is SVP of Global Professional Services & Enablement at Rootstock Software. She has in-depth experience in managing large-scale ERP implementations throughout North America and Europe. She’s seen ERP implementations grow in complexity and understands that manufacturers require the right blend of best practices around implementation, integration, and configuration, and especially well-timed product knowledge so they’re positioned to achieve faster time to value.
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