Schneider Electric FAQ

June 8, 2015 — Keith Freeman

SSP Innovations is undergoing a change related to the Schneider Electric Partnership.  This FAQ contains the most asked questions from our customers and partners.

When did the SSP/Schneider Electric Partnership begin and end? Top

SSP was among Telvent’s very first implementation partners, beginning in 2010, until the partnership was ended by Schneider Electric in May of 2015. 


Why was the partnership program created? Top

The principles of the Telvent partner program were based heavily on the success of Esri’s partner network. As stated by Telvent, the implementation partner program was formed for organizations that have a proven track record of success working with and supporting the ArcFM™ Solution. The implementation partners possess a knowledge base and skill set within their own organizations allowing them to provide an array of services to customers including leading ArcFM™ Solution implementations. The partner program was reserved for those organizations looking for strategic alignment and a collaborative relationship within the domestic GIS market.

These principles genuinely defined SSP at the time they were written. Based on widespread successful ArcFM™ work across many customers leading up to that point, SSP was grandfathered into the program, bypassing certification requirements. SSP was honored to be among the initial partners that helped drive the program to the height of its success soon thereafter. 


How long has SSP been performing arcfm-related services? Top

SSP has a long, successful track record of ArcFM™ suite consulting dating back to 2007, several years prior to entering into a partnership with Telvent.

Our implementation, customization and integration services surrounding the ArcFM™ suite are what our company was built on, with our flagship client NIPSCO engaging with us in 2007 and expanding over time to over 60 ArcFM™ user clients; nearly half of whom have hired us for more than one project. SSP was hired by 26 ArcFM™ shops last year alone. SSP will continue this very successful practice long into the future, just as we did before and during our partnership with Telvent/Schneider Electric. 


Why did Schneider Electric decide to no longer be official partners with SSP? Top

Schneider Electric recently shifted its market strategy in order to bolster its services business. This strategic shift included the execution of significant changes to the terms of its partnership program.  After substantial discussions between Schneider Electric and its partners, Schneider Electric chose to end its partnerships with some of its partners, and update its terms with remaining partners.  In short, partners that might directly compete with Schneider Electric for delivery services at mid- to large-size utilities were deemed no longer a good fit for partnership.

This change was entirely for economic reasons; SSP’s proven competency with the ArcFM™ suite was not in question. 


Is SSP the only partner affected? Top

No; Schneider Electric’s entire partnership program has fundamentally changed. All partners were affected by the change, including major updates to the terms of the preexisting partnership agreements. Further, SSP is not the only partner to have seen its official relationship come to an end. 


Can SSP Innovations still perform ArcFM™-related services projects? Top

Absolutely; SSP can and will continue to perform ArcFM™-related services indefinitely. These are the same services that SSP performed before and during our partnership with Telvent/Schneider Electric, including ArcFM™-suite implementation, customization, integration, upgrades, custom support (AKA “ESM”), data conversion, database health & tuning, and strategic “Solution Oriented” consulting.

While SSP will no longer call itself a “Certified Implementation Partner of Schneider Electric,” our talented staff, highly skilled in ArcFM™-related delivery, remains and is growing every year. SSP’s 50+ mutual customers with Schneider Electric will attest to our commitment to delivery, relationship, and customer success. This is why we will continue to be a smart services alternative for the domestic ArcFM™ community.

Not to mention, SSP will continue to be your go-to partner for any Esri ArcGIS Platform needs.  SSP is the utility industry’s only ArcGIS Online Specialty Partner – a certification given by Esri to help their clients determine who to trust when implementing this newer technology.  Further, SSP is the 2015 Esri Business Partner Conference Award Winner in the category of Initial Operating Capability Services Implementation, for our industry leadership in utilizing Esri’s newest and cutting-edge technologies to solve problems at utilities and telecoms. 


Is SSP still a viable and reliable choice for my ArcFM™ services needs? Top

Yes. Our excellent track record, technical competency, and long-term relationships with customers across the country make us the perfect provider of your GIS services and consulting needs.  We have over 100+ years of combined experience with Schneider Electric tools.  In short, our partnership status has no bearing on our ability to deliver success to your projects.

But don’t take our word for it; we encourage you to ask around the ArcFM™ utility community!   


What limitations will SSP have not being an ‘official’ partner? Top

Well, we won’t be sponsoring lunch at the next Link conference!

In all seriousness, SSP employees will no longer attend the Link conference, nor participate on the Exchange site. While we won’t call ourselves an official partner or utilize Schneider Electric logos on our proposals or marketing materials, the quality of the content in our documents and our project delivery results will not suffer.   


How am I affected by this change? Top

The most significant change we anticipate our customers will experience is that we will no longer provide direct management of core product bugs on their behalf within Exchange. Instead, we will work with our customers to manage these occasional product bugs jointly. 


Are there any benefits to the change? Top

Yes. Whereas we’d previously treated opportunities with new clients with some discretion toward the partnership, SSP will now have the freedom to engage with all utilities and telecoms for the services we offer. We view this as a significant benefit to our future growth and to the client community generally. 


How does this change affect SSP’s future growth? Top

SSP is the strongest we’ve ever been, in our entire history.  Our backlog and pipeline are extremely healthy, and growing every day. We are fortunate to have a loyal and supportive client base which utilizes our services repeatedly, and we are bringing on new customers every month. Given our proven expertise in the ArcFM™ suite, our extremely active partnership with Esri, and our understanding of the utility GIS landscape as a whole, we are well-positioned to continue the steady growth we’ve seen over the last eight years.

This isn’t marketing-speak. In fact, we’re actively looking to hire.  If you might be interested in a position please click here


How will I get support on Schneider Electric tools if SSP is not an ‘official’ partner? Top

As always, for core product issues, you will utilize Schneider Electric via your standard maintenance agreements.  For customization and integration support (AKA “Extended Support & Maintenance,”) SSP will continue to provide these services as we have in the past, with one small change: when acting as  your custom support provider, we will no longer submit and manage core product bugs directly, but will do so through you, the customer. As always, Schneider Electric support will only be utilized if the issue is truly a product issue. SSP will help make that determination and will provide the supporting technical detail you need to allow Schneider Electric to work it effectively. 


Should I expect my core product support to suffer if I do projects with SSP? Top

No, we fully expect Schneider Electric core product support will continue at the same quality level that it has in the past.  Schneider Electric is committed to supporting their customers that are current on maintenance fees.  The status of the partner program does not affect the quality of Schneider Electric’s deliverable.  


Is there anything wrong with working support issues through SSP? Top

No; SSP will continue to provide quality custom support (AKA “ESM”) services to ArcFM™ community clients. Schneider Electric will continue to provide core product support as it has in the past. While we won’t be submitting and managing core product bugs directly,  this change has inherit benefits for our customers; we actually already do this on some of our larger support accounts to allow the customer to have direct visibility to the issues.

Of course, since we won’t be on Exchange, we will no longer be able to provide responses to your Exchange community questions.  But don’t worry, you can still send us questions through email, our contact us page, our social media profiles, by phone, or smoke signals.

Further, you can still read our wildly popular blog and monthly e-zine, Energy Advisor, which covers a wide selection of Schneider Electric and Esri product topics, GIS strategies, guest posts from around the industry, case studies, code snippets, current events, and much more.  Click here and you’ll be set in no time! 


Shouldn’t I choose Schneider Electric, the maker of the tool, over a non-official partner? Top

With over 60 US-based clients in the utility and telecom market, all ArcGIS-based and over 90% ArcFM™-based, SSP is in a prime position to provide superior implementation services to your company surrounding these two suites of software. SSP has implemented Schneider Electric products at over 25 utilities and telecoms, and performed related services at many more.

Further, given our Solution-Oriented Consulting methodology, the inherent virtue of being a third-party consultant means we’re free to focus on providing the best-of-breed solution to solve your business and workflow challenges (whether it comes from Esri, Schneider Electric, SSP or elsewhere).

It is our belief that utility and telecom GIS departments in need of consulting or services are best-served by a firm that specializes in just that: consulting and services. While our friends at Esri, Schneider Electric and other product companies have developed genuinely superior, top-notch products, we respectfully suggest that users of this technology can squeeze the most value out of their services dollar with a third-party provider like SSP. Because of our concentration on project work, we can focus directly on solving the unique business and workflow challenges of each of our customers, free from product sales goals or heavy R&D overhead. This freedom means greater success for our clients: more efficiency, more reliable deliverables, and less cost. 


If Schneider Electric updates their products, won’t SSP lose their expert status? Top

Esri and Schneider Electric product versions are in a fairly steady pattern for the time being. As of today, 10.2.1 is the current release from Esri and Schneider Electric and they will remain on that version for the foreseeable future, with patch releases as needed.

Because this topic has been a source of much confusion in the industry, we posted a blog post about it just last month!  The great news is that we are experts on 10.2.1 and have done as much or more work on the 10.2.1 platform than anyone in the industry. In addition, we’re well-versed across the entire Schneider Electric product line.

As noted in the blog post, the Esri utility and telecom landscape is evolving heavily right now and there will be significant updates released by Esri in the coming years surrounding the facility network.  Due to SSP’s strong alignment with Esri, the new Esri platform, and the Esri facility network, we are in an ideal position to guide our customers into the future of GIS including the evolution of both Schneider Electric and other related industry software packages. 


Will SSP continue to write about the ArcFM™ suite on their monthly e-zine, Energy Advisor? Top

Yes, we’ll continue to write about how Schneider Electric tools can be maximized for your business potential.  Currently, we’ve published almost 200 helpful articles and blog posts on Schneider Electric products, as well as a popular e-book on ArcFM™/GIS Tips & Tricks, downloaded worldwide, and there’s no end in sight! 


Will SSP be more expensive if they’re not an ‘official’ partner? Top

No; SSP will continue to provide our customers with valuable services for your dollar. SSP has no plans for a change in our rates. 


Are SSP and Schneider Electric still friends? Top

Yes!  We wish Schneider Electric the best across their entire suite of products.  As part of our strategy of being the best provider of the best tools in the industry, our commitment to the ArcFM™ suite is unwavering. Further, our technical proficiency with their software still thrives. We look forward to continuing to engage with their support teams to ensure you have the best experience possible. 


Does SSP have any other partners? Top

Schneider Electric was one of many companies that fit into our family of partners.  We pride ourselves on representing a wide selection of market options.   


Will SSP be at the next Schneider Link conference? Top

We may not be at Link, but we will still be at all the Esri conferences and other important events.  Our next stop is the Esri UC this coming July.  We look forward to meeting up with you!  Check our blog to see where we will be next.  


OK, what does SSP really think about this? Top

We are admittedly disappointed in this decision… we have had some restless nights lately. That said, we respect Schneider Electric’s right to make it.  In the end, we believe we are good at what we do – one of the best options available in fact – and we will rely on our positive customer feedback to back that up.  Our focus has always been on building genuine relationships with our customers. As a result, our customers trust us to provide them with true value. Whatever labels we carry, our staff has a skillset that is valuable to a large community of utilities and telecoms in the US, and we know that our commitment to trustful relationships and delivery success is what really matters to these businesses.

That commitment is alive and well. Therefore, we look forward to the next growing chapter of our story in this vibrant community.

Well, that’s what we have so far.  If you have a question for us that has gone unanswered, please feel free to leave it in the comments below or contact us directly for a private conversation.  We will respond ASAP!

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