Lenovo is piloting an internal special bid tool that is will roll out to partners this year to improve turnaround times and drive more off-the-shelf shipments to ease distributors' cash flow.
A portal for resellers will launch in three to six months to calculate quotes in hours rather than the one to four days it currently takes, a move that forms part of Lenovo's wider efforts to improve supply chain efficiencies.
"We'll have a portal so that partners don't need to go through our sales rep, it will be much quicker SLA," said Neil Berville, Lenovo executive director of the channel partner organisation.
Timeframes will vary depending on the complexity of the deal but resellers will be able to raise a bid on any channel SKU on orders of 25 units and above.
"We still drive too much of our business of specific build units rather than always leveraging what we've got in the channel, we need to drive that mix more...in some cases it cuts down inventory," he told MicroScope. .
"This is a bit of a cry for help from the distributors and partners as if we keep asking them to order back to back it eases the cash flow of these guys," he added.
Since unveiling the One Channel organisation, Lenovo has dramatically upped both rebates and the speed at which they are paid to within one month of the claim, as well as extending partner payments terms.
In a worldwide project, Lenovo is implementing a single SAP system to drive greater visibility of a product's journey in the supply chain to give partners more predictability, said Berville.
"We should be able to deliver a product on time but the benefits come when we can drive efficiency as it's still very cut throat; we can put rewards in the channel but we'll burn them if we're inefficient in terms of inventory management."
Resellers reckon the biggest challenges facing Lenovo was is operational - lead times and turning around bids more quickly, which is vital in larger deals.
"To their credit they recognise this, its key on their agenda to fix but it will be six to twelve months before we see improvements in SLAs," said one Lenovo partner.
Micro P managing director Gerry O'Keefe, noted vast improvements to the simplification of Lenovo's supply chain since it joined the firm's channel network, including the complexities of calculating rebates and banking them.
"Lenovo still has work to do but it has come on leaps and bounds," he said.
Separately, Lenovo has invested $175m in a joint venture with NEC to sell PCs in Japan, taking a 51% stake in the deal.
"The completion of this transaction will give the company a majority stake in a joint venture with a stronger market position, enhanced product portfolios and expanded distribution channels in Japan," Lenovo said in a statement.