When signing your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA), who to choose as your Enterprise Software Advisor (ESA) should not be a difficult decision. That’s because a certified Microsoft Large Account Reseller (LAR) should have been readily available to guide you through every step of the process.
However, some partners let their sales representatives neglect a customer for 11 months, and then buddy up around renewal time. If you are one of those customers that hears from the ESA that supports your Microsoft EA only as you get close to your contract anniversary date, this blog post is for you.
The ESA you select could be the most important decision you make about the entire three-year EA. So before you sign on the dotted line, ask yourself: What kind of service levels and responsibilities should I expect from my LAR? How do I ensure the agreement is not only supported, but optimized? Am I compliant? Are my teams getting timely updates about new products and releases? How do volume licensing changes affect us during — and after — our agreement is over?
Your ESA representative should know the answers to these questions, and more. Here are 10 tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of your partnership.
Your Enterprise Software Advisor should:
- Help activate and strategically manage your Software Assurance (SA) benefits. During the course of a three-year EA, you might have as many as two opportunities to upgrade your covered software. So when the upgrades are released, you need the ability to decide how they affect your entire infrastructure. SA comes with a portfolio of benefits such as online training, home-use rights, and 24/7 web and phone support that could benefit both your IT staff and end users. Is your LAR explaining these benefits and helping you promote and activate them to as many of your users as possible?
- Process contract paperwork accurately and on time. Time can be wasted on the back end if your EA contract paperwork is not processed properly. Make sure the ESA you choose understands the products and quantities your Enterprise Agreement should include, and is qualified to prepare the pricing and paperwork correctly the first time.
- Schedule regular quarterly business reviews. After you buy a new car, you don’t just shake the dealer’s hand and walk out. You set up appointments to bring the car back for regular checkups. The same must be done for software licensing. Be sure to set up quarterly business reviews to meet with your representative and map out what happened last quarter and anticipate what your needs will be for the next six months.
- Stay up-to-date with Microsoft Product Use Rights. The Microsoft Product Use Rights (PUR) detail all software licensed through Microsoft Volume Licensing. During the course of an agreement, Microsoft can modify how the software is used or deployed to keep up with changing technology. Changes to product usage rights could impact how the software is used and possibly be a benefit for your organization. You should be aware of these benefits the second they happen.
- Tap your LAR’s network of expert licensing executives and product specialists. Your sales rep might be able to discuss Symantec, McAfee, HP, Dell, and other products and services based on your technology needs. But sooner or later, one of your end users is going to stump you, them, and the wording in the contract itself. Be sure the ESA you select has access to a team of Licensing Executives and Product Specialists that have the answers you need.
- Use a customizable cost analysis tool. Cut through the semantics when deciding which volume licensing vehicle is right for you. You want to know exactly what you’re getting and what you’re paying for it. Your ESA should supply a dynamic, detailed cost analysis that can show you the real-time cost of each product purchased through various licensing scenarios.
- Use a Software Asset Management (SAM) tool to fill the gaps. Sure, your licensing is working fine for now, but what about when you expand? Say your company uses 4,000 copies of Office. What if you have a new deployment that brings your desktop count up to 4,200? Ask your ESA or LAR to use a software asset management tool to examine what you’re eligible for, what’s deployed, and figure out what the gap is.
- Stay current on Microsoft promotions and local educational events. Microsoft is always holding local (in-person) and online trainings to help developers really get into their products. They’re also released in easily digestible formats like webinars, training sessions, and e-books. Make sure your ESA of choice is helping your IT teams stay up-to-date — and ahead of the competition — with new products, licenses, and new releases.
- Strategically use best-in-class Microsoft deployment partners. Your ESA should have access to a network of partners to deploy whatever application you need across the enterprise. It could be anything from installing SQL on a single server to upgrading Office across your enterprise. By outsourcing this type of deployment work, your IT team can focus on delivering innovation for your organization.
- Select a partner obsessed with customer service. Properly supporting all the moving parts of an EA requires almost 1,100 days of diligence, follow-up, and customer support. Your ESA should re-earn the right to support your agreement every single day, proving that YOU made the right decision in choosing your ESA.
Signing an Enterprise Agreement should never be taken lightly, and neither should the selection of an ESA to support it. Before you sign, make sure you and your ESA have talked about the level of support your organization should expect over the duration of your agreement. .