Choosing the right Microsoft partner for your business

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Your Microsoft environment might be one of your biggest IT decisions and spends – particularly if you’re an Enterprise Agreement (EA) customer. Yet, far too many organizations fail to realize the full value of this major investment.

It’s important to have the right partner in place to help you maximize ROI on your Microsoft environment. The right partner demonstrates leadership and commitment to Microsoft technologies and adds transformational capabilities like deployment, implementation, training, and managed services that help you get the most out of this critical investment.

Hopefully you’re happy with your Microsoft partner and the overall Microsoft customer experience. But if you’re not satisfied and have been thinking that maybe it’s time for a change, here is our checklist on what your next Microsoft partner should look like.

An experienced, global partner that knows Microsoft

This is number one on our list for good reason. We can’t stress this enough – if you want to see success with your Microsoft investments, work with a partner who knows Microsoft.  This means considering a few different things, such as:

  • The partner’s reach across the Microsoft ecosystem. With Microsoft putting a lot more emphasis on partner collaboration and integration – whether it be software, hardware, or services – you’ll want to work with a partner who partners with other technology providers that you want to make work with your existing Microsoft environment.
  • The partner’s reach across verticals of all sizes. A Microsoft partner that works with companies across all major verticals, geographies, and sizes is likely to demonstrate a breadth of knowledge on how the various Microsoft technologies can support your business – no matter what shape or size your organization is. To know what’s best for your business, a good place to start is by looking for partners that service other organizations like yours.

A dedicated team of reputable Microsoft License Advisory experts

Licensing can be one of the biggest challenges for Microsoft customers as most organizations don’t have the depth of Microsoft licensing knowledge in-house. Selecting a partner with a strong background in software licensing, and a sizeable team of Microsoft specialists that can offer insight and advice across the full portfolio of products and licensing options across all the relevant verticals and geographies, is critical to your success.

A Microsoft partner that saves you money

Contrary to popular belief, not all partners are strictly focused on signing the biggest deals. A good partner should care about your overall spend and should work with you to find ways to save on your Microsoft investment.

An example of this is with SHI’s 365 Cost Optimization Services – a standard complimentary offering to all SHI Microsoft customers that identifies redundant, duplicate, and underused licenses. Through this service, SHI actively helps customers avoid paying for subscriptions they are not using, and helps optimize the use of features and functions some customers weren’t previously aware they even had.

A partner that offers in-house strategic services

There are a lot of Microsoft partners out there, but very few give you the full scope of in-house skills and expertise. Many end up outsourcing a good majority of the support, leading to increased costs, inefficiencies, and often confusion – particularly around licensing advice. Look for a partner that offers a full, internal team of experts with all the skills and resources you need in managing your Microsoft environment.

Demonstrates proven leadership and innovation

A great place to start to understand a partner’s position in leadership and innovation is by inquiring about their certifications and awards. Not only is this an indication of competence, but it might also signal a partner’s ability to offer more advantageous pricing.

Certified Microsoft partners must meet specific criteria in order to demonstrate the highest levels of expertise in both Microsoft services and products. Look for partners with gold and silver certifications in what is important to your business outcomes – whether it be in cloud platform, communications, Windows, devices, or application development.

Proactive, ongoing communication

You shouldn’t have to chase an appointment down with your partner or only meet with them when you need something. It’s important to establish a regular cadence, such as Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) to ensure you have a dedicated time to review things like consumption and licensing.

Training, adoption and change management capabilities

Your Microsoft investments are only as good as the employees who are using it. While many organizations are successful with the deployment and activation of certain Microsoft technologies, just as many are seriously challenged with adoption and proficiency. When your users aren’t aware of updates to features or functionalities, or worse, aren’t using some of the technologies at all, your investment could end up being wasted.

Find a partner that is as committed to training, adoption, and consumption as it is committed to finding you the right technologies and solutions for your business. At SHI, we discuss training and effective adoption and change management at the onset, so you can equip your users with the skills and knowledge they need maximize productivity.

Despite what you might be told, you don’t need to stay with the same Microsoft partner forever. In fact, if your current partner isn’t delivering the Microsoft experience you deserve, it’s easy for your business to switch to one that will, and you don’t need to wait until the final months of a contract (like an Enterprise Agreement) to make the change. A great place to start would be to use research firms like Gartner to recommend or vet partners that would suit the needs or your Microsoft business.

If your current Microsoft partner isn’t delivering or fails on any of must-haves above, speak to a Microsoft contracts specialist at SHI and learn more about how and when to make a change.

In the meantime, get to know what it would be like partnering with SHI for your Microsoft needs.

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