The secrets of a successful Microsoft Enterprise Agreement
Learn how experts behind the scenes at SHI optimize your Microsoft licensing to ensure a smooth ride
Your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) experience should be a lot like a plane ride. If that sounds like a bit of a stretch, bear with us and we’ll explain why.
As an airline passenger, from before boarding the plane to arriving at your destination, your experience is designed to allow you to focus on what is important – often that’s having a stress-free journey and, if you’re lucky, a comfortable seat and a half-decent meal!
All the while, you’re likely blissfully unaware of everything that’s going on behind the scenes to ensure you have a smooth and unremarkable experience. You probably haven’t given much thought to the complex web of people, systems and equipment necessary for a safe, comfortable flight.
Aside from a welcome address over the PA, you’re probably not thinking about the captain of the flight deck crew, the air traffic controllers, or the folks that load the baggage, meals, and beverages. You get the picture.
These people and processes are critical to you having a smooth experience. And when they don’t quite go right, your experience suffers – think air traffic control delays, lost baggage, even that broken seat.
It’s the same with your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. Failures behind the scenes can leave you with a sub-optimal experience. So, what do the ridiculously helpful team at SHI do to ensure that doesn’t happen?
Welcome to “behind the scenes” of a successful Microsoft Enterprise Agreement with SHI.
All aboard to destination Microsoft success!
We’ve talked a lot about what makes up a successful Microsoft Enterprise Agreement by sharing the four core components of an optimized EA renewal and discussing the five common pitfalls to avoid when managing your renewal. Now, in this article, we’re going to peek behind the curtain and share with you what some of the many experts at SHI do to ensure your successful Microsoft journey. But before we do, let’s quickly review the elements necessary for an enjoyable flight – your Microsoft EA partner.
Think of your Partner as your pilot, aircraft engineer, and air traffic controller all rolled into one
Your Microsoft EA partner needs to have many skills that must be employed in concert so every stage of your EA flight path is smooth.
Your Microsoft customer success manager is your pilot, helping you get to your destination and ensuring you have a pleasant experience. They are responsible for facilitating the completion and handling of work by the crew and your end-to-end experience.
Our licensing experts are like aircraft engineers; they make sure your EA is ready for takeoff – they inspect all aspects of your EA to ensure optimal performance. They use advanced tools to spot cracks and work to provide solutions without sacrificing your overall strategic and financial objectives. All of our licensing engineers possess suitable accredited Microsoft training and understand the fundamental concepts needed for the job.
But the pilot and crew cannot do it without help from air traffic control. Our Microsoft support, operations, and contract teams coordinate the movement of the entire process. They must have the aptitude for handling high volume and high stress. They are the experts in anticipating and navigating rough weather. Their knowledge must expand across all Microsoft licensing programs and partner and customer tools to clear the way for the flight to leave on time and safely.
Our crew concurrently manages close to 9,000 Microsoft EAs, and for over 30 years, SHI has built a comprehensive set of clearly defined roles, responsibilities, processes, and quality control measures to make your Microsoft EA experience a superior one. Our expertise can maximize the lifetime value of your Microsoft EA while safeguarding against compliance risk, positioning you to achieve your business goals. All along, we’ll ensure you fully understand the rights, responsibilities, and benefits of the agreement.
It all starts with a positive onboarding experience
During onboarding, we will introduce you to our T-36 methodology which will be our guiding framework throughout the lifecycle of your EA. Essentially, it’s your EA success plan. When it comes to the day-to-day management of the Enterprise Agreement, our T-36 methodology ensures you understand what the investments are and the financial impact of adding new users and technologies.
Having the ability to forecast for budgeting cycles means that you can appropriately plan for any financial events that may need to occur due to growth or other events, such as mergers and acquisitions, without the surprise of unexpected monetary payouts.
Your Microsoft customer success team at SHI will schedule regular meetings to ensure you are aware of the latest Microsoft product and licensing updates so you can stay abreast of changes throughout the lifecycle of the contract.
To start off right, we will identify key stakeholders and introduce you to your SHI team. But, the most critical step in the onboarding process is reviewing the setup of your online services since it can impact you from a billing and technical perspective. For example, making sure the billing program is associated with the correct tenant, understanding how you can accidently associate reservations with the wrong enrollment, or how going incognito during the activation process will ensure licenses are properly mapped to the right enrollment under a multi-tenant agreement. We understand the complexities around setting up online services, and during onboarding, we’ll collaborate to identify and resolve existing issues.
Our team will get started on important tasks such as:
- Reviewing and advising you on contract terms and amendments
- Reviewing your current license status and Microsoft License Statement (MLS)
- Scheduling time to identify and address potential licensing issues
- Ensuring Azure and O365 licensing is in order
- Identifying outstanding credit and customer satisfaction issues and develop a resolution plan
Software Assurance Benefits Administration
The Software Assurance benefits (SAB) you are entitled to as part of your EA can be critical in ensuring effective decision making regarding third party solutions, virtualization, and BYOL scenarios. Our Microsoft Licensing Executives have extensive knowledge of the use rights and costs benefits associated with SABs as well as the Microsoft tools used to manage them, and we cover all of this during onboarding.
Our experts then take the time to educate your organization, explain how benefits can help lower operating costs and reduce cloud sprawl, and help remove roadblocks to SAB utilization so you can make the most of your investment.
SHI has helped activate 68,760 training vouchers for our current Enterprise and Enterprise Subscription Agreement customers as well as activate 75% of our customers’ 24×7 Problem Resolution Support benefit.
We’ve helped our EA customers redeem 5,230 training vouchers since 2021 alone, and have supported them in increasing adoption and productivity through the SHI Learning Teams App as well as our IT and end user training programs. Without ongoing, proactive communication, these benefits would have gone unused.
Quarterly Business Reviews
One of the first things we do in the onboarding process is set up and schedule Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) as a way to engage with you and your team, provide the latest updates, and discuss ways to reduce costs and improve ROI. We use QBRs to review the current state-of-affairs – IT initiatives, implementation and adoption plans, licensing position, Online Licensing Subscription (OLS) reservations, SAB activation and consumption activity.
It’s also an opportunity to bring in experts like cloud consultants, adoption specialists, or licensing executives to discuss concerns, find solutions, and anticipate future needs. As you approach the last year of your agreement, we can enter discussions around EA renewal planning to avoid any unwelcome surprises.
Licensing Program Support and Inquiry Management
It’s a mistake to think of your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement as static. Microsoft makes regular changes to products, bundles, product terms, and licensing entitlements that can have a major impact on your EA – and these changes can be difficult to stay on top of without expert help. For instance, Microsoft’s online product terms can be lengthy, and how do you know what EA or Universal Licensing terms supersede what terms? Our licensing specialists are consistently studying this EA flight manual. They understand order of precedence, and they can probably recite product terms along with EA agreement terms. We make it simple, and we back up our answers with documentation.
Our support team gets a wide range of inquiries that touch on a variety of topics. Everything from how products are licensed to what the rules are for deploying within a customer’s environment. We get pricing and quoting inquiries around true ups, additional product orders, and OLS reservations. We validate Microsoft part numbers to make sure any order you submit is for the right on-premise license or online service. We provide licensing entitlement report that includes license description, quantities, purchase type, annual commitments, and a breakdown of what licensing was purchased under what enrollment.
SHI’s Microsoft experts and your dedicated customer success team are committed to helping you understand these changes and how they may impact your business both now and in the future. You don’t see it, but like that pilot, we’re constantly monitoring and adjusting to keep your EA on course, so we answer correctly, order correctly, and place your reservations correctly!
As you enter the final year of your Enterprise Agreement, one of the key focus areas for your customer success team is thinking ahead to what your future business state and technology needs might look like. They will work with you to understand business drivers, anticipated plans for expansion or new technology adoption, and translate that into what your next successful Microsoft Enterprise Agreement should look like.
Our objective is simple: to put your organization in the best possible licensing state at renewal to maximize value, both financially and in terms of your ability to use Microsoft technologies, to collaborate, innovate and drive your business.
We also include additional services such as ongoing Software Assurance reviews to make sure you don’t miss out on any value before the current contract ends.
For more advice on making your Enterprise Agreement renewal a success, be sure to read our eBook: SHI’s 4-Step Plan to Optimize Your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement Renewal.
SHI is your Microsoft pilot, engineer, and air traffic controller all in one
If everything you’ve read above sounds like a lot of work and more than you expected, you’re right. Managing a successful Microsoft Enterprise Agreement is challenging and resource intensive, which is why many organizations often end up with a sub-optimal experience when they choose the wrong partner.
As a Microsoft partner for the last 30 years, managing tens of thousands of Enterprise Agreements, SHI has got rather good at it. Something borne out by our 99% customer retention rate.
If you’re already an SHI customer and would like to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes, your Microsoft customer success team will be happy to walk you through some of our lesser well-known processes at your next QBR. If you’re not managing your Enterprise Agreement through SHI and are looking for a better, smoother experience, speak to one of our experts today and learn more about how easy it is to change-up your Microsoft EA experience.