Ready for takeoff? The secrets of launching a successful Microsoft Enterprise Agreement:
Learn how our experts work behind the scenes to optimize your licensing experience

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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 boarding the plane to arriving at your destination, a positive experience allows you to sit back and enjoy 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 trip. 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 may not focus on the captain of the flight deck crew, the air traffic controllers, or the folks who load the baggage, meals, and beverages. These people and processes are critical for a successful journey. But when things 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 suboptimal outcome. So, how does our team of experts ensure that doesn’t happen?

Buckle up for a look into the inner workings of a successful Microsoft EA journey with SHI.

Your next destination: Microsoft success  

Think of your Microsoft EA partner as your pilot, aircraft engineer, and air traffic controller – all rolled into one. An effective partner needs to have many skills that must be employed in unison, so every stage of your EA flight path is seamless.

Your Microsoft customer success manager is your pilot, helping you get to your destination with confidence. They are responsible for facilitating the completion and handling of work by the crew and supporting your end-to-end customer experience.

Our licensing executives are like aircraft engineers; they make sure your EA is ready for takeoff, inspecting 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. Our experts possess accredited Microsoft training and understand the fundamental concepts needed for the job.

However, the pilot and crew cannot function effectively without help from air traffic control. Our Microsoft support, operations, and contract teams coordinate the movement of the entire process. With the aptitude for handling high volume and high stress, they are 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 without error.

Our crew concurrently manages close to 9,000 Microsoft EAs, and for over three decades, 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 EA, 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 you can appropriately plan for any financial events that may occur due to growth or other factors, such as mergers and acquisitions, without the surprise of unexpected monetary payouts.

SHI’s Microsoft customer success team will schedule regular meetings to ensure you are aware of the latest Microsoft product and licensing updates, so you can stay informed of changes throughout the lifecycle of the contract.


To get started, we will identify key stakeholders and introduce you to your dedicated team. On to the next and most critical step in the onboarding process, we will review the setup of your online services which 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 addressing how going incognito during the activation process will all help 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 oversee important tasks such as:

  • Scheduling time to identify and address potential licensing issues
  • Reviewing your current license status and Microsoft License Statement (MLS)
  • Reviewing and advising on contract terms and amendments
  • Identifying outstanding credit and customer satisfaction issues and developing a resolution plan

Software Assurance benefits review

While past Software Assurance benefits (SABs) such as 24×7 Problem Resolution Support, Training Vouchers, and Planning Service Days have been retired, there are still many SABs that are impactful to organizations.

New Version Rights: Concerned about purchasing just before the next software version is released? Don’t be! This SAB ensures you’ll get access to the new releases without having to purchase new licensing.

Step-up Availability: Three years is a long time. If your organization’s needs change mid-flight, you’ll be able to move from a lower edition to a higher edition by only paying the price difference, rather than purchasing new licenses of the higher edition.

Passive/DR Server: Everyone wants less downtime and better control of their environment. This SAB allows you to leverage passive server instances for failover for certain use cases so you don’t need to purchase additional licenses.

License Mobility: Enhance the value of your licenses and reduce operating costs with the ability to move licenses across servers and BYOL scenarios to third-party providers.

Azure Hybrid Benefits: Achieve greater savings with BYOL to Azure benefits, helping offset the costs of licensing in Azure by repurposing on-premises licensing as you transition workloads to the cloud.

Our Microsoft licensing executives have extensive knowledge of the use rights associated with SABs; we can help you navigate the benefits and use cases to best fit your needs.

Quarterly Business Reviews

One of the first steps in the onboarding process is to 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 – including 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 our 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

Your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement is not 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 which EA or Universal Licensing terms supersede other terms?

Our licensing executives 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 touching on varying topics – everything from how products are licensed to what the rules are for deploying within a customer environment. We support 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-premises license or online service. Our specialists also provide licensing entitlement reports that include 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 organization, 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, with the correct answers, accurate orders, and your reservations placed appropriately.

Renewal planning

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.

We will work with you to understand business drivers, anticipate plans for expansion or new technology adoption, and translate that into what your next successful EA should be. 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.

Our objective is simple: to put your organization in the best possible licensing state at renewal to maximize value, both financially and in your ability to use Microsoft technologies to collaborate, innovate, and drive your initiatives.

Your ticket to solving what’s next

Managing a successful Microsoft Enterprise Agreement is challenging and resource-intensive, which is why many organizations often end up with a suboptimal experience when they choose the wrong partner for their needs. Not to worry – there are sunny skies ahead.

As a Microsoft partner for the last 30 years, managing tens of thousands of Enterprise Agreements, SHI has developed a proactive, customer-first approach that aligns with your strategy, removes the complexity, and maximizes your investment.

If you’re already an SHI customer and would like to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes, your Microsoft team will be happy to walk you through some of our processes at your next QBR. If you’re not managing your Enterprise Agreement through SHI or interested in setting up an EA, speak to one of our experts today. We’ll help you get your EA off the ground and soaring toward success.

Solve what’s next with SHI and Microsoft