It’s easy to get confused when considering a Microsoft Partner, and how the services of a Partner can fit into your organisational needs. There are a wide variety of Microsoft Partners who exist to meet the equally variable needs and requirements of end-users. The rest of this article will use a series of short questions to guide you through the process of ensuring that you pick the Microsoft Partner who best fits your organisational needs.
Do they provide services that your organisation needs?
Carry out research to check their previous customer references. When speaking to references, don’t just inquire about how the implementation process went.
Ask how proactive the partner was during and after going live with the system. Discuss the frequency of communications, training sessions, frequency of user group activities and information updates, as these long-term activities are vital to creating a well-developed, stable solution.
Do their competencies match your business requirements?
Microsoft has a wide range of competencies which Partners must attain. It is essential to assess the certifications that your partner has accomplished, to better understand their strengths and how good of a fit they are to your organisation’s specific requirements.
Understanding the vertical industries where the partner specialises will offer you a clear comprehension of their experience in your industry and whether they can be considered an expert in your field. With your partner’s expertise, you will be able to collaborate to align your solution in a way which incorporates best practices within your industry, solely by understanding your needs and offering tailored solutions.
What level of involvement do you expect?
While some companies will attempt to delegate projects in their entirety to the implementation firms, others will choose to actively participate in learning about the product to try and reduce costs.
It would be best if you decided which of these you are, based on whether or not you have the resources to carry out the work yourself. You might find that you could be better off working with a Partner, who could help reduce the time spent in training and researching new solutions and updates.
Can their solutions to meet your key challenges?
The flexibility of the Microsoft Office 365 product line and integration to Office 365 solutions means that there is usually more than one solution for your organisation’s requirements.
Your partner needs a deep understanding of your organisational challenges to be able to propose a solution which is fully integrated with your goals. The proposed solution should help you to streamline your business processes and increase your business performance to help you make the most of your investment.
What makes one partner better than the other?
Certified Partners have been tested and validated based on their professionalism, work quality, knowledge, as well as the implementation of Microsoft Office 365 or the development of add-on solutions.
Once you have decided on a solution which best meets your needs, you will need to ensure that you are paired with a Partner likely to meet your expectations for work quality, training and information provision regarding new technologies and product updates. These critical success factors will go a long way in helping you to protect your investment.
By assessing your intended partner using these questions as a guide, you will be able to gauge your expectations and requirements better, while working with the unified goal of effectively using your system to its full potential.
Openness with your potential partner is encouraged from the beginning, and asking these questions will keep the prospective partner aware of your expectations from the onset.
This will reduce the chances of getting disappointed over unclarified expectations further down the line. Don’t be afraid to make your concerns known if you have doubts about the quality of service being provided or failure to meet your expectations.
It could happen that your organisation’s original needs may have evolved, in which case your partner will need to be aware of these changes. This will enable them to keep you informed on developments with your Microsoft solution while allowing you to continue to take full advantage of your system.