Microsoft solutions are incredibly powerful and can truly transform an organisation. However, some businesses struggle to achieve the return on investment (ROI) they anticipated from Microsoft solutions, creating risk and cost for the business. This risk can be mitigated by choosing the right partner for your needs.
Not all partners are created equal
Microsoft is a ubiquitous vendor. There are more than 64,000 Microsoft partners around the world, with thousands in Australia and New Zealand to choose from. Some partners are highly specialised while others work with the full Microsoft stack.
So, how can you evaluate all of these partners and determine which one to work with?
Here are six things to look for:
1. Partnership levels and certifications
A good starting place is to look at the partner’s level and recognition within Microsoft. There are silver and gold tiers within the partner network, with each level corresponding to the competencies that the partner has developed.
Then, there are advanced specialisations. These aren’t available to just anyone. It takes significant knowledge and investment to gain an advanced specialisation. For example, the Azure Expert Managed Services Provider program only has 77 members worldwide. It’s prestigious and it’s hard to get, requiring a time- and cost-intensive auditing process. That audit is conducted by a third-party and it’s completely objective. So, you know that a partner with this certification is exceptionally proficient.
2. Relationships with Microsoft
Dynamics Inner Circle
Top-tier partners will have executive-level relationships with Microsoft. For example, they may be members of the Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle, which recognises the top one per cent of partners worldwide. Membership of the Inner Circle is based on strict criteria that considers a partner’s organisational capabilities and business performance as well as its ability to help its customers get the best from their digital transformation efforts. Membership is reviewed every year, so you can be sure that a current Inner Circle member isn’t resting on their laurels.
Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs)
A top-tier partner may also have one or a number of Microsoft MVPs on their team. This is an individual certification that Microsoft awards to people who are technology experts who passionately share their knowledge with the community. There are just 4,000 Microsoft MVPs around the world who work with each other and the entire community to solve customer challenges in innovative and inspiring ways.
The stronger your partner’s relationships with Microsoft, the easier it will be to get the inside running on new product releases, innovative ways to solve challenges, and resolution for any issues that might arise. This can significantly de-risk your project and futureproof your solution.
3. Industry knowledge
It’s important to remember that the best partner is always going to be the one that can meet your business’s unique needs. Not all partners are well-versed in the business challenges and requirements of your industry. Choosing a partner that knows your industry well and can demonstrate a track record of success with similar organisations can dramatically reduce your risk.
4. Scalable and repeatable methodologies
If a partner has to reinvent the wheel every time they start a new project, the net result for you is likely to be budget and schedule overruns, unnecessary complexity, and ongoing stress. Instead, look for a partner that offers a scalable and repeatable methodology that has been proven to work well. This reduces risk by ensuring your project can be completed sooner with a faster time to value.
5. Industry analyst recommendations
The best partners are recognised by industry analysts in regular reports. For example, the Gartner Magic Quadrant and the ISG Provider Lens™ Microsoft Ecosystem report can provide valuable peace of mind that your chosen partner has credibility based on demonstrated success. For example, Empired was recognised as a leader in the 2021 ISG Provider Lens™ Microsoft Ecosystem report for Australia as a testament to the work we’ve done to cement our place as a partner of choice in the Australian and New Zealand markets.
6. Ongoing efforts to improve
The best partners never stand still. They’re always working to learn more and expand their skills base, both through hiring the best talent and by investing in their existing workforce. They demand excellence from their staff and they are characterised by a team of people passionately invested in their customers’ success.
Empired is a leading Microsoft partner with membership to the Dynamics Inner Circle, certification as a Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Services Provider, and a number of MVPs on our team. To find out how we can help you gain maximum ROI from your next Microsoft project, contact the team today.