by Tom Ridges, Microsoft Partner Technology Strategist
Today officially marks 18 months since I started my journey, not only with Microsoft, but on the other side of the partner fence. Despite working exclusively at Microsoft Partner organisations for the last 8 years or so, there was so much I didn't know about working effectively with Microsoft prior to joining. I've been lucky to have spoken with over 40 partners and seen many more present and talk in the last 18 months so I thought I'd share some of the behaviours I've seen from partners who get the most out of the partnership.
1. Be crystal clear on your value proposition
This may seem like an obvious one to kick off with, but can you distil what problems you solve into a sentence or two? The best partners I've seen have a simple message, and that's not to say what they deliver is simple, but in a large partner ecosystem the clearer your value prop, the easier you are to remember when someone spots an opportunity. It's that simple.
2. Develop a strong business relationship with Microsoft
The best partners really understand and operate the partnership as a business relationship. This means working together towards shared goals with measurable targets. These partners achieve great things and it won't surprise you to know that they have stronger relationships within Microsoft and the teams they work with.
3. Implement an agile business model
Microsoft employees over 114k people, think about that number. As you can imagine, a large chunk of partners are considerably smaller than this and one thing I've noticed is that partners who are able to adapt their business as Microsoft and the wider IT industry changes, achieve a lot.
To be clear, this isn't me advising to get out the way because we're bigger than you, it's the opposite. Microsoft are continuously evolving and improving how we engage with partners and customers, but it's simply about playing to each-other's strengths. If you're smaller, you have the advantage of being able to pivot quickly and take the advantages that come along with that.
4. Provide actionable feedback to problems
This is linked to point 2, but a specific point. There are two types of problems in my head; those that have an impact and those that don't. It's vitally important that when a "problem" is identified, the impact is quantifiable. The partners who get problems resolved quantify the impact and help us drive the change.
5. Be enthusiastic!
Obvious, right?! Most partners are ace here, but I notice a positive correlation between impact and enthusiasm.
6. Recruit an Alliance Manager into your business
It's clear to see the partners who have a named person responsible for the Microsoft Partnership. What I've put in this post is the outer-layer of the onion, there are so many great opportunities from partnering and working with Microsoft that having someone to own and drive that relationship, frankly yields results.
7. Don't be afraid to ask questions
I wanted to end on this one. There is so much support available within Microsoft to help partners be successful that I wasn't aware of when I was operating in partner businesses! Go and ask you alliance manager internally (see point 6), work with your partner team, tell us what you're trying to do, and if in doubt ask.
Having spent a big chunk of my professional life designing solutions, I wanted to send one gem out to my Solution Architecture fraternity. If you ever spend hours getting-up to speed on new tech or just understanding what's changed, there are great resources to help that I wish I'd known about! Drop me a comment below and I'll point you in the right direction.
Here's to another great 18 months of learning!