Any business seeking a Managed Services Provider (MSP) can find it tricky to differentiate between the various companies that claim to provide these IT services. Among the top factors to consider in your MSP selection process, there is one very important requirement that all customers should look for: whether the MSP is an official Microsoft Partner. And if they are a Microsoft Partner, whether they have achieved one of the distinguishing Solution partner designations like “Modern Work” or even “Security.”
The Microsoft Partnership Is Essential
The Microsoft partnership is a central fixture for every operationally mature Managed Services Provider (MSP).
Microsoft products are inescapable in the workplace, whether you encounter Windows running on workstations or servers, the Office applications of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Outlook email, the Active Directory identity and access management systems, and so much more. Most organizations are heavily dependent on Microsoft, and most of our customers are looking for someone to manage and support their Microsoft systems.
By partnering with Microsoft, MSPs gain access to training, products, and other forms of business support. A Microsoft partner can help you readily access technical support, as many tools and resources are only accessible through the partner portal. Simply put, no IT service provider can effectively provide the support that a customer expects without an active Microsoft partnership. Early on, Net Friends recognized how important all things Microsoft can be to our business. We have been a Microsoft partner since they formalized the program in the year 2000.
Microsoft's partnership program has evolved over the years, but in 2022 the program was completely overhauled to make it more relevant and current. It has also raised the bar on requirements. This article aims to describe how the work Net Friends is putting into maintaining and growing our Microsoft partnership positively impacts our customers.
Modern Work Solutions
Net Friends has distinguished itself as one of the few Managed Service Providers to achieve the newly created Solutions partner for Modern Work status. We prioritized earning this new Solutions partner status immediately upon the day it was launched on October 3, 2022. To achieve this, Net Friends had to demonstrate “a broad capability to help customers boost their productivity and make the shift to hybrid work using Microsoft 365.” This confirms what our customers already know and benefit from: we have a useful set of skills and experiences that we bring to all support requests, consultations, and IT projects.
It's important to help define what “Modern Work” is for our customers. Before Microsoft coined the term, we’ve been using Gartner’s broader term for this new way to operate your business: "Anywhere Operations.” The nature of work, where we work, and how we approach work have significantly changed in the last decade. Everything is trending towards adaptability and consistently accessing the information and systems you need from wherever you are and whenever you need to work.
While the technology is powerful, it needs real expertise to configure it properly, so it works seamlessly. Although the technology can boost your productivity, it can also cause your business to halt if there's a problem. Your organization needs a Managed Service Provider like Net Friends who is up to date on the latest technology and understands how it all interrelates. These are the formal paths we've taken to ensure we can deliver on our promise to support customers:
1. Demonstrable Expertise
Microsoft determines which Managed Services Provider partner has achieved Solution partner status in Modern Work by a system of points. While the specifics behind how these points are awarded are not interesting to most customers, what these points in the various categories represent is incredibly meaningful to our customers. For example, an MSP will demonstrate they have the capabilities and performance to support new customers who are tapping into the resources of Microsoft 365. This will be done through new customer additions to the Microsoft 365 platform.
A healthy MSP has a growth mindset and is constantly introducing technology-enabled solutions to its customers.
Microsoft will only designate an MSP as a Modern Work Solution partner if they consistently add 10 or more new customers per year. Net Friends typically adds at least 2 new customers per month, so any new customer of Net Friends can be assured that our processes for bringing them on are regularly rehearsed and performed.
2. Certified Staff
When we have a problem, we all want to turn to experts for help. Most business needs involving Microsoft 365 (M365) require IT experts who are knowledgeable about how to leverage M365 fully and, most importantly, correctly. Misconfiguration issues can cause unforeseen disruptions and data loss. If you are dependent on an inexperienced solution provider to fix your M365 problems, then you might incur an intolerable amount of downtime and business harm.
Officially recognized certifications ensure that your Managed Services Provider has the expertise you need. It takes a significant amount of training and study to prepare for the exams required for these certifications. Even though Microsoft’s Solutions partner status for Modern Work only requires two certified individuals, Net Friends has 9 certified experts on staff with the relevant certifications for Modern Work. We continue to encourage more staff to achieve the relevant certifications through our professional development program. We see enormous benefits in having such a highly qualified and trained team that can collaborate and enhance the solutions we can offer our customers.
3. Ensuring Customer Success
Through some in-depth data analysis, Microsoft can determine if a customer is fully utilizing the available products within their Microsoft 365 subscription. For example, Microsoft is looking to their Managed Services Providers to help customers get the most out of Outlook, Teams, and SharePoint, as well as other tools like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. This is strongly correlated with usage growth, where more users are being added and using the resources available to them through Microsoft 365. One of Net Friends’ company values is Sharing Knowledge, and we look for opportunities to teach and elevate our customer’s technical skills and awareness.
Your Microsoft Solution Partner for Modern Work
We are pleased to have achieved 100 out of 100 possible points for Microsoft's Modern Work Solutions provider status.
This validation shows that we have demonstrated our performance, skills, and focus on making our customers successful with their Microsoft 365 investment.
Net Friends is the technology success team behind your Microsoft-enabled workforce, and we take pride in earning and keeping your trust. Interested in partnering with a Microsoft Solutions Partner for Modern Work? Contact Net Friends today!