Now that Microsoft has increased responsibility for partners in their Cloud Solution Provider program, you need to make sure you’re choosing the right one – here’s how.

There’s some scary stuff in marriage vows. “For better or for worse”? Maybe you have to take your lumps when you tie the knot with your spouse, but not your Office 365 Partner. If you make the right selection, there’s no “worse.” It should only be better.

A wrong choice here brings many unpleasant consequences. The most disastrous is lost productivity – meaning lost revenue. There’s a true cost related to choosing the wrong Office 365 Partner. Here’s what’s at stake:

Migration confusion

Microsoft makes it sound easy to move to their cloud-based Office 365 solutions – and it is. But only if you have a professional IT partner who knows the right way to do it. Microsoft has deep online technical resources, but wouldn’t you rather be tending to your business?

Make sure your Office 365 Partner is certified. Beyond that, ask them for examples and references that match your business scenario. Make them prove they’ve helped businesses just like yours.

You can measure the cost of the wrong choice in actual dollars. Unexpected issues or a failed migration means that you and your employees can’t do business.

Choosing the wrong support plan

This doesn’t mean the support you’ll get from your Office 365 Partner. It’s the support you get from the Office 365 plan you choose for your company. They’re not created equally for an important reason. You might not need some of the more advanced infrastructure support.

If you do need that support, you won’t have the full productivity of the Office 365 software. Will your Office 365 Partner make sure it’s included? Here’s an example:

Your plan needs Azure Active Directory synchronization if you have a hybrid cloud. Not all Office 365 plans offer this. A wrong choice means you’re not getting your money’s worth – from Microsoft or your partner.

A la carte price sticker shock

Many Office 365 features are built in. But not all. A worthy partner will be ruthless (in a good way) in making sure they understand what you need and what you expect. They should be able to tell you beforehand which extra services you’ll need to do what you require.

Do you need Visio Pro for Office 365, Project Pro for Office 365, or Yammer Enterprise? You may not know. And you shouldn’t have to figure that out. A wrong choice means you’re paying for something you don’t need. Or worse. You need it, and now you’ll have to pay more to get it.

Avoiding wrong choices

Microsoft loves acronyms. The one most important to you for this exercise is POR. That stands for Partner of Record. It refers to the organization helping you with your Office 365 setup.

Your POR won’t add to the monthly subscription cost. But it will impact another acronym. TCO. Choosing the right partner should reduce your Total Cost of Ownership. It’s your partner’s job to provide you with the technical expertise to take advantage of what cloud-based Office 365 has to offer. They should be able to show you the financial impact of your decision.

If your partner can’t show you the true cost savings of moving from your current infrastructure to the cloud, it might be wise to keep looking.

Office 365 partner checklist

Work history. Does your partner have a validated list of clients they’ve helped to migrate to Office 365? Don’t let them impress you with a long list of IT jargon. They either can show you they’ve helped others with Office 365, or they can’t.

Credentials. Again, an IT vendor might have a long list of acronyms attached to their resume. The only ones that matter to you should tie directly to Office 365. Ask them to show you they’re certified in the Cloud Essentials and the Cloud Accelerate programs.

Microsoft offers these two partnership certification programs. An Office 365 partner must install 50 licenses in their first year to get a Cloud essentials partnership. A Partner must install 150 licenses just to apply for the Cloud Accelerate certification. Afterwards, they must install 500 license to stay certified.

There’s money at stake

The move to Office 365 is seamless when you choose the right partner. The benefits are immediate. You run the risk of costly mistakes if the partner you select doesn’t focus on Microsoft Online Services.To be fair, those risks aren’t guaranteed. But, why take a chance? Skip the partners who are only slashing prices and choose one who’s going to add value to your Office 365 investment. Contact us today!

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