Partner Feedback: Three Takeaways from Microsoft’s Direct-Bill Announcement

In our first installment of this blog series, we examined potential options for partners following Microsoft’s Performance Standard Announcement for direct-bill CSP partners. In 2018 Microsoft announced eligibility requirements to be a direct bill partner which included a paid support plan, a Billing Automation System and a customer provisioning system. 

In this edition, we wanted to highlight some feedback from CSP partners including users of existing Work 365. Some feedback was expected; some were more illuminating. Here are the three main takeaways from our discussions with partners so far: 

1. Feedback is mixed, based on two factors 

  • We received a range of emotions from being disappointed to being elated (extremely excited) – the average rating from 1 to 10 was 6.5 (most of the users surveyed were feeling positive about the announcement). 
  • We found that the partners who were extremely excited about this announcement had one thing in common: they have both self-service provisioning and billing automation capabilities (indicating that they were compliant with the direct-bill requirements and had invested in the CSP program and business model).
  • Those partners who were unsure about the announcement were either indirect CSPs, or direct-bill CSPs that had not yet implemented self-service provisioning and/or billing automation. 

2. 95% Believe the Direct Bill CSP program is helping them grow their business 

  • Almost all Direct Bill partners believe in the value of remaining in the Direct partner program. 
  • Reasons for this sentiment range from the level of support partners receive as direct CSP (from the ASFP), brand cache of being a Direct Partner, and the level of API and automation the direct program provides in utilizing systems like Work 365.
  • This was the most evident even if partners are below this threshold, they are actively examining strategies to accelerate growth to meet this requirement.  

3. Most are not considering a move to the Indirect Provider model 

  • Most partners (83%) are not keen on moving to an indirect model.
  • Many don’t have to consider the move because they are already above the $300k threshold, so it would be unnecessary.
  • Some partners noted they’ve already made investments in growing their CSP business, which has enabled them to grow to this level and thus made this announcement less impactful.
  • Some investments include embracing recurring revenue and subscriptions, automation, and self-service offerings for their customers, all of which are aligned with Microsoft’s suggested growth strategy.

One additional finding is that a majority of direct-bill CSPs who use Work 365 responded that the application helps them grow. Time and again, we receive hear from partners that Work 365 stood out as a strategic investment in the growth of their business. This is validated through the Coop funding available, where you can use your Microsoft Coop funding to pay for your investment in Work 365.  

In our next post, we’ll further examine the return on investment of direct-bill partnership and how Work 365 enables partners to grow their business with scale.