EP 019

Why We're Not Microsoft Partners Anymore

If you know anything about us, you know we are major Microsoft users. I mean, it's kind of our thing 😁 So, it might be a little shocking to find out that we aren't Microsoft partners anymore...Yep, that's right!


Join us for episode 19 of the Make Others Successful podcast where Mitch, Matt, and Mike explain our reasoning for not being partners with Microsoft anymore.

Episode Links
Hosted By
Mitch Herrema
Matt Dressel
Mike Bodell
Produced By
Mitch Herrema
Edited By
Mitch Herrema
Music By
Eric Veeneman

Transcript

Mitch (00:00):

Hey everyone, welcome back to Make Others Successful, a podcast where we aim to make you successful in your workplace, and then make others successful and others successful. And on and on and on. I'm joined with Matt and Mike here today. My name's Mitch, by the way. Uh, today we have a topic that might be a little divisive in the title, but there's a lot of nuance around it, and we want to explore some of that and dig into some of the reasons. The topic is why we are no longer a Microsoft partner. So we still do Microsoft work. We love Microsoft, we love their tools, and we help a lot of organizations use them, but we're not a Microsoft partner anymore, and we were before. That's not to say we won't ever be or things might not change in the future, but today, as of right now, we have chosen not to and we wanna dig into why and just have a conversation around that. So before we go into those reasons, why don't we share a little bit about like what is a Microsoft partnership and like why might someone want one just to fill someone in who might not know?

Matt D. (01:01):

Well, let's, let's be really specific. Why did we become a Microsoft partner in the first place? Right? Yeah. So the Microsoft Partnership Program is a program for Microsoft to, for them to identify and recognize individuals who are experts in their technology and is a way for them to identify partners that they can recommend to customers, and is a way for you to get a bunch of support from Microsoft, basically. And that means software, you know, you're talking thousands of dollars of software, you're talking about uh, sales resources, so guides and branding and this type of thing, support tickets that you can, you know, open mic with Microsoft and, and potentially get support from them, et cetera. Like, there's lots of things that you can get from them specific to us. The reason we became a Microsoft partner is primarily to save money. You know, the software packages that we're buying, we had a small number of people at the time, four or five people, and between, you know, office 365 subscriptions, developer tools, subscriptions, et cetera, especially when it came to developer tools, you know, you gotta, you got a very significant discount.

(02:09):

And at the time, alls you really had to do was have a couple people certified and that's it. Um, Microsoft also wanted some recommendations from customers, but it was, you know, customers love us, like we, we can, that's not a huge deal. So it's not a big lift for us to do. And the value, uh, was there and, and again, how it used to work is cuz part of the reason, part of the story is about the change. So how it used to work is you paid a certain amount for the subscription. You had what were called competencies, which is that you have certifications in a specific, uh, a particular area or multiple areas, and that when you get enough things in the right buckets, it gets you the ability to be certified. And we were certified silver, so we were, there's multiple levels, there's gold, there's silver, and we were certified as a silver partner as that partner. Uh, you know, we did it for three, four years. I think, you know, we really truly only benefited from the software end of things. Yeah, yeah.

Mike (03:06):

So one of the other reasons that people or organizations become a partner is because it cozies you up to Microsoft. And Microsoft will use partners as go-to vendors for large implementations for some other strategic clients. And we have worked for other companies in the past where we have been involved through that mechanism or through that channel, but we really, uh, in our circumstances, we weren't taking advantage of that at all really.

Matt D. (03:31):

Well, we, uh, to, so the way that works, just to give some more detail to people, primarily Microsoft has funding that they can spend on customers, premier customers, primarily large customers, where they say, if you are gonna adopt this technology, which is gonna result in subscriptions and payments to Microsoft, we'll put in 50,000 a hundred thousand dollars on a project to help you implement that or to get that going. And when they do that, they only can select gold level partners in a lot of those cases, right? Um, sometimes you could do a silver depending on the size and blah, blah, blah, but a lot of times if you, they're gonna spend their money, they want a gold certified partner. And so that money is available to that pool of people. And so what happens there is a salesperson or someone else at Microsoft identifies a need.

(04:20):

They go and find either a local partner, a partner that other people would recommend to them, and they say, Hey, we're gonna engage. And then they present to the customer and then the customer comes back and says, yes, I like it. And then Microsoft ends up paying the partners ultimately what happens. And so, but that funding is one way. The other way is, you know, when a Microsoft salesperson is working with a customer, they might go look online in their suite of people and look for a gold certified partner in their area for their customer that says, you should work with these people. Right? So that's largely when you talk about closing up. That's what our experience has been like. We've, I've done work under a consulting agency for Microsoft's either consulting services or, or Microsoft as an, as this funding option. You know, we're pretty familiar with how some of that stuff works and it can be a benefit. I mean, you can be talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in business. Yeah. And then assuming the customer likes what you did for them, you know, you could be talking about even more a long-term relationship with the customer.

Mitch (05:21):

Cool. So I think that sets a good premise of what Microsoft Partnership is, what it means for someone who might pursue it, but it didn't make sense for us. And so let's dig into a couple of the reasons why we have decided to not re-up on our partnership.

Matt D. (05:37):

I don't know that any of these are in like any order of priority or Sure. Preference for us. This decision for us not to be one is a culmination of probably a lot of different things. Yep. So, just to set the stage with that, the

Mitch (05:48):

First one is we don't necessarily like the work that it brings or maybe the arrangement that we would have to work under in to take the work that we would get from Microsoft, right?

Matt D. (06:02):

We talked a little bit about how that arrangement works, how you get business from Microsoft. A lot of that work, how that work works is Microsoft has already worked with a customer and identified a potential solution. They need somebody who knows the technology to deliver that solution. Very infrequently are they bringing you in to have a holistic view of a customer and propose a solution for that customer or work with that customer to identify something. There's lots of reasons for that. Like that's, it's, this is not a knock on Microsoft. Uh, it's, it's a function of how that relationship all works. Like you're talking about a salesperson or a contact within Microsoft who is technology focused and technology, their ecosystem is their thing that they're working with. And a customer who is engaging with them to find a partner that would be doing something else, that's a really awkward arrangement to sit there and say, Hey, I'm not sure that this is the right solution. Let's go back and talk about this holistically about like, what are you trying to do and let's reset. It

Mike (07:06):

Creates

Mitch (07:07):

Like a cart before the horse situation, sometimes cart

Mike (07:09):

Before, before the horse, but also the person who's coming in and defining that solution in the first place isn't really on the hook for implementing it. Sure. And so then the implementer comes along and says, whoa, what did I get myself into? Yeah. Right. And, and in the end there's a lot of interesting maybe, uh, bad feelings about the whole situation because the end game was, well, I need to sell X more licenses of this right tool or this platform. And if as long as we accomplish that goal, whatever the investment is for whatever the solution is, that really doesn't matter. Yeah.

Mitch (07:40):

It's, it's the typical salesman just wants to close the deal and so they wanna get it over the finish line. Today,

Matt D. (07:47):

Today's Microsoft, I think is a significantly better in that regard. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, mostly because the way they're doing everything is by subscription and by change in licensing. So I think it has changed the game a little bit about how they work with that. And so I don't think it's as it is still a problem, it's not necessarily as big of a problem as it once was. I would tell you that I have been on a, on projects where a technology was sold as the end all be all, and by the time someone like me gets involved from, from a implementation perspective, you pretty much can't go back. Like somebody's already agreed, Microsoft's already paying the bill, the customer has an outcome. If you don't deliver on the outcome, Microsoft's not gonna pay your organization because the customer's not happy and the customer doesn't know what they were really asking for. And Microsoft or or I say Microsoft, but someone in the sales process identified this technology as being the right solution and it's not the right solution. And so you bend and contort the technology to fit their need because you need to make 'em happy when what you really want to say is, this is a bad idea, you should use something else.

Mike (08:49):

Yeah. That, that sets up, uh, incredible misalignment mm-hmm. <affirmative> from the front end to the back end. Right. And we've, we've seen it go sideways a

Matt D. (08:57):

Lot. Yeah. And the last thing I'll say is that most of the time those projects are, many times they're just looking for hands to do the things that they want to do. And the rates for doing hands work like that aren't in alignment with what we do. Right. We don't have a suite of, we don't use offshore developers. We don't have a suite of 50 people that we're trying to just plug their daily work, uh, with stuff. Right? We're engaged in trying to deliver outcomes for customers, right. We're trying to understand what they're trying to accomplish and deliver on their outcomes, whatever that takes on our side,

Mitch (09:34):

Right? Right. So when that's littered with, ooh, can we sell more licenses or can we use this technology to do this? It just feels a little disingenuous. And we like to not operate on those starting assumptions.

Matt D. (09:46):

The big thing that I would say is when it is to make this happen, we need to migrate, uh, 50,000 mailboxes. I don't have someone that I'm just gonna sit down and say, you're gonna migrate 50,000 mailboxes for $300 an hour, because that's what they're willing to do. And we're not in the business of just subcontracting out somebody that's just gonna do that. That's just not what we do that. And that doesn't mean that we wouldn't take a large project or we wouldn't be engaged with somebody if we have a, if we're involved with somebody from a strategic level about modernizing their workplace. And one of the things that has to happen is that we'll be happy to engage with someone, but we don't traditionally get involved in an engagement where it's like, I just need you to move these things from A to B and that's all I need you to do.

Mike (10:30):

Yeah. And we like to be involved early as well because then that gives us the opportunity to not only help define the outcome and how it takes shape, but also we're on the hook for delivery. And I don't like having to deliver something that someone else promised. Right. I like to deliver things that I promised. Sure. Uh, because it just works better. Um, and so to the extent that we can do that, uh, that's what we like to do.

Mitch (10:55):

So the next one is having a Microsoft partnership makes things appear as though they are apples to apples. When, uh, potential customers may be looking for a, a vendor or someone to help them with Microsoft work and they go look up Microsoft partners. Everyone typically either is on a level playing field or they like list how many certifications they have, which we'll talk about certifications in a minute, but that typically doesn't align with how we work, right? Like, like we, it's difficult to say apples to

Matt D. (11:32):

Apples. The the way that I would describe it is it's very difficult for an organization our size to have a real impact from a differentiation perspective. Right? The truth of the matter about this stuff is it either happens that someone knows someone that's a gold partner that they like and that's the person they use, or that person is unavailable or something else and they go look in the list and they pick the first gold partner that's in the area and that's the one they go try to use. Right? Or they look that up and find five of them and then try to find customers to, to that they try to go talk to that did the work. It's very difficult to differentiate yourself in a, as an organization our size, uh, in that marketplace. Number one, we'd have to be gold partner, which we weren't gold partner to begin with, to be gold partner.

(12:19):

We would've had to have more people certified in more areas. In addition, the other challenge we have is we work across a lot of different technologies within Microsoft. And having one certification in an area but not in another, can make you have challenges with getting a project that's in that other area, right? These organizations that have five, 600 people, it's pretty easy to have three people that are certified in the all of these areas and then be like, cool, I I can now get work in all those areas. Right? So it it's, it's challenging to differentiate yourself. So for me, it's not like, I think that we saw lots of people look at us and go, well, you're just the same as somebody else that's a silver partner. We just weren't getting any leads from Microsoft. Like, and the reason for that is, and that's it's, I'll take that back actually.

(13:06):

We actually did get quite a few leads from Microsoft. There were a number of Microsoft salespeople who were involved in large projects that we were involved in that would love to give us more work, but we weren't gold certified. Right. And in addition, the work that they did want to give us, like we talked about before, isn't super great. But that wasn't, we, we got those opportunities not because we were a gold partner or a silver partner. We got those things because of the work that we do, the good work that we do, the reality of our working relationship with customers, not because we were listed in Microsoft's list of bank of hundreds of thousands of Microsoft partners.

Mike (13:43):

I think when you talk about the apples, the apples comparisons, why don't we just say that like, the reality is the certifications and that comparison boils ev all of those organizations down to be basically commoditized services.

Mitch (13:56):

Last thing, I just wanna quickly speak to my experience working with a Microsoft partner in that that partnership implies a promise of some sort of quality or competency or something from, from that vendor. And I just spent hours and hours and hours cleaning up code from a Microsoft partner. And it was not good. It was like someone was in a poor position that something had exactly what we were talking about, had something had been sold that they weren't competent at, and it ended up producing a not great outcome and it went live on a big intranet and it did not do well. Like we needed to jump and, and fix it. Fortunately we did that. But that like implied promise, I was a little bit let down by it, I guess. Does that make sense? Well,

Mike (14:41):

And in that case, I'm familiar with that scenario. The services that were provided were a commodity.

Matt D. (14:46):

Yes. And the, and in particular that is an example of an organization that has of people but only has probably 10, 15 people that are certified. If you get someone that is not certified, like that person in particular I am confident was not certified in what they were doing. And there's no, and there's no way the, the cer the pro the, the partner program does not protect against that.

Mitch (15:08):

Okay. So apples to apples not our favorite thing. We've been alluding to certifications a little bit. Let's talk about what certifications mean to us and kind of the nuance around that. The point is that certifications, while they do prove that, you know, some level of technology and you can answer questions correctly, it doesn't necessarily mean that you know how to solve business problems with these tools. Do you wanna dig into that a little bit more? Yeah,

Mike (15:34):

I, I think, um, uh, like I mentioned, I have a certification. Mine is a biz talk server of all things. Like years ago I, I picked that up. Right? And I like the fact that I have it, it proves that I have knowledge in that, in that platform and I'm proud of that. But from a business standpoint, I don't care. I don't do biz talk work anymore. Right. I haven't done it for years. Yeah. Um, and I don't really care to do it, to be honest with you.

Matt D. (15:56):

Just to be clear, he is now doing a little bit of biz talk work, <laugh>, and it's all the same. Like, he's like right in there knowing all of it. Yeah, yeah,

Mike (16:03):

Yeah. That's true.

Mitch (16:04):

True. You're definitely not, if you're like, oh, Mike knows biz talk, let's go talk to Bob Digital.

Matt D. (16:09):

We're not, but that's not what it means. No,

Mike (16:11):

No. But I, but I'm, as I mentioned, I'm proud of having it. Right. Yeah. So I'm proud, at one point in my life, I accomplished a goal and I, I acquired that credential. And so to the extent that I have free time on my hands to go get another one, I would pursue a couple more. But it's a question of having time. Right? Sure. Like we're, we're pretty busy. But having, having one in your pocket to say, I, I know this and I achieved this, uh, that's a pretty cool thing to have. Sure.

Mitch (16:35):

Yeah. We were proud of like our delivery lead. She got scrum master certified. Right. Not like that. Having those couple s SCM after your name is, is cool. Like, it makes you feel good cuz cuz you know your stuff and it's a public display of that. Right. Any other thoughts on, I I know you have lots of thoughts. Certifications

Matt D. (16:54):

Are, we, we're Thomas certification now, right? Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, the reality is certifications are hugely valuable for an individual and for someone who is looking to hire an individual at an organization, it's doesn't, it's, it doesn't, it loses some of its value because the question becomes am I working with the person that's certified at your organization? Right? And when you get into that game, it gets into, well I, now I need a project that tells me who's gonna be on the project. Right? Um, and oh great, I got, I have a project that, that I'm having, I have five people on it and they're all certified, but now that company is being penalized cuz they can't use any of their other employees that aren't certified yet. And now I gotta get all of them certified and oh, by the way, my certifications go out every three years and they've gotta get re-certified.

(17:41):

And they really, if you, if they're a multi-talented individual and they're doing work on seven different product products, they need to be certified in all seven different things. And guess what? That's, they're gonna be doing nothing but certifying the whole time they're, they're here. Right. It's, it's a challenge. As Mike said, I think there's a place for certifications. I've, I would recommend people who are technical people looking to get into the space and prove that they have the knowledge. Like I don't, I, I've not worked in that space before, but I want to be able to prove it. Certification is a great way to do it as it relates to companies and companies working with each other. Uh, certifications is only one piece of it. Like what you said, the why behind it is also like Microsoft has certifications that actually talk a little bit to that they've added, that's an area that they've identified as a problem and over the last probably three, five years, they've added certifications that get into, you know, more business analyst style, uh, roles.

(18:33):

But then you need somebody that's certified in that, right? Like, uh, great, you're a gold partner, that's awesome and you're a gold partner in SharePoint. That's awesome. But you don't have anybody that's certified in, you know, functional, I forget what they call it, but there's another certification for like business analyst style stuff, right? So then I need both. Like, I, I don't, it's, it's just, it's very difficult to have that conversation and what matters more for us and what matters I think more to our customers is that we as a business stand behind what the engagements that we put in place and the outcomes that we're committed to, like what matters to our customers is the outcomes that we're going to give to them by implementing technology and implementing our thought leadership in how to go about implementing that tech technology for them.

Mike (19:17):

I think the one other thing I would say in recognizing that certifications are beneficial from a personal standpoint is that if you're an organization and you're thinking about maintaining or holding onto some sort of partnership with Microsoft Gold certified or whatever that is, you have to realize that well those certifications are personal and they're tied to the individual and true you, if that's something you wanna pursue, now you have to build into your recruiting strategy. The ability to maintain and hold on to a certain number, number and level of certified people Right. In the right things in order for you to maintain that partnership. And that's extremely difficult to do. Uh, in today's world where people are moving around so much, it's very difficult for us to do because we're such a small organization, right? It's not like we have tons of people where we can, you know, have a bunch of people and have an overabundance of certified people. Right? So that's a very difficult thing to manage and that's one of the reasons that it was difficult for us. Uh,

Matt D. (20:06):

Espe, especially if you're not good at taking tests, quite frankly, I'm not great at taking tests. Uh, I'm not good at memorizing stuff. I'm good at figuring stuff out. I am not good at memorizing stuff. Uh, especially in the context of a test. And so, you know, this is a test, like a certification is a test to be clear. It's not like a course that you took and you have homework that gets graded, it'll, you have a hour and a half long proctored test mm-hmm <affirmative> and with multiple choice questions and multiple, multiple choice questions. And that's what it is. Um, and so people who are really good at taking tests will get certified no problem. Like it's really easy for them. Um, I have been certified, I can be get certified. I know a lot about a lot of these things, right. But it's difficult for me like personally, right? Yeah. Because I'm not a good test taker.

Mitch (20:54):

Well, I'll certify

Matt D. (20:54):

You. Yeah, yeah.

Mitch (20:56):

Bulb, digital stamp of approval. Okay. So certifications good in certain contexts, not necessarily from a deliverable outcome, not perspective outside of those couple that you were talking about.

Matt D. (21:07):

Let's bring it back to us, right? Cuz this is about us, right? For us, probably the most relevant people to get certified would be us. I already said I'm not good at taking tests. I do have certifications. Several of them have lapsed in over the course of time, but you

Mitch (21:21):

Don't really have certifications. Yeah.

Matt D. (21:23):

Currently I am not certified in anything and it would be a big burden to our business for me to go spend that time. Yeah. Like we are spending time on our thought leadership in spaces and that is where my time is best spent today. If I could hire five people that were certified that also meet, met the bulb standard of employees, I would hire 'em and we would have that problem solved. Right. Our problem is that's not who's available to us to come workforce us right now. We, we don't have those people available to us as an option to be brought in and and work. So I

Mitch (21:54):

Think that goes to say at one point we had a few people that were certified. Yep. And that was great cuz we had them learn about something and prove that they could do it. And it, it was educational and some sort of like training, um, aspect went into it and that was good. Okay. So the fourth reason why we're no longer Microsoft partner is it became a little bit of a score game. It became a, a quantity game that they changed some metrics that they're keeping track of in order to keep your partnership. You wanna talk a little bit more about

Matt D. (22:22):

That? There was a number of things. Certifications was one thing. Another piece was, and there's multiple ways, it's a complex system so it's not like there's any one thing, but for us in particular, we had to have certifications in a particular area. You had to pay the money and then you uh, usually you have to have some sort of recommendation from customers, which is all well and good. But Microsoft's problem with that is that what are you as a partner doing for Microsoft? Like what value are they getting out of your work as a partner? How can they gauge and do a better job of judging the what's going on? Right? And their solution to that problem was to say everybody's going to the cloud. You need to be a partner of record for a particular thing. Being a partner of record means that you are tied to a number of seats and they can track the growth of that. So for example, if we get tied to a partner as a partner of record in SharePoint for a customer or in power platform for a customer and that customer goes from having zero licenses to having 500 licenses, that reflects well on me. But turning

Mitch (23:19):

To Microsoft,

Matt D. (23:20):

I mean it, it does like from a Microsoft perspective, I am engaging their end users and giving them a, presumably an experience that they are enjoying and using. Or

Mitch (23:32):

A good sales guy, I'm, I'm playing devil's advocate a little

Matt D. (23:35):

Bit in the world where you have uh, cloud services that people are paying month to month, it's very easy for a customer to say it is no longer value valuable for me and I'm not going to buy it anymore. Which would also reflect poorly on me. Yes. Right? Like it's not the same as it was before where I signed somebody in for a five year contract for every, everybody I'm trying to get on a five year contract to do this thing. It's much more if I have these people and I see the growth, I must be doing something good for that customer. Sure, yes, you're right that there are nuances to all of that, but it's way better than nothing, which is what Microsoft had before. It was very difficult to really track that and, and get the detail of it. It also matches better with how they're compensating their salespeople as I understand it, which is based on new subscriptions and all of that.

(24:22):

But that change creates a situation where you as a partner have to be asking customers to put you in their system as a partner of record. Which can be a very weird thing to do. Number one. And number two for us in particular, you know, we've had engagements with customers where they're engaged with a managed service vendor that is doing managed it and is a partner record on a bunch of stuff. Even though they're providing zero real guidance. Alls they're really doing is the guy that they, you know, pick up the phone and help password reset and Oh, you have a breaking issue with this thing, I'm gonna help you. We're engaged strategically helping them use these products, but now the customer has to choose which partner of record they want to have, be this partner of record. Now Microsoft has lots of different ways that they slice their product categories up so that you can have partners of records for lots of little things.

(25:13):

But it's, it's a difficult thing for us to manage. And quite frankly, it was on my plate to do. We investigated, we said, Hey, should we really do it? It's overwhelming Yeah. To have to figure out how to do it with the customer. And it's very intimidating to have that open conversation with the customer when you're at our scale. Right. When you're engaging with executive teams about how they use technology within their organizations and then to be like, hey, also by the way, I'd like to be the partner of record for Viva connections or for, you know, whatever the thing so I can get my credits right so that I can get my my pieces so I can get my partnership. It's challenging. Right. And it's unfortunate. I understand why they do it the way they do it. It makes complete sense. I wish there was a different way I wish, I wish there wasn't so much onus on the customer, but honestly that's part of the point.

(26:03):

If the customer's not willing to say that you help them do this, they shouldn't put you on. Sure. Right. It's no different than when we ask for recommendations. Like yeah. Uh, it's from a concept perspective, like there is differences in the details, but the intent is very similar. If somebody is willing to take the step to figure out how to make this happen and make it happen for you, they like you and if they like you, that means I might want to use you again for another customer because you'd had a good outcome with this customer. Like that is, that's part of the intent, right? It's not the only intent, it's not the only situation that's going on, but this is

Mike (26:40):

What I'm gonna do. I'm gonna get us added as partner of record to all of the customers that I'm working with and then that roadblock will be eliminated. And the only roadblock to our gold partnership will be your lack of certification.

Matt D. (26:54):

My my lack of certification. Yeah. Right. If you were to do that, we would probably solve the certification. Like back to the original, the thing we talked about originally, I don't think it's any one of these things that we talked about that is, was like, it's not like any one of 'em is so bad that we would never do it. It's a culmination of all of these things. It's,

Mike (27:10):

It's more difficult to manage than it used to be. Yeah.

Matt D. (27:13):

For us, for a company our size, like some com I, I know several companies, they have a Microsoft partner manager like that just manages the relationship with Microsoft because Microsoft is a big way that they get business and that's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. That's, it's not the reality for us. If we had been able to figure out some of the engagements that we've, we've talked about in the past and it was the right fit and the right type of relationship and everything else, we'd probably bend over backwards to make it happen. Cuz I'd want to keep using like being in, in that engagement. We just haven't had that success. And so when you think about the cost of licenses, et cetera versus the rest of the things and if that's the only benefit we're getting really. So

Mike (27:52):

Think about that scenario where you just rewrote a bunch of code. Mitch, if we had been gold certified at that time, we probably could have had, we would've been in line to write that the first time and it would've been done right the first time. Shoot, shoot. Yeah.

Matt D. (28:04):

Yeah. And it would've been a better outcome for everyone.

Mitch (28:06):

I'll speak to, my only gripe with it is when you were sharing the news with me about this change was it felt like it became a game of scorecard where it was like keeping track of how many flows we were building, how many apps we were building and that's not how we work with our customers. Like yes inherently we'll be building apps and flows and all those good things and and helping in that way, but I don't want to be incented to do more like from a quantity game build,

Mike (28:33):

Build flows for the sake of building for Right.

Mitch (28:35):

It's not, it's, I mean disingenuous, it

Matt D. (28:38):

Is a challenge. It's also, but it's also a challenge of the role that we play. So I think it makes, the way they're doing it now makes a lot of sense for people who are selling software licenses. Which it's the same for them. Like if you're, if you're selling software licenses, they use different metrics, whatever, but like you get points for the licenses that people continue to maintain and how much they go up and how much they go down. And it makes a lot of sense. Cause for every license I'm making a cut, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> like I'm, I'm the reseller, I'm getting a piece of that pie And so I'm already naturally incented that, that way. So cool. It's all makes sense for someone who is modernizing people's workplace using this technology. My goals are not to get more licenses than what they currently have used.

(29:21):

My goal is to, in many cases get them to be able to use the licenses they already have. But there's not a good way to measure that. Remember when, because even year over year, as I understand it, which again we don't know everything about it, they also trail off. So just cause I sold somebody in, in a partner record on somebody from five years ago that has 500 licenses, that doesn't mean anything in a couple years. Which again, I understand why Microsoft is doing that because they want to find partners that are able to drive sales for them and their adoption of their things. And there's not a good way to go this, these people would have stopped paying for my licenses if it wasn't for you. Like that's a hard thing to identify.

Mike (30:05):

I want to know whatever happened to the old Microsoft slogan, do more with less <laugh>.

Matt D. (30:11):

I don't know how that applies to

Mike (30:12):

This because they just want more licenses. Oh, as time goes on, more apps more flow. When we show up, we honestly try to like figure out what can we do with the status quo. If you need a little bit more, we'll figure out what that is. But how much more can we do with what you got? Yeah.

Matt D. (30:26):

I I think, uh, I think the interesting thing for us in when we think about thought leadership, and I thought about this a little bit, is that I think I am personally gelling around if you are bought into Microsoft, I think there is a minimum level of licensing uh, that makes sense. And I think there's like a couple different tiers because the other end of it is like, I'm not gonna go into a business and go, you're paying for all these stuff but oh, for like a power platform license. But you could just do it on SharePoint. Let's just flip it all to SharePoint if they're doing some major business integration. Right? So it's not quite all that simple, but I think you are right in your, the perception that is there. And it may be even reality, which is I just want you to buy more and more and more and more and more. Yeah.

Mike (31:13):

And we, we'll always have the conversation with the customer if it comes down to a question of value and do I wanna spend money on licenses or do I wanna spend money on implementation? Like, we're pretty good at having that conversation with them about, well, you know, what is this gonna do for you? We wanna suss out the value to help you evaluate the roi. Like, cuz if it doesn't make sense doing like keep doing it the old way, that's okay.

Matt D. (31:35):

Right. Well, and quite frankly a lot of our, a lot of the challenges we have with customers is that they think I bought this license and it can do everything for me out of the box. And it's like, not really like you still have to put some skin in the game. You still have to like, it's not the end all be all. It is a license for a piece of software. Not

Mike (31:55):

Yeah. In the, in the, the solution in the Microsoft stack in particular is there's like, none of it is really line of business software, right? So you're not buying something off the

Matt D. (32:05):

Shelf. It's not directly aligned.

Mike (32:05):

Yeah. It's not vertically aligned. So anything that you purchase license wise, like yeah, there's gonna be some things that are nice and built in and you can use, but chances are you're gonna have to connect a few of those things, change a few of those things. But

Matt D. (32:17):

It's not the same as buying, it's not the same as buying a fi financial services, uh, product that is

Mike (32:22):

Net or

Matt D. (32:23):

Something. Your business, your line of business in the way you work. That's right. Anyways, we got off topic a little bit.

Mitch (32:28):

Yeah, I think I'll start to close this down a little bit and review the four things that we talked about for the reasons why we in particular are not Microsoft partners anymore. The first is we don't necessarily like the work that it brings or the arrangement that we have to work with under second is it makes things appear to be apples to apples with all the vendors. Third is certifications are great at proving, you know, technology not necessarily how to apply it to business. And then fourth, it became a quantity game. It became something that felt like we were on some sort of scoreboard that we needed to keep ticking up in order to keep our certification. We, I think we covered it pretty well. There's a lot of nuance to this topic and I want to make sure that, again, we're not badmouthing anything. It's all of it is done for good reason and it works well for a lot of people. Just didn't work for us. And I

Mike (33:20):

Would say check back with us in a year. Yeah. And we'll discuss this again and see if anything's changed.

Mitch (33:26):

Cool. So hopefully that was helpful to anyone listening, kind of the ins and outs of Microsoft Partnership maybe if you're considering it. So thanks for listening and thanks guys for the conversation. Thanks

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