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Kymber Lowe Senior Director, Global Partner Enablement, Global Partner Solutions

Planning to succeed with the Partner Readiness Assessment

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Competing effectively with cloud solutions requires partners to continually increase their capabilities and tune their models to deliver extra value with their services. All partners are encouraged to regularly take the Partner Transformation Readiness Assessment to measure their business and technical proficiencies for delivering modern cloud services.  

As part of the assessment, we help identify gaps in current capabilities, recommend next steps and align our array of technical and business resources with a partner’s specific goals. It helps partners establish a benchmark for their current cloud capabilities and understand where to focus efforts for training and certification. We have further organized those enablement resources for relevance with a partner’s cloud maturity level across the Microsoft cloud. 

The assessment takes partners through a series of questions about business capabilities (cloud strategy, sales and marketing, business model) and technical capabilities (cloud services, Microsoft cloud solution area focus, and cloud tooling). 

The score calculation is weighted to 60% technical and 40% business capability, and each answer option is assigned a score to assess cloud maturity. 

Assessment reveals gaps for Partner of the Year winner 

In order to be able to achieve more with cloud services, we need to start doing less. -DexMach CEO Kurt Van Hoecke

Microsoft’s Belgium Partner of the Year winner, DexMach, is a firm believer in the assessment. The Azure Expert Managed Service Provider (MSP) delivers automated cloud IT service management, and the assessment was the initial trigger to start optimizing the practice to gain its Azure Expert MSP status. 

“In order to be able to achieve more with cloud services, we need to start doing less,” said DexMach CEO Kurt Van Hoecke, referring to the company’s mission to help customers to drive deployments, operations, and reporting with code instead of labor.   

In mid-2018, DexMach took its first assessment. As a cloud-native service provider, the company already had basic automation in place, as well as a vision for the evolution of its service model, but the assessment revealed gaps in that model. 

Earlier this year, DexMach was audited for and achieved Azure Expert MSP and Windows Server, SQL Server, and App Modernization advanced specializations. It just recently took its second PTI assessment, which showed that the previous gaps were addressed, and the company moved into the Next Generation quadrant with its transformational capabilities. The assessment specifically pointed out needed investments in brand identity and marketing. 

“We had a clear view of the gap in this area via the tool, and the assessment made it visible in a total story,” said Van Hoecke. ”Action points were created to close the gap.” 

DexMach now stays current by taking the readiness assessment once a year and evaluates its Azure Expert MSP readiness twice a year. 

Van Hoecke’s advice for other partners beginning their transformation assessment is to look closely at what the cloud offers and use it to expand and optimize the services in their solutions. This allowed DexMach to standardize tooling and processes, but it also allowed the company to put more focus on leveraging internal domain expertise into intellectual property. “IP is a result of an overall vision and focusing where it accelerates or facilitates in reaching that goal,” he said. “It was a challenge to keep the foot on the ground and not build a castle when a simple warehouse was needed. Cloud-native thinking assists in making the selection between castle and warehouse.”  

That new mindset pointed out the benefits of partnering with other Microsoft partners. Those partnerships allow DexMach to focus on its business goals while leveraging those relationships to integrate and deliver pieces of an overall solution to ensure customer success. Delivering cloud service and applications is now faster and more stable when all facets of delivery are automated and allows the MSP to serve enterprises on a global scale. 

“We assist customers in making the right decisions, but the deployment and operations is becoming more and more automated,” according to Van Hoecke. “Modern service management is growing to a predictive model where various management functions are “self-steering” or guaranteed. You only need to follow-up the results and tune the model to optimize your environment.”  

And that is where the transformation assessment comes in. 

Know your cloud maturity level 

On completion of the assessment, partners receive a Partner Transformation Index (PTI) score, which places your business in a maturity level quadrant with technical capability and business capability on the two axes (see chart below). The PTI plots how you compare with other partners across four maturity levels: core, enhanced, advanced, and next gen. Based on the PTI score, the assessment tool then provides recommendations and resources to help build your cloud business capabilities to the next level. 

Based on the answers, we direct partners to resources to help identify the talent and skills needed to deliver the solutions and services that customers want, as well as training to help your teams build those skills. We can recommend certifications that showcase your capabilities to customers, and the resources to help you prepare for certification exams. 

The Partner Transformation Readiness Assessment does not collect personal identification information. You simply need a Microsoft Partner Network ID to access the tool and begin. We created a video that provides an overview of the assessment, what the questions are designed to reveal and how the tool can be used to help with annual business planning. 

And as DexMach discovered, the assessment is not a one-and-done resource. We recommend that partners retake the assessment every six months to track their transformation progression and set benchmarks and new goals. 

As your partner, Microsoft is committed to providing the resources and support you need to thrive. As you prioritize integrating the assessment into your annual plan, your organization will gain valuable insights that can translate into real wins for you—and by association, the full Microsoft Partner Network. We’re here for you every step of the way, and we look forward to seeing what you discover and accomplish as a result.