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Microsoft's New Cloud Practice Playbooks Are Massive and Well Worth Your Time

Following up on the popular Modern Partner Series, Microsoft has released four Cloud Practice Development Playbooks to guide partners as they expand their cloud practices.

On download, the sheer volume of the playbooks might make some partners think they are full of Microsoft fluff, but that is not the case. While they could be pared down to make them more consumable, the content is specific to each practice area and includes well-researched business advice and pertinent partner experiences.

To say the four practice development playbooks are comprehensive is an understatement. Each one is over 170 pages, and while there is some shared content, the detailed guidance and supporting data from other partners is practical and specific. The deep-dive playbooks cover practice areas, including:

  • Enterprise Mobility & Security
  • Cloud Infrastructure & Management 
  • Data Platform & Analytics 
  • Cloud Application Development 

Following 14 pages of content, the playbook introductions take another 15 to 20 pages to get to the real substance -- a shame, in that the excessive introductions may lose readers. Partners will find the "good stuff" spread throughout the "Partner Practice Development Framework" sections, starting around page 30. The framework includes:

  • Define Your Strategy: Define your offer, benchmark your practice and identify required resources.
  • Operationalize and Get Trained: Hire or train resources, complete certifications and get your practice ready to launch.
  • Go to Market: Execute your sales and marketing strategy to find your first customers.
  • Close and Execute Deals: Negotiate deals, write winning proposals, implement contract and leverage Microsoft investment funds.
  • Optimize and Grow Your Practice: Collect feedback, identify expansion opportunities, optimize your practice, grow partnerships and refine your offer.

In the "Define Your Strategy" section, partners are likely to find the "Define and Design the Solution Offer" pages to be the most valuable part of the book. Including data collected through surveys of partners currently pursuing the practice areas, the section gives a realistic picture of what to expect in each practice area. Descriptions of typical project services delivered, median revenue from services and project service breakdowns reflect actual partner experiences. Another highlight includes the "Practice Cost Calculations" and "Pricing Strategy Comparisons."

Each playbook's "Operationalize and Get Trained" section lists the roles that you need to support the practice, including recruitment guidance and compensation data. Training resources and certification paths are also included, providing a one-stop source partners may find easier to navigate than some of the Microsoft partner Web sites.

The "Go To Market," "Close and Execute Deals" and Optimize and Grow Your Practice" sections share much of the same content across the four playbooks, but still include specific practice resources and data worth digging out. It does require some digging, as the practice-specific resources and tips are mixed in with general sales, marketing and operations guidance.

The Cloud Practice Development Playbooks are impressive documents reflecting Microsoft's dedication to helping partners adapt their business models to the cloud. As with most things Microsoft, the playbooks deliver a drink through a fire hose. Partners would be well-advised to assign sections to different people within the organization to sort through and uncover all of the content that will truly help them build their cloud practice.

How are you using the playbooks? Send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on February 15, 2017


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