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6 Tips on Getting the Most from Microsoft Consulting Services

Microsoft offers a range of professional services to help enterprise organizations with their implementation of Microsoft products and technologies. This organization is called Microsoft Services, and consists of a support organization as well as a professional services consulting organization.  The services arm was formerly called Microsoft Consulting Services and is still often referred to as MCS so I will use that shorthand in this blog post as well.

MCS has grown to the point that consultants outnumber other staff in the field sales offices in many locations. Microsoft has global reach, so you can find MCS people around the world.

Except for this article in Redmond Channel Partner, not much is written about MCS.  Therefore I am sharing my experiences and feedback I have received from customers on how to get the most out of MCS for your implementation.

Here are six tips:

  1. Use MCS when you need "reachback" to the product team.  MCS offers a unique value due to the close ties between consultants and the product organizations.  If you are making a big bet on a new Microsoft product and want to quickly resolve issues or even introduce suggestions on new enhancements or fixes, hiring MCS can be helpful.
  2. Architectural planning or validation.  Historically, MCS has been particularly strong on infrastructure and has been involved in planning the largest Active Directory networks in the world such as the U.S. Army.  Microsoft has developed best practices and network planning tools that will save you time.  Some of these are also available outside of an MCS services engagement.
  3. As part of a hybrid team.  Because MCS billing rates are more expensive than most Microsoft service provider companies, you may want to use MCS resources as part of an integrated team which also includes your employees and other Microsoft partners.  
  4. To jumpstart a project. If you don't have enough resources to get started or need training for your team, MCS can give you an initial boost to get the project underway.  Most of the time MCS does not prefer to stay for the long term because of demands from other clients, but Microsoft Premier Support services (part of Microsoft Services) are suitable for dedicated support personnel. 
  5. When your solution is pure Microsoft. Perhaps this tip is obvious, but although Microsoft consultants have broad backgrounds, they do not try to cover the entire spectrum of products so other resources may be better suited for non-Microsoft work.  
  6. Training on Microsoft methodologies. Microsoft has developed planning and implementation methodologies and can provide training to your team if you are implementing these. 

Microsoft Premiere Support for Enterprise is available to enterprise class Microsoft customers and offers a wide range of support services.  Notably, Premier Support representatives are assigned to your account and learn the details of your infrastructure and business solutions for a highly customized response to technical problems.  Other forms of Premier Support are available to Microsoft Partners and developers.

My company InfoStrat has subcontracted project work to MCS and acted as a subcontractor to MCS. We even include their services pricing on our GSA Schedule 70.


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