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The assessment and the reality

Microsoft Partners and customers alike are provided a great benefit called “Software Assurance Planning Services” to help assess a specific platform for upgrade and/or migration.
Clients appreciate the free assessment and partners appreciate the business, in addition to the opportunity of implementing the recommendations produced by the service.

As partners, we are held to a high standard. Microsoft expects us to deliver an in-depth report, both to the Partner team and to the customer, detailing the discovery and also explaining next steps and/or recommendations. The purpose of these assessments has always been targeted at helping the customer understand their current technical landscape and improve upon it.
Unfortunately, more times than not, right after delivering the report to the client we get the old familiar, “So you are telling me that my baby is ugly?”

Talk about making the conversation that much more difficult.

Maybe there’s room for improvement on the delivery style, but we are getting paid by Microsoft to deliver an honest assessment, regardless of how brutal it might be.
So at last, one of our consultants came up with the perfect response. “No. Your baby is not ugly at all, but we have the skills to make your baby that much more beautiful.”

Assessments are by nature never going to deliver a glorifying picture of an IT environment. Not because IT firms are trying to get unjustified business, but because IT is both complex and never perfect. The pace of technology and innovation makes it very difficult to be in the green all the time, and it is our job to keep up with new technologies and share that knowledge with our customers. It’s what we get paid to do. Yes, sometimes assessments are going to deliver a pretty bleak message, because maybe your environment is on the cusp of a disaster. More times than not though, an assessment is balanced. Some items are flagged as critical, others are not critical.

When you are assessing an IT environment, make sure you deliver the results in a scorecard format. Red (Critical), Yellow (Medium Severity) and green (No issues). Such a report provides your customer insights into how to request budget over time and by priority. Most importantly, never shy away from reality. If the scorecard is mostly red dots, then it is mostly red dots.

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