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This is the first post in our “How MSPs Can Survive & Thrive” ebook series. You can read the others below:

Taking your first steps into the cloud requires ample patience and planning. Once you get your feet wet, however, thriving on a platform such as Office 365 can be quite simple if you know where to start working. Read on for a breakdown of four handy tips that should help any MSPs starting to transition to the cloud.

1. Mind the Gaps

Not only must you be familiar with CSP licensing, but you’ll also need to have a deep knowledge of the gaps that exist between the cloud office platform and your customers’ expectations. You should identify and communicate these gaps with customers so they can be proactively addressed with third-party solutions. Common gaps include data protection, reporting, and permission management.

2. Understand the Interconnected Nature of Office 365

Office 365 Groups are not tangible tools visible to the end-user, but they are the foundation of Office 365. Office 365 Groups gather the identities of people who need to work together and creates a ‘group identity’ in Azure Active Directory.

For example, it would be cumbersome to create a Marketing Team in Microsoft Teams, add each person in the department as a member and then repeat the process across SharePoint, OneNote, Mailbox and other Office 365 tools.

Prior to Office 365, the IT department typically had to grant and manage permissions for these types of workloads separately. Today, users can simply create the Team, which spins up all the resources listed above for all the members in that associated Group.

MSPs need to be aware that these workloads are not silo-ed and ensure their data protection and other solutions address the complex interconnections between services in Office 365.

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3. Create Service Offerings Around When to Use What

Microsoft Teams is one of the newest and fastest-growing business applications in the history of software, and Microsoft continues to add more features and capabilities on a regular basis.

With all of these features and options, organizations struggle to understand and make productive use of their new tools. The small to midsized organizations MSPs often support are particularly susceptible to the struggle of understanding what tools can help solve which use cases, and when to use which features, etc. This is to say nothing of understanding content level security, retention, and application development.

Office 365 can bring a massive increase in productivity for users, but only if users understand how to take advantage of the tools available to them in order to get their jobs done.

The best way to accomplish this is to work with organizations to help solve their day to day workstream/business workflow needs. Once user-level solutions have been implemented, users should learn how to complete their tasks through context-based training that actually shows users how to utilize the new tools to get their jobs done. It will be necessary to measure feedback and adoption for users as time goes on to continue to assist organizations as they rely more and more on Office 365.

MSPs are in an excellent position to create service offerings to help organizations overcome the frustrations of the nuances of using these technologies, and enable them to take advantage of all the features that could be increasing productivity, securing their information, and automating work processes. Change is the only constant in Office 365, and there will always be service opportunities around helping customers digest this change. This can be an important revenue stream to supplement Office 365 reseller commission reoccurring revenue

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4. Differentiation Is Key

There is a low barrier for entry to resell Office 365, increasing market fragmentation and competition. In what ways can your MSP distinguish itself from other players in the industry, and how can you expand your offerings in ways that do not increase, but in fact can reduce your operational burden? Simply put, it’s those that position themselves around the highest quality offerings, particularly around protection and management, that will be at an advantage.

Advise and have options that enable your customers to maximize their Office 365 investment and productivity to effectively leverage more services. Having offerings that work together and are easily integrated will not only simplify things for your customers but also your operations team.

Want more expert strategies for thriving in the cloud? Download our full ebook How MSPs Can Survive & Thrive In a Post Digital Transformation Era for more!


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