Is Microsoft Tech Support Better Than Tech Support from an MSP?


Innovation and the high cost of handholding

Thanks to Microsoft, our world is undergoing a massive digital transformation, creating opportunities and challenges.
It’s easier than ever to be productive with cloud-based business tools we never thought were imaginable ten years ago.
Now for the tricky part.
These applications run on new platforms that rely on a partnership support ecosystem that is having a hard time keeping up with Microsoft’s rapid pace of innovation.
Microsoft is betting on exponential growth in a public cloud market approaching $300,000,000.00 as of 2020. They plan to increase investment in go-to-market resources and decrease those that go into internal support – so they outsource client tech support to third parties.
This creates bottlenecks for businesses that need timely (and comprehensive) technical support.
The purpose of this article is to help you understand your options and adopt the best system to get the most from your Microsoft investment.
Since Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) is a household name with a 40% market share, one of the following examples will likely apply to you.

In-House IT

When you have one or two full-time IT employees supporting a 50-person company, it isn’t unusual for employees to grab tech personnel by the collar whenever the slightest computer glitch rears its ugly head.
Ambitious “Do It Your-Selfers” may go directly to the following Microsoft website, where they’ll see a variety of “Self-help resources.”
Learn More: Microsoft Work Self-Help
However, most people will charge your IT support desk like it’s The Orca from Jaws.
If it’s a simple issue to correct (isolated to a single user), a speedy resolution is imminent, provided other employees aren’t also having problems, and a stampede is in progress.
On the other hand, the issue may be the symptom of a deeper root cause. In this instance, one of your IT staff may have to jump into the Microsoft 365 portal and make some adjustments.
If he or she hits a snag, they will have to put on their Administrator hat and visit another Microsoft website for “Admin self-help.”
Learn More: Microsoft Work Admin Self-Help
Their success in resolving problems – both small and large – depends on their experience and certifications.
In all candor, this site, just like its user self-help counterpart, is loaded with goodies: articles, whitepapers, training videos, chat, etc.
I am sure Microsoft puts millions of dollars into this encyclopedic communications hub.
But there’s a drawback. Its vastness may not be a fit for every attention span. Your team is not likely to be overly amused at the prospect of delays – especially if IT needs to engage phone and email support options through Microsoft’s offshore tech support affiliates.
This could move the resolution time from several hours to several days.

A Traditional MSP

Let’s assume the two IT professionals at our hypothetical 50-person firm eventually reach their wit’s end.
They’re overworked. Vacations are rare and seldom relaxing because their smartphones are constantly abuzz with “hair on fire” calls, texts, and emails.
Your team is underserved and their unfavorable service reviews reflect the growing discontent. There’s no system in place to prioritize service requests.
Even worse, most problems seem to only have temporary fixes.
So they talk leadership into hiring a traditional managed services provider (MSP).
I use the word “traditional” to describe an MSP that came up in the early to mid-2000s. This kind of provider makes their money managing on-site assets – servers and other equipment that require a lot of babysitting and physical intervention.
Nonetheless, for the time being, this is a big step in the right direction, assuming the following variables are correct:

  • The MSP is bringing much more to the table than reactive, tactical support.
  • They provide a solution that incorporates strategy and budgets into a proven IT process based on standards and best practices.
  • They have a ticketing process in place that prioritizes support requests by severity, supported by a time-based Services Level Agreement.
  • The MSP allows each team member to create tickets directly, so your IT staff is not forced to run interference on every last support request.
  • The MSP manages the vendor relationship with Microsoft since the MSP is presumed to have a higher level of Microsoft 365 expertise and a wider bench than your two-person IT team.

Plus, your in-house staff may be more valuable to you if they can pivot to technology-related roles that are more strategic: application expertise, security, and compliance.
Learn More: The Four Stages of MSP Evolution

A Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) MSP

The traditional MSP I mention in the previous section is definitely better by degrees.
They are responsible for a majority of the day-to-day infrastructure details and have instituted a more structured tech support process.
With an MSP, the firm may even be able to get by with a single IT resource who assumes more of a director role.
Nonetheless, they will soon reach a state of diminishing returns if they’re not with a CSP-level MSP.
While all partners of Microsoft, old school MSPs included, may find themselves occasionally working tickets with third-party Microsoft contractors, CSP status is different.

  • CSPs need Microsoft Certified Expert and Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate credentials to qualify.
  • CSPs have a dedicated PDM (Partner Development Manager).
  • CSPs get direct access to escalation resources.

This means a CSP delivers all of the value of a traditional MSP with less risk and faster service turnaround.
They have advanced certifications, so they will resolve issues before they have to deal with Microsoft. When they do interact with Microsoft, problems get resolved quicker. And if they don’t affect a resolve, a dedicated PDM can intervene.
Most importantly, the CSP is the designated end-to-end owner of your Microsoft Cloud experience, creating the solution and managing its nuances.

Any technical support headaches are theirs to handle, not yours.
While the following link applies to MSPs, I share it because it reveals the depth of expertise Microsoft gives its authorized partners to support their clients.
Learn More: Microsoft Partner Portal

Next Steps?

Is Microsoft tech support better than tech support from an MSP?
The answer depends on a few factors:

  • The root cause of the problem
  • The category of support you require
  • Your desired timeline for resolution
  • The technical proficiency of your in-house team
  • The type of MSP you have in place

I hope I have prepared you to travel the path of maximum efficiency.
Microsoft’s model is to grow and spend as little as possible on technical support. This is why they outsource this function and empower partner MSPs to acquire new clients and do most of the technical support.
They’re a giant corporation, but the right MSP can make this fact seem irrelevant.

Have any additional questions? The Integris team has decades of experience, and we look forward to guiding you.

Jed is a Solution Advisor at Integris who has specialized in MSP solution development, sales, and marketing communications since 2003.

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