Microsoft Launches Named-Accounts Partner Engagement Model

Will publish top 1,000 accounts every six months

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Microsoft will institute a named-accounts model for its Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) that focuses on the top 1,000 global, strategic, major and corporate accounts, officials said on Monday.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant will seek to eliminate skirmishes in the field between MCS and partners by publishing a list of the 1,000 named accounts, said Paul Bazley, vice president of U.S. enterprise and partner sales at Microsoft. The first list is slated to be published Jan. 18 and will be updated every six months, he said. "We will publish a list of these accounts for you," Bazley said during a Webcast with partners. "We put a pretty hard line in the sand." Microsoft dubbed the new rules of engagement the Services Partner Framework.

The company will focus on global, strategic and major accounts and 400 to 500 accounts in the corporate/enterprise space. Each district will review the list with partners on a semi-annual basis. However, Bazley said there will be exceptions.

"In select, high-impact early options of .Net where it makes sense for MCS to participate aggressively, that still may happen, and we will review that as an exception," he said.

Microsoft has also enacted an escalation process designed to address the issue of conflicts with partners. Bazley acknowledged that there have been conflicts between MCS and partners in the midsize enterprise space and a few skirmishes in the corporate enterprise space, but noted the new focus of MCS should eliminate those problems.

Bazley said Microsoft has 4,400 accounts in the U.S. with between 500 and 5,000 Pcs, but noted that MCS will enage only in the high end of this corporate space, those likely with more than 4,000 PCs only.

Microsoft rolloed out the Services Partner Framework to its internal sales and services teams in early January, Bazley added.

During the call, Microsoft also committed that it will not bid against partners who are selling .Net servers and middleware. Microsoft also said it reset the internal financial targets for MCS this year in light of changes to rules.

Microsoft has about 600 global partners in the United States and 81 strategic accounts, officials said. They noted that MCS efforts in this domain -- the top 1,000 accounts -- will remain constant and partners participating in that segment should not be worried.

Microsoft also said it intends for partners to focus on selling .Net servers and Microsoft Solution Offerings, also known as MSOs. "We do not view ourselbves as the lead on MSOs," said Morris Beton, vice president of U.S. Services for Microsoft.

Microsoft is also currently building out a number of execution plans so the partner impact of MSOs is well understood. Microsoft officials acknowledged that it will give priority to working with partners that push an all-Microsoft solution, as opposed to partners who sell Microsoft's operating system with competitive middleware products, Bazley said.

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