Microsoft Planning Service Days: A nice ‘freebie’ or essential consultancy?

Chris Howarth, Phoenix Software Business Development Manager for Charities & Housing Associations, talks about Microsoft Planning Service Days for your organisation.

“As I see more and more Charities and Housing Associations move to or increase their O365 and Azure environments it struck me as to just how many of those organisations with Microsoft Enterprise Agreements (EA) are under utilising their Microsoft Planning Services Days (PSD’s) and the obvious question this raises is … why?

Firstly, there may be no awareness – the customer may simply have forgot that they have these benefits as part of their EA. It may be down to time – many IT departments are running at such a pace and with limited resources that they struggle to allocate time to ‘planning’ work. Perhaps they already have existing knowledge – some organisations feel that they have all the knowledge they need and are already in a good position to make informed decisions. Trust could well come into it – how does the organisation know that the planning sessions will be a worthwhile exercise and secondly, that they don’t open the door to pressure being applied by the partner who wants to secure the potential work of project implementation? You get the gist.

So how do we address these points?

Although it’s a start, I don’t think it’s enough to simply remind customers that, “you are paying for your PSD’s as part of your EA, so you may as well use them”; rather, we ought to set a level of expectation of what the customer will receive, which is the same level of expertise and quality of delivery as if they were paying for on-site consultancy or training and so we have to make sure that message gets across.

This can be achieved by articulating exactly what the planning sessions involve; providing example agenda’s; pre-session scoping calls; similar customer references; template SoW’s and importantly – an explanation of what the customer will know after the session and why this will leave them in a much better position to make informed decisions when building their cloud strategy, from a technological and commercial perspective.

Complimentary to this approach, and at the outset of the process, we typically hold what we call a ‘Customer Immersion Experience’, which we provide for both O365 and Azure. These workshops are not ‘salesy’ or technical and focus on the non-core applications that are available with O365 and the ‘art of the possible’ with Azure. These exercises are free of charge and a great way for us to demonstrate to IT teams and wider business (where relevant) our high level of expertise which instils trust and enthusiasm for the more granular sessions that take place later, utilising the customers PSD’s.

When we adopt this approach we invariably see that the customer now has awareness, creates time to engage with planning sessions; expands their existing knowledge and has trust in Phoenix delivering a high-quality service that turns out to be an essential part of their cloud journey, without facing pressure to move at a pace they don’t want to.

How can you use your PSD’s?

You can use your Microsoft PSD’s in the following areas:

  • O365 Workshop
    Technical workshop designed to help you understand how to migrate to O365. This is a three-day engagement that will leave you with a 30-40 page Scope of Works
  • Windows 10 Readiness Assessment
    Lots of organisations are still running previous versions of Windows and want to migrate to Windows 10. Phoenix have developed a service delivered by our consultants to review your existing environment, assess your applications and provide a fully costed Windows 10 deployment proposal and Statement of Works. This engagement will see Phoenix use tools such as the Windows Autopilot, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, including Intune, System Centre Configuration Manager (SCCM), OMS and Azure
  • Azure Fundamentals
    These sessions help organisations understand what Azure can offer, which workloads are relevant and provide the delivery of a Proof of Concept
  • Surveyor
    Many organisations need to assess their infrastructure to understand what they currently have, what can move to the Cloud and what should remain on-premise. Surveyor helps you to do this and provides a report documenting the results and gives you a plan of what changes need to be made and a migration strategy.”


For a full list of Microsoft Planning Services see here or for further information contact your Phoenix Software Account Manager on 01904 562200, email [email protected] or complete the enquiry form below:

Although every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the above article, Phoenix Software Ltd cannot be held responsible for any opinions or information provided therein and as such is not liable for any damages caused by a customer’s reliance upon this information.