Friday, November 04, 2005

Programs are great; people are better

At Digipede, we embraced the Microsoft partner program from the day we decided on building a product on their platform. We immediately enrolled in the Empower Program, which was great. It saved us thousands of dollars in license fees.

As soon as we qualified, we became a Certified Partner and then a Gold Certified Partner. Really, the programs are invaluable. Access to lots of software. Access to great people within Microsoft. And, best of all, access to lots and lots of other ISVs and Microsoft partners. As I've blogged about before, they put lots and lots of effort into their partner programs.

But you know what the most useful thing we've found is? It's not the programs at Microsoft--it's the people at Microsoft. There are certain people there who absolutely bend over backwards to help partners. In particular, we've had amazing help from Suzanne Lavine here in the Bay Area, and Kate Bothell up in Redmond. They both do a wonderful job helping partners. They both take the time to understand what individual partner's needs are, and take time to try to see how they can help. They're willing to step outside of their defined roles and just lend a helping hand. I get lots and lots of e-mails from the different partner programs that I'm in, but 100 of those aren't worth as much as an e-mail from Kate telling me about a program we should be in or an introduction from Suzanne to a vendor she knows we could partner with.

Of course, not everyone at Microsoft is this outward oriented--I've met plenty of people who would barely give me the time of day (or maybe just terse e-mail now and again). Microsoft tries to emphasize the importance of its partners to all employees (walk the halls in Redmond and you'll see posters reminding employees that 96% of Microsoft's revenue comes through partners), but clearly some people grok that better than others.

For us, finding those people who truly embrace partners has been critical. So: thanks Suzanne and Kate!