In 2014, Microsoft reported to its partners that less than 18% of its customers who were eligible for planning services had actually reserved the right to use those services.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Microsoft not only offers eligible customers planning services, but 82% of these eligible customers have not taken advantage of services they’d already paid for.  In other words, don’t look now, but your organization may be leaving some “free” services on the table that you’ve already paid for!

And, if your organization is considering or is currently using some portion of the Office 365 platform, then your organization may be eligible to take advantage of the Office 365 FastTrack Planning service offering.

What is Office 365 FastTrack Planning?

Office 365 FastTrack Planning is a planning engagement between a certified Microsoft Partner like General Networks Corporation and an Office 365 customer like yourself.  This engagement is designed to help the customer better understand the capabilities of Office 365 and plan for a successful onboarding experience.

In short, when you qualify, Microsoft will pay one of its partners to meet with you on-site and provide structured consulting to help your organization with planning deployment, upgrade or migration to Office 365. The partner will use Microsoft best practices as only authorized partners can perform the consultation.

Specifically, an Office 365 FastTrack Planning engagement could be a 1, 3, 5, 10 or 15-day engagement depending on the number and types of Software Assurance licenses your organization has.  And, at the end of the engagement, not only will your organization have a better understanding of the Office 365 platform and related offerings, but you will also have a tangible Office 365 FastTrack Success Plan that will detail your requirements and roadmap for deployment and adoption of Office 365.

Does your organization want to better understand SharePoint Online for example?  Or, is your organization currently using SharePoint on-premises and now you need to understand how to move to and plan for a migration to SharePoint Online?  That’s exactly what the Office 365 FastTrack Planning service offering is for.

Who qualifies for Office 365 FastTrack Planning services?

Office 365 FastTrack Planning is one of the Software Assurance benefits available to an organization through its Volume Licensing agreement with Microsoft.  This may be a point of confusion for many organizations given that Microsoft is labeling various service offerings with the “Office 365 FastTrack” brand and not all these offerings are tied to Software Assurance.

Alright, but then what is Software Assurance?  Software Assurance is a Volume Licensing program that is included with, or in some cases purchased with, a Volume Licensing agreement that bundles Microsoft product licenses (such as Microsoft Office) with services and other rights (such as the right to upgrade to the next version of a product for free).

If an organization has Software Assurance, then depending on the types and number of licenses purchased in the Volume Licensing agreement, an organization could be eligible for planning services.  And again, depending on the types and number of licenses purchased, the eligible organization will have also earned days and hours to use towards these planning services.

Office 365 FastTrack Planning services Next Steps 

If you suspect that your organization may have Software Assurance via a Volume Licensing agreement with Microsoft or you aren’t sure, then your first step is to contact your legal and/or procurement departments.   These departments typically sign licensing agreements with Microsoft and hold the keys to unlocking your Software Assurance benefits.

The next step is to find a certified Microsoft Partner with the technical expertise and experience to help your organization succeed on the Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 platforms.  General Networks Corporation consultants have been working on the SharePoint platform since its first release and have been early adopters of the Office 365 platform.  We know SharePoint and we know Office 365 and have partnered with many organization, small and large, to help them find value and success on the Microsoft platform.  We’ve helped companies maximize their out-of-the-box SharePoint and Office 365 installation and have also helped customers build custom solutions on SharePoint and Office 365.

If your organization is looking for help with Office 365 and SharePoint, reach out to us and let us become your trusted partner.