If you are like me, you have been inundated with information about Microsoft’s Partner Investment Engine (PIE) program. Whether you have heard it directly from your Partner Development Manager (PDM), Microsoft Partner Blogs, or IAMCP, this program of funding opportunities for Pre and Post Sale deals has been dangled in front of the Partner community for months, if not years. The program is a fantastic way for Partners to earn money to help fund projects with customers and/or offset your services directly. By the way – there is an 89 slide PowerPoint that Microsoft offers to help as a “How-to Guide”. Anything that complex is not as easy as pie to participate in it.
Microsoft shares the below timeline for their PIE Process. This entire process is supposed to take 14 to 30 days after submitting for a funding request. The thing that Microsoft does not tell you in this timeframe is that there are a significant number of preliminary tasks that need to be handled before this. (They are in the guide, but the impression is that these things are within the same timeframe)
- Do you have access to the PIE Engine? If not, that needs to happen.
- Are you an enrolled vendor of Microsoft?
- This is the tricky part – this could take a few weeks and often needs PDM involvement. (We are glad we had this done in late 2019..well at least we thought we did, but the RFP process is an entirely different story that isn’t explained very well)
If these items are complete, then you can begin the funding request process.
Here are some very important things to remember:
- Partners should plan to begin work between 14 and 30 days after submitting a funding request:
- Partners must select an activity start date between 14 and 30 days in the future when creating a claim.
- The activity end date for each claim will be automatically populated based on the activity start date selected.
- Partners cannot begin program activities until the two following conditions are met:
- The activity start date for the relevant claim has arrived.
- Microsoft has sent a communication via email that the Purchase Order (PO) is ready for the relevant claim.
- Partners must complete work within 45 days of the activity start date established for each claim.
- Partners must submit an invoice to the MS Invoice within 5 days of finishing work:
- Claims without invoices will be canceled 51 days after the activity start date.
- Customers must submit signed POE before the PO expiration date, 60 days after the activity start date.
This is all fine and dandy except for one thing; if this is your 1st engagement, the actual approval process in Microsoft Procurement (purchasing) could take 30-45 days, which was our experience. Do the math, no matter what, you will exceed the days in the claim period and you still can’t perform the work. The client needs to wait longer. We learned that once this purchasing process is approved, best practice would be to cancel the initial request, submit a new one, and start the 45 days again. Then, the approval and PO “should” only take just a few days. Another thing to note, if the dates the customer indicates on the Proof of Execution (yes the client needs to sign and the dollar amount of the funds are shared with them) are before the PO was issued, which is not an approved policy, you will still receive your funds. In addition, you will be issued a Policy Violation notification. We have heard you can receive up to 3 of these in the Microsoft Fiscal Year, while still receiving funds, but at 3 you may be removed from the PIE program and reported to Upper Management. In addition, your PDM is notified. The question really is, who wants a violation on their record? Who knows what else it may affect? Does it alter your leads from Microsoft? Does it put your Competency at risk? No-one knows, so it just isn’t worth it.
Try it First
I recommend trying the entire process 1 time first, and then perhaps cancel it once you get through to the end. This way you are now in the system, registered, and the next time, plan with your client as it could take 14 to 30 days to begin the project and then you need to rush and get it completed (Again before the initial 45 days expire) So how easy was that – is it as easy as PIE yet? Nope – all items above are moot if you don’t qualify or if your customer doesn’t qualify, and is there an appropriate program?
DO YOU AND YOUR CUSTOMER QUALIFY & WHICH PROGRAM IS BEST?
To participate in these programs, you need to get a slide rule, abacus or a CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) tool to figure it out:
- What is your competency? Gold or Silver and which solution set
- How do you sell? Direct vs Indirect, EA versus CSP
- Is the client managed? Yes or No
- What segment is the client? Enterprise, SMC-Managed, SMC-SMB, Govt, etc.
- What part of the sales cycle are you in? Pre-Sale, Post-Sale
- Do you have the correct licensing value for the program you are selecting?
So again, IF you can get through the Vendor Approval Process, the RFP process, the PO process, the POE process, and the Invoice Process, you will be rewarded with funds to help support your effort. The question really is though, does the time it takes to manage this really pay off? Reach out to me and I can get you a copy of the “How-to Guide” – due to MS Partner rules, I chose to not link to it here, but I would be glad to hear from you for the guide and/or also to hear what your experience has been like. Once you get the guide from me, you can then sit back with a cup of coffee, and a great huge slice of pie!