How Robust is Your Microsoft CSP Integration and Why Does it Matter?
by Dyfed Wallis, on 19-Feb-2020 09:52:13
How optimized is your CSP integration with Microsoft's portals, and why is this such an important question for CSPs to ask?
If you're currently battling to reconcile Microsoft billing, and you're worried about revenue leakage, it's worth checking if your CSP automation platform supports these four things:
- A real-time bi-directional API sync with Microsoft portals and your CSP automation solution
- Active API maintenance so that your CSP automation solution is updated to address regular (sometimes undocumented) Microsoft changes
- Microsoft's regular price list changes
- Microsoft's billing rules
1. A Real-Time Bi-directional API Sync Leaves No Room for Error
A bi-directional sync works by collecting and sharing data between two different systems—in this case, Microsoft's portals and your CSP automation solution, through their application programming interfaces (APIs).
If you have a real-time bi-directional sync, the changes made in your CSP platform or directly in the Microsoft portal will update and show in both systems without a time delay. New subscriptions will be instantly available to customers who self-serve, and the subscription, customer, and billing data in your CSP automation solution will mirror the data in Microsoft's portals. The real-time bidirectional sync, therefore, helps ensure that your billing and customer data is accurate 100% of the time.
2. Why Active Microsoft API Maintenance Matters
Your system may report incorrect billing data because the multiple APIs that act as intermediaries between Microsoft's portals and your CSP automation solution aren't being maintained and updated correctly. Microsoft adjusts its APIs as and when the company makes changes to the CSP program, which happens on a regular basis. It can also be difficult to keep pace with Microsoft CSP program changes because they aren’t always communicated or documented. This is why Cloudmore has dedicated developers liaising with Microsoft and working full time to make the sure that the CSP integration is continually optimized.
3. Keeping Margins Healthy with Automated Price List Updates
Microsoft issues new price lists every month, which can be hard for CSPs and the sales teams to keep track of. If price list changes pass undetected, profit margins can quickly get squeezed since prices tend to go up rather than down. Microsoft also makes SKUs redundant and introduces new ones. If your CSP automation system can’t register the coming and going of services, your product catalog will quickly go out of date. Your product catalog should always be in sync with Microsoft’s price list so that you can get a clear view of all available services and apply the correct sales prices.
4. CSP Automation Solutions Must Respect Microsoft's Billing Rules
If your billing totals still aren’t reconciling, it may be because your CSP automation solution isn't replicating Microsoft's billing rules. It's imperative that these rules are followed exactly, so that price lock-in periods, pro-rata charges, and billing periods match between systems.
A simple way to test billing rule accuracy and the quality of your system's bi-directional sync is to see if the total displayed on your monthly Microsoft invoices matches the total displayed for your customers in your CSP automation platform for the same period. If the numbers are out, there's a strong chance one or more of the four problems listed here is at fault.
Did you enjoy this blog? Feel free to check out this article by the same author: The Real Reason Customer Self-Service is Essential to the CSP Program