Business Challenges

Microsoft, one of the world’s largest software companies wanted to centralize and simplify its licensing experience. Microsoft has 640,000 partners in 170 countries accounting for a staggering $580 billion in revenue. Over the years, channel partners interacted with various tools to transact their volume licensing business. Each tool was unique in terms of experience and access requirements. This put an unnecessary burden on the channel partner to learn multiple workflows and manage multiple logons, ultimately impacting productivity, efficiency, and overall satisfaction. What they needed was not another tool, but a different approach.


Using scenario focused engineering, we studied all the processes which linked channel partners, customers and employees from internal Microsoft field and operations. We worked side-by-side with a core team from Microsoft’s World-Wide Licensing and Pricing (WWLP) group, quickly understanding their current service challenges then concepting new business models through interface sketching. Microsoft was moving from the traditional on-prem licensing to its all new cloud-based Azure and Office 365 subscription licensing.


We kicked off the project with multiple, half-day workshops to understand the client’s current situation, who their target customer was and what ideas they had for a new business approach. We found out that the current challenges were:

  • Individual solutions are created to solve each business problem
  • User experience is difficult to navigate
  • Low interoperability between tools
  • Duplicated functionality, services, and features across tools
  • Bottom-up, enhancement driven, short term or “ad-hoc” approach


“About the Details”

Inside Sales Ops at Medium-Large sized Partner


  • Keep things flowing – give our customers what they need and keep our sales force focused on selling
  • Be the go to guy for any questions about Microsoft Volume Licensing tools
  • Stay up-to-date and be an expert with licensing tools and processes (Microsoft and our internal)

About Scotty

My focus, first and foremost, is to be the first line of support for the customer.  Customers reach out to me when they have questions and trust that I will give them what they need. I also need to support my outside sales force. When I need help, I engage with Microsoft. I’m the glue between customers, our outside sales force, and Microsoft. There are times when I also need to work with Distributors to support my customers (two-tiered programs).


  • Typically, in the office/desktop computer
  • Lot’s going on at once, getting hit from all angles
  • Uses all internal/Microsoft Volume Licensing tools
  • Expert user – Enters orders frequently (1/day)
  • Needs to access all available options
  • Needs to move quickly through a lot of data


  • Processing orders (create / update / submit orders)
  • Looking up information (order history, agreements)
  • Understanding what software the customer has and providing guidance on what software the customer should deploy (through management and field sales)
  • Calculating product points and pools to determine the level of discount
  • Providing quotes/pricelists
  • Assistance with contracts/agreements
  • Reporting acquisition of MSFT software

Pain Points

  • Too many tools, too many points of entry
  • Performance of the applications – too slow
  • Data accuracy – price lists are a mess
  • Finding content (searching for job aids and also searching for specific customer data)
  • There are way too many logins and passwords (I want to login once)
  • Too much manual entry/paper-and-pencil
  • Ease of understanding the tools – MSFT is tools oriented vs. task oriented

How We Help Scotty

  • One stop shop – one tool, one login, one Microsoft experience
  • Rapid data entry ability
  • Multi-tasking support
  • Electronic/Automated workflows
  • Accurate, up-to-date, real-time data and notification

“The Opportunity Guy”

Field Sales at Medium-Large sized Partner


  • Keep my customers happy
  • Quickly target key opportunities and sell more
  • Stay in-the-know about Microsoft tools/technologies and maintain strategic relationships with Microsoft
  • Know just enough about licensing tools to get my job done

About Eli

I worked my way up quickly in sales because I’m good at relationships. I’m honest, have a reputation for doing what’s best for our customers, and they trust me. I’ve been in the game for a while and have a deep understanding ding of the sales process. I know how my customers think about purchasing technology and I know which solutions are right for them. I’m always on top of my game with key info at my fingertips I can almost sense new opportunities. I have a good relationship with Microsoft too and can bring the right people together to make deals happen.


  • Typically in the field/laptop or mobile device
  • Uses opportunity, quote, agreement tools
  • Intermediate user – Frequent but only focused on a few key things
  • Needs simpler, focused UI – less options needed
  • Needs to see high-level data to make key decisions, quickly
  • Relies on internal sales ops (Mark) to deal with details


  • Understanding customer opportunities
  • Working directly with customer to help them understand what to buy, when, and why
  • Is the contact into Microsoft field
  • Creating simple quotes, send to internal ops for processing
  • Reviewing quotes with customer
  • Providing customer high-level support on MS tools/tech and connecting to others for detailed support

Pain Points

  • Too many tools, too many points of entry
  • “Why can’t I do this on my phone?”
  • Performance of the applications – too slow
  • Not enough summary info on customers – no “1 version of the truth”
  • Ease of understanding the tools – MSFT is tools oriented vs. task oriented
  • Too much manual touch and redundancy, no good support of his workflow

How We Help Eli

  • Reduced UI, “Only what I need to do my job”
  • Streamlined workflow between him and internal sales team
  • Accurate, up-to-date, real-time data and notification
  • Sales-based BI data visualizations/reports
  • Mobile Apps

“Why isn’t this Easier”
Jack-of-all-trades at Smaller Partner Company


  • Be in-the-know about the latest developments in my field
  • Get a lot accomplished, work in-the-flow, focused and distraction free
  • Maximum efficiency in minimum amount of time
  • Know enough about licensing tools to get what my customers and I need at the best price

About Roger

I’m part owner in my business. I’m busier than I’ve ever been, even with our other full time staff. I do a little of everything: consulting, development, working directly with clients to purchase and implement solutions. My clients trust me to advise them on key technology issues, so I really have to stay in-the-know. Also, they trust me because I go for what fits their needs best. I’m not tied to a single product line, though I do leverage my Microsoft partnership as much as possible.


  • All over the place – In the field, in the office, working from home. Desktop, laptop, mobile
  • Uses VL tools to gather customer info (Agreement, Quote, Order)
  • Perpetual Beginner user – Low frequency
  • Needs simpler, focused UI – needs access to all options if necessary
  • Needs to see high-level data to make key decisions


  • Engaging LAR/Disti to assist with orders and agreements
  • Working with clients to help them understand the right solutions
  • Typically initiates Quote, then engages LAR/Disti for direct Microsoft engagement (could play dual roles)
  • Providing customer all levels of support on MS tools/tech and licenses
  • Expects Microsoft to give him info he needs and backup support when needed

Pain Points

  • Too many tools, too many points of entry
  • Too many options in the UI’s, “I don’t know what half of this stuff means and don’t have time to find out.”
  • Performance of the applications – too slow
  • Not enough summary info on customers – no “1 version of the truth”
  • Ease of understanding the tools – MSFT is tools oriented vs. task oriented
  • Too much manual touch and redundancy, no good support of his workflow

How We Help Roger

  • One tool, straight to the point, no distractions
  • Guided experiences
  • Accurate, up-to-date, real-time data and notification
  • Give him what he needs, without overwhelming him. Plenty of additional info, a couple clicks away.

“Be Strategic”
Business Decision Maker

Meet Bernard:

  • I’m the CEO of a growing mid-sized business. I’ve dedicated the last five years to growing the company and building a strong team that I trust, and it’s really paid off for my career and for the company. I’m determined to continue our growth and double our market share over the next five!
  • I am the ultimate networker – my days are filled with meeting new customers, keeping our existing customers happy and networking with other executives in our industry
  • I rely on my leadership team to research solutions and make recommendations, but at the end of the day the buck stops with me.
  • I know technology can be a real strategic advantage for us- but I don’t want to get burned like some of those horror stories I’ve heard.

His goals:

  • Retain my work force and triage relevant information the right way
  • Keep up to date with business trends in my industry and how my peers are using technology in innovative ways
  • Ensure that every proposed technology introduction is justified by a long term ROI in terms of business, and communicate that appropriately
  • Devise creative and strategic uses of new and existing technology to realize my vision

Bernard’s questions :

  • Where is the next big opportunity for us? Are we well positioned to take advantage of it?
  • Are we making the right technology decisions? How can we know hat the ‘best’ solution is? Where can we find the most cost effective approach?
  • How can I best keep my customers happy and loyal to us?
  • How can I be up to date with latest developments and trends in my industry? Which sources can I trust?
  • How can I make informed technology decisions that can have strategic impact on my business?

…and how we can answer:

  • Provide objective information on business solutions, citing product strengths and being transparent about functionality
  • Industry specific insights – related less to technology infrastructure and more to business trends and success stories
  • Reference partners qualified in Bernard’s industry

How we can delight Bernard:

  • Have one place where to see all the information that is relevant to him
  • Having technology manufacturers telling the full truth on their products and communicate only the features sets, not the solutions.

Technical Decision Maker

Meet Tomás:

  • I am in charge of providing best recommendations on technology spends and adoption
  • I research and advise on how to simplify processes, increase efficiency, minimize costs while improving productivity and realizing business goals
  • I am bombarded by information from local vendors (e.g. MS partners) who want to sell me some solution…
  • I need to be always up-to-date with the latest and credible information the latest solutions in my company’s industry

His goals :

  • I need to keep the company going and help Bernard’s realize his business strategy
  • I need to be ready to brainstorm with Bernard on strategic and creative uses of technology and advise him on the best options to realize business goals
  • I need to negotiate between employees requests/needs and business vision’s needs in prioritizing technology spends

Tomás’ questions :

  • How can I save money while ensuring business goals are met?
  • How can I be the top advisor on what’s the best option in every technology adoption need and be able to communicate to Bernard the business value of technology?
  • How can I efficiently and effectively be always up to date with the optimal technology in my the industry my company is in, and up to date with cost-effective routine fixes, products and solutions?
  • How can I easily manage and be in control of my existing paperwork, contracts and services with vendors and manufacturers?


…and how we can answer:

  • Easy to use tools to manage existing contracts and services
  • Provide him with pre-selected relevant, credible and neutral information about solutions and products tailored to Tomás’ context and industry
  • Help him to exchange ideas and experiences with his peers in the industry his company is in.
  • Help him to become a “business partner” of Bernard and being able to talk about technology in a business perspective

How we can delight Tomás:

  • Providing honest information on all consequences (on existing infrastructure etc.) and impact of new solutions implementations
  • Providing tools to build a solid business case to Tomás for his recommendations

Small Business Owner

Meet Sabina

  • Passion, ambition and hard work are what forged my one-person start-up into a thriving small business
  • I love what I do, and I am always on the lookout for new growth opportunities
  • Being successful in this business for almost a decade has taught me to be open to change and embrace new ideas
  • The key to my success is that I treat my employees well, and in turn, they are inspired to keep the customers happy
  • Being chosen by customers over the competition is the most rewarding experience for me

Her goals:

  • Growing my business through cost effective and innovative strategies
  • Creating a vibrant, productive, and efficient work environment to bring out the best from my staff
  • Planning budgets and managing time
  • Calibrating technology decisions to help surpass competition
  • Building and retaining solid relationship with customers as referrals and repeat business are drivers of success
  • Drawing new customers through compelling online web presence

Sabina’s questions:

  • Do I have the right products and solutions that satisfy my business goals?
  • What are the benefits of emerging technology to my employees and my business ? Why should I upgrade?
  • How can I find resources (people, products and solutions) suited to my business needs?
  • How do I connect with other small business owners to find out how they solve similar problems?
  • How can I better understand and manage ROI on technology purchases?

…and how we can answer:

  • Conveying the essentials
  • Creating an engaging and personalized experience
  • Tailoring value propositions to reflect actual small business needs
  • Helping find solutions and people focused on the needs and goals of a small business.
  • Providing unbiased product reviews with related information on costs, and subsequent implementation and maintenance details.

How we can delight Sabina

  • Informing her of upcoming local technology events relevant to what she does
  • Providing her with cost effective ways to connect online with peers – share recommendations on vendors/consultants and suggestions on technology solutions
  • Making her time consuming and laborious tasks, readily available in one place in an efficient and automated manner.

User Experience Principles

UX Principles for Volume Licensing Tools & Services

Licensing Scenarios

The Scenario Focused Engineering methodology helped us to define scenarios from the current issues the channel partners and end users were having. In the new solution, we first worked on the task flow that would make the entire experience simple and cognitive.

Download Licensing Scenarios

Download Licensing Scenarios