When it came time to start thinking about their Microsoft renewal, Eric Hart, Director of IT at PING, had a few things he needed to consider. First, he wanted to increase security, and second, he wanted to provide the manufacturing staff with Microsoft 365 licenses. PING, one of the most popular and innovative golf brands in the world, is family-owned and based in Phoenix, AZ, with additional offices in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada. Their sales team has always been located throughout the world, but, like so many companies, they’ve become more of a hybrid working environment over the past few years. To reach their goals and make sure they were getting the best support possible, Eric reached out to Connection and was put in touch with Account Manager Joe Truman, Microsoft Solutions Specialist Anthony Ruffo, and Strategic Software Consultant Megan Schaller.
“The Connection team provided a really great comparison. What I liked about Joe, Megan, and Anthony is that they really listened, and we could focus on the things we needed to talk through,” Eric says.
Enhancing Security for Hybrid Working
The focus for this project was their security posture. They had security pieces from their previous contract, but with more employees working in a hybrid fashion, Eric was interested in seeing what was offered and what the cost would be to have a more unified system. Having already transitioned their email to the cloud and their phone system to Teams for voice calls, PING was on course to creating a more modern and cloud-friendly environment—which meant being more vigilant with their security. Because they also make physical products, a large portion of their staff is in the building working in manufacturing. Traditionally, they were not set up for digital communication, and Eric was also looking to increase that capability to decrease paper use and drive efficiency.
“We knew they didn’t need to provide the entire productivity suite, so we looked at Microsoft’s Frontline Worker solution. One of the decision points was if we needed to provide a mailbox or not. We also didn’t want to limit our security options,” he says. “In working with Megan and Anthony, we were able to define our goals, and they presented the Microsoft solutions that accomplished those goals. Our discussions were able to be much more focused and productive. We said, ‘Okay, these are the goals we want to accomplish. Which solution goes with that goal? And what security do we wrap on top of it?’ Megan and Anthony were able to help us through the decision-making process, rather than making assumptions about what we needed. Three years had passed since we did a renewal, so things had changed, and Connection was able to dig deeper, to make sure we were thinking it through and questioning some pieces.”
Optimizing Licenses for Each Job Role
The entire process was done virtually in Teams through meetings, file and screen sharing, and chatting, which saved a lot of time and minimized the hassle of getting everyone involved into one room for the multiple meetings. The Connection team utilized the Microsoft Landscape Optimization (MLO) process to pull together various scenarios for PING’s renewal.
“Before we get to that point, we review what the customer owns today and go through the Cloud stack process,” Megan says. “We discuss what they’re using today and what they are potentially interested in and then put together a rough timeline for that deployment path using different scenarios. This also helps with our discussions with the Microsoft team, because we can let them know where the customer is today and what they’re looking for moving forward in terms of their goals for the next three years. It was a big team effort, but from my side of things, the MLO process was very helpful in pulling together all the right resources and information necessary so we could ultimately get PING what they wanted and what they needed.”
Eric was really impressed by the attention paid to their current plan and forecasting to what was needed to meet their goals for both security and utilizing the Frontline Worker solution for PING’s manufacturing staff. During their initial meetings, the Connection team walked them through every piece, consistently asking if it was needed or not, if they had a plan for it, and fully explained why they would or would not want to include things in their renewal. The Connection team listened to Eric and his colleagues and were able to present the scenarios that would be best for their business.
Cultivating Confidence Among the Team
Anthony adds that the MLO team at Connection has had a lot of success working with Joe Truman, PING’s Account Manager, because he understands what the process is and trusts the MLO team to point the customer in the right direction. “We have that trust established with the Account Manager, so we were able to show Eric and the team the golden sample of what that process would look like. From there it was just us listening, like Eric said, we listened to what they wanted, and Megan built out the scenarios as Eric was stating what they wanted to see.”
Another key factor in the success of the partnership between PING and Connection is how involved the entire PING team was as a customer. They were fully immersed in every step of the process, meeting both with the Connection and Microsoft teams multiple times to make sure the renewal would meet all their needs. Megan describes the PING team as a pivotal part of the process and ultimately, its success, and is quick to explain that an engaged customer is not always the norm! The ease of their working relationship is apparent as they chat through PING’s renewal and recap how everything happened.
Eric, Megan, and Anthony are joking and complimenting each other throughout the conversation, and you can tell that they are comfortable with and had gotten to know each other well professionally throughout this process. Connection also worked closely with the Microsoft team to showcase the value of PING moving from their Microsoft 365 E3 license to a Microsoft 365 E5 license and Frontline suites as well as F5 Security to support their multiple global locations.
“As far as renewals go, it was a good experience,” Eric says as we end our call. “Renewals are tough, and we started pretty early, and you always think you have so much time. It always comes to the very end, and you’re scrambling some, but thankfully, this wasn’t the scramble we’ve had in the past, so that was good, too.”
Sounds like a hole in one! For more information about the MLO process or Connection’s services, please reach out to your Account Manager or Account Executive.