You have decided to migrate to the cloud — away from your mishmash of legacy productivity IT. Maybe it's Google Cloud. Maybe it's Microsoft.

It doesn’t matter for our purposes right now. The bigger point is that you need a partner to help you get there.

How are you going to find this company? Google has about 10,000 partners and Microsoft, a whopping 640,000, although not all focus solely on productivity.

You can start with a big picture view of what is necessary in such a partner or you can go straight to the practical tips. In both cases, BetterCloud is obliging with its advice, so read on.

4 Categories of Partners

As part of a survey it is releasing today about the respective cloud ecosystem partners of Google and Microsoft, BetterCloud has published a blog post on picking the best partner. First thing on the list is figuring out what category of partner you want. There are four, Better Cloud writes:

Pioneers: Most complete in offering and value added–these partners are leading the shift to the cloud. Typically, implementation and migration experts that also resell licenses for multiple cloud platforms.

Builders: Have extensive market and cloud experience. Often work with large enterprises that need help with strategic and transformative work.

Transactors: Sell huge catalog of hardware and software licenses, often in bulk. Offer limited–or zero–services which hinders the total value that they can provide a customer.

Specialists: Operate in niche industries and have a limited offering. Often excel at what they do; however, these partners are highly specialized so their value and offerings are limited.

The post does a deep dive on these categories complete with hypothetical companies and what they should offer. It is well worth the read.

I Need A Partner Right Now

For companies that need to find Mr Wonderful Partner in the near future — as in you need to start making calls right now — Taylor Gould, VP of Marketing for BetterCloud, has some advice as well.

First, he told CMSWire, take stock of your internal resources including existing IT assets.

"If you are going to migrate from Exchange to Google Apps there will be several steps to complete," he said. "This might include moving your email, calendar, events, contacts, potentially all of your files from the file server — all to Google Drive. You need to ask if you have the bandwidth to do that in-house or if those hands on tasks need to be outsourced, too. That will help you decide what kind of capabilities to pick in a partner."

Second, ask yourself how important is getting the lowest price. Because you can get a partner at the lowest price if you want, but you might want more than just a price per service partner, Gould said.

"If you need more help and support on an ongoing basis, then look for a partner that offers a package."

Some clients wind up feeling shortchanged or at least dissatisfied with a price-based partner, Gould said. "In our survey we had people tell us 'I wish I had a partner that would email me promptly.' I do think some partners look at some of these clients as too transactional and don’t focus on adding value on a daily basis."

Third look at their certifications — and if you are truly lost, maybe you should be opting for a Microsoft platform (although certainly that is not the best way to make that kind of decision).

Both Google and Microsoft have various levels of certifications for their partners, Gould said.

Microsoft takes its rating and ranking of its partners one step further with its list of competencies for partners, which can be found here.

"As you can see, there is a wide variety," he said. "If you're looking for a partner that can help you migrate to Office 365, train your users on how to leverage the platform, and then support you once you are on the Office 365 platform then Cloud Productivity is the competency to look for.

"But other competencies are important and useful as well, for example enterprise customers often have custom business applications that they may run on an internal on-premises server like Lotus Domino (like a workflow or approval process). When they move to the cloud, sometimes these customers look to rebuild that custom application in the cloud using the Google Cloud Platform or Microsoft Azure. So if you need a partner with those capabilities, I would recommend looking for a partner with the Application Development competency.

Title image by Daryn Bartlett.