Partnership development takes time and resources, which many very small businesses do not have. And this is especially true of micro companies with fewer than ten employees that often lack the manpower and know how to assign such tasks as partnership development to employees.
In the web development and design world, the few resources available to a micro firm will be engaged in the various aspects of the website development and deployment lifecycle.
Because of this, services such as hosting or networking need to be outsourced - but negotiating a reasonable cost for the service and ensuring that the service and resources are reliable can be a time-consuming task.
For example, a website designed for a customer such as a museum is a key tool for that museum to attract potential visitors and must therefore have a host of interactive features and be highly functional. Websites, such as these featuring attractions, tend to attract millions of visitors.
The ability to design such as website is a core capability of web developers and designers at any web design agency, but a micro agency may struggle with the hosting of such a website, which can be time consuming in order to keep it up and running.
For a micro web design agency, a far better choice might be to outsource the task of hosting a demanding website to a partner. But how does it go about finding such a partner? That is something that has become a lot easier in the past year.
The WebsiteSpark programme (opens in new tab) from Microsoft, aimed micro web design agencies with fewer than ten employees, provides access to a network of potential partners through its Network Partner Catalogue (opens in new tab) in order to find partners who are qualified to help them.
This includes access to a directory of web professionals, and hosting and network partners. To be a hosting partner, the firm offering the service must have signed a Service Provider Licence Agreement (opens in new tab) with Microsoft and be a dedicated provider to the WebsiteSpark programme.
They must also provide the web design agency with a dedicated server for hosting the website in question, although this can be either a physical or a virtual server.
An alternative for a micro company looking to benefit from such a programme is to check whether or not their existing hosting partner is a participant in the WebsiteSpark programme.
An example of a company that actively promotes participation in the programme, and which will nominate micro agencies for membership on their behalf, is ServePath (opens in new tab).
As well as gaining access to WebsiteSpark and the further partnership opportunities that that offers, ServePath offers to host websites using a highly scalable server cloud infrastructure from its partner GoGrid (opens in new tab), which ServePath describes as easy to use, allowing servers to be set up in just minutes, with no upfront commitment to use the service for any specified time period, and with self-service capabilities enabled through GoGrid’s web portal.
As well as virtual servers offered in the cloud, dedicated physical servers can also be installed on the same network for higher SQL Database performance from hybrid architecture.
The use of a partner for services that are non-core competencies of a micro web design agency can be a more cost-effective way of offering services, allowing them to remain more competitive than if they tried to do everything themselves.
For example, Applied Innovation (opens in new tab) is a qualified Microsoft Service Provider promotes membership of the WebsiteSpark programme as part of its services, offering to host websites on its own dedicated virtual server for as little as 75 euros per month (roughly £68).
Whether it is a partner that leads them to WebsiteSpark or WebsiteSpark that leads them to a partner, this is just one of the features of what will prove to be a very valuable resource for all.