Linked Subscription Provider is a provider type in Work 365 which enables the automatic subscription management process for end customers with a unique parent-child organizational hierarchy.
This is a common billing scenario where there may be one customer tenant with the provider, but you need to bill multiple separate locations. This is quite common where there’s multiple franchises, chains, or even just different departments within an organization.
This is handled in Work 365 where there is a parent billing contract which is responsible for the license provisioning. Partners with an automatic provider like Microsoft would have the subscriptions under this contract linked to the provider for automatic provisioning. This contract is solely used to complete the provisioning process for the subscriptions, it will not be used for billing purposes.
Then underneath this parent contract there would be “child” billing contracts. These child contracts typically represent each location of the chain or franchise; these contracts would also be responsible for generating the invoices. The subscriptions under these child contracts would have the specific license quantities they are paying for.
Pine Cone Vet is a customer with 1 tenant in Partner Center. From a billing perspective they want 1 invoice even though they have 3 separate locations.
On the customers tenant they have 50 M365 E3 licenses and 20 EMS licenses. These two subscriptions are on the Pine Cone Vet – Parent billing contract. Then these licenses are split across all three locations, and will have separate child billing contracts.
- Pine Cone Vet – Atlanta, GA (1st Billing Contract)
- 10 M365 E3 licenses
- 5 EMS licenses
- Pine Cone Vet – New York City, NY (2nd Billing Contract)
- 25 M365 E3 licenses
- 10 EMS licenses
- Pine Cone Vet – Memphis, TN (3rd Billing Contract)
- 15 M365 E3 licenses
- 5 EMS licenses
From a billing perspective this seems fairly straight forward because there aren’t many licenses on the tenant. However, scenarios like this at scale where the number of different subscriptions and the number of “child” contracts increases this can get out of hand quickly especially if the license tracking across the locations and billing for this scenario is being done manually.
What the linked subscription provider scenario enables users to do is still have the same setup as described above where there’s one parent contract linked to the customer’s tenant. Then additional child contracts where the license count of the subscriptions will vary based on the number of licenses assigned to that specific location. Then the linked subscription provider comes into play where the subscriptions under the child contracts will be “linked” to the subscriptions on the parent billing contract (the same contract linked to the customer’s tenant with the provider).
What this means using the above scenario as an example, let’s say the New York office for Pine Cone Vet buys an additional 10 license. This can be done via the self service portal where they increase their 25 M365 E3 licenses to 35 licenses. It can also be done directly on the New York child billing contract, buy increasing the quantity of the subscription. Once the quantity update is made, the system will automatically “push” the license updates up to the parent billing contract. Furthermore, due to the connection of the subscriptions on the parent contract being linked with the provider, the additional 10 licenses which added will also provision automatically with the provider.
Thus the end result is automatic subscription provisioning across each child location, and automatic billing for each child location.
This setup is not bi-directional. This means quantity changes made directly in Partner Center on the customer’s tenant will not flow down to each child location.
This is because the system does not know where to update the licenses on the child contract. With this setup then, license changes can only be made directly on the “child” contracts that have the linked subscription provider, or via the self service portal where the customer is updating quantities on the child contracts and not the parent contract.
It is critical that license changes in this subscription and billing setup are not made in Partner Center or on the Parent Contract directly. Doing so would throw off the setup, and correcting the issue would be unpleasant.
Setting up the Linked Subscriptions and Linked Subscription Provider
- First start with establishing the Parent Billing contract to Child billing contract relationship.
- The Parent contract will be used only to provision licenses with the tenant.
- Create separate child contracts for each location/franchise of the customer’s organization
- Underneath the child contracts add new subscriptions for the products being billed specifically to the location of the contract.
- Change the Microsoft Partner Center provider (or TechData, or Synnex) on the subscription to a Do Nothing Provider. This is very important otherwise additional licenses can accidently get provisioned on the customer’s tenant.
- These subscriptions will first have a do nothing provider because the focus should be on just getting this setup done with the correct subscriptions, license quantities, pricing, etc.
Note that the total sum of licenses across all customer locations for the same sku should add up to the subscription which is on the parent contract and linked to the customer’s tenant. As detailed in the example further up, the total count of the M365 E3 licenses across all three locations adds up to the license count of the subscription on the tenant.
- Once the parent contract and all child contracts are set up accordingly, go to Work 365 > Administration > Admin Hub > Integrations tab > click Add New, and select the Work 365 Linked Subscription Provider. Once selected click save.
- Then go to one of the subscriptions on the child contract. Change the do nothing provider to the Linked Subscription Provider which was just created.
- The linked subscription field will open up. In this field search for the customer’s name or by the subscription name. Look for the subscription which is on the Parent billing contract (note the Parent contract should have Parent in the name to make it easier to identify). Then click save.
- This subscription is now linked to the parent contract subscription. Moving forward license changes for this subscription should only be done at the child contract level, or by the customer in the self service portal.
Applying license changes to the child contracts within Work 365
- Go into the customer’s child contract where the license change needs to be applied. Update the subscription quantity.
- When license changes are made under the child contract they will push those changes to the parent billing contract automatically. Then if the parent contract is linked to an automatic provider the licenses will provision automatically.
- Note the license change log of the subscription under the child contract will remain in an “Awaiting Provisioning” status until the subscription is actually provisioned at the parent level.
- If the subscription is linked to the automatic provider the provisioning should go through automatically. It is important though to verify the license is actually provisioned. If it fails for whatever reason, fix the issue for what caused it to fail. Set it back to awaiting provisioning for the system to handle the license provisioning. Once the license is provisioned, this status will flow back to the subscription under the child contract to update the license change log there as provisioned.
- If the subscription on the parent contract has a manual provider, then manually provision the license as one usually would. Then update the status of the license change log to provisioned. Once the license is provisioned, this status will flow back to the subscription under the child contract to update the license change log there as provisioned
Setting this up for the self service portal
- Once the above steps have been taken, go to the Parent billing contract.
- Click on the subscriptions tab.
- Select All the subscriptions and click Edit.
- Scroll down until the Allow End User Modification field populates.
- Update this field to no and hit save.
- On the portal the customer should not be able to modify the subscription quantities at the parent level. It’s also an option to make the subscriptions on the parent billing contract non-billable. This means the subscriptions will not be visible on the portal, and no invoices will generate on this contract (which is fine because this contract is being used for license provisioning anyway).
- On the subscriptions under the child contracts confirm that the Quantity Reduction Behavior and Quantity Reduction Window fields based on preference
- Lastly, go to the applicable customer contact records who either need to be sent a portal invitation, or the invitation has already been sent.
- If sending the portal invite for the first time, select the web role “Work 365 Access Child Accounts” in addition to the standard web role one would assign (Work 365 Admin for example).
- If the invitation has already been sent, on the contact record click on the Related tab > select web roles at the bottom of the list.
- Then select Add Existing Web Role.
- Select the web role “Work 365 Access Child Accounts”
- This web role enables the end user to manage subscription quantities under the child billing contracts. Then when license changes are made on the portal, they will update the subscriptions under the child billing contracts. Those in turn will push the changes to the parent billing contract automatically. Then if the parent contract is linked to an automatic provider the licenses will provision automatically.
Updated 4 months ago