Making Heads and Tails of Roles in PSS

Ever wondered what are all the different roles are in Exchange PSS support experience? Well maybe this might help… below is a brief explanation of each of the different roles that you may encounter when engaging PSS.


Technical Router

This person is the first person to take a call, validate account information, and properly route it to the best group to handle your issue based upon the information and description of the problem provided. In addition they can provide released hotfixes or direct customer to other resources if the call is not within the scope of PSS.


Support Professional/Engineer (SEs)

These individual are skilled with diagnosing common issues and are typically the first truly technical individuals. SEs relies upon broad product knowledge, experience, internal knowledge base, advanced training, and sneaker net to diagnose customer issues and provide a solution. Depending upon product, SEs has a designated phone time and research time. Issues requiring lengthy investigation process or where standard diagnostic tools do not yield a direction are escalated to Problem Control SEs. For the Exchange Support Team, SEs are split up by area of specialty:


Administration (XADM)

Connectors (XCON)

Client and Connectivity (XCSI)


Technical Lead

Each team (approximately 14 SEs) has a Technical Lead. This individual is a resource to help SEs within a specialty with difficult issues, provide technical or procedural direction when needed, and work with other TLs to drive training needs for their specialty teams.


3rd Tier Support Engineer

A recent new support offering is a 3rd tier contract, where customers call in directly into a group of senior support engineers/TL caliber individuals. These individuals also handle server down situations and escalate to our escalation services team accordingly. These individuals work in pods of 4, where each specialty is represented (Xadm typically has two per pod).


Beta Support Engineer

These are SEs that has been given an opportunity to focus on products about to enter the beta lifecycle. They focus on developing the advance training for Support Engineers to support the product when released, providing support for early adopters, and driving critical changes into the product based upon their support experience with early adopters.


Problem Control SE

As a member of the Escalation Services Team, these individuals are the most product knowledgeable individuals that utilize advanced diagnostics and tools to troubleshoot issues where solutions are unknown or where the issue severity requires more management of the situation. These individuals are not tied to a phone schedule and are dedicated to working difficult, challenging cases.


Escalation Engineer

Also part of Escalation Services Team, these individuals are the last line of support within PSS. These individuals rely upon development type skills and debugging to diagnose and solve issues more than product knowledge. Issues requiring crash dump analysis, private build instrumentation, and possible hotfixes to resolve the issue come to this group. These individuals also manage the most politically challenging issues. Less than 1% of all Exchange Issues ever reach the need for this level of investigation or engagement. This group interacts with the Exchange Product Team to investigate code changes and release hotfixes to correct bugs in the product.


Team Manager

A team manager is responsible for approximately 14 Support Engineers and a Technical Lead. They ensure support engineers are working towards goals in service delivery, roadblocks are cleared for support engineers, ensure the customer are satisfied with the progress of cases, and to generally the business of support is running smoothly.


Escalation Manager

This is a manager in the Escalation Services Team. These individuals own managing escalation processes for a product (ie Exchange, Outlook, Sharepoint) and manage a team of Problem Control SEs or Escalation Engineers. They are drawn into politically challenging issues requiring a higher degree of visibility within Microsoft.


Technical Account Manager

When a customer buys a support contract through Premier services, they are also assigned a Technical Account Manager (TAM). Depending upon the size of the contract, customer receive anywhere from 1/10 of a TAM (where a TAM manages a maximum of 10 accounts) to a multiple dedicated TAMs. These individuals are the customer’s liaison into support. They are responsible for ensuring each service request opened by their accounts is progressing smoothly, monitor and provide proactive information relevant to each customer, manage the escalation process for a customer, and ensure their customer are happy with the support they receive from Microsoft.

Comments (6)

  1. great description of PSS roles! i worked as a DSTR (a technical router, but routing developer calls for those who have never worked in PSS) briefly a while back, and their role is slightly different than the role of a TR in platforms. we were actually allowed to close cases based on either VKB rollups/SR’s or even based on our own knowledge (most of us had some sort of comp sci or development background). we were expected to close ~10% of our cases. it was definitely an interesting experience to say the least. btw, are you based out of charlotte?

  2. Mike Walsh Helsinki says:

    TAM: ensure their customer are happy with the support they receive from Microsoft.

    Ah but what do you do if you are not happy with your TAM? Not a lot it seems. We lost a very good (ca. quarter of a) TAM and got a very bad (quarter of a) TAM. Improvements after complaints were minimal and the TAM was not re-assigned (presumably because then his new customer(s) would be unhappy too).

  3. Jeremy Kelly says:

    Jayson -Yep, I’m in Charlotte.

    Mike, if you aren’t happy with the TAM, then please continue to push with their Support Engagement Manager or even ask to discuss the your concerns with the Support Practice Manager if you still feel that you are not getting the results you expect.

  4. Ian Cook says:

    Hmmm. That’s two more roles not on the list…Support Engagement and Support Practice Managers. How many more are there out there?


  5. Jeremy Kelly says:

    I tried to list those in the PSS realm that most customers would deal with on an incoming issue. There are more roles here than I can every attempt to understand…