Microsoft Officially Phases In New Competencies, Adds Benefits, Modifies Requirements

Vendor launches 26 new competencies, core benefits kick in later this year.

Microsoft Corp. officially added 26 new competencies to the four it rolled out last year, kicking off a plan it previously outlined to overhaul its competency structure and set new partner requirements and benefits in place.

The competencies and associated criteria were provided to partners in a letter posted on the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) and in an online video by Julie Bennani, MPN general manager.

Bennani said that existing Microsoft Gold certified and certified partners will retain current benefits during the transition period to the beginning of re-enrollment later this year.

In October, Microsoft will begin offering core benefits—internal use software licenses, training, telephone and online support, priority listing in directories provided to customers, and financial incentives—for partners earning an initial competency. For example, partners can earn an 18 percent fee for selling Microsoft’s Business Productivity Suite.

In addition, partners earning multiple competencies will be afforded a set of benefits tailored to each newly-earned competency, including the ability to build customized logos that communicate their particular expertise to customers. Partners that gain an advanced competency will be able to interact with a named Microsoft contact for support with business planning, development and sales.

Bennani said that Microsoft is requiring channel partners to maintain and stay up to date with training on its products.

“New requirements state that you must be current on the latest Microsoft technology,” she said. “Why? Because customers and partners requested we raise the bar.”

In her communications to partners, Bennani suggested that training is critical to be regarded by customers as trusted advisors.

“As partners, you are our voice and advocate to customers on the latest technology, so it is critical that you deeply know and use the latest technology yourself.”

Adjusts competency requirements

The vendor is requiring channel partners pursuing a core competency to maintain on staff two Microsoft certified professionals, one individual who has passed a Microsoft licensing overview assessment or a volume licensing competency exam, produce three customer references and pay an annual competency fee.

Requirements for advanced competencies include twice the number of credentialed and trained individuals, more customer references and a minimum revenue bar.

Microsoft said that of its 30 competencies, 16 are aligned to its Infrastructure Optimization initiative, which focuses on using an organization's IT assets to support and advance the business. Other competencies align to specific Microsoft products, customer sets or are positioned as cross platform offerings.

The vendor has grouped its competencies by five categories, namely, Core Infrastructure Optimization, Business Productivity Infrastructure Optimization, Application Platform Optimization, CRM and ERP, SMB Customers and Cross Platform.

Microsoft said it is running two special offers to help partners pass the latest exams. The vendor’s Learning Second Shot offer allows partners to register to retake any IT Pro or Developer exam for free until June 30, 2010, if the need arises.

The vendor also has issued the “WPC 5-for-1 Exam Pass,” available to attendees of its Worldwide Partner Conference, slated for July 11 – 15 in Washington, D.C. The pass allows an individual to take up to five exams during the period July 11 - October 10, 2010 for the regular price of one exam in the participant’s home country. Each partner location can purchase up to four exam passes.

TAGS: Microsoft,infrastructure,training,channel partner,competency

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