Home > Managing Microsoft > The New Gold: How is the New MPN Affecting You?

The New Gold: How is the New MPN Affecting You?

As part of my responsibilities as COO of IBIS, I manage our competency requirements with Microsoft.  So, together with Andy Vabulas, the owner of IBIS and Bill Forsyth, the President, I was right in the thick of the recent changes to the Partner Network. 

We moved from something like 10 competencies to 3 (with one more planned before end of Q1) and also received our Manufacturing and Distribution industry badges.  I’m proud we can do this in a sustainable way, mostly because we are only a 65 person firm so having that kind of depth is a testament to the focus our team has on continuing education and development.

Here are my thoughts on the changes:

  1. I believed that the “old” Gold was relatively meaningless, so I am happy to see the new “beefier” Gold requirements.  If we spend time with clients helping them understand the effort it takes to hit the requirement, we have a good chance of making it meaningful in the sales cycle.
  2. I’m happy to see that MS is finally requiring certifications from the selling side of the channel.  I think seeing pre-sales and sales staff spend a little time in training and testing will help overall quality, at least with respect product knowledge.
  3. I loved the inclusion of SureStep (pardon me, “methodology”) as part of the certification.  I’m a fan of SureStep (because I no longer have to maintain a custom written methodology) so getting this in the cert set is good for me.
  4. I wish they had set the revenue commits higher AND created a better “Associate” or “Referral” program to better create an incentive for smaller and larger partners to work together.  Ideally, I would have like to see encouragement of LifeStyle partners to align with a reselling partner just like systems integrators buy from LARs. Today, instead, I am seeing large consolidators come into existence whose only role in the life is to create conglomerates of small partners.  Selfishly, I would have liked to see IBIS as one of these but perhaps allowing non-selling consolidators to, in essence, be a LAR is better than having large partners (who are trying to please clients) distracted by such a role.
  5. The site transition, despite all the prep work they did, was really rough.  We got through it okay, but it took at extraordinary amount of my time to push everything through on deadline.
  6. Lastly, I really, really wish they had kept the consulting certs simpler.

To the last point, for both CRM and ERP (using AX as an example) you have multiple cert tracks (application, configuration, installation).  MS required six separate people, used in no other competency, to pass the required exams in each track but did not require, say, 6 full blown MCTIPs, 2 in each area.  The latter, for me, would have been easier to manage and, in fact, what we did was just ask everyone to get their MCITP on the most recent version and then make certain we had all the various tracks covered.

In summary, for us it was a good, but time consuming change. It will be interesting to look back in a couple of years and see what unintended changes this creates in the partner channel.

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  1. Hosk
    April 20, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I agree with point that the old Gold wasn’t worth much because people could just buy them if they wanted and they didn’t ensure any kind of quality of service.

    I think Microsoft have gone to far the other way, especially only allowing people to be specialised in CRM and not other certifications (like sharepoint etc).

    I believe this is punishing smaller companies making it very difficult for them to keep their gold partner status and almost impossible to have gold partner status in two technical areas.

    By using a flat numbers requirement of certified people it will limit the number of small companies who are gold partners. Although it will stop one man bands it has made it difficult for the companies in the middle.

    Overall I think the changes are positive because using Sure Step will maybe bring a standard to dynamic projects and hopefully result in better run projects.

    Making the gold partner status worth something is a great idea. It will also hopefully encourage companies to train their staff more in CRM.

  1. January 25, 2011 at 11:27 am

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