Microsoft extends dates for new partner cert requirements

I noticed Microsoft posted a date extension on Partnersource to obtain the new certification requirements.  It was posted on April 1st, so in light of that being April Fool’s Day, I didn’t want to get sucked into some bad prank and looked again today at the information.

Well, the joke’s on me, it’s real!  The original deadlines were to be this coming May 1st, now it’s been moved to October 1st.  For me that is great news, the only thing better would be the elimination or reduction of some of the minimum requirements, like say SQL exams, multiple people or minimum revenues.

For customers (& sometimes for partners too), the changes are not always clearly communicated.  Most customers have no idea of the changes and if they are affected.

What is changing?

The requirements for being a GP reseller were one or more people (employees or consultants) combined to hold GP Financials and GP Install/Config exam certifications.  The requirements now, and being enforced as of this October, are:

  • 2 or more people (employees or consultants) combined exams of the below items
  • GP Financials exam
  • GP Install/Config exam
  • SQL Server Implementation & Maintenance exam (SQL2005 or SQL2008)
  • 1 of those people must have also passed the Implementation Methodology exam

After meeting these, there are also increasing revenue requirements which all but guarantee that small partners, even if they can obtain the certifications, may not be able to maintain the revenue requirements each year without adding new customers.

Once you get those requirements, you maintain eligibility to be a reseller, but still are not considered a Silver or Gold ERP Competency partner… the requirements there are even higher.  I have no issue with the significant requirements for the ERP competency levels of Silver and Gold.  The old Certified Partner and Gold Certified Partner requirements were too low a bar… everyone, unless you were small like myself, was Gold (it seemed), so there was no way to distinguish between partners that way IMHO.

I had achieved the old requirements and am currently a GP reseller.  Under the new requirements though, different story, and the extra time will help me determine if this is the right focus for my business.  The new minimums, when I factor in the revenue requirements, make it unlikely that I will be a reseller for long.

The impact of the changes

What is happening now is a lot of “partner aggregators” are popping up.  These are nothing more than a bunch of small people like me, and other independent consultants who didn’t have the certs to be a reseller by themselves, joining forces to be one larger partner.  Combined all the people meet the certification requirements together, and all share access in Partnersource and have ability to sell to their clients.  My concern with this is it’s artificial: sure, on paper they meet the criteria as a reseller partner but in substance they don’t go to market as a large entity or otherwise act like a large firm because by definition they are a bunch of individuals, not colleagues that work together in proven ways to deliver results to clients.  However, it’s a way around the system and if the MPN changes continue to move forward, this will be the new reality.  I’m quite certain Microsoft wasn’t intending this to be the outcome of their changes!

What I see happening for customers

I see more customers opting to take advantage of their ability to designate a “reseller” partner and a “consultant” partner.  If the changes mean fewer larger partners for the software, and the customers are perhaps dissatisfied with the services or attention they get from the larger partners out there, they may look more towards independents like myself for their services even if they continue to keep their VAR reseller as just the software guy.

It’s an interesting time for my customers… I have a handful of active clients, only one of which switched over to my firm as a GP client.  The other clients are all “customers” of other VARs in the Greater Toronto or Southwestern Ontario area who have chosen to obtain services from me, due to dissatisfaction with the attention or service or skillset from their current VAR.  All of them have had conversations with me about switching completely to me, GP wise, and I’ve been open with them about proceeding with caution while I am not yet meeting the new requirements.  I don’t want a client to switch to me only to find I can’t resell the software to them in a few months - and I’ve been totally up front and honest with my clients about that.  They are happy that I am open with them, and that I am not taking the chance to add to my customer list without them knowing these little details.  The customer that did switch to me early on is well aware that I may end up helping them identify a new local VAR for reseller status only, at the point when I no longer meet the requirements… they went in with eyes open and fully aware that it may be temporary.

Know your rights

My last word on this subject is customers should know they do have choices and a little known fact is they have the ability to designate in essence two partner firms on their Dynamics account - a reseller and a consultant.  Of course, it’s no surprise that most people out there are unaware of this, why would a partner tell their customer this?

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