Last week I put up the What are the requirements to earn the Microsoft Partner Network Small Business Competency? post here on the blog to bring you more information about what the actual requirements are to attain the Microsoft Partner Network Small Business Competency when it launches in June. There has been a lot of great feedback I have received since then through a variety of communications methods, as well as some questions and inquiries about a few items people were looking for some more clarity on. To help answer and address these questions, plus a few others that people may not have asked yet, I thought I would put up this sort of Q&A post regarding several things with the upcoming Microsoft Partner Network Small Business Competency.
Question: Right now you have the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC). What does the Small Business competency mean for SBSC now and moving forward?
Question: What happens to the SBSC “blue badge” once the Small Business Competency launches? Can we still use it as an SBSC?
Question: If the SBSC benefits and “blue badge” are going away 12 months after the launch of the Small Business competency, does that mean that Action Pack is being discontinued as well?
Question: If I am a Small Business Specialist (SBSC) today, why should I consider the Small Business competency?
Question: So what happens to the Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC) benefits we’re currently getting once the Small Business competency launches?
Question: After the Small Business competency launches, can partners still join SBSC?
Question: Why do partners need to fulfill additional requirements for earning the Small Business competency?
Question: Why a Small Business Competency? Is there really a market there to go after?
Question: Do we also need to subscribe to Action Pack, like we have to for SBSC, to earn the Small Business competency in addition to paying the competency fee?
Question: If we want to get started down the path to earning the Small Business competency now, what should we do?
Question: $1,850 for the Silver Small Business competency? Where did you come up with that figure?
Question: If we are a Microsoft partner already and have another gold or silver competency, do we need to pay the $1,850* Silver Small Business competency fee again to get the Silver Small Business competency?
Question: In reading the requirements for the Silver Small Business competency in your What are the requirements to earn the Microsoft Partner Network Small Business Competency? post, it appears that a single person partner organization could accomplish those requirements and earn the Silver Small Business competency without requiring a second person. Am I reading that correctly?
Question: What are the benefits of the Microsoft Partner Network Small Business competency?
Question: Why is “cloud” and Office 365 a requirement for the Small Business competency instead of just an option?
For the Silver Small Business competency, we swapped the initial required Office365 training (Deploying Office365) with the optional one (Administering Office65) to better align with our program goals. So now only Administering Office 365 is required. The second exam can be either Windows 7, Windows Small Business Server (SBS) or Office365, so partners can choose to focus on an on-premise solution or cloud solution for their second exam, depending on which they feel is best for their business.
I hope the information above helps clear up some of the questions you have either asked already or that you may be thinking of asking. I must say that it is fantastic to see all of the excitement and interest around the Small Business competency and as we continue to approach the launch of the competency, I have no doubt it will continue to build even more! Speaking of excitement, I wonder who the first Small Business competency partner will be in the U.S., or the U.K, or India, or Japan, or Mexico, or Canada, or Brazil, or Germany, or France, or… Well, you get the idea. Think you will be first?
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Eric Ligman – Follow me on TWITTER, LinkedIn, and RSS and see “What I’m thinking” Director, Worldwide Partner Experience Microsoft Corporation This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights
Do you guys understand what this will do for your small business partners that install small business solutions? This is not to you because I know in my heart that you understand the impact of this decision. But to someone higher up that decided this, they need to understand that this is chilling. I hope whomever that person is really understands what they've just done. There's no taking this back now. The message that just has been sent is clear.
I was told this is what we asked for? Really? I honestly didn't think we were that stupid?
@ Angry SBSC - This move to a Small Business Competency came after a long period of evaluating options, talking with partners, gathering input and feedback from the community, (including the SBSC PALs, which you can see a picture of that meeting here: http://ligman.me/wBwP9x) and much more. I would love to hear more about what part of the introduction of the Small Business competency you do not care for.
I would have liked to see the removal of the requirements for O365. From what I have read the O365 exams are more enterprise focused so that could be an issue.
I can understand why Microsoft has done this though.
But its frustrating having to learn a product that you don't use (largely because of poor bandwidth available for many of our customers).
The SB competency is the only one I know of that I will need to complete an exam that has no value to my business.
I hope, Eric, that you won´t "kill" MAPS as a low entry level for new shops in MPN, as SBS-competency is more "exclusive".
So, after making up my mind and after comparing the goods and the bads of that step, I will reach out for that new competency as it is a very good differentiation in today´s market (as log as you stay with 1 MCP in silver).
It´s hard for smaller shops to pay the standard competency fee (I hope that you will adjust that till June), but o.k., that will probabely wipe out the wannabe´s in the market.
@ Rolf - The Action Pack question is actually included in the FAQ above. I think you will like the answer.
Microsoft obviously don't want the small business partner any more. Why would anyone have to learn to administer a product that is not economical to sell as a partner? Please think again Microsoft!
I'm just a two-man operation—me being the owner and IT technician or MCP, the other just a sales rep. My small business can't afford $1,850 per year. Not to mention I alone have to take three exams now because I'm not ready yet to hire some that already has. Come on, Eric, how can Microsoft do this to the SBSC? You seem to be avoiding the fee issue.
I see a good opportunity for one man shows to strike the Silver Competency with this Small Business Competency
@Eric and MS. It's very frustrating building a business around Microsoft solutions, then to have Microsoft compete with us and as evident make us waste more money just so they can make more money out of us (we spend over 4k on branding with the SBS logo). Honestly it’s time for us to start looking at others (Google, Apple and VMware) certification and move away from Microsoft, because it’s very clear that they don't give a stick about us.
I've been a MS devotee and Certified Candidate since 1998, but more importantly, I've spend and waste more money on certifications and trying to fix the mess MS keeps making. After all, the success of SBS product (every product for that matter) have been successful thanks to and because of US the Small Business Specialist, who seem to always find the issues and fixed them for MS and now MS is going to take that away from us after we made MS more RICH>>. Give me a break.
LISTEN:::::: MS or whomever decided to make this change. YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT US TOO, why not provide this as a FREE for SBSC.... Very disappointed and beyond frustrated....
@ Howard: Actually, quite the contrary. As noted in the Q&A above, we specifically established the requirements of the Small Business comepentency to enable all partners who want to participate to be able to, regardless of size. This also means that all current SBSC partners can qualify and receive many more benefits through the Small Business competency (I have the benefits included in my post here: http://ligman.me/IJnR1F) If you saw Jon Roskill's post earlier, not only do we want Small Business partners, given the number of SBSCs we have today, he said "I have no doubt the Small Business competency will be our most sought after competency." See his post here: http://ligman.me/IL1c37.
@ Peter - Thanks for the feedback. Believe me, I am not avoiding the fee piece here. In fact, I specifically brought it up in the Q&A above. Yes, the fee is more for the competency than the current designation, but the benefits are much higher with the competency. I have the benefits included in my post here: http://ligman.me/IJnR1F. Just a few of the additional benefits with the competency include: Eligibility for unlimited presales technical advisory services, Partner advisory hours, Internal Use Rights (on-premise and cloud), TechNet for Microsoft Competency Partners licenses, Windows Phone Discount Program eligibility, Unlimited phone support (for critical issues), 5 incidents of phone support (for noncritical issues), Microsoft Visual Studio Premium with MSDN subscriptions, and more.
@ Juan - Thanks for the feedback and I completely agree!
@ Libis - I am missing where you are getting the position of Microsoft taking SBS away from SBSCs. If you look at the requirements for the Small Business competency, one of the requirements you can use is the same SBS exam that you could have used to qualify for SBSC. In addition, if you look at the benefits included, we have several benefits aligned directly to SBS, including: access to Windows Small Business Server 2011 Power Start Workshops, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Momentum Workshops, and more. If you do focus on SBS and want to continue to focus on SBS, the Small Business Competency provides you the resources and opportunities to do just that.
Please help me understand how the Small Business Competency does not enable partners focused on SBS.
Not sure if my previous post registered, so will try again signed in
I am currently a SBSC and have a new active Action Pack Subscription with full media. It cost more than $300 here in Australia. I hear you about the fact Action pack is not required and actually not permitted if you become a Silver Partner with Microsoft Partner Network Small Business Competency. My concern is, will my current Action pack and the delivery of new media cease to exist as well if I become this Silver partner within the current Action Pack subscription time frame. I will not be impressed to have wasted those $$$'s. So may delay any thought of converting to a Silver partner program?