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
@ Rod - Your Action Pack subscription remains in effect throughout the 12 month period for which you signed up for; however, you will be unable to renew it afterwards as the competency benefits will be how you will receive your internal use software rights moving forward.
You can also see this in in the FAQ at: mspartner.microsoft.com/.../action-pack-software-licensing-benefits-faq.aspx
Q: How will my software benefits be affected if my organization upgrades from an Action Pack subscription to a Microsoft competency?
A: Partners with an active Microsoft Action Pack Solution Provider or Microsoft Action Pack Development and Design subscription who earn silver or gold competencies are not required to uninstall the software and product keys provided to them as part of their subscription and reinstall by using the software and product keys provided to them for the Microsoft competency they have attained. After the Action Pack subscription ends, your organization can continue to use Action Pack bits or keys, together with the new bits or keys obtained through the earned Microsoft competency, to achieve the total license grant entitlement. (You will no longer be entitled to the licenses granted through Action Pack after the subscription expires.) Note: There can be functionality differences between the keys provided by each program.
As a quick update, I will be sharing the latest information on the upcoming launch of the Microsoft Partner Network Small Business competency this Friday, June 15th, here on the blog. I will put up a new post which will include the information, so please be sure to keep an eye out for it on Friday.
I see the value of a Small Business Competency and I feel there are many SBSC partners who are either already Silver/Gold partners or just SBSC partners wanting to show their higher certifications and likely stronger capabilities. I look at the cost of these programs on a per month basis instead of an annual basis and see benefits I can use that to me are worth more than the $155 monthly cost.
I also see value in continuing the existing SBSC program:
• The branding is well known by our customer base (I would show both SBS and Competency)
• It is important to keep the likely large percentage of SBSC only partners part of the community
I do have a concern with the Silver Small Business Competency, the benefits are subpar as compared to the core benefits mspartner.microsoft.com/.../core-benefits.aspx. Why 15 instead of 25 internal-use software licenses? Why the lack Unlimited phone support (for critical issues)? Why zero instead of 5 incidents of phone support (for noncritical issues)? And perhaps more importantly, why are the Silver Cloud Accelerate partners getting full core benefits when it is not even a competency?