imageAfter my What are the benefits of the Microsoft Partner Network Small Business Competency? post on Friday, I received some inquiries from current SBSC members saying that the Action Pack benefits were missing under the SBSC column in the chart and should be there because the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS) is a benefit of the Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC). After a few of these inquiries, including a flat out statement of, “But I have to have Action Pack to get SBSC, so it is a benefit,” it became clear that there is a misconception out there among some current SBSC members, so I am putting up this post to put this misconception to rest.

Let’s start with a quick level-setting: What is a benefit? A benefit is something you receive because you achieve something else. Think of it this way, if you accomplish X (a requirement), you receive Y (a benefit). Based on this, if you don’t accomplish X (the requirement), you don’t receive Y (the benefit). So for the benefits of SBSC, these would be things you receive because you become an SBSC member. On the flipside, it means that if you do not become an SBSC member, you do not receive the benefits. With this in mind, if Action Pack truly were a benefit of becoming an SBSC member, it would mean that you would receive Action Pack for achieving SBSC status.

Let’s take a look at the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS). What are the requirements to get a Microsoft Action Pack Subscription? You can take a look at the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription page on the Microsoft Partner Network portal to view the requirements of both the Microsoft Action Pack Solution Provider and Microsoft Action Pack Development and Design subscriptions, and I have also included them below to save you some browsing time.

As you look through the requirements, see if anywhere in there it says you need to be an SBSC member to subscribe to Microsoft Action Pack, or that by becoming an SBSC member you will receive an Action Pack Subscription. (For those who want a really short read of this post, I’ll give you a hint… The answer is no, it does not) Any Microsoft partner that meets the Microsoft Action Pack requirements listed below (and nowhere will you see SBSC being a requirement) and pays the annual Action Pack fee can subscribe to Action Pack. It has absolutely nothing to do with having to be an SBSC member to obtain a Microsoft Action Pack Subscription.

To qualify for the Microsoft Action Pack Solution Provider Subscription:

Your company must be a member of the Microsoft Partner Network. Businesses that qualify for membership in the Microsoft Partner Network fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • IT consulting services provider
  • Independent hardware vendor (IHV)
  • Independent software vendor (ISV)
  • Large account reseller (LAR)
  • Original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
  • Software hoster
  • Software support provider
  • System builder
  • Systems integrator
  • Software training provider
  • Value-added IT provider (VAP)
  • Value-added reseller (VAR)
  • Web designer
  • Web marketing agency

Entities that do not qualify for membership in the Microsoft Partner Network include nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, students, government offices, or commercial businesses whose primary focus is not IT-related.

To subscribe to Action Pack Solution Provider, you must:

  • Comply with the terms and conditions of the Microsoft Partner Network Agreement.
  • Take a 30-minute online course and pass an online assessment, which is administered during the ordering process.
  • Pay the annual Microsoft Action Pack Subscription fee

Restrictions:

  • Your company must sell more than 75% of its products and services to customers outside your company.
  • You cannot subscribe to Action Pack Solution Provider and Action Pack Development and Design at the same time. You can have only one active Action Pack subscription per company, per country.
  • You can renew or switch subscriptions only once per year.
  • Your company cannot hold a silver or gold competency.

To qualify for the Microsoft Action Pack Development and Design Subscription:

Your company must be a member of the Microsoft Partner Network. Businesses that qualify for membership in the Microsoft Partner Network fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • IT consulting services provider
  • Independent hardware vendor (IHV)
  • Independent software vendor (ISV)
  • Large account reseller (LAR)
  • Original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
  • Software hoster
  • Software support provider
  • System builder
  • Systems integrator
  • Software training provider
  • Value-added IT provider (VAP)
  • Value-added reseller (VAR)
  • Web designer
  • Web marketing agency

Entities that do not qualify for membership in the Microsoft Partner Network include nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, students, government offices, or commercial businesses whose primary focus is not IT-related.

To subscribe to Action Pack Solution Provider, you must:

  • Comply with the terms and conditions of the Microsoft Partner Network Agreement.
  • Take a 30-minute online course and pass an online assessment, which is administered during the ordering process.
  • Provide a URL that verifies that your company’s focus is on software development and website design.
  • Pay the annual Microsoft Action Pack Subscription fee.

Restrictions:

  • Your company must have fewer than 100 employees.
  • Your company must sell more than 75% of its products and services to customers outside your company.
  • You cannot subscribe to Action Pack Solution Provider and Action Pack Development and Design at the same time. You can have only one active Action Pack subscription per company, per country.
  • You can renew or switch subscriptions only once per year.
  • Your company cannot hold a silver or gold competency.

Where I believe people are becoming confused is, purchasing an Action Pack Subscription is a REQUIREMENT of becoming an SBSC member (unless you have a competency). It is one of the steps you must take on your journey to meeting all of the qualifications, just like passing the required exams associated with becoming an SBSC member. Take a look:

Requirements to qualify as an SBSC member:

1) Your company must be a member of the Microsoft Partner Network. Businesses that qualify for membership in the Microsoft Partner Network fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • IT consulting services provider
  • Independent hardware vendor (IHV)
  • Independent software vendor (ISV)
  • Large account reseller (LAR)
  • Original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
  • Software hoster
  • Software support provider
  • System builder
  • Systems integrator
  • Software training provider
  • Value-added IT provider (VAP)
  • Value-added reseller (VAR)
  • Web designer
  • Web marketing agency

Entities that do not qualify for membership in the Microsoft Partner Network include nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, students, government offices, or commercial businesses whose primary focus is not IT-related.

2) You must subscribe to Microsoft Action Pack Solution Provider or Microsoft Action Pack Development and Design to become a Small Business Specialist. You are exempt from this requirement if you have attained a silver or gold competency. (Notice that if you have a competency, you can’t even get an Action Pack Subscription)

3) Each of your locations must employ or contract with one person who has successfully completed the Small Business Sales and Marketing Skills Assessment for the Small Business Specialist Community.

4) You must employ or contract with one person at each location who has passed one of following exams:

  • Exam 70-169: TS: Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, Configuring
  • Exam 70-515 : TS: Web Applications Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4
  • Exam 70-523 : Upgrade: Transition your MCPD .NET Framework 3.5 Web Developer Skills to MCPD .NET Framework 4.0 Web Developer
  • Exam 70-642 : TS: Windows Server 2008, Network Infrastructure, Configuring
  • Exam 70-648 : TS: Upgrading from Windows Server 2003 MCSA to, Windows Server 2008, Technology Specializations
  • Exam 70-649 : TS: Upgrading your MCSE on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist
  • Exam 70-653 : TS: Windows Small Business Server 2008, Configuring
  • Exam 70-680: TS: Windows 7, Configuring
  • Exam 70-683 : TS: Windows 7, Preinstalling for OEMs

As you can see, it is not a case where by becoming an SBSC member that you get an Action Pack Subscription. It is a case that if you don’t get an Action Pack Subscription, you can’t become an SBSC member (unless you have a competency).Subscribing to one of the Microsoft Action Pack Subscriptions is a requirement of becoming an SBSC member, like every other requirement listed above. (unless you have a competency, in which case you don’t even need an Action Pack Subscription) It is not something you receive because you become an SBSC member. Saying Action Pack is a “benefit” of SBSC would be like saying that the exams listed above and the Small Business Sales and Marketing Skills Assessment (which are also requirements of becoming an SBSC member, just like Action Pack) are also “benefits” of becoming an SBSC member; however, they are not. They are requirements of becoming an SBSC member.

I hope this helps eliminate the confusion that seems to be out there among some of the current SBSC members. When you go back and look at the What are the benefits of the Microsoft Partner Network Small Business Competency? post again and see the items listed under the Small Business competency, realize that those are actually benefits (things you will receive because you achieve the Small Business competency) of achieving the Small Business competency, not requirements to actually earn the Small Business competency.

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Eric LigmanFollow 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

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