Microsoft Partner Network and SBSC

I’m blogging on this a couple of weeks after the event because I’ll be honest I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about this

At WPC a couple of weeks ago it was announced an overhaul to the partner programme is on the way

There is a great explanation of it on the UK SBSC blog here

I’m sure the programme definitely needs a kick in the butt. As Microsoft’s and our own businesses evolve, the way we work together evolves too so a revamp will be good

Specifically for people who are currently SBSC certified there are some big changes too

The Small Business Specialist Community designation will be reassigned to a new competency called Small Business Solutions.  Key enhancements include providing additional entry points to target other types of partner communities such as Web VARs.  With that, the new competency will retain many of the same requirements and benefits that partners are familiar with today – and partners should continue to enrol in the Small Business Specialist Community designation to maintain program status and benefits.

 

Ok so Microsoft want to be able to get different types of IT businesses involved in small business? That’s cool

However, my initial reaction was one of disappointment though as I’ve always seen SBSC and competencies as two distinctly separate things.

I’ve always felt it was a separate group within the partner programme. In the same way that registered partners and certified partners are separate groups.

It’s something that differentiates us when we go talk to clients. When talking to a client an MCTS certification (for example) and a competency are pretty synonymous for them. The MCTS applies to the individual and the competency applies to the business and helps outline capabilities

So reading the rest of the post from the UK SBSC post the next bit caught my eye

Can I still use my logo?

Continue to use the logos you have today. You’ll be able to use Microsoft Partner Network logos after October 2010, after you have met the requirements. Existing logos will be retired six months after the new logo system is available

Initially I didn’t think this was a big deal. The “blue badge” would get an overhaul too to reflect the new programme but when i read Steve Wright’s (UK PAL extraordinaire) two posts I changed my view on this

This is his first post with his initial reaction – like me a little concerned about losing a key differentiator

MS partner program evolves – is it goodbye to the SBSC community?

 

In his second post Steve talks about how he discussed his concerns during his first PAL meeting

First PAL meeting

 

This is the stand out part for me. (I’ve highlighted a specific sentence for emphasis)

The impression I got was that Microsoft are looking to simplify the partner program and have therefore decided to create various new competencies and that includes bringing the SBSC designation into that framework. The concern over the disappearance of the “blue badge” was raised and it seemed to come as a surprise to Birger that it would cause

We’ve also just had some brochures and leaflets printed and the blue badge actually features more than our own logo!

I originally wasn’t going to post about this as I thought Steve and Susan said everything that needed to be said and I wouldn’t be adding anything extra, but I guess I just need to be another voice that says I quite like our little part of the partner programme. I understand that things need to change and we need to change with it but it feels like all the work that has gone into building SBSC as a brand is about to disappear

I’m also wondering what it means in the long term for SBSC as a whole. The new programme will come into effect over the next twelve months which is roughly how long the PAL role runs for.

What does it mean for Steve Wright, Andy Trish and the rest of the worldwide PALs?

Do Microsoft need partner feedback for a competency?

There aren’t PALs for the “Advanced Infrastructure Solutions competency” or the “Licensing Solutions competency” are they?

Did they not speak to the PALs about this?

I don’t think the community will disappear overnight as groups like AMITPRO would continue but the SBSC certification is great focal point for that and it’s something we all rally around

At the end of Steve’s post he said that he’ll be putting concerns over to Emily Lambert at his first regional PAL meeting so it’ll be good to hear more details what the plans are going forward

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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