Why Microsoft Competencies Matter To Resellers

In this article, we’re going to identify the current competencies, explain the benefits they confer, and offer some tips for choosing how to proceed. Let’s begin.

One of the core parts of being an IT reseller is building and maintaining working relationships with the top-level providers, and it’s also encouraged by those providers because it’s a win-win situation: the more they can help resellers, the more sales will result, and the more they’ll profit. Every provider has a different support system: for Microsoft, it’s the Microsoft Partner Network.

When you join the Microsoft Partner Network, you have various options for progressing and deepening your association with the company — and one of them is to achieve one or more competencies. The point of a competency is to mark the expertise you’ve demonstrated in a particular area, giving you something to tell your clients and granting you access to key benefits.

Current Microsoft competencies

At the moment, Microsoft offers a large number of competencies split into four categories. Here’s the full list as it currently stands, segmented accordingly:

Application Development

Highlight your expertise in providing development services on an enterprise-proven platform.

Application Integration

Seamlessly integrate applications and data and automate business processes across the enterprise.

Cloud Platform

Help customers modernise their infrastructure and migrate applications and data to the cloud.

DevOps

Manage the process, people, and technology to get powerful apps into customers’ hands.

Datacenter

Transform datacenters to become more flexible, scalable, and cost-effective with solutions that bridge on-premises and the cloud.

Business Applications

Cloud Business Applications

Demonstrate your expertise as a Dynamics 365 partner and leader in delivering business-ready apps and services.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Help your customers make data-driven decisions with global visibility, scalability, and digital intelligence.

Cloud Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

The Cloud CRM Competency is no longer available for attainment or renewal and will be retired on October 1, 2020.

Data and Artificial Intelligence

Data Analytics

Deliver customers actionable business insights they can use to transform their businesses.

Data Platform

Enable customers to harness big data and analytics on-premises, in the cloud, and in hybrid environments.

Modern Workplace

Collaboration and Content

Deliver SharePoint solutions and take advantage of a fast-growing market opportunity.

Communications

Demonstrate your expertise in delivering solutions that use Skype for Business in both hybrid and cloud environments.

Cloud Productivity

Showcase your expertise in delivering Office 365—the leader in commercial-grade productivity solutions.

Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)

Help customers address important compliance issues and emerging security threats.

Messaging

With a competency in Exchange and Exchange Online products, you can help bring customers the collaborative tools they need.

Project and Portfolio

Deliver complete project and portfolio management solutions built on our leading platform.

Security

Validate your capabilities to deliver security solutions on the Microsoft platform and help customers guard against threats, protect data, and maintain compliance.

Small and Mid-market Cloud Solutions

Empower small and midsize business customers to work from anywhere with best-in-class productivity and security.

Windows and Devices

Help your customers unleash the power of Windows, from deployment to delivering state-of-the-art devices.

How to achieve a competency

Every competency is available in two levels (Gold and Silver) to reflect the depth of knowledge displayed. To reach a given level, a business must fulfil the listed requirements, which mostly involves passing exams and paying an annual fee (but can also include hitting certain KPIs). You can find the required exams for any given competency in the Requirements section of its page on the Microsoft site: here’s the page featuring all the competency links.

 

Keep in mind that the listed requirements are subject to change. In June 2020, many of the previous exams will be retired and replaced. This will remove much of the disparity between exams between Silver and Gold Level competencies. Instead of needing you to pass distinct exams to upgrade from the former to the latter, they’ll largely require more passes for each business (typically 4 passes per exam per business for Gold, with just 2 for Silver).

 

There’s some confusion inherent to the use of Gold and Silver with general Microsoft partnership, but here’s the breakdown: there is no generic ‘Microsoft Silver Partner’ or ‘Microsoft Gold Partner’. A Gold partner is one that has achieved at least one Gold competency and continues to pay the annual fee (and the same can be said of Silver partnership).

What about advanced specialisations?

 

Achieving a Gold competency in a particular area isn’t the furthest you can go with Microsoft accreditation, because there’s also the option of pursuing an advanced specialization once you reach that level. It’s all about differentiation: if your rivals are all Gold partners, this is a way to show that your knowledge runs even deeper.

 

For example, if you’ve achieved a Gold Cloud Platform competency, you can pursue the advanced specialization of Windows Server and SQL Server Migration to Microsoft Azure: should you attain it, you’ll have a notable feather in your cap.

 

Requirements vary as they do with the main competencies, but broadly involve the same things (e.g. exam passes, performance thresholds). That said, there can be extra components needed, potentially including such things as complex public case studies or verified customer references.

The broad benefits of achieving competencies

 

There are several huge reasons why it’s worth pursuing Microsoft competencies, whether you go for Gold or stop with Silver. Let’s take a look at them:

  • They expand your support. Achieving a competency shows that your company can be relied on as a skilled reseller, and Microsoft will respond by dramatically increasing the level of support you receive. Additional services, customer recommendations, various enablement options and incentive programs — enough to transform how you work.
  • They can save you a lot of money. Some competencies offer financial incentives that can make them worthwhile from the outset. For instance, the aforementioned Cloud Platform competency offers extensive Azure credits worth far more than the annual fee. Factor in the frequent license rebates — and the money saved on support services — and you have an enticing prospect.
  • They showcase your expertise. As noted, there’s a lot of value in being able to show a potential client that you’re certified by Microsoft to handle and resell its services. Just one relevant Silver competency could significantly impact how your business is viewed by buyers and consultants in and around your niche.

Take these reasons into account and it’s clear that there’s a huge amount of value in earning at least one competency — and if you have grand aspirations, you may want to earn a variety of competencies to demonstrate how well-rounded your services are.

Earning your first competency through intY

 

Let’s quickly recap what we’ve been through here: Microsoft offers accreditations of sorts called competencies, and achieving them allows a reseller to deepen its working relationship with the vendor, earn a wide variety of benefits, and prove its expertise to current and potential clients. Given the value they return, every Microsoft reseller should aspire to earn at least one.

 

If you’re such a reseller, then, you might be ready to make this a priority — but where do you start? There’s a lot of information and guidance out there (some good, some bad), and it’s all too easy to get pushed in the wrong direction. That’s where intY comes in.

 

During our years in business, we’ve helped many Microsoft partners achieve their competences (and become Silver or Gold partners as a result), and we can do the same for you. In fact, when it comes to guiding partners to earning competencies, intY ranks in the top three in the UK and the EU — so why not get in touch today and let us point you in the right direction?

Learn how toget your first competency

Partner with one of the leading Microsoft Indirect Distributor for guiding partners to their first competencies

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