by Julie Golding, US MPN Lead

Julie Golding 2011If you are new to the Microsoft Partner Network, or are exploring your opportunities to deepen your engagement with Microsoft, you will want to understand what the Microsoft competencies are, and why they matter to both you and your customers. Competencies indicate expertise in a specific technology area that aligns to Microsoft products and technologies, so customers can identify IT experts to help solve their business challenges.

In this post, I’ll talk about the value of earning a gold competency, and provide you with information to help you get started. If you are going to the Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston this July, I am talking about competencies and other MPN opportunities in a session called “A guided tour of US Partner Programs and the resources that keep you informed,” (session numbers US12 and US12R). You can add this session to your schedule through WPC Connect starting May 28.image

A company with a Microsoft gold competency has demonstrated its capability and commitment to meet the evolving technology needs of customers through solutions based on Microsoft products and technologies. Worldwide, only 1 percent of the companies in the Microsoft partner ecosystem have attained the distinction of holding a gold competency, and earned the right to showcase that distinction and market their competency by displaying a Microsoft Partner Network logo that specifies a company’s gold competency achievement. image

Microsoft gold competency benefits

A recent IDC study determined that the Microsoft Partner Network benefits for companies with competencies have a tangible, business value of about $320,000. Highlighted below are four gold competency benefits that usually spark the most discussion and interest when I talk to partners about gold competencies:

  • Access to up to 100 licenses for more than 40 Microsoft products, as well as licenses for competency-specific products, for internal use. Partners tell me that this benefit is one of the most valuable they receive, as it lets them show customers how they are using Microsoft-based solutions in their own organization.
  • Dedicated account coverage, in person or phone-based, to act as your direct contact at Microsoft. He or she can play an important role in helping you utilize your membership benefits, save time, generate revenue, and identify opportunities.
  • Windows 8 opens up many new opportunities for partners to incorporate application development into the solutions they deliver. Equip your developers with up to 10 Visual Studio Premium with MSDN subscriptions.
  • Solution incentives that reward you for driving sales of specific Microsoft solutions, and create opportunities for you build sustainable revenue streams.

Microsoft gold competency requirements

In general, the main requirements for attaining a gold competency are listed below. Each competency has its own requirements, though, so you will want to review and understand the requirements for the specific competency you are pursuing. And, even if you decide that a gold competency isn’t right for you right now, I recommend aligning your technical and sales personnel to the certifications and assessments/accreditations for the competency that best maps to your Microsoft practice and business.

  • Certifications – demonstrate technical expertise by employing or contracting with the specified number of unique Microsoft Certified Professionals who have passed relevant certification exams
  • Assessments and accreditations – demonstrate sales, marketing, and/or licensing knowledge by having the specified number of people pass assessments
  • Customer evidence and feedback – demonstrate success at building and deploying solutions relevant to the competency by submitting customer references, and use the Customer Satisfaction Index survey to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Agree to meet a minimum Microsoft revenue amount
  • Pay the gold competency fee

imageJoin the MPN 101 group on Yammer to connect with Julie and with other subject-matter experts from the Microsoft US Partner Team.

In this video, Microsoft partners talk about the value their Microsoft competency brings to their business.