Microsoft is making big changes to the way it dishes out Competencies from today, in a move which could see some partners automatically gain new badges without having to do extra work.
But concerns have been raised that the changes might dilute the value of the top qualifications.
From today, Microsoft is removing the requirement for unique Gold Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) to be assigned to each Competency.
In the past, the rules stated that there had to be one MCP assigned to each separate Competency, and an individual could not be associated with more than one. But from now on, if an individual has multiple certifications, their credentials can count towards attaining multiple Competencies at Gold level.
The changes were unveiled by Microsoft last month amid a number of other cloud-based tweaks to its partner programme, but come into force from today.
Microsoft claims the changes were designed to "make it easier for you to achieve your goals, whether that is attaining a new Gold Competency or ensuring your sales staff are up to date".
Kelvin Kirby, chief executive of Microsoft partner Technology Associates and treasurer of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners, said this is good news for partners.
"This means you might suddenly find yourself qualified for additional Competencies as a result," he said.
"You still have to have the minimum number of people, which depending on the Competency is about four or five, with specific exams and so on. But it is no longer a requirement that those people are dedicated to one Gold Competency.
"It may be, particularly across some of the SharePoint Competencies, for example – some of those exams are common – if someone has a Gold Competency in Content and Collaboration, they might now qualify for Enterprise Search. As of today, there may be many partners who find they have gained a Silver Competency or even a Gold Competency. I think it is good news for partners."
But Kirby warned that some partners which have already attained high levels of Gold Competencies may be irked slightly by Microsoft lowering the bar.
"The flip side of that is that some Gold partners may see that as diluting the water, as it were," he said. "Because now there are more partners with more Competencies, so the perception of the value of that Competency might be decreased. But I don't see that many partners taking that perspective."
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