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In-Depth

MPN: What You Need To Know If You're a Dynamics Partner

Dynamics partners have always had different needs than other Microsoft partners, and the MPN has very different requirements of its business applications partners.

While many elements of the revamped MPN that go into effect this month are important to Dynamics partners, ERP- and CRM-focused companies also have a number of distinctive elements.

Microsoft is cranking up the requirements on Microsoft Dynamics partners in a way that many partners privately say should benefit larger Dynamics partners -- but that will also make it much more difficult for smaller partners to continue to participate.

In an interview at this year's WPC, Jeff Edwards, director of partner strategy for Microsoft Dynamics Business, explained the Microsoft reasoning for requirements that go beyond those that infrastructure partners must meet.

"These are ERP and CRM applications. They are bet-the-business applications. They need to be sold accurately, positioned accurately and implemented correctly. So, in general, one could probably look at our requirements and say they're higher than the other competencies -- but they're higher for a reason," Edwards explained.

"We know these applications are going to play in the midmarket and up, so we're able to target our requirements probably a little more precisely than some of the other competencies," he added.

A Silver competency in ERP or CRM requires that three MCPs pass exams, rather than the two required for other competencies. The partners must also have two employees pass an implementation methodology exam, one employee pass a sales exam and one employee pass a pre-sales exam.

For Gold, the ERP/CRM requirement is for six MCPs unique to the competency, three employees who pass the implementation methodology exam, two who pass the sales exam and one who passes the pre-sales exam.

Dynamics partners also face a revenue requirement for the Silver competencies. "We also have a revenue requirement on Silver that the rest of the competencies don't require," Edwards said.

One thing the Dynamics team has is effective revenue-tracking that makes such revenue targets concrete. "We know exactly what our partners do," Edwards said. "ERP is a single-tier channel, so basically our ERP VARs sell directly to end customers and transact directly with us. There's no distributor or Large Account Reseller or anyone involved, so the visibility we get from those guys is really high. It allows us to take that contractual agreement and make [revenue] a first-entry tier."

Asked about the pressure smaller ERP and CRM partners are reporting, Edwards responded that the requirements aren't that onerous.

"I think the conscious decision was to focus on ensuring we have partners that can accurately position, sell and implement the product," he said. "That's what the certifications are about. If you look at the Silver level -- having three people tech certified, and those same three people can be sales and implementation-methodology certified -- you're not looking like a huge company there. You look at the revenue requirements of being $50,000 in license revenue, [and] that's not a huge amount of dollars. I think all these things are doable for a small firm."

He noted that a single-person firm would have trouble qualifying for Silver or Gold without contracting with outside MCPs, but added: "They can still continue to participate in terms of the [Solution Provider Agreement] and [CRM Software Advisor] agreement."

The proprietor of a single-person shop in the Midwest who asked not to be named said he had looked at the CRM competency requirements and was thinking seriously about dropping from his current Gold Certified Partner status to an Action Pack subscription.

Meanwhile, an executive at a large Dynamics ERP reseller in the mid-Atlantic said his firm was expecting the changes to result in a lot more attention from Microsoft and more business for his firm. At the same time, he said the pressure from Redmond to differentiate in a vertical sector -- such as manufacturing or health care -- was getting more intense. He noted differentiation could stretch resources even at his firm with nearly 100 employees, as the company has a horizontal sales model.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.