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The Changing Channel

IAMCP Program Gives Microsoft Partners a Leg Up on Training

For the first time, Microsoft partners who are members of the IAMCP may purchase the same Microsoft curriculum and online labs that partner training centers use.

Look, I'll be up front about it. It's like talking about smoking with someone who's quit. I served for several years on the U.S. board of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP). I see huge value at the chapter level in many cities around the country, but I've always thought the U.S. board needed to do more for members.

Rudy Rodriguez, a former IAMCP president for the U.S. board and later the international board, and one of the sanest men I've ever known, is back on the U.S. board representing the central region and has accomplished something of value at the upper-board levels.

He created a wonderful program that really, truly benefits IAMCP members in two of the most important ways: It creates value for them while saving them money.

IAMCP Scores Test Vouchers for Members
The great thing about Rodriguez's achievement is that it makes so much sense. Now, for the first time, Microsoft partners who are members of the IAMCP may purchase the same Microsoft curriculum and online labs that partner training centers use, creating a self-service certification preparation option.

To top that off, when partners purchase any of the eligible Microsoft Official Curriculum Courses and Labs and provide proof of purchase to the IAMCP, they receive a free Pearson/VUE Certification test voucher with a free Second Shot, which allows them to try again if they fail the test the first time. The offer is valid for all employees of the IAMCP member partner's company, not just to individuals who've paid the $195 annual dues to join IAMCP.

According to a FAQ on the IAMCP-U.S. Web site about the Certificate Voucher Program, the price for a five-day course and labs is approximately $400 plus tax. Pearson/VUE tests list for about $150 on the company's Web site, but Microsoft is covering the voucher cost.

Tomorrow the World?
Phil Sorgen, Microsoft corporate vice president of the Worldwide Partner Group, sees this U.S.-only program as a pilot that he's extremely optimistic about and that should be replicated around the world.

"When we think of partner capacity, you have to start with individual capability, individuals trained. So anything you can do to drive up the knowledge base in the ecosystem while bringing down the cost of getting people trained and making it more efficient so they can consume the training at their own pace is great," Sorgen says.

"The icing on the cake is that by partnering with IAMCP to make sure we accentuate the value of our IAMCP chapters broadly, it becomes another value proposition of that relationship. So we're looking to see how we can scale that further," Sorgen says.

David Willis, Microsoft corporate vice president of U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners, says the IAMCP vouchers are an especially important benefit now. "With applications slipstreaming down in Office 365, new capabilities being added to Azure, and the whole new world of Windows 10, partners need to constantly stay ahead of the curve. This program goes a long way to helping them achieve it by making our courseware much more broadly available to them." (For more on how Windows 10 is a whole new world for partners, see the cover story in the March issue, "10 Ways Windows 10 Will Affect Microsoft Partners.")

Bridging the Talent Gap
Rodriguez is also pleased to see the program get off the ground. "We wanted to address the talent gap issues that we see and determine how a self-study option would work. Partners who participate will be able to access the curriculum and we're hopeful they'll take advantage of this great new access to the materials," he says.

The IAMCP is the conduit for the distribution of the vouchers and provides the Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) ID to help all member companies order their curriculum direct and to also get MCT support on labs, Rodriguez explains. "The savings realized from a program like this also provides great incentive for more partners to join IAMCP," he says.

If you're interested, you'll need to hurry. The training kits must be purchased by May 31, although the test vouchers will be valid through Dec. 31. The IAMCP plans to write a case study on the effectiveness of the program to present at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in July.

More Columns by Howard M. Cohen:

About the Author

Howard M. Cohen is a consultant to IT vendors and channel partner companies and a board member of the U.S. chapter of the IAMCP. Reach him at hmc@hmcwritenow.com.