You might have seen the little ‘Microsoft Certified Partner’ logo on various solution providers’ websites, but what does it actually mean? And does it really make a difference for you as a client? In this week’s blog we take a closer look at the different levels of Microsoft partnership and what benefits they bring for both vendor and customer.

The Microsoft partnership tiers

There are two main qualified Microsoft Partner levels: Gold and Silver. These partnership types have been designed to represent the level that the business is operating on and the specific skills they have on their journey as a service provider. Once you know the meaning behind these levels you can put that knowledge to good use when choosing the right vendor.

The Microsoft partner benefits

Silver and Gold partners share several central benefits. They can access instant support from regional service centres, they get all the latest product training materials, and they can get hands-on advisory services for pre-sales and deployment.

Gold and Silver partners can also receive what is called Microsoft Partner Signature Support, which offers advanced tech support for Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and Microsoft Azure. This often provides a huge advantage for end customers, as they can get all the help they need to keep their operations running smoothly.

All Microsoft partners get professional licences for software and development tools, but Gold partners get a larger number of licences – which means they can have larger teams with more developers, delivering results faster.

Microsoft requirements for partnership

Microsoft has a number of requirements that need to be achieved in order for a vendor to qualify for partnership status. In summary, they currently are:

Gold Requirements

  • Five customer references to verify a high standard of service delivery
  • Four Microsoft Certified Professionals – two with a business-focused competency and two who have passed a technical competency assessment.
  • A licensing overview assessment
  • A sales and marketing competency assessment
  • Participation in the Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Index

Silver Requirements

  • Three customer references to verify a high standard of service delivery
  • Two Microsoft Certified Professionals – one with a business-focused competency and one who has passed a technical competency assessment.
  • A licensing overview assessment
  • A sales and marketing competency assessment

How competency assessments are done

The competency assessments generally include both a skills assessment, where an individual’s product knowledge is tested through exams, and a performance test that aims to prove the service provider’s ability to meet performance goals. The partnership status is then reviewed and renewed on a yearly basis, which means that the company needs to regularly prove to Microsoft that they uphold the same level of skill and service quality.

What’s below Gold and Silver?

There are many IT service providers and software developers who are in the early stages of building their Microsoft practice and who may not be ready for a full partnership. These companies can still team up with Microsoft through what is called The Microsoft Action Pack – a subscription to a number of support and training services. They get free use of Microsoft software to run their business, as well as a set of developer tools for creating desktop software and mobile apps.

The value of Gold partnership

Here at One Beyond, we have been a certified Microsoft Gold Partner since 2005, which has helped us to uphold a consistent, independently verified, high quality of service delivery for more than a decade. We actively encourage all our developers to become certified and help them to do so by paying for their training and exam fees, as well as giving them time off to sit their exams. As a result we have been able to continue raising the skill level overall in the business, instilling confidence in our teams – and in our customers.