The last few weeks have seen enormous upheaval for all of us – both personally and professionally – as we respond to COVID-19. I have found it humbling to see the way that the Australian Microsoft partner community has responded to shifting customer needs as more and more organisations transition to work from home arrangements in order to preserve the wellbeing of their employees and families. Sincere thanks to each and every one of you for the important work you are doing.

We were delighted to have so many of you join us for the most recent Partner Connect events  – for those who missed it you can still access recordings or join us at the next session 9th April at 11.30 AEST, we will continue to run 2 live virtual events a month to ensure we are connected regularly.

Microsoft is committed to keeping you up to date and fully supported through this challenging period. To keep us connected we have created a dedicated forum to allow us to keep the conversation going – please do subscribe to make sure you stay up to date.

In the meantime I’ve pulled together a round-up of things you need to know about how we are supporting partners and customers right now:

Support for your Customers relating to COVID-19

  • To support your customers who are encouraging staff to work from home we have a range of offers to help – including six months’ free access to and E1 licence to Office 365 for customers up to 3,000 seats.
  • Many companies are deploying Windows Virtual Desktop – we’ve created a checklist to help you help your customers deploy robust virtualisation, publish and scale to hundreds of users.
  • In this post, we are making an offer available for eligible customers including governments, healthcare providers, not-for-profits, schools and education institutions to use key Dynamics 365 and Power Platform services free for 6-months to assist in their COVID-19 response. Plus newly released Power Platform App templates.

Support for your business during this time

  • We have created a forum to connect partners with one another so that you can work on opportunities that are arising and share skills and expertise to support clients. More details here.
  • From April to the end of September we are enhancing our incentives for partners. Learn more.
  • Partner Technical Services are available to help partners who are trying to close deals with pre-sales technical and deployment guidance, as well as application development assistance. This resource is available to partners who have advisory hours included with their competency or Action Pack.
  • To help prevent disruption to partner and customer businesses, we are postponing the enforcement date of the Microsoft Partner Agreement until later this year. If you have not accepted the agreement, please review the Microsoft Partner Agreement resources and do so as soon as possible.  
  • We are updating our policy for how Software Assurance Deployment Planning Services (DPS) and Software Assurance Training vouchers may be used; extending active vouchers created prior to April 1, 2020 for an additional 90 days, and we’re waiving the on-site requirement for delivery partners, allowing for remote Deployment Planning Services engagements through 30 June 2020.

Microsoft Partner Program Updates

Every day, we are learning more and more about the global impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19)—how the health crisis is affecting our families, employees, and businesses. I want you to know from all of us at Microsoft, the health and well-being of our customers, partners, suppliers, and employees is our ultimate priority right now. With that in mind, I’d like to share some adjustments we’re making to programs to address your feedback and provide you more flexibility.

  • If your anniversary date is in January-June 2020 we will extend that to the anniversary date in 2021. If your organisation meets this criteria, your primary admin will be notified in Partner Centre and action will be required.
  • Many partners extending or applying as an Azure Expert MSP will have their audit date extended. For information about this and the action you will need to take, please visit Partner Centre later this month.
  • The published program requirement increases in Azure Consumed Revenue (ACR) planned for July 1 will now take effect on January 1, 2021. 
  • If you are currently enrolled in any of the Azure advanced specialisations and have a renewal date on or before December 31, 2020, your program anniversary date will be extended to June 30, 2021.  No immediate action is needed for these extensions.
  • We have set a new date of April 1, 2021 for Partner Contribution Indicators (PCI) scoring for the Cloud Business Applications competency to take effect as part of the requirements. We are also postponing the implementation of the baseline snapshot for the Functional Consultant metric in the new Partner Contribution Indicators scoring from March 31 to October 1, 2020. We’ll share updates on the partner website.

Building new skills

We know many partners are being asked to support customers in new ways, if you feel you or someone in your team needs additional training, we have the following to support;

  • Locally we have heavily subsidised key online courses for partner individuals based in Australia with a valid MPN ID in partnership with DDLS.

We hear your voice

The work our partners are undertaking with customers to get them through the COVID-19 crisis is amazing – please do share your stories with us at partnerau@microsoft.com.au.

Finally, the Inspire event slated to be held in Las Vegas in July will now be a virtual event. More details will be released in May  – but we still want you to nominate for the awards that will be presented. The deadline for entries is 21 April at present.

Again, thankyou to all our partners for the work you are undertaking and your commitment to customers at this difficult time.