It’s hard to overstress the importance of a constant skills development motion for a modern partner practice. The emergence of new technical roles and the shortage of technical skilled professionals means that your ability to attract, develop and retain key talent becomes a competitive advantage in today’s evolving landscape of cloud-based digital technologies.

Microsoft has a proven approach to skills development based on partner best practices and our own experience selling and implementing transformative technologies. In this article, I’ll explain our end-to-end skills enablement framework, and introduce some new training experiences. Subsequent articles will discuss the best ways to stay current with your skillsets, why it’s beneficial to invest in training, the lasting value of certification, hiring internally and upskilling your team.

The end-to-end partner enablement framework:

Graphic depicting end-to-end partner enablement framework

To get you on the right track, we’ve created an end-to-end experience to assist in meeting your unique objectives through all stages of your technical and business enablement journey. That journey comes to life with our Enablement overview page, where we guide you to the relevant resources for each stage.

Assess your potential

To deliver transformative solutions and services, you’re constantly assessing both your technical and business capabilities. Skills inventory planning not only allows you to more accurately determine talent requirements, it increases your agility in setting strategic priorities and identifying needed resources and investments. The Partner Transformation Readiness self-assessment maps where your organization is today when it comes to both business and technology capabilities and provides targeted recommendations and guidance on where you need to focus your ongoing development efforts.

Your current state of capability across technical and business parameters is reflected in an index score (Partner Transformation Index) and customized enablement resources will be shown based on your score to accelerate your cloud business capabilities. If you operate in multiple geographies, this assessment can provide visibility to local strengths and specific growth areas on which to focus.

To hire or train?

Whether to hire or train for the required skills is no longer an either/or question. With the speed at which technology is evolving, attracting candidates with modern, in-demand skillsets can be challenging as prospects look for opportunities with the right culture, compensation, and growth potential. Increasing competition for talent means everything about your practice is evaluated, including your company’s reputation, leadership, values, location, and social engagement.

Leverage our practice development playbook Recruit, Hire, Onboard and Retain Talent to understand how your peers have successfully attracted and retained key talent in this competitive environment. My previous article New Assets to Improve Your Hiring, Onboarding, and Retention provides an overview of the playbook along with other resources such as the Hire & Train Guide.

But even if you’re able to initially hire needed talent, the pace of change in areas like cloud computing, cybersecurity, data and AI will require constant skills assessment and training. You know have more options. From free online, self-paced courses to instructor-led classrooms, our training options let your teams learn in the style that fits them best while earning achievements and prepping for certifications.

We’ve launched an online home for our new Virtual Instructor-led Training (VILT) offerings. These are regionally delivered, chat-based webinars, designed to boost your team’s knowledge of the core customer technical scenarios and to prepare you for Microsoft certifications.

Going deeper

Complementing the VILT offerings, Partner Training Center offers on-demand training to build your skills on Microsoft products and solutions. These are role-based learning paths where the learner can select a skill level and find recommended courses.

For personalized assistance across multiple technical roles, our Partner Technical Services allow you to engage with Microsoft technical consultants offering everything from presales deployment assistance, app development and architecture guidance across Azure, Modern Workplace and Business Applications solutions. Partner Technical Services are available to partners who have Advisory Hours through the Microsoft Partner Network program.

We also help prepare your learners for certification exams that are tied to the Microsoft Partner Competencies with learning paths and course modules designed to meet the competency requirements. And we continue to invest in role-based training and certifications with eight new role-based certifications covering skills needed for specific cloud-focused roles around Dynamics 365, Power Platform and Microsoft 365 development, admin, and architecture, plus Microsoft’s first specialty certification: Microsoft Certified: Azure for SAP Workloads Specialty. Alex Payne has the scoop on the new certifications in his blog post from Microsoft Learning.

“At Capgemini, we see a direct correlation between our delivery capabilities and the growth and success of our business. To continue this success, we remain fully aligned to the Microsoft role-based training and certifications and our field delivery consultants are eager to grow their own competencies and specialized domain knowledge in line with our internal and market demands. We see this as a win/win/win for our clients, our employees and our organizations continued growth.” – Judy Dunn, Global Partner Manager, Field Enablement, Capgemini

Even if your team is proficient with a product or solution, technologies get updated. Watch for our What’s New webinars on the Virtual Instructor-led Training page. These are delivered live in multiple time zones. Here’s one coming up in December on What’s New in Cloud Application Development.

The skills gap is a very real threat to your success and profitability and we’re here to support you. Making the training investments now can launch you ahead of the competition and creating a culture of learning will certainly help with future hiring by showing prospects that professional development is an organizational priority.