Becoming a Solutions Partner for Modern Work

This is the third blog in a series exploring the evolution of the Microsoft Partner Network into the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. Additional entries introduce the changes and explore the new Business ApplicationsSecurity, and Azure-related Solutions Partner designations on the Microsoft Partner Blog.

As we continue toward the October 3 launch of the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, I’m excited to join in the conversation and share more about the Solutions Partner for Modern Work designation. In an earlier blog post, we provided a general overview of the changes coming to the Microsoft Partner Network, along with a closer look at the Solutions Partner for Business Applications designation. This blog will continue our series examining the new Solutions Partner designations that come with the evolution of the partner network.

Customers want to easily identify partners who have the technical capabilities and experience that they need. Currently, partner expertise is denoted by various gold and silver competencies. The six new Solutions Partner designations and specializations will streamline differentiation while continuing to provide benefits that support you as you grow, along with new added investments focused on the latest cloud technologies.

Today, we’ll be looking at the new Modern Work designation for partners who are helping customers boost their productivity and make the shift to hybrid work using Microsoft 365. Keep reading to find information about the requirements and benefits of this designation – and the timeline of changes to help you plan your path forward. Please pay particular attention to the “Important dates to know” section, so you can plan accordingly.

Introducing the new Modern Work designation

The nature of the workplace has changed, and customers are interested in new digital solutions to empower their employees to thrive in a remote or hybrid environment. This Solutions Partner designation corresponds to the Modern Work partner solution area and identifies partners who specialize in using Microsoft 365 solutions and services to help customers work, learn, organize, connect, and create.

Activities relevant to this designation include:

  • Deployment and modern management services for Windows and Windows 365
  • Implementing, driving adoption of, and managing Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Teams Devices, and Microsoft Teams Rooms to help your customers communicate and collaborate
  • Delivering services and solutions to digitally enable your customers’ frontline workers
  • Delivering employee experience services and solutions for Microsoft Viva
  • Building custom apps and solutions on the Microsoft 365 platform to meet the specific needs of your customers

The following existing competencies map to the new Modern Work designation:

  • Collaboration and Content
  • Communications
  • Cloud Productivity
  • Messaging
  • Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions
  • Windows and Devices

If these activities or competencies reflect the work that you do, becoming a Solutions Partner for Modern Work is the first opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. Benefits of this designation will include all common solutions partner benefits like Go-to-Market services, TP&D advisory hours, technical support incidents, and sector-specific products.

“Partners who are able to achieve this [Solutions Partner designation] will be able to showcase the breadth and depth of their skills and the caliber of partners they now belong to,” says Margaret Totten, Managing Director, Akari Solutions. “This new way of recognizing a partner’s deep knowledge and expertise in these areas will allow them to stand out from the crowd. Cloud transformation is huge for customers and has been driven forward particularly over the last few years at pace, and customers want to work with partners who can help them navigate this seamlessly. The added value of these new designations is that it will help build trust with customers that they are working with partners truly skilled and invested in the Microsoft product stack.”

Understanding the partner capability score

To attain a Solutions Partner designation, you must earn 70 points across the three categories listed in the following table. These categories are:

  • Performance​: Measured by net customer adds.
  • Skilling​: Demonstrates your dedication to skilling and training with intermediate and advanced certifications.
  • Customer Success​: Measured by usage growth and the number of solution deployments.

This new scoring is designed to ensure that designations are achievable regardless of organization size, with a model that capitalizes on a partner’s strengths and rewards partners in areas of growth. The Performance and Customer Success categories demonstrate your experience leading successful customer engagements, providing visibility into deepening and recurring business with existing customers, along with new customer adds. There are two paths through which a partner can achieve eligibility for the Solutions Partner designation: Enterprise and Small and Medium Business (SMB). Both paths will have the same categories, but definitions of success criteria will differ between the two.

Global and Microsoft Partner Network admins can view the new dashboard in Partner Center to see how your organization is progressing toward a Solutions Partner designation. Existing partners who meet these requirements on October 3 will automatically attain the Solutions Partner for Modern Work designation and receive customer-facing badging. Then, at your next renewal date, you’ll pay the fee and have the option to choose whether to move to the updated Solutions Partner designation benefits, or retain your existing competency benefits. 

Understanding specializations

After you attain a Solutions Partner designation, you can further differentiate your deep technical expertise and experience with specializations (currently called “advanced specializations”). To streamline and simplify partner programs and identification, partners who have earned a specialization in a particular topic will now be referred to as “partners with a specialization” or “specialists.” 

After you earn a specialization or expert designation, you will have access to benefits that include a customer-facing badge to display on your business profile in the Microsoft AppSource partner gallery, prioritization ranking in the commercial marketplace, evaluation for active cooperative selling opportunities with Microsoft field sellers, and more. We’re also introducing new, incremental product benefits to further accelerate your business. Incremental benefits for specialization and expert programs are available only with Solutions Partner benefits and cannot be added to existing competency benefits. 

To learn more about Solutions Partner benefits, please visit the benefits guide on the Microsoft partner website. 

Important dates to know

As you begin working toward Solutions Partner for Modern Work, there are a few key dates to be aware of:

  • September 30, 2022: The last date to renew a competency. From October 3, current competencies will no longer be valid; however, the benefits associated with these competencies will continue until your next renewal date. 
  • October 3, 2022: Solutions Partner designations are available to attain. If you meet the requirements, you will attain Solutions Partner designation immediately and receive the customer-facing badging. We will continue to make benefits available to you to help you earn Solutions Partner designations. Competencies and associated badging will no longer be valid, but partners that obtained a competency by September 30, 2022, will continue to receive the benefits related to that competency until their next renewal date.
  • On a partner’s first renewal date after October 3, 2022: Partners who attain a Solutions Partner designation can choose to move to the updated Solutions Partner benefits or retain their legacy benefits, and pay the corresponding fee. Partners who don’t meet the requirements for a Solutions Partner designation but who renewed a competency by September 30, 2022 will have the option to continue to pay the fee to retain their legacy benefits.

See our infographic to plan your transition to the new designations. If your organization plans to pursue the Solutions Partner for Modern Work, check out the Modern Work Partner Sales Acceleration Program for trainings that can help strengthen your competitive edge. Additional resources for the Solutions Partner Modern Work designation are available here.

As we all prepare to transition to the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, the partner blog will continue to share insights about the new Solutions Partner designations and changes from other business leaders and partners. I hope you’ll keep following along as we share how the latest investments can grow your business!

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