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New Microsoft Gold Partner requirements

In the past, Microsoft Gold Partners obtained their certification by passing relevant exams and having a certain number of certified professionals across different specialisations.

These requirements worked really well for small companies who could employ staff with skills that crossed boundaries e.g. an IT technician who knew Exchange, Windows Vista and Virtualisation. We saw a huge growth in the number of small Gold partners who used the Microsoft Gold badge as a way to entice new customers with backing from the leading IT giant.

As of July 2010, under new guidelines, all Microsoft Gold Partners need to select 5 customer references and have employees with skills in areas that do not overlap. Each employee can only be mapped to a single competency (e.g. Exchange 2010). This essentially means that small organisations cannot get away with having 3 or 4 IT Pros (or developers) to achieve their Gold status.

Before making this decision, Microsoft reviewed the Gold Partner requirements and come to the conclusion that its not good to have employees who are skilled in 3 or 4 areas but to have 1 employee skilled in 1 particular area.

Some people would agree that splitting work time among different specialisations is not good for the customer. Its great if you're the employee, as having more skills essentially means you'll be paid more and have better job prospects. Employers also love multi skilled employees because they can pay far less than having to recruit one per skill specialty. However, do we really want to speak to an IT professional who can only answer one part of the puzzle?

It's a hot topic at the moment and one which is upset quite a few small business partners.

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