Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft expands incentives and eases partnership requirements to help affected solution providers
Microsoft is taking extraordinary measures to help ease the burden of partners wrestling with the operational and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing incentives and resources while delaying partnership requirements.
The Lowdown: In a new blog post, Microsoft channel chief Gavriella Schuster announced sweeping additions and temporary changes to the Microsoft partner program. Microsoft is giving solution providers more time and resources to cope with the pandemic’s fallout, trying to ensure that the burden doesn’t contribute to additional hardship.
Schuster, whose official title is corporate vice president of One Commercial Partner, said, “We have also been carefully considering how our partner programs can serve our partners best, as this situation evolves. We understand that some partners may want to accelerate their pace, while other partners may want to slow things down. Regardless, what is most important for you to know at this moment in time is that we are listening to feedback from you, our partners, and doing what we can to help.”
The Details: The deferments and changes are extensive.
> Teams Online Service Usage Incentive: Microsoft is increasing the incentive payout at the 15% level for qualified entitlements for non-FastTrak partners, and adding an incentive for the lowest qualified entitlement.
> Competency and Certification Extensions: Microsoft is delaying the renewal of many competency certifications. Partners with renewal dates between Jan. 1 and June 30 will have until their next anniversary date in 2021 to update their competencies. Microsoft is also extending the audits and certifications for Azure Expert MSPs until the second half of the year. And partners scheduled to renew their Azure advanced specializations before June 30 will have until June 2021 to update their standing.
> Cloud Business Application Competency Delayed: Partners participating in the Cloud Business Application competency program will have until April 1, 2021, to comply with their Partner Contribution Indicators scoring. The requirement for demonstrating the baseline Functional Consultant metric is delayed until Oct. 1, 2020.
> Other Training Exams and Certifications: Microsoft is making more of its training available online, waiving registration and scheduling fees, and extending training voucher expiration dates to ensure partners get the skills-building they need.
> Partner Agreement Enforcement: Microsoft is delaying the enforcement of its Microsoft Partner Agreement requirements. A new date for enforcement to begin hasn’t been set. The delayed enforcement means noncompliant partners can continue to transact with Microsoft.
> Marketing Resources: Microsoft is adding more marketing and go-to-market resources in its portal, giving solution providers more resources for out-of-the-box campaigns to develop sales opportunities.
More details are available through the various programs in the Microsoft Partner Community portal.
The Impact: Microsoft’s intention with the program changes, postponed deadlines, and deferred enforcement policies is to give its partners one less thing to worry about during the pandemic crisis.
Background: Microsoft implemented the program delays and enhancements after receiving feedback from partners that the pandemic was hampering their compliance ability. Solution providers around the world are grappling with capacity issues caused by the spike in demand for IT support. Likewise, many MSPs are beginning to feel the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 disruptions.
The Buzz: “For decades, Microsoft partners have been at the center of how we deliver technologies and business transformation to customers,” wrote Schuster in her blog post. “Today, more than ever, we need to collaborate and co-innovate to meet those customers’ needs. For our part, that means ensuring that we’re giving you the support you need in the weeks and months to come,”