This is the second 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 Solutions Partner designations for Modern Work, Security, and Azure on the Microsoft Partner Blog.

Update October 3, 2022: We’ve adjusted the requirements for Solutions Partner for Business Applications , providing further opportunity for SMB partners to qualify. We’ve replaced “Other” and “Larger” market classifications with two paths – “Enterprise” and “SMB” that enable SMB partners to invest in their area of business. Learn more about the qualification requirements by reviewing the resources available in the Solutions Partner for Business Applications designation training gallery or review the requirements for your partner capability score in Partner Center.

As recently announced, we are evolving the Microsoft Partner Network into the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program to help all partners build your capabilities, meet customers’ digital transformation needs, unlock new customers, and scale to new markets. This transformation involves a realignment of legacy competencies to new Solutions Partner designations and specializations, which will help customers easily identify partners with the technical capabilities and experiences they need. These designations also come with updated benefits packages for partners that include product benefits (including internal use licenses), go-to-market services, customer-facing badging, technical presales and deployment services, technical support, and more.

Over the next few months, business leaders will be presenting blogs on each of these new partner designations to help you prepare for the October 3 change-over. Today, I’ll explore the new Business Applications partner designation, highlighting its opportunity, benefits, and available resources. I’ve also included a brief timeline of changes at the end of this blog to help you plan your path forward.

Introducing the new Business Applications designation

The new Business Applications designation is a great opportunity for partners who provide consultation, deployment, or ongoing management services for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform. This significantly simplifies the existing Business Applications solution area and offers more strategic alignment with customer demand. Like the rest of our new designations, it gives customers a way to identify you as a partner who is committed to training and accreditation and has delivered solutions, in this case with Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.

The following legacy competencies map to the new Business Applications designation:

  • Cloud Business Applications 
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) 
  • Project and Portfolio 
  • Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions (specific to Business Central)

If you hold any of these silver or gold competencies, attaining the Solutions Partner for Business Applications designation is the best way to ensure your organization continues to stand out against the competition. You’ll also have the opportunity to move to the new Solutions Partner designation benefits, which include product benefits (including internal use licenses), as well as other familiar benefits such as go-to-market services and resources, support and more, in addition to incremental benefits specific to each designation. If you don’t meet the requirements for the Solutions Partner designation, you’ll also be able to pay a fee and retain your legacy competency benefits.

 “We strive to make organizations successful”, says Rob Eskes, Principal Digital Specialist at Macaw. “To do this, we believe it is important to keep our level of knowledge at the highest level, to continuously look ahead, to join forces, and to offer convenience and fun. As a holder of various gold and silver competencies and advanced specializations, including the Low Code Application Development, we are therefore very pleased that Microsoft is simplifying its partner program to provide more consistency, allowing customers to benefit from greater convenience and allowing us to further differentiate ourselves in the market. We look forward to leveraging the new Solutions Partner for Business Applications designation and associated specializations to continue our focus on knowledge development, differentiate our ability to drive success, and add value to our customers with Power Platform.”

Understanding the partner capability score

The Partner Contribution Indicator (PCI) currently used for Business Applications-related competencies is becoming the partner capability score, which measures performance, skilling, and customer success aligned with each solution area. To attain a Solutions Partner designation, partners need to earn a minimum of 70 points (with points in each sub-category) out of the possible 100 points that are available.

  • 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.

Partner capability score: Alignment across the Microsoft Cloud

Global and MPN partner 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 from October 3 will automatically attain the Solutions Partner for Business Applications designation and receive customer-facing badging. Then, at your next anniversary 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 legacy competency benefits.

The new partner capability score incorporates several improvements that our Business Applications partners have asked for:

  • Partners can now get credit for Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agent, and Business Central.
  • Partners receive credit not only for net new customer adds, but for also expanding into new workloads with existing customers.
  • Usage metrics have been adjusted to give credit for non-user-based consumption such as Customer Insights profiles.
  • Partners will now receive credit for taking solution architect expert certifications.

Understanding specializations

Once 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 only available with Solutions Partner benefits and cannot be added to legacy 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 towards Solutions Partner for Business Applications, there are a few key dates to be aware of:

  • September 30, 2022: The last date to renew a legacy competency. From October 3, legacy competencies will no longer be valid, however the benefits associated with said legacy competencies will continue until your next anniversary date. 
  • October 3, 2022: Solutions Partner designations are available to attain. If you meet the requirements, you will attain the Solutions Partner designation immediately and receive the customer-facing badging. We will continue to make benefits available to you to help you attain Solutions Partner designations. Legacy competencies and associated badging will no longer be valid, but partners that have attained a competency by September 30, 2022, will continue to receive legacy benefits until their next anniversary date.
  • On a partner's first anniversary 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 plot your path to transitioning to the new designations and read partners' frequently asked questions. We will be holding a Business Applications MPC partner hour on April 27, 2022 for you to hear more about these changes (NOTE: requires sign in to MPC). If your organization plans to pursue the Solutions Partner for Business Applications, check out the Business Applications Partner Sales Acceleration Program for trainings that can help strengthen your competitive edge. Additional resources for the Solutions Partner Business Applications designation are available here:

You can read more about what these changes mean for Microsoft Business Applications partners on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 blog. We will continue to explore the new Solutions Partner designations alongside other elements of the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program here on the Partner Blog, so keep checking back in as we progress toward October 3. These changes will empower us to continue to succeed together, and I’m excited to continue evolving our partnership.  


Related blogs

Share article