When the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program officially launches on October 3, it will bring fresh benefits for partners and a renewed focus on the cloud. As part of this evolution, we’re introducing Solutions Partner designations anchored on the Microsoft Cloud in six solution areas aligned to how Microsoft goes to market:  Business Applications, Data &AI (Azure), Infrastructure (Azure), Digital & App Innovation (Azure), Modern Work, and Security. We’re also introducing new partner benefits aligned to the Solutions Partner designations, incremental benefits for partners who earn a specialization in addition to attaining the Solutions Partner designation, and new customer-facing badging for both designations. 

For partner organizations wanting to attain a Solutions Partner designation, the partner capability score is key. Partners will need to earn a minimum of 70 points, with points in each subcategory across customer success, skilling and performance. To make sure your organization is receiving the points you’ve earned, it’s important to make sure you have the right associations in place. Partner associations are how you give Microsoft visibility into the work you’re doing. Certified professional associations are how you give Microsoft visibility into the certifications individuals in your company have earned. Partner associations are the sole mechanism by which points are acknowledged and calculated towards attaining Solutions Partner designation(s). Without these associations in place, partner capability score points are not recognized. I’ve summarized the associations below and you can find out more details in the Partner associations playbook.  

Customer associations 

Claiming Partner of Record (CPOR) This association connects a partner to a customer tenant and workload based on a claim that the partner submits. Partners submit claims at the workload level via Partner Center, and claims are validated by Microsoft and the customer. CPOR applies to Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365.  

Partner Admin Link (PAL) Using PAL, partners can associate their MPN ID with the credentials used for service delivery whenever they act on behalf of the customer to manage, configure and support Azure and Business Application services (Power Platform and Customer Insights). Unique to PAL is that it allows for different partners to get recognized for the same customer engagement. Partners can be associated to the same workloads, and both get ‘credit’. 

Digital Partner of Record (DPOR) Digital Partner of Record (DPOR) is an online capability for customers to attach a servicing partner to their Microsoft cloud subscription. To recognize the partner for that work, the customer adds the partner’s MPN ID to the subscription via the customer’s service portal. DPOR applies to Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Azure.  

Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) When a partner sells through the Cloud Solution Provider program, the CSP association type is automatically applied. 

Customer association alignment to Solutions Partner designations  

Certified professional certifications 

As customer organizations continue along their digital transformation, having a partner who specializes in the latest technology is invaluable. Not only do certified professionals bring the necessary technical skills, research shows that IT professionals who have achieved a relevant technical certification bring a “growth mindset” to their work that drives innovation and learning. 

To communicate your credentials to Microsoft and potential customers, all partners should ensure that that relevant certifications held by employees are linked to your profile (and make this a key action for onboarding any new employees too). Employees with certifications should be added to your Partner Center account by your Partner Center Admin, then associated employees should log into Partner Center to complete the association process. Once an employee is associated, their certifications will apply to your company.  

Microsoft certifications are tied to an individual’s learning accounts, and their skilling and certifications follow them when they switch companies.  

Between now and October 3, all partners should take these three steps to make sure they have the right associations in place to get the partner capability score points your organization has earned:  

  1. Review the requirements for the Solutions Partner designation you want to attain 
  1. Ensure you have the proper partner associations in place 
  1. Associate certifications earned by individuals in your organization with your company's account in Partner Center 

For more information on which associations are right for you and additional steps to maximize your Partner Capability score, explore the partner associations playbook, now available to all partners. As we advance to the full changeover to the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, we will continue to provide you with information and resources to drive business growth via partner channels. 


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