Questions? We have answers

Learn about Solutions Partner designations and specializations, legacy competencies, and key timelines. Review the frequently asked questions (FAQ) below—or download the full list.

FAQ

How is Microsoft simplifying partner offerings?
We’re simplifying how we help partners differentiate their services solution capabilities and proven experience meeting customer needs. That’s why we’ve introduced Solutions Partner designations, which are anchored on the Microsoft Cloud in six solution areas aligned to how Microsoft goes to market: Data & AI (Azure), Infrastructure (Azure), Digital & App Innovation (Azure), Business Applications, Modern Work, and Security. This new model provides two qualifying levels: Solutions Partner, and specialist/expert.
When did these changes happen?
As of September 30, 2022, legacy competencies and associated badging are no longer valid. However, if you had a competency by that date, you will retain your benefits. Starting on October 3, 2022, Solutions Partner designations are available for partners to attain.
Do I lose my existing benefits as a result of these changes?
No. As part of these changes, we're not removing the benefits you receive that are aligned to legacy competencies already attained. Going forward, there are new benefits aligned to the Solutions Partner designations, and partners who attain the new designations will have a choice between moving to the new benefits or keeping their legacy benefits.
What is a Solutions Partner designation?

A Solutions Partner designation differentiates partners with broad technical capabilities, a dedication to skilling and training, and a proven ability to successfully deliver solutions for customers in specific Microsoft Cloud solution areas.

By attaining Solutions Partner designations, you set your organization apart from the competition by validating your breadth of skills and knowledge in solution areas aligned to how Microsoft goes to market. That’s valuable for you because it’s where we see high customer demand, and where the opportunity is for partners to scale to meet customer needs.

The six designations will be Solutions Partner for Data & AI (Azure), Digital & App Innovation (Azure), Infrastructure (Azure), Business Applications, Modern Work, and Security.

Are competencies going away?
Yes. September 30, 2022 was the last day for partners to renew competencies. From October 2022, competencies will no longer be valid, meaning that badges have gone away and competencies will not be promoted by Microsoft. Partners will retain benefits from legacy competencies until their next anniversary date.
What is the difference between the partner capability score and the Partner Contribution Indicator score used to attain the Cloud Business Applications competency?
A Partner Contribution Indicator (PCI) score has seven key indicators used to assess your progress toward attaining or retaining a legacy Cloud Business Applications competency only. With the introduction of Solutions Partner designations, a PCI will no longer be used. We are using a new holistic measurement—the partner capability score—which measures performance, skilling, and customer success categories aligned to each solution area.
What is the partner capability score and how does it measure my progress toward attaining a Solutions Partner designation?

A Solutions Partner designation has a holistic measurement framework, the partner capability score, which measures performance, skilling, and customer success. So, it’s not just what you know, it’s how you apply that knowledge to what you do for customers every day. This holistic measurement provides your organization the flexibility needed to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and experience.

To attain a Solutions Partner designation, you will need to earn a minimum of 70 points (with points in each category and sub-category) out of the possible 100 points that are available.

For detailed partner capability score requirements for each Solutions Partner designation, please visit the training galleries on the Microsoft partner website:

Where can I view my points toward a Solutions Partner designation?

Administrators can sign into the Solutions Partner page in Partner Center to learn how their organization is progressing toward attaining a Solutions Partner designation.

What if I do not have the 70 points required to attain a Solutions Partner designation?

If your organization does not have the 70 points required to attain a Solutions Partner designation, you can sign into the Solutions Partner page in Partner Center for guidance on how you can improve your score in each of the categories: performance, skilling, and customer success.

Why don’t I qualify to attain a Solutions Partner designation even though I have 70 points?

A minimum of 70 points out of the maximum 100 possible points are required to attain a Solutions Partner designation. Partners need to have points in all subcategories to qualify.

Can all types of partners (for example, ISV partners, services partners, learning partners, device partners) attain a Solutions Partner designation?

Solutions Partner designations are primarily for partners providing services, but all partners are welcome to participate in Solutions Partner designations and our broader partner program that offers additional benefits.

For example, to help ISVs stand out in a crowded market, we’re actively designing new ways to distinguish partners in areas with high customer demand for software solutions, and we expect to launch these partner offerings in 2023.

We encourage all partners—whether you’re building services solutions, software solutions, or device solutions—to learn more about Solutions Partner designations and determine if they’re the right choice for your business.

I’m an ISV. How does partnering with Microsoft help me?

At Microsoft, we design offerings, tools, and resources for all partners. Whether you build or sell services, software solutions, or devices, our partner-focused business platform opens the door to the Microsoft ecosystem of opportunities to foster your growth and success on the Microsoft Cloud. To better support any ISV that wants to work with us, we’re investing in programs, resources, and initiatives that meet you where you are. Find out more about how we’re supporting ISV partners today.

I’m an indirect provider. How does partnering with Microsoft help me and the resellers I work with?

Microsoft provides support to all partners, including your resellers.

  • Resellers can partner with Microsoft to attain designations.
  • If you have a direct-to-customer business for your services, software solutions, or devices, our partner-focused business platform unlocks the Microsoft ecosystem of resources, tools, and opportunities to support your success on the Microsoft Cloud.
  • To better recognize and support your work within your SSA business model as in indirect provider, we are planning to create a designation that recognizes the skill, capabilities, resources, and support provided by indirect providers to the resellers in your channels. We are also exploring avenues for making your reseller scores available to you—to help you better support and your resellers’ growth.

Indirect providers and resellers should refer to all materials and resources in the training gallery and in Partner Center to learn more about how they can benefit from a partnership with Microsoft.

Why should I attain a Solutions Partner designation?
Customers want to work with partners who have the right skills, capabilities, and demonstrated experience to meet their needs. By attaining a Solutions Partner designation, you clearly demonstrate your commitment to skilling and training while highlighting the successful solutions you are building and delivering that drive customer success. You will also demonstrate your organization’s breadth of capabilities in solution areas aligned to how Microsoft goes to market.
What is the fee to attain a Solutions Partner designation?
The annual fee to attain a Solutions Partner designation is $4,730 USD (or equivalent, local fees vary). This fee is aligned to the fees to attain a legacy gold competency. For partners who had a legacy competency as of September 30, 2022, and plan to attain a Solutions Partner designation, the existing anniversary date (listed on the membership page in Partner Center) will continue to serve as the due date for the annual required benefits fee. For example, if you choose the Solutions Partner designation benefits, you will pay an annual fee of $4,730 USD (or equivalent, local fees vary) aligned to the legacy gold competency fee. If you choose to retain the legacy benefits (benefits you received based on the legacy competency you held on September 30, 2022), you will pay a fee aligned to your legacy silver or gold competency fee (local fees vary). You can choose to attain one Solutions Partner designation, or more, if applicable to your business. Once you attain a Solutions Partner designation, subsequent Solutions Partner designations can be attained, after requirements are met, with no additional fee.
How did Microsoft advanced specializations change, and what are the benefits associated with specializations and expert programs?

Advanced specializations became specializations on October 3, 2022. If you attain a Solutions Partner designation, specializations further validate and differentiate your deep technical experience and expertise. Specializations demonstrate your ability to deliver project-based services related to specific technical scenarios aligned to the solution areas and with how we go to market. Earning a specialization strengthens and differentiates you from your competition in areas with high customer demand. We are also introducing new badges to download from Logo Builder and display on your business profile in the Microsoft AppSource partner gallery as well as benefits, including prioritized ranking in the commercial marketplace, evaluation for active cooperative selling opportunities with Microsoft field sellers, and more. To learn more about how specialization benefits can help you achieve business goals, please visit the benefits guide on the Microsoft partner website.

If you had an active advanced specialization on October 3, 2022, it automatically transitioned to a specialization. Legacy gold competencies are no longer valid, and Solutions Partner designations are prerequisites to earn specializations.