Wednesday 7 July 2010

Microsoft Small Business Specialist Program Is Alive And Well – It Emphasises The Need For Training and Certification!

When we went through the changes in the Microsoft Partner Program and renewed last June, our Microsoft Small Business Specialist designation disappeared from our Microsoft Partner Portal company profile.

It took a bit of digging around to see what was up since my MCTS designation is based on the SBS 2008 exam and thus current.

It turned out that I needed to retake the Microsoft Partner online MSBS “exam” to regain our designation.

After passing the Partner based exam around a month ago, we received this today:


That little blue logo has done great things for our company since we were first qualified back when the program started.

Most of our clients knew that the next e-mail or communication to go out after our Small Business Specialist designation announcement e-mail was a rate increase. When we did enter into discussions, not one of our clients put up any resistance to our proposed increases.

Our clients valued the ongoing skill set improvement and what that meant for their own business in the IT solutions we were and are providing them. It meant _more money_ for them.

Real Experience

There is no replacement for the combination of specialised certification tied into practical real-world experience. By real-world we mean _actually working with the products_ and not working via some sort of PSA (Bing search) troubleshooting script.

PSA script based troubleshooting the tech does not make. Putting the solutions together, breaking them, putting them back together again, and so on makes a tech worth hiring.

One of the questions we used to ask any potential technicians was how many systems were running at home. If they answered less that two or three we disqualified them. Home theatre PCs and gaming machines did not count BTW.

Now we ask them how many virtualized systems are they running and what hardware infrastructure was being used to provide VM performance as well as its failover capabilities.

If we sense a passion and inquisitiveness around the hardware and software products the potential technician has touched in some way, then we place a high value on that.

My Experience

When I was single and working for one of the best IT employers I had ever worked for across any of the industries I have had my hands in (late 90s), it was not uncommon for me to start at 6AM and finish sometime around 8-10PM on a daily basis.

Every once in a while I would go through a friend refresh cycle, but I just kept at it both for my employer and on my own. I loved what I was doing . . . and still do to this day.

I now have Monique to keep a handle on the time I put into building our business and developing my skill set, but my days are still in-office/on-site 0600Hrs to 1800Hrs six days a week with some evenings being required too. Sundays are mandatory family days! ;)


Essentially, as was mentioned in yesterday’s blog post New to IT- Some Certification Advice Offered, if we are not willing to put in the time and effort to develop our professional skill set, then we should not expect anyone to pay us to just toe the line.

Vlad won’t do it, neither will we.Vlad’s response to yesterday’s post was Certification Path where he says:

  • Follow the money.
    • Where is IT investment dollars being spent?
  • What can you do with your certification if your labor is not in demand?
    • Can you go into business with your current skill set if there is a loss of employment?

And, to quote directly from his post:

I’ll be honest that in my hiring, the one thing that stands out the most is progression. I want people that have been involved in all things that have come to the front of the technology because I know that the skills you have now will soon be obsolete. Are you  table to quickly learn the new material? Are you someone that can figure things out, or do you need solid documentation and training before you can manage?

His follow up post is a good read.

We both offer advice and direction on how to make it in our industry, and like us, it is a decision that needs to be made to _run with it as smart and as hard as possible_. There is no compromise.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*Our original iMac was stolen (previous blog post). We now have a new MacBook Pro courtesy of Vlad Mazek, owner of OWN.

Windows Live Writer

No comments: