Microsoft will soon release a new certification specific to consultants in it’s ecosystem. It will be called the Microsoft SharePoint Drivers License or MSDL. The MSDL, due out in January of 2012, will separate the real specialists from the pretenders and ensure that customers work with qualified individuals.
Okay, this isn’t true as I have yet to take up my position at Microsoft.
On a serious note, don’t you think this is a great idea? Microsoft recently changed their partner model from “Partner & Gold Partner” to “Partner with Competencies”. This new approach has really given the customer a far better metric to determine whether or not the partner they are engaging with is “competent” to deliver services in the relevant area. For example, for SharePoint (Portals & Collaboration), a partner would need at least 2 Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists (SharePoint Configuring / Development) plus customer references to get to a Silver competency. For Gold, the criteria steps up a little to 4 MCTSs, a number of customer references and a completed CSAT survey.
I went a large part of my initial career without ever being certified in SharePoint. I simply flew by with on the job experience, a tireless work ethic and a true love for the technology. Looking back, had their been a license or equivalent procedure in place, I believe I would have benefited hugely from it.
What about Microsoft Certification?
Microsoft certification is good to have, don’t get me wrong, but when I interview, certifications don’t carry the most weight in my review of a candidates suitability for the role. It’s “who they work for"?”, “what have they done?” and for “how long?”.
I come across too many “certified” individuals that haven’t really gotten the job done and have simply studied for the test, but have no practical experience.
Enter the Microsoft SharePoint Drivers License
I haven’t thought through the entire process just yet, but on a high level, a MSDL could comprise of 4 main categories, for example:
- Certifications: Denotes a good understanding of theoretical side of the product
- Customer References: Will highlight that you’ve actually got practical experience in a particular area
- Employer References: Will underscore your work ethic, dedication and character.
- Community Endorsement: The community often knows the true ability of individuals and this endorsement will carry a lot of weight. Also, no newcomers will simply get a community endorsement, so only the experienced “SharePointers” will get this prestigious tick in the box.
For example, to get a silver drivers license, you could be certified with 1 customer reference and 1 employer reference. For gold the numbers go up and so on. Perhaps we sneak in a platinum for those recognised by the community.
Customers now have a great metric to rate partners against, but how do they rate the staff that is assigned to their site? The MSDL will level the playing field and remove all the noise out of the system.
As noted before, I come across A LOT of “certified” and “experience” “consultants” (quotations used for affect) that simply cannot hold a conversation with even a half decent SharePoint professional. Why is it then that they are in the ecosystem and continue to deliver services to customers at exorbitant rates? The answer is simple, certifications are not taken that seriously and there is no other objective metric system in place for consultants.
Where to from here?
Hopefully this will spark a little bit of chatter around the community. I’m not sure where certification is going, but I believe that there should be an additional metric whereby ALL individuals in the ecosystem get measured. A multiple choice test once every 3 years is simply not good enough.