When it came to renewing our Microsoft Gold Partner status this year, it was refreshingly difficult! After some gruelling exams, we’re proud to be “new” Gold for NAV (Navision). TVision is currently the only 100% NAV Gold partner serving London and the South East. At TVision, we’ve long been cynical of the old Gold Partner status. The old system focused more on the ability of partners to sell licences than to keep customers happy. Gold for Microsoft didn’t necessarily equate to a golden experience for the end user. Sure there were some exams, but Dynamics partners pretty much passed by default and it was only the very small partners who struggled to attain the gild. With so much Gold it soon lost its value, Microsoft recognised the challenges and announced a new structure for the Microsoft Partner Network. Microsoft did two key things: they introduced a Silver level and they differentiated between competencies. Under the old system, all that glittered was not Gold. A Gold badge did not necessarily mean a Gold standard for all the services the partner offered (at TVision it’s simple as we only focus on NAV so you know where our strengths are!). To reach Gold we needed to prove we can sell, implement and keep clients happy. (We also had to battle with the on-line registration and its inability to recognise exam success but that’s another rant. Suffice to say that Microsoft Service Centre were extremely helpful.) Client happiness is measured by references, participation in the Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSAT) and percentage of renewals. The system is still not perfect, although the badges show the Gold competency (ERP clearly defined from CRM). It does not compel the partner to disclose which products they excel in. Participation in CSAT is a tick box and there’s no bench marking. This means a negative survey would still count towards a Gold certification. We are proud to be Gold; although the system does have imperfections we’re encouraged that Microsoft is working towards improving standards. At the end of the day, no badge should mean a short cut in diligence. If you’re working with a partner who offers more than one Dynamics ERP solution it’s worth asking which products they scored Gold in for which offices / countries. Not sure you can rely on the answer and would be interested if Microsoft would confirm. Best way would be to ask the Partner to show you their Partner Membership Centre as proof. We’ll happily show you ours, introduce you to the Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs, i.e. the people who passed the exams) and provide reference visits.