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How to survive partnership renewal in the new Microsoft Partner Center

If you managed the Microsoft partner relationship for your company, you know what the old Microsoft Partner Portal was like.  Every time I had to use it, I cried.  Microsoft recognized the problem and has come out with a brand new Partner Center.  While ultimately, the transition is a good thing, making the transition can be a bit bumpy.  Our partnership was up for renewal on 2/28/2018, so I had the distinct pleasure of requalifying our competencies on the new system

Shift from Microsoft Account to Azure Active Directory

In the old partner center, you logged in with your personal Microsoft Account.  This made sense to a degree because these are the same accounts that your consultants are using for Microsoft Learning and to take their exams.  Now everything is tied to your Azure Active Directory.  When you log into the old partner portal, you will be notified of the transition to the new partner center and it will tell you everything you need to make the transition.  It might be a bit more than you expected.

Global Administrator Credentials Required

That's right.  To make the change you need to be a global administrator of your Azure Active Directory.  For a small company like mine, that's no problem.  For a company with 5000 consultants, this is going to be an issue for you.  You are going to have to track that person down and convince he or she that you need to go through this process.  Good luck with all of that.

Where did all of my competencies and benefits go?

That's right they are gone in the new Partner Center.  When you click on Partnership -> Benefits, you will get a message that says:

Benefits are not available yet.

Awesome.  Will they be available soon?  Do I come back later?  No you have no benefits, because you lost all of your competencies in this process.  Why did you lose all of your competencies?  That's because of the change to Azure Active Directory.

Importing Users

When you click on View Users, you won't see the people in your org that have passed exams and associated themselves with your organization.  instead, you will see everything in your Azure Active Directory. 

Now, if you weren't on Azure Active Directory yet, this makes things even more interesting.  We were actually in the process of moving from G Suite to Office 365.  We had an Azure Active Directory because of some Azure subscriptions, but none of our users were there yet.   Well, the Partner Center has created a process to create new accounts for any of your users associated in the old partner portal.  You just have to know where to find it.  On the User Management page, look for the link Add users using PMC data.  That's obvious right?

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 8.18.33 AM

On the next screen, it will show you what the account conversion process looks like and you have the opportunity to update account names.  When you continue, each user will get an e-mail with their account information just like the one from Office 365 when a new account is created.

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 8.31.40 AM

Action Required - Link your Microsoft Learning Account

Your competencies are gone because there is no association between the old Microsoft Accounts of your consultants and their Azure Active Directory accounts.  Each user must log into the Partner Center URL below and then click on My Profile.  Then they have to click Associate next to Your Microsoft Learning account.

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 8.44.12 AM

https://partnercenter.microsoft.com/

After they do that, any exams they have completed will start counting for your competencies.  However, it may take up to 24 hours for them to show up.  For a small organization, this might not be a big deal.  For a large organization, you may have to have hundreds (or even thousands) of people complete this process.  Good luck with that!

Completing Your Competencies

The Partner Center will automatically assign users to the relevant competencies. 

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 8.49.54 AM

However, if you are in the middle of qualifying for a particular competency, it's not obvious that people with their certifications are counting towards the competency until you have completed it.  Take a look at the example below.  We're in the middle of qualifying for Gold, but it doesn't show it.

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 8.47.54 AM

In fact, it will only show it once you achieve it.  What's even more confusing is that on the main page, it will list it as "Not Started".  The only way to see what exams are actually counting for what is to click on the Download Skills Report link at the top.  This will give you a CSV file that has the name of each MCP in your org, what exam they have passes, and what competency it counts for.

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 8.51.29 AM

Old SharePoint Exams still count

Even though they aren't on the list, my SharePoint 2013 exams have qualified our org for the Cloud Productivity competency. 

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 9.17.24 AM

No Customer References Required

Missing in the new Partner Center is the process that tracks customer references.  You no longer appear to need this to get your partnership.  I can't say I am missing this one bit.

Getting your benefits

Again, to access your benefits in the new portal, you have to requalify all of your competencies.  Otherwise, you have to access your benefits using the old portal.  Once you do qualify and you pay your fees for whatever partner levels you are purchasing, you can access your benefits from this portal.  It comes with benefits for Software, Cloud, Visual Studio Subscriptions, and Technical Benefits (Support).  You get licenses for a variety of software that you likely don't need any more with the shift to the cloud.  However, it does cover your Windows 10 licenses. For Silver, you get 10 Visual Studio Enterprise subscriptions.  Here is what the cloud benefits look like.

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 8.53.41 AM

Although we ran into a few snags along the way, I do think the new Partner Center is a good thing.  It's way easier to use and the change to Azure Active Directory makes a lot of sense.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Corey Roth

Corey Roth, a SharePoint Server MVP, is an independent consultant specializing in Cloud technologies such as Azure and Office 365. He also specializes in mobile development. Corey serves as the product manager for two cloud-first mobile app platforms: BrewZap and HappenZap.

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