Sage To Clarify 2011-2012 Certification Requirements For Sage ERP MAS90 and 200 Partners, Consultants

Sage is scheduled to review their partner and consultant MAS90 and MAS200 certification process for 2011-2012 today in a conference call.

While the advance details make this call appear to be primarily about their consultant program,  which authorizes consulting but not reselling of Sage ERP MAS90 and 200, I think the agenda is likely to become a little more broad.

In reading through the June 2011 Sage ERP MAS90 and MAS200 v4.5 Pre-Release Guide  I noticed the following:

 The certification for 4.5 will include classes to provide all necessary information so that Sage Business Partners can provide customers with flexibility in their choice of Sage ERP MAS 90, 200 or 200 SQL. Certification for 4.5 will also be simplified ─ we will no longer require separate certification for Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200, Sage ERP MAS 200 SQL, and Extended Enterprise Suite. Version 4.5 certification will include all the new features and functionality in 4.5, installing SageCRM, configuring the SageCRM and MAS integration, understanding the integration points, and effectively using the features. It will also include installing and implementing Sage ERP MAS 200 SQL 4.5, and upgrading 3.x SQL customers to 4.5.

What’s it all mean?

 

At first I wasn’t sure exactly what they were going to discuss – though after reading the pre-release guide for MAS90 v4.5 I think that it’s likely they will require some hefty classroom training going forward.

From what I can read it appears you will need to certify in:

– SQL
– SageCRM
– Migration
– MAS90/200 v4.5

It does not appear that you will be able to only take parts of the certification and rely on someone else for others (this is just my take after reading the What’s New Guide for MAS90 v4.5 — see page 24 which I’ve linked below)

From the guide:

The certification for 4.5 will include classes to provide all necessary information so that Sage
Business Partners can provide customers with flexibility in their choice of Sage ERP MAS 90, 200 or 200 SQL.

Certification for 4.5 will also be simplified ─ we will no longer require separate certification
for Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200, Sage ERP MAS 200 SQL, and Extended Enterprise Suite.

Version 4.5 certification will include all the new features and functionality in 4.5, installing SageCRM, configuring the SageCRM and MAS integration, understanding the integration points, and effectively using the features. It will also include installing and implementing Sage ERP MAS 200 SQL 4.5, and upgrading 3.x SQL customers to 4.5.

If I am reading and interpreting this properly — we’ll all be looking at a rather lengthy certification course which probably means the days of passing the tests by reading the manual are long gone.

Anyone interpret this differently?

UPDATE: Here are my notes from the discussion:

Essentially what Sage seems to be trying to do is get more customers to sign up for phone support (more $$) directly from Sage.

Right now most of the customers get that support from VARS (who in turn are enrolled in unlimited plans with Sage) — which means few customers buy premium support from Sage and instead only subscribe to the level that provides for upgrades.

The change that Sage is implementing would drastically cut the support cases that partners can obtain (for most it would go from unlimited to 10 per year) — and instead the partner is expected to call in on the customer’s support plan (which implies that VARS are now upgrading clients to phone support — which is a higher level and cost than most customers now pay).

It didn’t sound all that well thought out but you can judge for yourself. The first half was primarily about certification/training. Sage didn’t start talking about support until the end which is when the chat started to heat up.

One of the more inflamed calls I’ve ever been on with Sage. Several partners had very pointed words and one even told Sage point blank they should be ashamed.

Ultimately I think this affects the bottom and top tiers of partner the most. The cutoff for whether you as a partner are affected is if you are using more than 10 support cases a year. Previously Sage would sell an unlimited partner plan – which many partners bought. Now that is gone and you can only pay for a bundle — 5 calls for $750. This seems like it would be most difficult for the bigger VARS to manage (assuming Sage doesn’t grant them an exception).

Developing….

3 Replies to “Sage To Clarify 2011-2012 Certification Requirements For Sage ERP MAS90 and 200 Partners, Consultants”

  1. I got the same take on that except I am not sure if you can spread the certifications out or not. For example, the tech guys get the SQL certs and the upgrade certs and our trainers do the training certs. If not, tough job getting trainers certified in installing SQL and configuring Outlook to work with Sage CRM.

    There also is no sales cert that I see or even a pre-sales cert, like there is for Sage Extended Enterprise. I also am a little confused by the fact that they are saying they are retiring using the term “extended Enterprise Suite” but continue to use it. Do you know yet if a “consultant” has a different burden than a “business partner”? Sort of like the Peachtree team does.

    1. I’m not sure what role Sage is planning for Consultants though I think they would like to clarify what benefits are available to partners who step back from selling to consulting.

      My guess is that Sage will just require the office to hold the certifications (SQL, CRM) though those certifications will not longer be optional as they were before.

      The Partner Advantage guide is available and it goes into a lot of detail about these questions. Any time I have a SaaS publisher come tell me how great and uncomplicated reselling SaaS will be I point out that it used to be that way with on premises publishers too…. and quote the # of pages in these guides that outline terms, conditions, etc….

      Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch…

  2. It certainly was a heated call and while I am still trying to figure out exactly how this will impact us, I found it (sadistically) entertaining how many people attending the call felt like Sage owed something to them. As one of the partners who step back from selling to consulting, I have always felt marginalized by Sage so I don’t really see this as a surprise. Perhaps it is just that we’ve always used far fewer than our allotted 100 calls per year.

    The paradox that seemed to present itself during the call was: how can Sage limit the number of calls *and* the Sage support team is worthless. How can you be upset at both? I can’t imagine our customers being satisfied with Sage support so I don’t think we will have a difficult time retain customers on Bronze plans.

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