REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 26, 2007 — Microsoft announces that its community of 2.2 million Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) will now receive new benefits that will help them successfully deploy and support new technologies through increased access to internal Microsoft resources and networking with their peers.
Lutz Ziob, General Manager, Microsoft Learning
The new MCP benefits are being introduced as Microsoft is gearing up to launch Windows Server 2008 and customers are already taking advantage of the readiness resources available.
”As new technology is released, Microsoft is investing in unique benefits for MCPs that provide ongoing value that will help them improve their performance on the job while distinguishing themselves from their peers,” says Lutz Ziob, general manager of Microsoft Learning.
The new benefits are the latest in a series of evolutionary changes in the new generation of Microsoft’s certifications designed to help technical professionals adopt and deploy technology. The new MCP program features include:
Knowledge Base Access – MCPs now have access to the extensive partner-level Microsoft Product Support Knowledge Base, previously accessible only to Microsoft partners and Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), including exclusive technical information not available to the general public. This deeper level of Knowledge Base access provides MCPs with an inside track on important technical issues that will make them more valuable to their peers and employers.
MCP Member Directory search – MCPs will be able to locate their peers within a city, state or country for professional networking, mentoring and community involvement.
MCP Community Profiles – MCPs worldwide can build and maintain their personal landing page on the Microsoft.com Web site to help drive community interaction and increase their visibility within the worldwide community. MCPs define who can access their community profile by worldwide public, MCP peers or Microsoft only.
Transcript Manager – All credentials earned are now combined into one transcript, which can be downloaded in both XPS and PDF formats for easier saving and sharing. Enhanced transcripts match the look and feel of the new generation certificates and MCPs can forward transcripts directly to their managers.
Certificate Manager – MCPs can now download redesigned, high-resolution Microsoft certifications in both XPS and PDF file formats within days of achieving new credentials.
Logo Manager – MCPs can continue to download from the library of Microsoft certification logos for use in their resumes, Web sites and business communications.
The new benefits continue to build value MCPs receive from certification while enabling organizations to more effectively market the skills of their team members to clients.
“Microsoft certification gives you a way to connect with Microsoft because of the MCP program,” says James Kovacs, a Microsoft MVP – Visual Developer, Solutions Architect. “You start getting the newsletter and seeing what other people are doing with certifications and what other training opportunities are out there. It’s a career builder.”
The value of certification
The ability to promote the skills obtained through certification is important as more organizations understand the value that certified IT professionals bring to their teams.
A survey conducted by IDC and sponsored by Microsoft studied the organizational performance of 1,200 IT teams, examining the relationship of team performance to the percentage of the team certified by Microsoft on a variety of technologies. The study concluded that certification correlated positively to organizational performance improvements.
In both general service excellence and specific measures of task-level performance, certification made a measurable impact:
75 percent of managers believe that certifications are important to team performance;
Team performance increases every time a new team member is certified;
When you increase the concentration of Microsoft certified members on a team, you directly improve team performance;
Top performing teams on average have between 40 and 55 percent certified Microsoft members who are trained on relevant Microsoft technologies and processes.
“Having certified professionals on staff makes a very positive impression when companies sell to their clients,” says Manoj Agarwal, senior software engineer at Microsoft and a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer in Windows development and Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist in BizTalk Server and SQL Server. “Organizations can use certifications to win clients and showcase all their skills and capabilities through the number of certified professionals they have.”
The IDC study concludes: “It is clear that every increase in team skill improves organizational performance. So, this research demonstrates that for each new team member certified, team performance increases.” In fact, having a sufficient number of team members certified increases IT organizational performance by an average of 11 percent.
“Certification helps to quantify specific skill sets of team members and shows that they are willing to start and follow through with something,” says Pat Birkeland, infrastructure specialist for Avanade, a global IT consultancy. “From a career perspective, certification is a great way to quantify your experience. Anyone can walk into an interview and say ‘I can do x, y, and z,’ but if you can walk in and show that Microsoft says you can do it, you instantly have more credibility.”
Opens new ideas, options
Certified IT professionals bring a higher degree of creative problem solving to organizations because of their exposure to a broader base of information and ideas.
“When preparing for exams, you can’t be squirreled away in your own little niche,” Kovacs says. “In taking exams you have to have a broad familiarity of the technology that you’re certifying on. That’s a real benefit.”
Certifications serve as a good tool to provide a proven program for personal skills development.
“One of the benefits I see in certifying is a focused way to introduce yourself to a new technology,” Birkeland says. “In my company we are always implementing new Microsoft technologies and certification is a good way to have a solid foundation when supporting these new technologies.”
For managers, certifications are an effective tool that improves their staff’s skills and motivation.
“As a manager, it’s something that’s very easy to suggest,” Kovacs says. “‘You’ve been doing a lot of work with ASP.NET, have you thought about getting certified as a Web developer?’ It’s a good way to manage career paths, learn skills and gives you some assurance as a manager.”
New tools for MCPs
The enhanced benefits of the MCP program align perfectly with the needs of MCPs today. They provide the resources to effectively promote their skills to their companies, clients and peers. With access to the Microsoft Product Support Internal Knowledge Base, they can advance their technical knowledge to implement and support Microsoft technology, providing more value to their organizations. And, the community allows MCPs to build connections around the world—supporting themselves and their organizations in an increasingly global IT market.
1 IDC White Paper sponsored by Microsoft, Value of Certification: Team Certification and Organizational Performance, Doc #204360, Nov 2006