Friday, January 11, 2008

Hello - is anyone in Redmond listening

I wrote on December 27th about the need to renew your Microsoft Partner Program for 2008. Little did I know just how painful the reference part of that process would be. I started right after the first of the year trying to enter new references because almost all of ours expire on 1-15-2008. Entry was pretty smooth but then the challenges set in. We sent out about a dozen references to get started and three or four were able to get them approved. But then the phone started to ring and customers were telling us it just didn't work. No matter what they tried - they kept getting this timeout message. We have learned the importance of contacting our customers to let them know that we are submitting a reference request and that they need to watch their email and respond. They tried - wasted time trying over and over - but it just didn't work. So I asked a couple of them to send me the email they were trying to respond to so I could try it. Surely my biggest vendor partner wouldn't ask my customers to use a site to do a favor for me that didn't work. But dog gone it - it didn't work and hasn't for days. We made the mistake before I figured it out of sending out the reminder request so I could pour gas on a fire and make it even a bigger issue. The customers tried again and viola - it still doesn't work. I don't mind looking bad when I cause my own issues. But when I am looking like an idiot because of my vendor partner - that just isn't fair. We are required to submit these things so we can participate in a partner program. My customers could care less and if not for the relationship, they would not spend a second doing this in the first place. But to have them try over and over because we need the references to have specializations and competencies is going too far.

I loved this question from one of my customers: "Is Microsoft running their site on Vista? If that is how it works I will wait a while longer to upgrade." C'mon Redmond. This stuff has to stop. Don't ask partners to do things that waste our time. And please, please don't ask our customers to do things that waste their time and make us look like morons.

Don't get me wrong, I have said many times that the partner program from Microsoft has come a long way. Unfortunately it has taken some big steps backward the last couple weeks.

Kevin Turner - if you are listening - this needs to be fixed or the current references just grandfathered for another year until someone can write the code so it works.

Allison Watson - I love your team and all the creative things you are doing - but this is killing us. As your partners you need to come to our rescue and just extend the references until this is fixed.

It should not have surprised anyone that the traffic hitting this site would be enormous with all the renewals coming. Maybe some of the dozen or so calls I get each month from Microsoft should just be to take names of my references and have someone manually put them in. Anyway - this has to stop.

Partners - there is an update on the situation at Current suggested course of action is to call the RSC and have them manually do it. I have spent all the time I care to for now. Need to cool down and think about it before I waste more time on this. I am just thankful I didn't enter the other 20 or so references we need for renewal.

Waiting and hoping in Iowa.........


Stuart R. Crawford said...

Arlin, I feel your pain, however, fortunately I needed to do all 5 of our compentencies for IT Matters and had them done in mid Dec, now how is that for taking action. I was lucky and had them done.

It came down to my awesome TPAM Paula in Toronto, she was amazing in ensuring that I took action and took action WHEN we identified the challenge looming on the horizon.

Good luck to you all

Stuart Crawford
Calgary, AB

John Powers said...

Thanks for putting your experiences out there in public; these problems are affecting many partners. The names are changed, but the experience is the same -- the Microsoft Partner Program has great people, crippled by systems that all too often let them (and us as partners) down. Our own similar experiences at Digipede are related here:

ToddKW said...

Arlin, I’m responsible for the Microsoft Partner Portal. I’m the GM of Product Management working directly for Allison Watson.

I’m reaching out to you and others to open the discussion about the very real issues raised in your recent posts. Our mission is to support your profitable growth, and anything that slows you down is not acceptable.

I've posted a bit more detail on John Power's blog site. Including an apology, an invitation for more discussion and an email contact for on-going feedback. We are listening. We are investing to improve. Thanks, Todd Weatherby

CyberCE said...

I work with CyberCE in Knoxville, TN. A couple of our customers had similar problems, but others went through. We have been MS partners since 1998 and this was the first year we had trouble. As a side note, we got enough through to re-enroll only to find that the system didn't acknowledge our payment (or at least it says that we haven't paid even though the charge came through)!