Investing in certification is a winning business proposition for employees, prospective clients, and companies as a whole.

Certifiable Winners

Investing in certification is a winning business proposition for employees, prospective clients, and companies as a whole.

When you’re pitching a major piece of new business, you never know what’s going to make the difference. Recently, my Chicago-based IT consulting firm solicited the solutions development business of a major Midwest insurance company. The customer’s final decision came down to our company and one of our toughest competitors. The customer laid two sets of resumes on the table—our proposed team vs. theirs—to try and find a distinction on which to base his decision. Then he found one: the number of Microsoft certifications held. We offered an all-MCP team, and the insurance company gave us its business.

That’s not surprising. A major industry association chose us to deploy a Microsoft Exchange Server-based communications and collaboration network for the same reason. So did a global perishable consumer goods distributor, seeking to deploy a Microsoft Site Server-based Internet commerce solution.

Certification Speaks Louder than Words

These clients and others place clear value on the MCP credential, coupled with experience, as a guarantor of expertise. So do we. Seventy percent of our employees have at least one MCP certification; a growing number have two or more. Our MCPs make a tremendous difference. We attribute 25 to 40 percent of our fast-growing revenues to the value that MCPs bring to us and our customers. That’s because MCPs have the best foundation in the technologies they work with. Their certification is a springboard from which to integrate those technologies into innovative customer solutions. And their certification demonstrates this expertise to others.

Effective Employee Recruitment

Microsoft certification is part of our culture of excellence, and we communicate this to potential hires at the start of the recruitment process. We tell them that future promotions and raises depend on certifications and experience. We explain that if they obtain two certifications within six months, they’ll be evaluated more quickly for raises and promotions. We also explain the investment we’ll make in their training and career enhancement over the long haul, giving them the time and money needed to advance themselves.

They know we’re serious because the conversation usually takes place in our conference room where one wall is covered with MCP certificates. And they must like what they hear, because we have a highly competitive, 80 percent closure rate on recruits. Our retention rates are equally competitive. For us, Microsoft certification is a great way to distinguish our company both to customers and employees.

New Methods of Education

As a subsidiary of Wang Global, a Microsoft Certified Technical Education Center, our consultants have access to Wang Virtual University. This intranet-based academic program helps the consultants train for certification on their own schedules, from the convenience of their homes or while traveling on business—wherever they might be. With both intranet and traditional training, we plan to train 2,500 MCSEs and MCSDs by the end of next year. That’s a huge commitment, but one we know will pay off for our customers, our employees, and our company.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of the MCP credential, go to www.microsoft.com/trainingandservices/default.asp?PageID=mcp&
PageCall=individuals&SubSite=benefits
. To learn more about Parian, go to www.parian.com.

About the Author

Richard Sheldon is Vice President of Consulting and Director of Client Services at Parian Development Group Inc., a Wang Global Company. Parian is a partner with Microsoft in serving technology customers.

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