Monday, February 2, 2015
One of the first questions we receive from partners considering their solutions certification for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD) is how much time should be planned for certification? In this post, I’ll share our experience working on a number of partner assisted in CfMD certification projects to help you give insight into the typical timeline and process.
In the beginning of 2013, when the new certification requirements were introduced, 1ClickFactory surveyed Microsoft Dynamics Partners that passed CfMD in order to discover their certification challenges and strategies. The survey revealed that the CfMD for the NAV 2013 certification process took more than twice the time than they had initially planned. The longest certification process that a partner experienced was 4 months.
CfMD certification, for partners where we assisted with the CfMD, on average took around 4-6 weeks (from submitting solution for validation until receiving the CfMD certificate), which is very close to what the partners had planned.
Duration Estimate By CfMD Requirement
Well, how long will it take to become certified (CfMD) for Microsoft Dynamics NAV? Here is an estimate of time required for each step/requirement in the certification process based on our experience with many now certified for Microsoft Dynamics NAV Solutions Partners:
1. Establish an ERP Competence
In order to be considered for certification, you should have at least a Silver ERP Competency in the new Microsoft Partner Network. As Microsoft states, this is needed to ensure that customers are being serviced by partners who are proficient with Microsoft Dynamics. You can gain the ERP competence during the certification process, which can take a maximum of 2 years (i.e. partners must pass the Software Solution Test for Dynamics NAV within 12 months and full Certified Dynamics Test within 24 months - if the CfMD test is not completed within this time period, Microsoft will retrospectively bill you for any sales). The ERP Competence approval process itself (if you meet all requirements) is short, it takes approximately 1 day.
2. Establish a Software Escrow Account
If you contact an Escrow company from the recommended companies list, the approval usually takes 1 week or less. But keep in mind, it can take even longer if you contact an Escrow company of your choice, not on the pre-approved list. Note, Software Escrow requirement is not mandatory if your solution is offered free of charge or on subscription.
3. Demonstrate Support Capability
Fulfilling this requirement usually doesn’t cause much of a headache for partners. This requirement means that partners need to have a page on their company website detailing how the partner supports existing customers on the solution being certified and on this page or a location accessible to customers, provide proof that solution will follow the Statement of Direction and Dynamics NAV Product Roadmap. When this material is available, the support capabilities confirmation usually only takes 1 day.
4. Provide Existing Customer Evidence
The customer evidence collection requirement commonly takes the longest time in the process, according to partners. Having said that, this requirement is one of the easiest to fulfill. Though partners already have required a number of references, it takes time to get customers or other vendors to approve references through the system. To speed up this process, we recommend partners inform their customers of this request in advance, use personal not general information when contacting customers, then send reminders and always follow up with a phone call. Partners that followed these recommendations were able to accomplish this requirements within two days.
5. Complete Solution Testing
There are a few different Microsoft test tracks for ISVs products that integrate and/or interoperate with Microsoft Dynamics products. If you run a solution self-test through 1ClickFactory testing center, you will get the 1ClickFactory Software Solution Self-Test result typically within one week. Of course, you will need to allocate much more time in preparation for the test. This is one of the most time consuming parts of the certification. Preparation for the test could be split into two main areas:
- Software Development
- Documentation Preparation
Interestingly, the partners we assisted in CfMD projects, consider the documentation preparation a more time and effort consuming task than software development. From the partner’s experience, solution documentation creation from scratch (including solution help) could take up to 2 months.
In addition, if a partner supports solutions in a few languages, they should not forget that help pages should be written in all languages to meet certification requirements.
6. Pinpoint Solution Profile on Dynamics Marketplace
After writing and submitting the Pinpoint Solution Profile, the approval usually only takes 1 day.
7. Solutions Certified for Microsoft Dynamics
Finally, after accomplishing all these steps, you need to wait for results. To sum up, on average it takes partners around 3-4 months (including time for preparation, submitting and validation process) to get their solutions certified for Microsoft Dynamics.
Figure: How long it takes to get your solution certified for Microsoft Dynamics NAV (given time duration is approximate)?
Tips To Speed Up Certification
There are two tips that we often given partners to help to speed up certification. First, preparation is key. It is no secret, good preparation is a means to success. Having a full and clear picture of all requirements and challenges that a partner might face before starting the process also helps partners better manage their time involved in this project as well as help speed up particular steps of the certification process. That’s why we recommend an introductory session on CfMD requirements before starting a CfMD project.
Second, do all steps in parallel. Our recommendation is try to manage as many as possible steps in parallel as there is no requirement for the specific sequence for fulfilling the certification requirements.
A clear understanding of certification requirements, responsible preparation and accomplishing certification steps in parallel will help you to gain traction faster to certification. Good luck!