MCM/MCSM/MCA are not just certification exams!

After the shocking news that I found this morning in my mailbox, as like as many of my friends and buddies did, and after reading a ton of emails, tweets, and blog posts … I needed to think a little bit, spend some time with my family, and drink some good beers …
Now, I am ready to tell you about my feeling and about what is happening to the most brilliant certification path I have ever been involved.

Since today, the MCM/MCSM/MCA certifications are dead. So what?!

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Master certification for me

It was about five years ago when I became aware of the Advanced Certifications program. Instantly I thought “I wanna get those certifications!” At that time my goal was to show my muscles and to demonstrate myself that “I can do that” 🙂 ! I studied a lot, I saved a lot of money in order to reach the budget (18.500$!) to register for the training (I’m self-employed), I attended the training (what a great experience!), I tried the exams (twice the knowledge exam, once the lab), and I asked a huge sacrifice to my family during more than six months of intensive training and studying. While wondering to achieve the certification I simply saw the certification by itself, almost like yet another badge! In my carrier, I passed more than 40 Microsoft certification exams, and having the MCM was like collecting one more, a big or the biggest one!

However, step by step, while approaching the training I understood that it is not just a certification exam. First of all: the suggested pre-reading list is a great source of information and it took me a lot of time to read just a subset of all the suggested documents. If you want to become an expert of SharePoint, regardless the MCSM certification, download it (as long as it will be available) and read it carefully. Then, I attended the screening call with Brett (thank you man!), and I understood that the process was really serious and rigorous, but challenging! However, when I attended the training in Redmond I realized that the real value of being an MCM was something else than just getting one more badge! Yes, because the MCM/MCSM/MCA certifications are not “just certifications!” But, if you don’t live and feel the experience, you are not aware of.

The first great value you get back from the MCM certification is the knowledge you get and share with all your classmates and your trainers. The training material is really great! You cannot find anywhere else quantity of contents, quality of contents, and real experiences from the fields. Moreover, you have the opportunity to meet the most brilliant people, you can share experiences with them, you can understand how big, fascinating, and involving are the SharePoint world and the community of SharePoint experts. Nevertheless, if you are so lucky (and prepared!) to pass the exams (knowledge and lab) you have the opportunity to be part of a REAL community of people excited about technology, and about SharePoint. The community, and being part of it, is the real great return of investment that you achieve when you become an MCM/MCSM/MCA.
Thus, regardless the current fate of the Advanced Certifications program, I would like to thank publicly all the people involved in the program for the great job they have done! You deserve my thankfulness and respect forever and ever.

What happened to the advanced certifications?

This morning I waked up reading a very impersonal and unfair email, which was telling me that the Advanced Certifications program will shut down and that the MCM/MCSM/MCA certifications will die on October the 1st 2013! And so what?

I don’t want to start a flame about why the killed the certification, and I don’t want to speculate about what they should have done instead of … that’s it. They killed the program. I don’t understand why, I don’t like it, I hate it … but that’s it. I don’t think that my complains, or those of all my colleagues will change something, and I’m sad about that. I would have liked to be involved in a process that involves completely me and my friends, but they didn’t. Thus, I think my feelings and my feedback do not really matter from the business perspective of a company that has to make money, more today than in the past.

Moreover, from a business viewpoint, I could even understand the reasons that lead them to kill the program. However, they did not simply killed a program or a product. They also injured about 100 people, who were presented no more than one year ago, during the keynote of the SPC2012, as the most brilliant community of SharePoint experts supporting the customers in the fields. We are all enthusiast, ambassadors and we are a community. You cannot kill a community so easily and rapidly and we will not die!

So what am I asking for?

I would like to keep the real value of being an MCM/MCSM, which is being part of a real community of real people, sharing common interests, ideas, experiences, and passion. Thus, even if Microsoft decided to kill our baby (!), they should keep alive the community (including the private distribution list), they should keep alive the web pages describing what was (!) the program and who are the members of the community, to justify the return of the investment we did, and they should keep for all of us the benefits that inherit from being an MCM/MCSM. This is a matter of honesty and fairness, in my opinion. We invested our lives for that, and we deserve what they promised for us.

Lastly, I would suggest to setup a kind of “backup plan” in order to still update and provide the training contents (as a new business? Come on … :-)! ), instead of throwing out of the window all the investments and all the great value of those contents. I can provide somehow my contribution, in case of need …

Today I feel really sad and bitter … but “the show must go on” …

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