In a move to help partners differentiate themselves in the marketplace, NetSuite has rolled out a cloud ERP consultant certification program for its software solutions that's for partners and by partners.
The certification program, which NetSuite announced Monday, was developed through testing by more than 100 of NetSuite's top consultants and solution providers. Partners contributed questions for the exams as well as helped with beta testing and establishing the pass marks.
"There was a lot of collaboration between us and our partners on the actual program," said Dean Sprankling, NetSuite vice president of worldwide education services, in an interview with CRN.
[Related: ERP Climbing The Cloud Applications Ladder]
There are two tests involved in the certification process. The first is on the general NetSuite cloud offerings, and the second focuses specifically on the ERP solution. The dual level is designed to make sure consultants have a foundation in the broad product as well as the ERP software itself, Sprankling said.
Steve Jones, CEO and co-founder of Bellevue, Wash.-based Explore Consulting, a top-five NetSuite reseller for three years in a row, said the certification program is great for emerging partners that want to get a leg up on the competition, but it's also helpful for more established partners, like his own company.
"From our perspective it's a really great thing to be able to establish [competency], even for us who have a really good foothold," Jones told CRN.
NetSuite's partner community was the driving force behind the certification program. When asked 18 months ago if they would like a certification program, partners responded with a "resounding yes," Sprankling said. There were already 100 certified individuals before the program launched, Sprankling said, and he said he only expects it to expand from there due to customer demand.
"I think it's one of those things that as it builds, it becomes a de facto must-have in the implementation of NetSuite," Sprankling told CRN.
Next up are NetSuite certifications in e-commerce, CRM, development and administration, Sprankling said, which are expected within the next year.
Sprankling said the new certification program will provide customers comfort that a solution provider knows the product and its implementation backwards and forwards. He said that when customers conduct a Web search to find a NetSuite partner for implementation, he expects they will be drawn to partners that advertise a certification because it adds value to what they are offering.
The certification is designed to be fairly difficult to pass, Sprankling said, to maintain the reputations of both the partners and the product itself. He said that generally two years of experience with the ERP product is needed for those taking the test.
"We actually want this to mean something. The feedback we got from people is that this is tough," Sprankling said. "Without that, it won't have any value in the marketplace. Customers would see that pretty soon."
Jones said the certification program will help partners not only build customer confidence but also internally develop NetSuite skills. He said the certification program assists in setting a bar of where his own consultants' skills need to be.
"Internally I think it's a good thing to get our consulting team to that level. It sort of defines who is a senior resource within our organization," Jones said. "It's a good thing internally to push people to get that level of competency."
Registration for the certification program is now open on NetSuite's website and tests can be taken at more than 600 global locations.
PUBLISHED NOV. 11, 2013