The MSPAlliance is set to launch next month what it's touting as the first certification for managed services professionals.
The organization is looking to create a standard for people working in the industry in order to protect potential employers, and also end users looking for MSPs, according to Charles Weaver, president of the MSPAlliance.
"A lot of people are coming from small shops and want to be serious providers of managed services, but there's no foundation to get into the profession. We felt it was good to have a baseline requirements exam that said, this is what you need to know in order to be successful," Weaver said.
The specific details of the certification won't be revealed until late next month and the program will be launched at MSPWorld in Orlando, Fla., on April 30.
Weaver said the certification was born out of MSPAlliance's existing accreditation program, which is for whole companies.
"While that has been good, the real untapped, and not really addressed, area is for individuals and how they get trained and certified. There hasn't been any certification for any managed services professional," he said.
The MSPAlliance managed services professional certification will be more business-focused and less technical in nature than typical certifications, Weaver said.
"We assume with the accreditation that some technical baseline skills are already in place. We will assume people in this certification have a baseline of technical experience. We will ask technical questions, more along the lines of IT security and data privacy," he said. "There will be some legal questions around data privacy laws and fundamental business operations that any person in a managed services environment should know, whether it's the CEO or a senior technician. It's fundamentals that any person having this certification would provide."
The certification also stems from complaints the MSPAlliance hears from the end-user customers about their providers, Weaver said.
"They are getting a lot of confusing and conflicting data. For example, a break-fix shop that thinks they're an MSP because they bill you every month and says you're getting managed services," he said.
It's become harder for strong MSPs to differentiate themselves from less talented competitors, Weaver said.
"I'd be willing to bet that a provider eventually gets kicked out and a more mature company goes in. But they will face the question, 'Why are you different?' Unfortunately, [the problems] are coming from a lot of small groups that are immature in managed services. There's a lot of small shops that are very legitimate and want to do the right thing and be successful," he said.