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Microsoft Tweaks U.S. SMS&P Org

Microsoft is adjusting its U.S. Small and Midmarket SolutionsPartners Group (SMS&P) in an effort to streamline it for the next fiscal year.

Group leadership is changing as well. Great Plains Jeff Young, an 18-year veteran who came to Microsoft via its purchase of Great Plains Software in 2001, is leaving in July.

Young is vice president, Microsoft Business Solutions U.S. Operations. Over the next two months, he will help Craig McCollum move into his new role as vice president of U.S. Dynamics, Microsoft said.

McCollum will be the new MBS field leader in both SMS&P and the Enterprise Partners Group (EPG), according to the company. That his duties extend across the realms of both SMB and enterprise partners shows that Microsoft is actively pushing its ERP and CRM wares into companies large and small, a move it acknowledged at the Convergence 2007 in March.

McCollum was most recently vice president of worldwide sales strategy for MBS, coming to the company after stints at Best Software (now Sage Software) and Lawson.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said these org changes do not include a reduction in force in the U.S. group and said partners will be getting more marketing, training and support than in the past.

In the e-mail detailing the changes, Microsoft said under the new alignment, managed and telemanaged partners will get greater marketing support from Microsoft through regional partner marketing managers.

"Partners have told us that it can be challenging to navigate Microsoft across SMS&P areas. To provide increased efficiency, the three SMS&P regions are consolidating from 14 to 10 areas. This more consistent model in FY08 will simplify partner engagement. Since individual contributor roles are not changing, partners and customers will experience little change in account coverage. A reduction in force is not being announced," according to the mail, which was sent to staff by Michael Park, corporate vice president of SMS&P today.

That consolidation of areas pleased some Microsoft partners whose reach extends across the current boundaries. They complained about having to deal with too many point people at the vendor to get their jobs done.

"This consolidation means fewer conversations, fewer bottlenecks," said one east coast-based partner with presence in four of the areas.

A west coast partner concurred in that assessment. Partners with customers in small and large businesses have also beefed about conflicting stories coming out of the SMS&P and EPG groups and hope that interaction will likewise be simplified.

Last month, the company acknowledged there will be some job losses within SMS&P and EPG worldwide as the company tries to move resources closer to the field.

The departure of Young shows the ranks of "Fargonauts" are getting thinner at Microsoft. Great Plains was based in Fargo, N.D., and while many employees, managers and execs relocated to Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters, some, including Young and MBS Senior Vice President Doug Burgum never did.

Some Fargonauts who moved west and remain with Microsoft are Tami Reller, Don Nelson, and Lynn Stockstad.

Burgum was the CEO of the independent Great Plains Software and is leaving Microsoft at the end of this fiscal year, June 30. There will be a Great Plains Reunion" party in Fargo later this month.

This report was updated Tuesday morning with partner comment.

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