May 3, 2019
When you were in high school, participating in certain programs, clubs or extracurricular activities was seen as a huge asset to your shiny college applications. They made you stand apart from others, put you ahead of the pack, gave you an edge.
This concept can also be applied to the real world with certifications. You know, the adult version of extracurriculars, except less fun. These are accolades that are essentially designed to level you up, look impressive on your company page and LinkedIn profile, and put you a notch above the rest.
So, are certifications worth the time and investment for MSPs? Are they necessary, or just a ‘nice to have’? Here’s a look at the pros and cons.
Certifications can help make providers appear attractive to and establish credibility with their customers. When potential customers are searching to find truly qualified MSPs while weeding out the less than qualified, certifications and accreditations can give that little extra visibility boost.
If you are actually worth your salt in your claimed area of expertise (in other words, you’re not just slapping a sticker on your website claiming you’re certified in a certain area when in fact you’re not so much), certifications show that you practice what you preach and that your boast is actually worth their buck.
Security certifications in particular represent third-party verification of your security infrastructure and practices. When it comes to selling security, trust is pretty much the name of the game, and third-party certification is a solid way to establish that trust. This goes for potential clients and prospects as well, which means security certifications could be used as a tool to help the business grow.
MSPs and VARs also tend to get certified for vendor-specific technology (such as Microsoft, Cisco, etc.) for partner status reasons. This can be beneficial in that the higher partnership status you have with a particular vendor, the more opportunities and perks there are.
The right certifications can open up a lot of new business opportunities. Another big benefit of having security certifications is that they can allow an MSP to target specific industries that require a higher level of security, such as health care. This is a big one, since this space is governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which has strict rules that demand a high level of security to protect patient privacy in electronic health records.
Flipping this around, there are some who would argue that certifications are not, in fact, necessary or worth it. That, by and large, they’re just simply fluff and not vital to the business.
For starters, they can be expensive. Certifications and accreditations for MSPs can range anywhere from $2,500 to more than …
… $25,000, depending on which ones you choose.
There’s also the matter of empty promises – getting certain certifications just for the thrill of putting that logo in the ‘About Us’ section of your website. This can backfire pretty spectacularly.
PTS’s Ray Sweeney
“There is a high risk of false or embellished claims,” says Ray Sweeney, operations manager at Premier Technology Solutions (PTS) in Melbourne, Australia. “It’s like putting on your resume that you speak fluent French, but you only know how to count to 10 and say “please,” “thank you” and “cheese.” What you’ll end up with is a bunch of IT managers that are unqualified to do what they’re supposed to do. Customers are looking for someone to come in with a level of certainty and say, “we’ve got these certified people who can do it all” with nothing to back it up. In a world that’s hyper-focused on business outcomes, this is a foolhardy risk.”
So, are certifications worth it? One could certainly argue both sides. Regardless of what you choose, the emphasis is and always should be on keeping your pulse on the client and the direction they want to go.
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