How many times can I read a resume listing someone’s Microsoft Certifications, get my hopes up that this person has a clue about SharePoint, call the respondent up on the phone to hear them verbally tout their Microsoft Certifications only to learn they don’t know a damn thing about SharePoint?!!?! It happens ALL the time! I’m completely sick of it and can only come to the conclusion that Microsoft Certifications are completely worthless!!!
Okay… good.. I feel better for getting that out… now that you are either pissed at me for saying something you disagree with or cheering because you agree, let’s really discuss what the values of Microsoft Certifications in SharePoint are.
Also.. I must point out that the views I express are not the views of my company… it’s my rant…
The problem, from my experience, is that having a Microsoft Certification does not in any way equal knowing HOW to implement the technology. Many times these people can articulate the technology, throw all the buzz words at you, and say things like “Well.. according to Microsoft..”, BUT when faced with a real world SharePoint scenario they don’t have a CLUE where to begin. Having a certification seems to mean that a person has the ability to read and memorize facts, but not necessarily place them in their correct context or know HOW to do anything useful with the technology. What’s worse, there are sites out there where you can basically find the questions asked for a certification so all you have to do is memorize JUST those questions, and pass! Ugh… For those of us trying to find SharePoint people who can hit the ground running this is just another hurdle and obstacle we have to overcome… It gets old…. quickly…
So… is there ANY benefit?
This is where I need input from people smarter than myself. As far as I can see the ONLY benefit to having Microsoft Certifications is that for a company to become a Microsoft Certified Partner, the employees have to carry a certain number of certifications. So, the benefit would be that said company would have better access to Microsoft resources to assist a customer. Which, there IS value and benefit there… but there is no guarantee that the people who hold the certifications know more about SharePoint than Sally down the hall who is the Site Owner for your Marketing Department. In fact, there is a good chance Sally knows more because she lives in it every day…
Well… okay then.. what about MCM??
Ahhh… MCM (Microsoft Certified Master)… As worthless as Certifications are is how WORTHWHILE MCM appears to be. I say “appears” because I am NOT an MCM and the MCMs I do know have always been impressive in their skills. The ONLY problem with MCM is that it’s the other extreme! It’s thousands of dollars and you have to devote, what, a month of your life to living in Seattle to train and pass the tests??
First off… the whole process sounds pretty awesome, but I already work 12 –14 hours a day more days a week than I should. How can I afford the time or money for MCM training? Plus, I’m not entirely sure I’m smart enough.
Also, look at the prerequisites for MCM SharePoint Server 2010 :
1.A thorough understanding of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 design and architecture.
2.A thorough understanding of Microsoft ASP.NET, Windows Server, Internet Information Services, and other core technologies upon which SharePoint Products and Technologies depend.
3.The ability to speak, understand, and write in fluent English.
4.The following experience:
- Hands-on experience via early adoption programs with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010: installing, configuring, troubleshooting, and custom development
- Three or more years of hands-on experience with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007: installing, configuring, troubleshooting, and custom development
5.Candidates must have passed the following exams prior to applying to the program:
- Exam 70-573: TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Application Development
- Exam 70-576: PRO: Designing and Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Applications
- Exam 70-667: TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring
- Exam 70-668: PRO: SharePoint 2010, Administrator
Did you see those last prerequisites? You have to have Certifications… So… the value of Certifications is that they allow your company to become a Microsoft Certified Partner AND they are needed to enroll in the MCM Program? But it STILL doesn’t mean you KNOW anything!?!?
Okay… so.. stop whining and come up with a solution
Despite all my ranting… I do conceptually see the value of Microsoft Certifications, and I DO think from a conceptual standpoint they are worthwhile… but how can things be changed so that if a person has a certifications it actually MEANS something? How can we make it a REAL checkmark on a set of requirements to know that if a person has a certification then they DO have some value other than making sure we have “X” certified employees.
Well.. I have no solution. I have some ideas, but don’t know how to implement them… which is good, because I’m a nobody anyway…
But what about adding a couple options for prerequisites (lesser than the MCM) before you can take a test for a Microsoft Certification, like:
Documented Real World Experience
Let’s face it… 85% of what you actually do in SharePoint is not what you read in books or was taught in a class. It’s the other stuff you fight with day in and day out that your book didn’t mention because it seems like sometimes the exceptions are the norms in SharePoint. (nice run on sentence there Rackley) So, who cares if you “memorized” the norms! How about you have to have documented 6 months experience with the technology you are getting certified for? 6 months is not THAT long, and it’s long enough to get your hands dirty in the real world.
Certified Training Course
So, just not patient enough to wait 6 months working with SharePoint in the real world? How about Microsoft and some training companies like MindSharp and Critical Path spend some time together to come up with a “Microsoft Certification Accredited Course” and in order to take a test for certification you had to pass this course with a proficiency? It could be a week long course and come out with some value there.
Why don’t we just change the Certification Test??
I am NOT suggesting Microsoft revamp everything and start over. That’s not practical with certain structures in place like the MCM prerequisites. I’m not suggesting that the TESTS have to change at all… Just put up a few prerequisites before you can have a certification so that they have SOME meaning.
Summary Again, my points concerning Microsoft Certifications are:
1. Having a certification does not mean a person knows how to use the technology
2. It’s too easy to memorize the questions / answers and pass the tests
3. They have value for Microsoft Certified Partner status and as prerequisites for MCM training.
4. Something needs to be done so that having a certification means SOMETHING about a person’s knowledge and skill.
5. Maybe with the addition of some simple prerequisites for the certification process things can be greatly improved:
a. 6 months documented real world experience or…
b. Accredited training courses
6. I’m not suggesting the entire process needs to be revamped, just do something to ensure it has some meaning!
I realize some people may strongly disagree with me, and I would LOVE to hear some FACTS that would bring more light to the subject. This blog is based on MY experiences and on experiences others have had as well… These experiences are real… and so is my frustration with the process…
My most excellent buddy Dan Usher (@usher) did a post from a different context and more optimistic point of view as well.. great insights.. check it out at: http://www.sharepointdan.com/?p=685