CompTIA rethinks approach to member education with new Channel Standards program

The IT Solution Provider Standard is the first of five scheduled to roll out this year. The Channel Standards differ from the Trustmarks in their emphasis on imparting best practices to make the business better, rather than earning a badge to use in your marketing.

Miles Jobgen CompTIA

Miles Jobgen, Director for Education at CompTIA

CompTIA has unveiled a new program for channel partners, the CompTIA Channel Standards program, with the first one in the series being the IT Solution Provider Standard. While Channel Standards builds on CompTIA’s Trustmarks program, it really involves a different approach to educating and certifying partners. Indeed, the introduction of the Channel Standards program is coincident with the retiring of three CompTIA Trustmarks.

“The Channel Standards program is a collection of best practices we have put together over the years, and which we have used in our Trustmark programs and other educational programs,” said Miles Jobgen, Director for Education at CompTIA. “However with this, we wanted to make a statement about what CompTIA believes companies need to do to raise the bar. These need to better identify how to close gaps. This program is a great opportunity to lift the solution provider industry from just being the guy that you call when something goes wrong. It is intended to make them more successful, which is an aspirational goal for all IT businesses. As the industry’s trade association, we think we are in a unique positon to offer that education and training in a vendor-neutral way.”

The IT Solution Provider Standard is the first of five Channel Standards programs scheduled to roll out this year. All of them will be free of charge.

“We are rolling these out at no cost to get them as widely read and adopted as possible,” Jobgen said.

The four programs set to follow are managed services, managed print services, cybersecurity and cloud computing.

“Managed services and managed print services will be released in the April time frame to be paired with the solution provider one,” Jobgen said. “The larger and more intensive one is cybersecurity. That program is targeted for release at our ChannelCon event in the first week of August. The final one, on cloud computing, will come out following ChannelCon.

The target audience for the IT Solution Provider Standard is the owner, in the case of smaller businesses, and the middle executive level and above in the larger ones.

“It is aimed at those who influence how things happen rather than the engineers,” Jobgen said.

The IT Solution Provider Standard contains 50 best practices CompTIA has identified, from business direction to delivery of operations, customer management, and internal staffing.

“It is not designed to be a library of everything the solution provider might possibly encounter,” Jobgen said.

Jobgen acknowledged the new program involves CompTIA taking a different approach to IT education.

“I’ve been here 12 years, and seen the evolution of Trustmarks,” he said. “It really wasn’t until the last year, when we looked at the Trustmarks portfolio, that the same themes through them kept striking us. We wondering if maybe we weren’t packaging it correctly, that maybe we were attacking it the wrong way, and that we should be presenting it in a way that was more crucial and critical to the functionality of those businesses.”

Three of CompTIA’s trustmarks are being retired – the CompTIA Security Trustmark+, the AccredITUK Trustmark+, and the Cloud Trustmark+, the latter of which was introduced only a year ago.

“There absolutely is a relationship between removing the three Trustmarks and the new Channel Standards,” Jobgen said. “The Trustmark philosophy was ‘earn this badge to show you are doing the right thing.’ With the Channel Standards, there is more concern with rather or not you are doing the right thing, as opposed to earning the badge. We are restructuring certification and education because with this shift we are better able to help people do the right things. Members will be able to make their business better, and then market that on their own.”

CompTIA will, however, continue to offer its IT Business Trustmark, Managed Services Trustmark, and Managed Print Trustmark.

“We will maintain these three because they are ones that can better leverage the marketing badge,” Jobgen said.