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Cisco Continuous Learning – Get Ready, Get Recognised

Cisco Systems announced Continuous Learning in 2015 as an accompanying programme to the No Retest policy for partner compliance. This in itself has left open a number of questions for partners around the process and some potential pitfalls they may find themselves within.

In this article, we will try to answer frequently asked Continuous Learning questions.

What is Continuous Learning?
Continuous Learning is a points based system that Cisco announced at the Partner Summit in April 2015.  It is an annual program which is tied into your anniversary date and you will need to achieve a points total by that date*. 

Continuous Learning has no effect on your Cisco Career Certifications.  You still need to keep these up to date and as part of the above planning phase, I would factor in a rolling 12-month career certification view.  I have spoken to many partners over the last 10 years and it still causes issues that expiration notices often just go to the individual.  A Career Certification is owned by the individual and not the company, so I always recommend that partners take ownership of this task for those who hold roles and even those that don't.

Keeping it simple
The points are fairly simple in essence and Cisco really have excelled at this.  It is easy for vendors to, at times, overcomplicate things, which should ordinarily, be very simple. A huge bonus is that Cisco have kept it is as simple as they can, whilst still retaining the value in the activity.

No Limits!
The points are as follows: 
If you have any anniversary dates that land before the 28th January 2017 then you require half of the amount below.

  • Advanced Architecture - 100 points
  • Advanced Technology - 80 points
  • Express Specialisations - 40 points

There are also no limits to the points** you can achieve as a company or an individual. The great aspect of the program is that points remain with the partner if an individual leaves, so there are no sleepless nights that points could suddenly drop! New hires that have achieved points for another partner will bring them with them, so make sure that all new hires register their CCO ID to you rather than their old partner.  You don't want to miss out on those points or add points to a competitor for activities they do for you.


Why Global Knowledge for Continuous Learning?
Why would you work with Global Knowledge around Continuous Learning? Isn't this a tick box exercise that is a necessity for retaining partner compliance and not much more?

Yes, if compliance is your only interest.  However, if you want to use the program to increase the capability of your organisation and the competency of your staff, then you need to look at the program strategically rather than tactically. 

How can Global Knowledge help?

  • Global Knowledge will provide you with planning workshops to look at all the educational needs you have for partner compliance including Continuous Learning.
  • We have developed a planning spreadsheet, to make so we can pick out titles to align into the sales campaigns you wish to run. 
  • We will help you use Continuous Learning to drive additional revenue and build up pre-sales knowledge.
  • Follow up using Cisco technical training to make sure you can drive pipeline activities, following up with a scalable, fully qualified Field engineer team. 
  • Provide you with a checklist to help the first steps to strategic Continuous Learning.
  • Help you to avoid tactical Continuous Learning. 

Setting the expectations
People will tell you 1 point = x time……. This is not correct, even in a tactical sense. Modules range from 2 minutes to 3 hours just to get 1 point! Global Knowledge's planning workshops will enable you to calculate the time invested easily and more importantly, set the right expectations for your company and also to your employees.

As a guide, here is a checklist that I drew up, please note that this is not exhaustive.
 
1. Check your anniversary and points needed per Specialisation
2. Check and balance on CCO ID's
3. Note any mandatory titles
4. Decide strategy on Continuous Learning (CL)
5. Assign titles to employees
6. Aim to complete in 60% of the time
7. Check for Career Certifications expiring
8. Review monthly
9. Double Check CL Compliance with PAM/vPAM
10. Become CL Compliant

For further information about Continuous Learning planning workshops and advice, please contact Global Knowledge's EMEA Cisco Business Development Director Adam Murphy at adam.murphy@globalknowledge.net

* It is worth noting that it is anniversary date and not the renewal date which can differ.  If you log onto Cisco PMA it does list, by specialisation when you need the points by.

It is also worth highlighting this further, as each specialisation (gold partners need 4) could have a different date.  It is even more imperative that you plan this activity rather than as a passing action as each date needs to be factored in.

**Excess points cannot carry over.