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Cisco has forged a new cooperative agreement with distributor Tech Data to help its partners with their single biggest headache—the talent shortage.

Through a three-pronged program called Capacity Builder, Cisco will use existing capabilities of Tech Data, of Clearwater, Fla., to help partners make the most of the talent they already have by improving productivity.

“This program was co-developed with Cisco to address the single most critical issue facing Cisco partners,” said Chuck Bartlett, Tech Data’s vice president for Networking Product Marketing. “We believe this talent deficit, if not corrected could impact their ability to maximize opportunities.”

The program is designed to increase the development and retention of talent at Cisco partners and also help them increase their capacity, he said.

The program includes a private-label configuration service called Performance Builder that can pre-configure Cisco devices so the partner’s technician doesn’t have to waste time performing that repetitive task. Solution providers can use this for all of their configurations, or can use it as an overflow if they need more capacity during busy times, said Chuck Robbins, Cisco’s vice president of U.S. and Canada channels, who is heading up Cisco’s ongoing effort to help partners with the talent crisis.

The second capability called Productivity Builder lets partners ensure that equipment is on site when their technicians arrive at a customer location to avoid wasting time. The capability uses Tech Data’s existing e-business tools, such as MyOrderTracker to ensure technicians and equipment will be at the customer site at the same time.

The third capability called Talent Builder monitors and maps partner employee certifications, tracking them so everyone is scheduled to take the right courses and tests before certifications expire. The program helps partners in identifying the certifications and expertise necessary to access the right Cisco product with the most advantageous pricing.

Cisco partners can use these services regardless of whether or not they already work with Tech Data.

Cisco highlighted the ongoing talent problem at its partner conference in the spring. That’s when Tech Data approached the networking company to talk about forging an alliance to help partners with the problem.

“Chuck Bartlett started discussing the notion of helping partners with other elements of their businesses, and it clicked with all of us,” said Chuck Robbins, vice president of U.S. and Canada channels for Cisco. “It was an enlightening moment for me—a way to help with the productivity side.”

The Tech Data alliance is part of Cisco’s ongoing effort to help partners find solutions to the talent crisis, Robbins said.