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Introduction

Welcome to The Nerdy Admin

Not too long ago I read a Tweet by Ed Gonzales (@PoweredbyEdg) encouraging people to ‘share their story’. My immediate thought was “Nah, I’m light years behind what others post these days”. The post was referencing another by Saron (@saronyitbarek) that said “If you’re holding back on writing that blog post because it’s “too basic” or “too simple”, stop holding back.

Damn.

Since 2011 I’ve been a part of and active within of the “CRMUG” (CRM User Group) and also within the social platforms Twitter and LinkedIn. Early on I did some presentations and participate in panel discussions which ultimately led to more active volunteer roles within the user group. Doing so lead to many, many incredible connections. People I’d meet in the halls or sessions of Microsoft’s Convergence conference or connect with on calls sharing experiences. Many of those people I now consider friends and am in contact still to this day. I also learned a great deal, both from sharing my own story and having it resonate with others (validation of my own experiences) and in the form of engaging in conversations that re-framed my position on a topic or feature, and learning how to use aspects of things I didn’t understand before.

Let me simplify that paragraph – I learned a lot because I shared a lot.

Whoa.

The irony here was that I have always felt as though I was sharing simplistic/basic content, but it seemed to resonate with some of the people who attended. I have always framed it as ‘this is my experience. I’m not the expert, I’m learning too. But here is what I’ve learned so far’.

Interestingly enough, about a year ago I had been thinking about starting to blog (or, perhaps someday, vlog – what?!). I even brainstormed a list of topics I could write about. After much reflection I ultimately decided that it was of limited value. There is SO MUCH content already out there and it’s all really good. I’m not sure anyone would benefit, I convinced myself. I packed up my brainstorm, tucked it away in a sub-tab of OneNote and moved on with life.

Ed and Saron’s Tweet inspired me to think again. I dug out that list and started to think about it more, and came to a realization. This WAS valuable information to the right audience. “Maybe I should just give this a shot”, I thought.

What Am I Doing?

I plan to post instructional content – application specific “click here, enter this, do that” tutorials. However the bulk of my content will focus on things we need to think about in our role of administrators. It can be an overwhelming world to be a part of! With the rapid development of features, functions and integrations with, well, everything, it can be daunting. It’s no secret that Microsoft produces at a fantastical pace and it can be hard to keep up. I’m going to tackle topics that I hope will make you think and reflect on the underlying challenges we face in our role. All the while pointing out many of the great resources available to admins and users alike. 

More than Tech

As a final twist, it won’t always be focussed on administration or even technology. Sometimes I’ll dive into other topics such as mindfulness, strategic thinking, trend and data analysis, or even quick tips on random business applications I’ve come to learn. These are personal interest items that I find tightly woven with the role of an admin.

But, why?

What is my goal? I can’t possible put into words what I’ve gained from the generosity of others within the community. May it be their blogs, hearing people present, following their social posts or having conversations with them directly about specific issues or problems I’ve faced, this community is chock full of intelligent, generous folks who share their knowledge at every turn. It’s time I try to give something back!

— Disclaimer —

There is one thing I need to be very clear about right out of the gate and you’re going to hear me reference often in my writings…

I am not here claiming to be the expert. I am sharing my thoughts and opinions on these topics. Even when I provide tutorials, I encourage you to chime in with your insights in the comments, especially if that’s to show a more efficient way of doing something. I am here to learn along with you, so please never hesitate to share your thoughts publicly, or privately to me directly.

I’m excited about this venture, and hope that it will be of value to those who choose to follow along!

Malcolm

Power Baseball League: Let’s Get Some Data!

What good is a system if we don’t have any data in it?! Today, we start the journey to add some data and we are going to start with the basics of data import within the solution itself.

In this video, we will set the tone for the next portion of the series where will be recording 3 ways to get data in:

  1. Data Import: This is a great way to deal with our historical data. We are assuming that this data was previously managed in Excel. So we can use this to populate the system we have been creating.
  2. Forms Processing: As we discussed with Phil Topness, we are going to look at creating a simple Forms Processing model with AI Builder. Then we can build a Power App that will consume that model.
  3. Dynamics 365 Customer Voice: Finally we will revisit our discussion with Megan V. Walker to show how we can create a webform to gather data and bring in to Common Data Service.
It’s almost opening day – but we need some data to get started!

NEXT STEPS

If you are looking to do this in your own environment you can also review these Microsoft Docs:

How do you use Data Import? What data is your business currently managing in Excel that you can or should bring into CDS?

This is part of the Power Baseball League Series with Kylie Kiser (follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or her Blog). You can follow the series on the Power Baseball League Series Page and the Power Baseball League YouTube Playlist as they are added.

You can find Kylie’s content at the following:

Blog: https://kyliekiser.com/

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylie-kiser/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/KylieKiser

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7jIvOwE4mHsr1Tjk1jj3w

Cover Photo: Photo by Jimmy Conover on Unsplash

Power Baseball League: Dynamics 365 Customer Voice with Special Guest Megan V. Walker

This was such a great discussion! Megan is THE go to when it comes to Forms Pro and Dynamics 365 Customer Voice, so we were thrilled to have her join us. She also happens to be a genuinely awesome person to talk to so it was tough to keep this one short.

Previously we had created a system and begun configuring it to meet he needs of our Power Baseball League. As we went, we started talking about how data would be flowing into the system. We wanted to explore our options, and last time we discussed Forms Processing as a way to get paper-based, hand written data into our database. However, not everyone has a printer and we might need to capture larger amounts of data from some people. Enter Dynamics 365 Customer Voice!

Customer Voice allows us to build a form where users will enter in the data. This data is automatically stored in Common Data Service (CDS) and ready for us to use within the Power Platform!

CALL THE DYNAMICS 365 CUSTOMER VOICE EXPERT!

We called in a Dynamics 365 Customer Voice Expert to help us with this discussion – Megan V. Walker! Megan talks us through how to plan out our form and next steps. Additionally, we also talk about some concerns with our data and potential solutions.

The ever delightful Megan V. Walker joins Kylie and I to discuss the power of Customer Voice. Not going to lie, I had a bit of a fanboy moment!

Thank you to Megan for joining us for this discussion, make sure you subscribe to her blog content, connect on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter!

This is part of the Power Baseball League Series with Kylie Kiser (follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or her Blog). You can follow the series on the Power Baseball League Series Page and the Power Baseball League YouTube Playlist as they are added.

You can find Kylie’s content at the following:

Blog: https://kyliekiser.com/

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylie-kiser/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/KylieKiser

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7jIvOwE4mHsr1Tjk1jj3w

Cover Photo: Photo by Nick Jio on Unsplash

Power Baseball League: Forms Processing with Special Guest Phil Topness

During our discussions up to now we’ve talked about how many of our constituents will need to continue filling in paper application forms to register their children in the up-coming season. To that end, we wanted to make sure our solution had a tool that could automatically read data, even hand-written information, from a form. Enter Forms Processing.

Phil, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft (and near honourary Canadian, he just needs a shot of maple syrup!), joins us to talk about his irrationally excited take on the potential of forms processing to help us in our project. We not only talk through it, but we also dive into the tool using our hand-written application forms and see it unfold in real time during the call.

THIS WAS SO COOL!!! Seeing a form that was filled in by hand get submitted and read – with excellent accuracy to boot – was super cool. There is no question this will benefit applicants for the Power Baseball League registration – the time savings alone will equate to hours saved entering data. There is only one word: WIN!

It’s clear this functionality has the potential to find efficiencies for any organization that needs to read data (printed or hand-written) into a system, and Phil’s enthusiasm about the topic is infectious! Many thanks to Phil for joining us on this video!

Forms Processing with Special Guest Phil Topness!

Phil Topness

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/topness/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/topness

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/topness

This is part of the Power Baseball League Series with Kylie Kiser (follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or her Blog). You can follow the series on the Power Baseball League Series Page and the Power Baseball League YouTube Playlist as they are added.

You can find Kylie’s content at the following:

Blog: https://kyliekiser.com/

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylie-kiser/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/KylieKiser

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7jIvOwE4mHsr1Tjk1jj3w

Cover Photo: Photo by Keith Johnston on Unsplash

Power Baseball League: Custom Entities

In our last post, we set up a Model Driven App. CDS provides a fabulous foundational set of entities to work with, but sometimes we need to add our own flare to the system to ensure it meets organizational requirements. To this end, we’re at the stage where we want to create some custom entities to go with the out of the box entities.

We will work through the creation of a custom Registration entity to track each new application. We also create a Season entity and build a few relationships. Plus field creation, form editing, and adding these entities to the Model Driven App.

Join us as we walk through these steps.

Power Baseball League: Custom Entities

We hope you are enjoying our unscripted walk through of these concepts. In this video we made a few missteps as we are still learning too! But we also shared several great tidbits (or timbits for our Canadian friends!) around planning best practices, relationships and currency fields.

What entities are we missing? What would your next step be?

This is part of the Power Baseball League Series with Kylie Kiser (follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or her Blog). You can follow the series on the Power Baseball League Series Page and the Power Baseball League YouTube Playlist as they are added.

You can find Kylie’s content at the following:

Blog: https://kyliekiser.com/

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylie-kiser/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/KylieKiser

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7jIvOwE4mHsr1Tjk1jj3w

Cover Image: Photo by Savannah Rohleder on Unsplash

Power Baseball League: Building the Model Driven App

Last time on the Power Baseball League Kylie got the environment all set-up. I’ve jumped in now and will build out the basic structure of the app with Contacts (people), Accounts (organizations), and Activities (interaction tracking).

I opted to keep this video short and only include the basics. We’ll build out custom entities and fields in future videos, but we need to start with the foundation first.

Follow along this video and see how you can have the basics set-up and ready to roll in less than 10 minutes!

Malcolm dives into creating the Model Driven App to set the foundation for our Power Baseball League management system

For more information, review Nick Doelman’s blog with step by step instructions for creating your Model Driven App.

This is part of the Power Baseball League Series with Kylie Kiser (follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or her Blog). You can follow the series on the Power Baseball League Series Page and the Power Baseball League YouTube Playlist as they are added.

You can find Kylie’s content at the following:

Blog: https://kyliekiser.com/

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylie-kiser/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/KylieKiser

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7jIvOwE4mHsr1Tjk1jj3w

Cover Photo: Thanks to Toa Heftiba for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Power Baseball League: Environment Set-up

To date we’ve spent a great deal of time planning aspects of this project out. We’ve discussed our goals, laid out some requirements and mapped out some elements of the data structure.

ENOUGH TALK – it’s time to start digging into the application!

Following our conversation with Nick Doelman, we finalized our plan; build out a Power App that leverages the Common Data Service (CDS). This will give us the functionality of a relational database while at the same time providing the flexibility to build it out as we need. It also means we’ll be able to leverage the Power Platform and Common Data Model to use hundreds if not thousands of other tools if we need them and still be able to pull that information back into the fold of our solution.

In this video, Kylie sets up the initial environment to get things rolling!

Kylie builds our the framework for our environment. The first step in our Power Baseball League management system coming to life!

This is part of the Power Baseball League Series with Kylie Kiser (follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or her Blog). You can follow the series on the Power Baseball League Series Page and the Power Baseball League YouTube Playlist as they are added.

You can find Kylie’s content at the following:

Blog: https://kyliekiser.com/

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylie-kiser/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/KylieKiser

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7jIvOwE4mHsr1Tjk1jj3w

Power Baseball League: To CRM or Not to CRM with Special Guest Nick Doelman

Special Guest Nick Doelman joins us as we start to design our app. We want to determine if we need traditional CRM (aka Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement) or just a Power App based in the Common Data Service (CDS).

As two people who have been managing traditional CRM systems for quite some time, Kylie and I found our heads automatically go to “of course we need CRM”. But “CRM” as we’ve known it in the past has been changed. Now, we find purpose-built “apps” for things like Sales, Customer Service and Field Service. These are great tools and carry with them the best in breed features of the Microsoft CRM toolset. But what if we don’t need all those bells and whistles? What if all we need are the core entities involved, and then we can add and built out based on our requirements after that?

Nick’s blog post on the subject sheds light on this very topic, and we thought it’d be great to have him on with us to discuss the topic. We are grateful that he accepted! Have a watch as Nick outlines his thoughts on the subject during the recording here. A huge thank you to Nick for joining us for this discussion!

Nick Doelman

Blog: https://readyxrm.blog/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickdoelman/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/readyxrm

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7jIvOwE4mHsr1Tjk1jj3w

This is part of the Power Baseball League Series with Kylie Kiser (follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or her Blog). You can follow the series on the Power Baseball League Series Page and the Power Baseball League YouTube Playlist as they are added.

You can find Kylie’s content at the following:

Blog: https://kyliekiser.com/

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylie-kiser/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/KylieKiser

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7jIvOwE4mHsr1Tjk1jj3w

Cover Photo: Thanks to Eduardo Balderas for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Power Baseball League: Data Mapping

The Power Baseball League management system is starting to take shape! We have already discussed the data we want to capture so now we want to figure out how it all links together and talk through any additional data requirements. This is an important time to talk about relationships and how these relationships will influence the behavior of the system.

This is an interesting time in the project for this discussion. It’s an important aspect of planning our implementation as we need to think as thoroughly as we possibly can about the data structure we’ll need. At the same time we’ve yet to determine which system will serve as the foundation for this initiative, so we don’t have a system construct in mind.

As you’ll see, the discussion covers the core aspects of the project which bring us to a place where we can now begin to look at which system would be the right platform for this project.

Kylie and Malcolm dive into data structure planning on this episode of the Power Baseball League!

This is part of the Power Baseball League Series with Kylie Kiser (follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or her Blog). You can follow the series on the Power Baseball League Series Page and the Power Baseball League YouTube Playlist as they are added.

You can find Kylie’s content at the following:

Blog: https://kyliekiser.com/

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylie-kiser/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/KylieKiser

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7jIvOwE4mHsr1Tjk1jj3w

Power Baseball League: Where To Begin?

We’re well on our way to building out a solution for our Power Baseball League management system, but we wanted to bring the project through the full process of the planning journey.

In our introductory session, we talked about the concept behind what we wanted to do. This was a much longer session that we’d envisioned as every time we turned a corner in the discussion we found more rocks to turn over and explore. It generated a ton of ideas and avenues we could pursue.

In this (much shorter!) video we review those ideas to determine what should be focused on first and how to make a manageable “Phase 1” release. You’ll hear us narrow down the scope and hone in on the basic requirements for that phase 1 release.

Kylie and I dive into building out the goals of the project and refining the list of requirements into a short list for a day one release.

This is part of the Power Baseball League Series with Kylie Kiser (follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or her Blog). You can follow the series on the Power Baseball League Series Page and the Power Baseball League YouTube Playlist as they are added.

You can find Kylie’s content at the following:

Blog: https://kyliekiser.com/

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylie-kiser/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/KylieKiser

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7jIvOwE4mHsr1Tjk1jj3w

Cover Photo: Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

Power Baseball League: Introduction

The Power Baseball League project was an idea I had a while back to build out a full youth baseball league solution using Microsoft Business Applications. I am excited to be working with Kylie Kiser, Microsoft Business Applications MVP, to work together to learn these technologies, share best practices and have fun!

The main driver behind this idea was a desire I’ve had for a long time to use a personal interest to build out a project that could leverage the different tools within the business applications suite. I’ve been involved in this space since 2010 – before the Power Platform was even known as such, and before many of the tools we have at our disposal hit general availability. It’s astounding to step back and look at what Microsoft has created over the years. It’s also overwhelming. There are so many tools available that it’s hard to keep up. Using a personal interest project like this helps one explore the various applications in a fun and unique way!

Join us as we talk about what this Power Baseball League is and the goals for our project. We will also start diving in to requirements to figure out how this project will play out. Listen closely for some best practices around requirements gathering that you can implement in your own projects.

Add your tips, tricks, questions and more in the comments!

You can find Kylie’s content at the following:

Blog: https://kyliekiser.com/

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylie-kiser/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/KylieKiser

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt7jIvOwE4mHsr1Tjk1jj3w

Cover Image: Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash