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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: Customer Voice and Power Automate with Special Guest Todd Mercer

It’s time for another special guest! Todd Mercer (BlogLinkedInTwitter) joins the Power Baseball League crew to talk about Customer Voice and Power Automate. We talk through how the Dynamics 365 Customer Voice responses come in to Dataverse (formerly Common Data Service). Then how we will use Power Automate to move that data around.

This is a great discussion where we discuss multiple ways the solution could be architected. Plus talk through some of the constraints to keep in mind. We hope you enjoy listening to us work through our struggles to make a plan with actionable next steps!

Power Baseball League: Customer Voice and Power Automate with Special Guest Todd Mercer

How would you solve this same issue? What other ways could we architect this solution?

This is part of the Power Baseball League Series with Kylie Kiser (follow her on LinkedInTwitter 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

You’re Live, Now What?! – Data Integrity

I’d taken a break from the “You’re Live, Now What?!” series in favour of another initiative. This was one post that I’ve sat on for WAY too long. Finally getting around to posting it to the series. Enjoy!

Data is the heartbeat of many organizations today. Long gone are the days where we need to base decisions on what we “think” is happening. Instead we can, and should, lean on data to inform us on what’s really happening.

Over the past couple of years the first thing I do when I think about purchasing anything is read reviews of the product. The more reviews, the more confidence I have in the general sentiment of the reviewers. That is to say – the more information I have, the better informed I feelt.

This extends into our internal systems at work. Data is a critical aspect in our endeavor to understand how we’re doing as a company. As such, we must take steps to ensure that data has strong governance around it’s integrity. Why? Because if data is erroneous we run the risk of erroneous decisions.

Let’s be real – we are “busier” than ever. We manage multiple projects, sit in various meetings about different projects/initiatives, and have many conversations in a day. As a result, our attention to detail is compromised. It may be that we’re documenting something hours or even days after it took place, or we’re inputting data while thinking about the next three things we need to be focused on. The result? Errors.

They are inevitable. We can, and should, strive to prevent them from happening but we must accept that they will come up. With this in mind, it is essential that we have a plan to deal with data integrity challenges that may arise.

There are some tactics that can be implemented to help foster a culture of ‘clean data’.

Limit Hands in the Pot

Does everyone in the company need access to every part of the data management system? Perhaps we can identify methods to streamline process by having data flow through a data steward or be reviewed before it’s entered. Limiting the number of people that have edit permissions can decrease the potential for error. It reduces the number of people that need insight into the ‘how’ the data is entered/managed. That said, it’s important to note the value of having documentation to outline the data entry/management processes.

Data Clean-Up Efforts

Everyone is responsible for the data, so everyone should be responsible for auditing the system for data integrity. This can be done in various ways – perhaps a scheduled day each month where teammates perform random audits on records that were entered to look for completeness and/or errors. But don’t make this a ‘find the problems’ adventure – perhaps create a process whereby teammates are rewarded for excellence in data management practices.

Dashboards / Reports

Use tools like this to look for common data integrity issues. For example, set-up dashboards or reports that show records that are missing key data entries. The name of the game is to develop things that shouldn’t have any results – for example, Accounts with no Address or Country data. If results show up on the list, they need attention. If all records have been entered cleanly, the result of this dashboard/report will be zero, so, no effort needed. Of course you should look to ensure critical data is set to required where possible to avoid mistakes in the first place, but this isn’t always possible.

Training

Training is not a one-and-done exercise. It needs on-going attention. You can use tools like the dashboard/report exercise to hone in on areas that need extra attention (example: notice that you find records from user X always missing the same important information? Schedule a time to discuss with them – use it as a training opportunity but also dig into why they might be missing it as perhaps there is a system change that can be made to make things more efficient).

It’s a Team Effort

Not to be overlooked is the simple act of talking about the importance of data integrity. Bring it up in your weekly/monthly calls with the team. Talk about why paying close attention to data is important and how it pays dividends to the company as a whole. When users understand the ‘why’ behind it, they are going to be more diligent in their attention to detail when entering and managing data.

These are just a few tips. There are others ideas out there. Have some of your own? I’d love to hear them! Drop them in the comments section or engage in the social post promoting this entry.

We’re all learning! Why not learn together?

Cover Photo: Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

Power Baseball League: Dynamics 365 Customer Voice Creation

Let’s continue the Power Baseball League journey by starting the Dynamics 365 Customer Voice creation process!

So far we’ve talked about getting data into our system via manual import (hello historic spreadsheets!). Next we tackled Forms Processing to handle any hand written applications. Finally, last week built out a Power App to take a snap of the form and processes it. From a picture directly into the system – Amazing!! 

Now, we want to empower our applicants to input data directly into our system on their own! This is the ultimate organizational efficiency goal as it means our team doesn’t need to do anything. No messing around with imports, no taking pictures of forms and hoping they don’t have any readability issues. This puts the power of data entry onto the registrant themselves. All we have to do is review the data as it arrives. Sweet! 

There are several parts to this. This is one of those situations where we’ll need a bit of extra work up front. First, we needed to build out the webfrom itself. We built this using Dynamics 365 Customer Voice.

In a few weeks, we will show you how we take this submitted data and move it around. Using Power Automate we will shift data from the form submission over to our Power Baseball League data management system.

Creating the Customer Voice and sharing some laughs along the way!

NEXT STEPS

Now it’s your turn! Turn on Customer Voice in your environment and build a form. This data will go directly into Dataverse (Common Data Service). Then you can determine what to do with each data element. More on this to come after Thanksgiving.

What’s next for you? What forms could your organization benefit from?

This is part of the Power Baseball League Series with Kylie Kiser (follow her on LinkedInTwitter 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: Add Forms Processing to a Power App

Last week, we set up a Forms Processing Model. Today we are going to add Forms Processing to a Power App! This simple App will allow us to take a snapshot of the application and get the data. Then all this data will be fed directly into our CDS Environment. The app can be created in 15 minutes or less and creates huge organizational efficiencies!

This video starts with the model already up and running. We will walk through the full set up of the Power App. This includes embedding the Forms Processing component and then submitting this data through a form. It will be a simple yet functional app that we can improve on later.

This app will make it even easier for the Power Baseball League team to get hand written registrations into the system!

Kylie works through the process of adding forms processing to a Power App

RESOURCES ON HOW TO ADD FORMS PROCESSING TO A POWER APP

How have you used this technology for your organization? Share your Forms Processing success stories with #PowerBaseballLeague and let’s learn together!

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: Build a Forms Processing Model

Last week we talked about getting started with a Data Import so we want to look at more ways to keep bringing data into the system. That means we are going to build a Forms Processing Model!

You may remember our first attempt at the forms processing function with Phil Topness a few weeks ago was based on the historical registration form for the Power Baseball League. In the spirit of finding efficiencies and simplifying process, we decided to shorten the form, both to make it easier for people to sign up, but also to simplify the form processing model. 

During this video, Kylie sets up and trains the model for the improved form! Take note of how short this video is. It is super quick and easy to create and train the model!

FORMS PROCESSING RESOURCES

To get started on your own, check out these docs resources:

I hope you learned from today’s quick video! What forms are you going to start processing?

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: 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.