From Admin to Architect – Some Thoughts

As some of you may know, I took a new job at the start of 2021. I accepted a role as a Senior Solution Architect for a Microsoft Partner organization. Prior to that my positions were at ‘customers’ where my role was to administer CRM and recommend / implement various aspects of technology (primarily Microsoft’s business applications and productivity tools). As an architect, my role would now be to work with customers to support them through their journey. I’ve worked with consultants a great deal over the past 11 years in previous roles and felt I had what it took to be one myself. I am and will forever be grateful that C5 Insight agrees.

This felt like a massive change, but one that I was ready and excited for. I believed I’d be challenged in new ways and I like the idea of working with people to support them as they strive to realize organizational efficiencies through the use of technology in their companies.

So far, I’m loving it. It’s been a welcome change of focus and I feel like many of my past experiences have been helpful in the journey thus far. I started thinking about writing a blog about the shift from “Admin to Architect” about six weeks ago but I couldn’t find the right way to frame it. Every time I tried I’d get stuck trying to identify the key aspects worthy of such a post. Perhaps that’s because a handful of months is still pretty early, so I let the idea of this blog drift from my mind all together.

A while back a friend of mine (the talented, all-around great human and co-Canadian Katherine Taylor) reached out and asked me how I was enjoying the new role and how I felt the transition had been. I ended up typing out a novel of a response considering it was a LinkedIn chat (me, write long winded pieces?! Shocking!). As I re-read my response I realized I’d just written this blog post – I touched on all the things I had in my head but couldn’t seem to get down in this format!

I’m going to share that response with you now, but first I owe a massive THANK YOU to Katie for reaching out with the question in the first place. It was just what I needed to get things “on paper” and out of my brain (if you recall from my very first post, that was one of my goals!).

Here is what I sent Katie, with some minor edits…

[ How has my role shifted – it’s funny you ask that. I’ve been toying with a blog post around becoming an architect, but my imposter syndrome is putting up MASSIVE walls every time I sit down to write or even think about it. I think because I’m still learning what’s all involved in being a “solution architect”.

But you nailed it when you noted the shift from uni-org thinking to multi-org. For example, I could have various projects on the go at any given time and at some times they could be similar in nature. For example, I could have two “on-prem to online” upgrades, but they could take VERY different paths forward.

Perhaps one would opt to move what they have straight up – lift it out of on-prem and putting it in the cloud and fixing any issues that come up. Then they could reassess what new features and functions they’ll have at their finger tips in the cloud and map a path for system enhancement from there. It’s a logical approach that makes great sense for some.

The other, however, could decide to doing a full overhaul of their system. Perhaps they see value in bringing along some of the aspects of their current state system that work well for them. But even then they could have interest in exploring new approaches since there are features and functions of the newest versions that they don’t have access to today. They could quite literally put everything on the table for re-approach/design, and want to be challenged to think differently as they go through the process.

To me, those examples demonstrate that the key shift in my role from the administrator role to that of a solution architect. Really digging to get at what the client wants to do. Additionally, pushing back to challenge where necessary. I think back to when I was on the customer side – I craved partners who would hear me out and validate we were on the right path when we were, but also pushed back when they felt necessary. The ones that did that – who really tried to work with us, were true partners, in my opinion.

There is also a huge element of knowing what’s possible. I spend more time learning and paying closer attention to what’s available. Watching demos, videos, reading – in some cases as part of my day but also just in general. I find I’m reading way more blogs and Microsoft Learn and Microsoft Docs articles/posts than I ever did before. I’ve always wanted to do that but at the customer level I was putting out fires daily, running from one thing to another and trying to keep strategy at the forefront but never truly feeling like I could get there because there was always something else going on that needed attention. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of work to be done, but it’s imperative that we are in the know with respect to the what these tools can and cannot do, and how we might recommend filling gaps.

But it’s impossible to know everything. That’s true of most things in life, but tech in particular because it changes constantly. A new feature or two has probably rolled out since I started writing this! When I interviewed for my new role I talked a LOT about this – to the point that I feared I might actually be talking myself out of the job. I just wanted to make sure that if they were looking for someone who knows everything about every application, I wasn’t their guy. I spent more time talking about my methodology for solving problems and finding answers than I did about what I actually do know (which I know is a lot, but that imposter thing I talked about is a constant dark cloud on my shoulder whispering “…but you probably DON’T know” and “…how on earth do they think you belong in this role?!”). I know others go through this a lot too. It’s normal and I try hard to embrace it, but I can imagine it scares some people from even trying to get into a new role. Of course you have to find the right employer who embraces it as well, and I’m so grateful to say I’ve been very fortunate in that regard. ]

So, there you have it – those are at least some of the thoughts on the subject. I feel as though there is a lot more one could break down in terms of the differences between the admin and architect roles, but these are the things that have resonated with me the most over the past few months. Who knows, maybe I’ll put additional thoughts after a few more months!

Have you made the transition from admin to architect (or, perhaps you’ve gone the other way!)? Do you agree with my comments above? What other factors or considerations would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Photo by Ales Nesetril on Unsplash

Why I contribute

For those of you who don’t know me, this blog is just one aspect of what I try to do in terms of community contribution. I also engage in discussion with various people I’m connected with and share knowledge – either through formal ‘user group’ events or by staying connected with people I meet. I’ve also spoken at various conferences over the years, and co-moderated a panel series segment (alongside the wonderful Ashley Steiner!) for a couple of years. I even contribute articles to our company blog over at C5 Insight.

As many nerds do, I like to keep track of things. A while back I started tracking community contributions I was making and where. Recently I tallied those up to see what all I’d done. I looked back to the start of this blog and realized I’ve averaged over one engagement of some sort per week (not literally weekly, but all total – over 52 posts, panel discussions, speaking engagements, YouTube videos, etc. dating back 12 months)!

An average of once per week made me raise my eyebrows a bit as it felt like a fair amount. I reflected back on some of those posts and sat a little straighter when I did. There are many who do WAYYYY more and I adore them for it – it’s not always easy putting content together. But for what started out as a way to get things out of my own head and to give back to others in some small way, I am proud of the number!

An acquaintance of mine reached out to me one day and during our chat he commented he appreciated one of my posts from months ago and thanked me for putting the content out there. This got me thinking about why I put content together. I thought I’d share what I came up with…

Pay It Forward

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been helped by someone else. Either directly or via a blog, video, presentation at a conference, or even social media engagement. I’ve solved problems, been inspired to try something new, learned new information, or felt validation as a result of someone else’s post. I happen to be fortunate to know that things I’ve put forward have been a help to others because those people have reached out directly and said so. That’s a damn good feeling. I’d like to think that for every one person that reaches out to say so, there are others who do not (totally fine!), so, the reach is bigger than I even know.

It’s not about hearing it was helpful, it’s about making the content available for people to review and use as they need knowing full well we may never understand the benefit it brings.

Creating Brain Space

Every bit of knowledge that gets stored in my brain takes up space. I know I forget things I should know and it’s because I’ve replaced it with something new. Putting my knowledge/thoughts down “on paper” helps me keep track of my own knowledge, identify gaps in that knowledge, and makes room for more. I’m no brain scientist but it makes sense to me, so, I’ll go with it.

The more I share, the more room I have to learn.

I Enjoy It!

This one is pretty simple – do what brings you joy. If you enjoy something, do more of it. No, really, that’s all I’ve got for this one.

It Pushes Me

I may enjoy it, but that’s not to say it’s easy. It takes time, energy and effort. Sometimes I want to write about something but I realize I need to give it more thought or do more research. Ever heard the saying “no better way to learn something than to commit to teaching someone else!”. A lot of truth to that, let me tell you.

It also gives me something to focus on, but there is an interesting balance to be struck here. When I was in a role that was really hectic and stressful, I lost motivation to contribute because it started to remind me of the work that was stressing me out. That wasn’t fun, and instead of a motivational push, it was a ‘push-away’ push. Ask anyone who knows me well – I’m a massive advocate for life-work balance. While I don’t consider this work, it does take effort and if you are setting yourself deadlines and goals, there can be some stress in it. It’s important to take space for you, and not to let it rule you.

But I love the push to continual learn and evolve. We all know the pace of evolution of technology in general is blazing, so there are always new things to pursue. For someone who likes to fidget a lot, having something new is critical.

Those are my key motivators.

If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of sharing content – either writing a blog (doesn’t even need to be formal, make it a doc and share it socially), or sit on a panel discussion about a topic you enjoy, or any other form of content, I encourage you to put yourself out there. There are NEVER too many thoughts and inputs.

Nervous about saying the “wrong thing” – I totally get it! Start with opinion pieces or share your journey – you can’t get those things “wrong” because they are yours!

Do you already share? I’d love to hear the reasons you contribute! Or, who are some of your favourite content creators out there? Name drop a few to help spread awareness of them!!

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Power Baseball League – The Final Pitch

If you watched last weeks episode, you know that we’ve tossed our final pitch of the Power Baseball League!

I have had so much fun doing this – what started out initially as an idea to build out a CRM platform for a youth hockey league turned into so much more. The pivot to Baseball was one thing, but we also learned a ton as we discovered some great features and functions along the way.

When the idea came up, we decided we’d start doing a few and see how they went. We had fun, so we kept doing them, and were joined by some great guests along the way. I never imagined we’d hit 30 videos!

About a month ago Kylie and I started talking about how we wanted to move forward and agreed that it was a natural time to wrap up. Our “project” was at the point in time we’d turn it over to our fictitious customer for testing and such. We could surely continue, but we were ready for a break and to give attention to other areas.

I need to give some seriously HUGE kudos to Kylie for her video editing efforts!! She is the one who produced every video throughout! We wanted this series to be natural – not too scripted or planned other than the core topic and main points and I think we achieved that.

Some might argue we were too loose, but this wasn’t about being super formal. It was about learning and sharing knowledge with those who might consume it. We hope you’ve enjoyed the ride. Who knows, we may circle back to this again some day, or perhaps we’ll tackle a whole new idea. That’s the beautiful thing about what Microsoft has done with the Power Platform – the options are truly limitless!!

As one final video, Kylie spent some time combining all of our goofs and gafs into a Power Baseball League Blooper video – so fun!! We hope you get a chuckle! Thanks so much for watching!!

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

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Power Baseball League: Themes

Hello Baseball Fans!


This week on the Power Baseball League we work on configuring the theme for our app. In some ways, this represents the end of our configuration work on the app as we are now ready to hand it over to the customer. The themes feature allows you to set a custom image and adjust the colour of a number of components within the Model Driven-App.

Have a look as we quickly make some tweaks to our app. We also talk about some considerations, tricks and tips when thinking through the theme for your app.

We’ve included some links in the video description for your reference that should prove helpful as you dive into theming your app.


Beyond this, we’d start to think about testing, training and getting our users ready for go live! Exciting times indeed, and the customer is eager to dig in.


Switching directions, a big announcement is unveiled on this weeks session!! We’ll play the ‘click bait’ game and say, WATCH TO FIND OUT WHAT IT IS!!

Themes and a special message await you here!

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

Photo by Antoine Schibler on Unsplash

Power Baseball League: Security

Ah, the wonderful world of system security! While this topic may make some people run for the hills, it’s critical that anyone implementing or managing any kind of system gives thought to the security model being used.

Dataverse security can be overwhelming. The security role matrix is filled with dots for nearly every system component you can think of. Those dots are used to control the level of access across various types of actions such as create, read, update, delete, (commonly referred to as “CRUD”), among others.

Join Kylie and I as we talk through our approach to security role creation for our Power Baseball League system. We also share some tips and considerations you’ll want to make as you dive into the matrix for yourself.

Kylie and Malcolm discuss Security tips and tricks!

Additionally, Kylie dug up a number of resources she’s produced over the years for additional information, which we’ve linked below and on the video description.

Power Platform 24 Security Overview: https://365.training/Courses/Enroll/Power24-10-2020/64defc7a-5df8-ea11-a815-000d3a3479c5

Collab365 Security Concepts for Dynamics 365 and Dataverse: https://events.collab365.com/c365_sessionroom/gc5-d365-security-concepts-for-dataverse/

Overview of CDS Security: https://link.kyliekiser.com/Overview

Overview of CDS Security: https://link.kyliekiser.com/Overview

Security Concepts: https://link.kyliekiser.com/SecurityConcepts

Security Roles: https://link.kyliekiser.com/SecurityRoles

Field Level Security: https://link.kyliekiser.com/FLS

Model Driven App Security: https://link.kyliekiser.com/MDA

Environment Security: https://link.kyliekiser.com/EnvRoles

Security Groups and Licenses: https://link.kyliekiser.com/SecurityGroups

Hierarchy and Position Security: https://link.kyliekiser.com/PositionSecurity

CoE Starter Kit: https://link.kyliekiser.com/CoE

Deep Dive into Security mechanisms and performance impacts with Marco Amoedo: https://link.kyliekiser.com/Marco

DynamicsCon Best Practices for Dynamics 365 CE Security Design with Kelsey Carrier: https://link.kyliekiser.com/Kelsey

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

Photo by Frankie Lopez on Unsplash

Power Baseball League: Relationships

No, we’re not going to try to give you any relationship advice! This week on the Power Baseball League we dive into the world of table relationships.

Relationships are an important aspect of the Dataverse, but they are sometimes under-thought. Did you know you can control the behaviour of actions on the parent and child records in a 1:N relationship? Did you know that you can control whether a record can be deleted based on its child records?

There is plenty to understand about the structure of relationships, and during project planning it’s important to map these things out. Join Kylie and I as we scratch the surface on the topic of relationships in this weeks episode!

Chatting Dataverse Relationships on Power Baseball League!

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

Cover Photo: Photo by Jimmy Conover on Unsplash

Power Baseball League: Rollup Fields

We’re back at it on the Power Baseball League as we take a swing at Rollup fields. We even touch on Calculated fields as well.

Rollups and Calculated fields are smart fields in Dataverse that are set automatically by other data in the system.

Rollup fields aggregate data from other related records. This aggregate could be a sum or a max or several other options. Plus you can also filter the records that you will aggregate. Calculated fields allow you to use formulas on one or more fields already in your data.

Some quick examples? Total up the number of cases an Account has. Or the number of opportunities, or the value of open opportunities. There are plenty of options out there that could be beneficial for an organization. We touch on a few and implement one of our own today.

In this video, we walk through the step-by-step process to set up a Rollup field. Then we talk through some potential use cases for both types. Finally, we cover some limitations and best practices.

Power Baseball League: Rollup Fields

Did that give you everything you need to get started? If not, you can also review the Docs pages for more information.

See you next week for another exciting topic!

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

Cover Photo: Photo by Nick Jio on Unsplash

Power Baseball League: Business Rules

All sports have rules – well, perhaps not that one that’s got the “No Rules…” in the title, but aside from that, rules are present. Business rules exist in the world of process, too!

Business Rules allow our citizen developers to create form scripting with point-and-click customization. They allow you to do things such as set fields as required, show recommendations, show error messages or set field values. These tools bring immense value to the platform because they increase the flexibility of what we can do with the platform without needing heavy code.

To get started, you can read the docs content. Then watch our video to see us build a simple rule and share some tips and tricks.

Power Baseball League: Business Rules

It’s time to go build your own Business Rules! What are the coolest uses for them you can think of?

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

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

Power Baseball League: Marketing Lists

Back with another week of Power Baseball League! Last time we dove into detail on creating and using E-mail Templates. Today we take the next logical step and start to configure our Marketing Lists. We also talk about Quick Campaigns and how they might be useful.

Getting Started

To be able to use Quick Campaigns and Marketing lists you do need to enable the Dynamics 365 Sales app. This can be done within your environment settings. However, this does require you to have enabled your environment for Dynamics 365 Apps when you create it.

Here are a few docs to review:

Marketing Features

We tackle two topics today; Quick Campaigns and Marketing lists. Quick Campaigns allow you to create Activities for a group of records. This could be Phone Calls for the owners to complete, sending a template email, sending an ad hoc email and more.

Marketing lists let you define a set of records that you can market to later. These can be done in a couple of different ways – dynamic (where list members are generated based on a query and pulled at the time of use), or static, meaning the list must be manually curated by adding and removing members ‘by hand’.

Check out the video to see the step-by-step creation of quick campaigns and marketing lists. We will also talk about the difference between Static and Dynamic Marketing Lists noted above. Plus a few tips, tricks and lessons learned thrown in there too!

Marketing Lists, Quick Campaigns, and more!

Have you been using these tools? How can this benefit your organization?

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: E-mail Templates

Welcome back to the Power Baseball League! Today we are going to talk about E-mail Templates. Somehow it is already March and that means its real life MLB baseball season! Malcolm couldn’t be happier about spring training starting (not to mention the Toronto Blue Jays are looking pretty solid – not likely our year just yet but the team is fun to watch!).

This week we dove into e-mail templates. Warning: the Dynamics 365 email editor does not have many glamourous features. We believe this is intentional as the Dynamics 365 Marketing platform comes with far enhanced tools, though we did notice some enhancements that are nice additions.

You can definitely create useful notifications and emails from the out of the box features. In today’s video, we create an email template. However, we had some unexpected twists as we went through the process in the new UI. Watch the video to see and hear about our experience. Plus learn some tips on how to use this in a real world scenario. 

Power Baseball League: E-mail Templates

How do you use email templates in your organization? What potential uses do you see for this feature?

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

Photo by Eduardo Balderas on Unsplash