CRM MVP Question and Answer – Blake Scarlavai

This weeks MVP is Blake Scarlavai from Chicago and this is what Wikipedia tells me about Chicago (Wiki doesn’t tell us anything about Blake!)

Chicago (Listeni/ʃɪˈkɑːɡ/ or /ʃɪˈkɔːɡ/) is the third most populous city in the United States, after New York City and Los Angeles. With 2.7 million residents,[1] it is the most populous city in both the U.S. state of Illinois and the American Midwest. Its metropolitan area, sometimes called Chicagoland, is home to 9.5 million people and is the third-largest in the United States.[2] Chicago is the seat of Cook County.[a]

The name “Chicago” is derived from a French rendering of the Native American word shikaakwa, translated as “wild onion” or “wild garlic”


Blake is one of the brand new shiny CRM MVP’s, he only burst out of the MVP egg on April 1st 2014.  So in MVP terms he is merely a new born baby and here he is


His MVP bio is rather short

About bscarlavai

CRM developer for 6 years since CRM 3.0 working at Sonoma Partners

I can’t find much on Blake  so lets just move onto the Q&A


Thanks for Blake for answering my questions, greatly appreciated

If you want to read previous CRM MVP Q&A by clicking the link on the header – HOSK’S CRM MVP Q&A



Name, current job title and social media links please

Blake Scarlavai

Senior Developer / Manager at Sonoma Partners


Twitter: @bscarlav


What does an average day at work look like

85% developing or designing for clients and 15% internal (management, meetings, blogging)


What different roles/Job titles have you had whilst using CRM

Started as a Developer and moved into a Senior Developer / Manager role


What job did you did before you starting using CRM

None.  Almost 6 and a half years ago I graduated college and came straight to Sonoma Partners to develop for CRM 3.0/4.0 at the time.


What was the first version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you worked with and how long have you been using Microsoft Dynamics CRM

CRM 3.0, almost 6 and a half years


How do you stay up to date with the CRM

Twitter, blogs, TAP program


How do you find time to contribute to the CRM community whilst doing your job

Mainly after hours blogging about an interesting/unique topic I found during the day or working on a CRM tool as a side project. I will try to hop on the forums in the morning or at lunch as well to see if I can provide any help.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a successful career in Microsoft Dynamics CRM?

It is definitely helpful to take the time to learn the product first and the best way to learn is to take a certification or play around with CRM hands-on. As a developer, we typically want to solve everything with custom code but that can be very costly and inefficient.  It would be very valuable to your company or client if you know the capabilities of CRM as you should always try to go native and supported before trying to dive in with custom development.


What where your first impressions of CRM 2013 and what do you think now.

First impressions were that it looked great.  I love the flat UI and it is less clicky.  After using it, I think the navigation could use a bit of help but what is always nice about CRM is that it is so flexible that developers can fill the gaps with custom code.  Some MVPs have already done that by providing different solutions to help enhance the navigation.  Convergence also got me excited for the future of CRM 2013.  Functionality like Unified Service Desk and Social Listening look great!


What one feature would you add to CRM 2013

More flexibility for Custom Actions.  Custom Actions have a lot of potential but currently they can only be called from custom code. Allowing the ability to call them from workflows or even Portable Business Logic would greatly increase their usefulness.


Most annoying feature of CRM 2013

The navigation.  If you’re upgrading from 2011 and you have a lot of navigation items then you will most likely need to re-think them when upgrading to 2013 or build a web resource to help group the navigation items better.


You favourite 2 CRM blogs (I have filled the first one in for you)

1.  Hosks Dynamic CRM blog

2.  Besides of course, I enjoy Jukka Niiranen’s blog .  He provides some excellent and unique content and goes into great detail.


Are you doing more CRM projects with CRM online?  Do you think it will all be online in the future

Yes, we have a nice varienty of both CRM online and on-premise projects.  I don’t think it can be all online in the future though, at least the near future.  We have a few clients that can’t be online due to their industry.


What is the best tool/solution you have used recently

Scott Durrow’s Ribbon Workbench, it is excellent!


What CRM certifications do you have, do you try and keep up to date with CRM certifications

Currently only CRM 3.0 but I am looking forward to completing the 2013 exams.


How important is it to have good business analytical skills working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Very important.  Either you or someone on your team needs to be able to understand the business and know how to design CRM to fit the needs.


How useful is it to have programming knowledge to become a good Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?

I don’t think it is necessary to be a good CRM Professional but more than likely, someone on your team will need to have some development knowledge to have a successful CRM project.


What knowledge/experience do you have with software/systems which integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM e.g. (sharepoint, SQL Server, Scribe, Etc)

I’ve done many SharePoint integrations and I have colleagues with expertise in SQL Server and Scribe to help me out in those areas.


How often do you travel as a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?

Depends but usually only 15% of the year.


Can you see yourself not using CRM in your career in the future

Sure, who knows what will happen in 20 or even 10 years but I do think CRM can keep me busy for a really long time.


What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP

I’m not sure yet, today’s my first day!  But I’m looking forward to getting to know the other MVPs better and getting closer to the product team.


What are your hobbies outside of CRM

Developing, video games, movies, and traveling


What was the last book you read and what was the last film you watched

Book – A Storm of Swords

Movie – The Grand Budapest Hotel


Has CRM ever got you in trouble with your partner/family.

Maybe a few times doing some late night hackathons while trying to release a CRM tool.

Have you friends ever told you to stop talking/tweeting/blogging about CRM? What does your partner/family member(s) think of CRM

Sometimes but they are glad I am passionate about something.


Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself

In this day and age, I think it is pretty unusual that I’ve been at one company for almost 6 and a half years!  That’s just how great Sonoma Partners is!

P.S. – we’re hiring!  :)


Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing

Besides my colleagues Mike Snyder and Jim Steger, I had the honor of meeting Shan McArthur at the BUILD conference in 2011.


Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP

The nice thing is that there isn’t one defined path and it is flexible based on your expertise.  I think the easiest first step is to get on twitter and start a blog as well as join your local CRMUG and browse the forums to see if you can help.  From there you can gather speaking ideas for conference sessions or webinars or as a developer, build some free custom tools/utilities.

Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)


Steve Jobs or Bill Gates

Bill Gates


Javascript or .NET



Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox/Safari



Wine/Beer/Soft Drink



Certifications or Use CRM



twerking or tweeting



books or ebooks



save or autosave



OnLine or On Premise

on premise


Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other

Windows 8


work from home or work from office



Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus






Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox



Early Bird/Night Owl

early bird


Do Today/Do Tomorrow

do today


CRM Developer/CRM Consultant

crm developer


Hot Weather/Cold Weather

hot weather


Half Full/Half Empty

half full


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