CRM MVP Question and Answer – Donna Edwards

Today’s CRM MVP is one I have been nagging to answer my questions for quite a while and finally she has relented, HAZAAR.  So this week’s CRM MVP is Donna Edwards from America.

I have greatly appreciated and personally benefited from all the great work Donna has done in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM community with all the great content she has created and shared. I have sometimes been certain that Donna must have been twins or maybe triplets with the amount of content she has created but as the CRM community is often heard singing

“there’s only one Donna Edwards, one Donna Edwards, there’s only one Donna Edwards”.

That was a topical football joke.

Donna has used Microsoft Dynamics CRM since version 1.2 and according to her CRM MVP Biography Donna can work in all 37 CRM positions, although for big projects I would recommend you hire a whole team and not just Donna.

Donna is one of the many CRM MVP’s who got together to write the excellent CRM Field Guide, which is not a book about fields, Meadows and taking long walks next to babbling brooks but actually a book about the good practices CRM MVP’s have for all aspects of CRM.

Donna Edwards has been awarded the MVP award for 6 years since the year 2009.

During convergence 2014 many people reported a whirlwind called Donna blew through the conference spinning people a full 360 so they weren’t quite sure what happened.  During convergence 2014 Donna kept all those who couldn’t make it up to date with some great tweets and tweet pics which at one point almost brought down twitter.

Donna is one of the fastest CRM tweeters in the world with a top speed of 5 CRM tweets per minute beating her CRM MVP rival Mark “nzCRMguy” Smith.  I would definitely recommend following on Donna and Mark on CRM if you want to keep up with the latest CRM news (I surely don’t have to say you should follow me, do I? ok just in case @BenHosk).


Donna has 10 CRM certifications, including 4 CRM 2013 certs.

Here are the highlights from the excellent Rockstar 365


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I did find some interesting nuggets of information on her Amazon biography, Donna is a Granny, Staffordshire Terrier owning Golf player

Donna Edwards was born in Dayton, Ohio. She was born into a Catholic family in the mid 1950’s and has three brothers and two sisters. Donna spent her formative years in Ohio with her family and later moved to southern California where she spent a few years in Los Angeles and the next 30 years in San Diego county (primarily in the Encinitas / Carlsbad area). Donna currently lives in the Carolinas. She has three children and two grandchildren.

In her personal life, Donna enjoys spending time with family, friends, her three Staffordshire Terriers, playing golf, enjoying the waterways of the Carolinas, staying current on technology, and giving back.


Donna has a youtube channel

Once a month she bullies/persuades some CRM MVP’s to get together for one hour to discuss CRM.  This are very good and recommend you tune in.

The last one was about CRM 2013 SP1



Thanks for Donna for answering my questions

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

Donna Edwards, Architect, Hitachi Solutions America




Microsoft CRM MVP 

Rockstar 365


What does an average day at work look like

This year I’ve been working as the Functional Lead for an international, enterprise level project.  That role includes discovery, design, configuration, prototyping, mentoring and more.  Basically, whatever needs to be done with the exception of code writing and data migration.


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

Just about everything with the exception of developer.


What job did you did before you starting using CRM

I was a Software Release Manager for a Public Safety Software Development company.


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

I deployed CRM 1.2.  I think I was one of the few who took the application certification exam as well.  Those of us who came from that era definitely have some war stories J


How do you stay up to date with the CRM

With the new rapid cadence, Microsoft is definitely keeping us on our toes.  I participate in TAP programs, watch training videos, try to play with the application as time permits and help people in the forums and on facebook.  The time I spend helping others also helps me because I often have to research or confirm answers before I provide them.


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

If I went looking for time I wouldn’t find it.  I have to make time.  The primary thing that helps me make time is the people I interact with.  Yes, there are always a few who just want to grouse and they can be a drain but 99.9% of the people appreciate the help provided.  I enjoy interacting with the community and sharing knowledge.  I’ve met a lot of good people through the interactions and that makes the time spent well worth it.


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

Ensure you enjoy working with people.  The CRM product is all about people.  It’s about helping companies understand and interact with their customer and staff.  If you enjoy working with people and software then you will most likely be successful.  The rest is training and that is the easy part.


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

When initially comparing 2011 and 2013 I immediately noticed the dated look of 2011.  Having said that, I was concerned about the navigation changes but I also understood why they were necessary and confident that Microsoft would address any significant issues reported by the community.  In general, I was quite excited because I saw this as a new platform that was going to undergo rapid development as Microsoft moved into its new deployment strategy.


What one feature would you add to CRM 2013

Drive configuration control into the hands of the individual user.  By that I mean, give users the ability to make more decisions about what they see in the application and how they consume it.  Let users decide what and when to sync through Outlook, form layout, navigation and more.  Of course, all of that being done within the current context of user security to ensure they don’t have access to information they should not and any action they take does not compromise the system.


Most annoying feature of CRM 2013

Losing focus on the Ribbon when scrolling right.  The good news is that I believe that is addressed in SP1 J


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


Hosks Dynamic CRM blog

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community – because it is a feed for multiple blogs



What year will Microsoft Dynamics CRM have more customers than Sales force

With the recent news, maybe we should be asking what year will Dynamics CRM & Salesforce become one application.  Imagine the market dominance that paradigm offers.


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

I do believe the shift is online.  I still work primarily in OnPremise since most of my projects are enterprise at this time.  However, almost all projects include Office 365 which I find an interesting trend.  That tells me that the move to Online is well underway and established.  With recent changes to Dynamics CRM online offering like the ability to have a Sandbox environment, asynchronous scaling, etc., we’re going to see more enterprise clients making the shift.


What is the best tool/solution you have used recently

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 😉  In all honesty, I’ve used a lot of good solutions, too many to mention.  Each has a purpose and within that purpose, they are all stellar.


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

I do work hard to stay current with certifications and have all of my Dynamics CRM 2013 certifications to include several 2011, a few CRM 3 and one CRM 1.2.


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

It’s a business application so one has to understand the language of business which include the ability to analyze information.  If you are a problem solver who possesses the ability to solve short term issues with an eye for the future, then you should do quite well working with the product.


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

It is good to understand programming.  Dynamics CRM is an extensible application so one should be able to understand those capabilities in addition to understanding what is available out-of-the-box.  The product and clients are well served by people who are able to understand, consume and leverage the right combination of product features for any given 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 had some degree of experience with most software systems integration to include the ones mentioned above as well as Experlogix, Click Dimensions, Dynamics Marketing, Dynamics Social Listening, Parature, Great Plains, Dynamics AX…….


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

One of the reasons I joined Hitachi Solutions is because they work to keep travel to less than 50%.  That helps me to maintain the balance I need to keep my life in some semblance of order.


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

Not unless one of the ideas I have launches and turns into a million dollar enterprise.  If that happens, then I’ll be a customer of Dynamics CRM so either way, I’m all in.


What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP

For me, it’s all about community.  When I began my CRM career with version 1.2 there was no community.  I struggled to get my hands on documentation.  There were no user groups, no Facebook pages, there was little to nothing.  The online Dynamics CRM community did not exist.  The desire to have and share information with others who were not connected became the motivating factor for getting involved with the Dynamics community  The MVP award came as a result of that work.


What are your hobbies outside of CRM

Family, friends, my three Staffordshire Terriers, ocean, lakes and waterways, rafting, sometimes golf and spending time outdoors.


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

I’m an avid movie watcher so I’ve watched just about everything with the exception of horror flicks.  The Art of Happiness by Dalia Lama, Choice Theory by M.D. Glasser William ( I read them at the same time by switched back and forth)


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

No, I try to keep work / personal life balance.


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

No, they understand and are supportive.


Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself

I left school in the 9th grade, completed some self-study and later went on to pursue and complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology.



Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)


Steve Jobs or Bill Gates

Both great innovators and have made an impact on the world.  Based on that, I can’t choose.


Javascript or .NET



Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox/Safari



Wine/Beer/Soft Drink

Water, Tea, Coffee


Certifications or Use CRM



twerking or tweeting

I like a little twerk in the tweet


books or ebooks



save or autosave



OnLine or On Premise



Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other

Win 8


work from home or work from office



Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus

Cyrus plant





Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox



Early Bird/Night Owl



Do Today/Do Tomorrow



CRM Developer/CRM Consultant



Hot Weather/Cold Weather



Half Full/Half Empty