CRM MVP Question and Answer – Steven Foster

We are going to upside down territory today as we head on down or up to New Zealand.  Just to be clear Steven Foster is not the same Stephen Foster who was as we all know the father of American Music.  To my knowledge Steven Foster CRM MVP is not father to any kind of music……….yet.

 

Here is the MVP Bio

Biography
Steven is the Product and Marketing Manager for the leading Microsoft partner Intergen in New Zealand. Steven is an MVP, Microsoft VTSP, has an active blog and is on the committee of the Dynamics CRM usergroup in Auckland.
Steven has been a speaker at many events across the world on the topic of CRM during his 15 years focussing on delivering and selling CRM solutions. Steven has multi industry expertise and has delivered both small and global CRM implementations.

His current role sees him focusing on driving the CRM business within the New Zealand marketplace and managing Intergen’s business partners for CRM. In this role he is focussed on delivering business outcomes from pre sales through to delivery where he plays an active QA role across a number of implementations.

In summary, Steven is a well-balanced professional consultant with a wealth of project experience of both small and large engagements, and over time has built up an extensive consultant toolkit of practical tools and techniques.

 

He has written some great posts on his blog recently

How do I make the SLA timers change colour?

ClickDimensions – Jazzing up the form with the code editor

 

Thanks for Steve 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

 

Steven Foster

Dynamics CRM Product and Marketing Manager

https://twitter.com/FozzyNZ

http://rockstar365.com/fozzynz

http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevefoster

http://nakedcrm.com  (blog)

 

What does an average day at work look like

My role varies very much day to day. My focus is on driving the Dynamics business and in particular Dynamics CRM, enabling sales, marketing and delivery to deliver the best CRM outcomes. An average day would probably see me first taking a look at any latest blog posts and reviewing my Twitter feed, that may lead me to review a new add on, working with the sales team on new or existing customer, answering any posts from our CRM interest group on Yammer, working with any of our partners on new opportunities. Other days would see me focus on TAP programs or marketing initiatives or new partner add-ons.

 

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

Many over my 15 years working in CRM – CRM Consultant, Senior Consultant, Solution Architect, CRM Practice Manager, CRM Solution Specialist, CRM Product and Marketing Manager.

 

What job did you did before you starting using CRM

I was a RPG 4 programmer (AS400) on a product called ICMS. I quickly moved on to a Business Analyst and Process Analyst before starting my CRM journey with Siebel in the 90s.

 

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

The first version I worked with was Dynamics 1.0. I worked on Dynamics and Siebel at the same time before really solely focussing on Dynamics at V3.

 

How do you stay up to date with the CRM

I read lots of blogs, I attend the Early adoption programmes (TAP) for all new releases of CRM, I attend Convergence each year, and I play a lot with CRM for demos, and trying out new solutions and ideas. Plus I speak a lot with my peers.

 

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

I am lucky my role allows me to be a CRM evangelist and contribute to the community. But I spend a lot of time outside of work as a committee member of the CRM User Group, updating and adding content via my blog, posting on twitter links or comments that I find useful, and generally contributing where I can add value. When I am not doing CRM, I spend a lot of quality time with my Wife and 2 girls and anytime I have left over which is very little I like a game of golf now and again!

 

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

My main tip would be to understand what CRM means, forget the technology for once but understand what the core drivers and outcomes are from delivering a great CRM experience. If you understand the desired outcomes you will better understand how Dynamics CRM can deliver them. If you start from the product you will be blindsided by the technology and may over complicate what is a simple process.

 

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

First impressions were clean, simple and some cool new features, one of my favourites being quick view. After using it for a while the new menu structure can become tedious if you do not plan it well as a slight drop in your cursor or finger and you have to start again. But other than that still love it and cannot wait for the new updates coming in Q2 and Q4.

 

What one feature would you add to CRM 2013

Visualisation of interactions over time with a Customer and a marketing calendar view. Whoops thats 2!

 

Most annoying feature of CRM 2013

Unfortunately would be the new menu structure when it spans a page, if you keep it simple or use say Easy navigate then this overcomes the issues.

 

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

Hosks Dynamic CRM blog

Surviving CRM http://niiranen.eu/crm/

 

 

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

Quality rather than quantity! But not long CRM 2013 the advancements in CRM and the lack of in Salesforce will lead to greater uptake and growth, all said it will be a few years yet.

 

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

I think in the future yes but now more hosted than online and that is probably a little to do with where I live New Zealand and this causes some issues with latency to CRM online.

 

What is the best tool/solution you have used recently

I just love ClickDimensions, its ease of usage and capability makes it a great add on and complements Dynamics CRM beautifully.

 

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

I do my best but been a little slack lately I am a MCP but do need to update my certifications in the latest versions when my diary permits!

 

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

Depends on your role, but you cannot be a great consultant unless you have these skills. Dynamics CRM 2013 is very much process driven and with any CRM system unless you understand the business needs you cannot deliver a great CRM solution.

 

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

Again depends on your role, but to be honest less and less these days with Dynamics, you can do so much with configuration that the role of the developer is diminishing. But to have some groundings in development and data model structure does help.

 

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

I can spell them! I understand them from a business perspective and functional perspective but I leave the integration to my technical team! I am very much a business orientated consultant with strong analytical and knowledge of CRM systems, best practices, and driving great outcomes, but my developer days are truly in the past!

 

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

My role sees me travelling a lot around New Zealand and Australia and occasionally across to the US. To be honest in all of my roles from when I was living in England to now I have travelled. But that is what has made me what I am now, exposing me to so many different industries and customers has given me a lot of knowledge and experience to draw upon.

 

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

No, I love CRM it’s my niche.

 

What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP

Being a part of the community and helping to shape the future of Dynamics CRM.

 

What are your hobbies outside of CRM

Golf, walking, beach, spending time with my two young girls (5 and 7) and a little bit of reading. Also working on my side business Push My Button, reselling the HappyorNot customer feedback solution from Finland.

 

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

John Grisham Sycamore Row and film 12 years a slave.

 

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

Got me in trouble, umm, only when I get the opportunity to go with the team to Convergence in New Orleans and what a party we had!

 

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

Yes! Partner is very proud of me achieving my goal of MVP. I set out just over a year ago to achieve it and now I have.

 

Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself

On my honeymoon (in Australia) I licked a green ants back end to supposedly give you a vitamin C rush, and it did.

 

Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing

Matthew Wittemann

 

Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP

Become part of the CRM community, share insights through the multitude of channels, network and attend Convergence, you will meet so many people and learn so much that it’s an invaluable experience.

 

Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)

 

Steve Jobs or 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

 

Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other

 

work from home or work from office

 

Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus

 

Vinyl/CD’s/MP3’s/Subscribe

 

Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox

 

Early Bird/Night Owl

 

Do Today/Do Tomorrow

 

CRM Developer/CRM Consultant

 

Hot Weather/Cold Weather

 

Half Full/Half Empty

 

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Matt Wittemann

Today’s CRM MVP is the Reverend Matt Wittemann, he is a deeply religious man and his religion is Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  Matt is based in the USA, I like to keep people informed of the location of the CRM MVP’s, just in case there is a CRM emergency and you need to contact your nearest CRM MVP.

The reason for my waffling on about religion is because Matt is the author of the book Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Administration Bible and here is a good review from fellow CRM MVP Leon Tribe

Matt has been using Microsoft CRM since version 1.2!

 

Matt Wittemann is a 9 times CRM MVP, here is his MVP Biography

Mr. Wittemann is an nine-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for Dynamics CRM and the author of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Administration Bible (Wiley, 2011). As a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of North Carolina (Charlotte), Mr. Wittemann began his career as a web technologist with a focus on digital marketing and corporate communications. He has been working with Microsoft CRM since 2003 as a solution architect, developer, consultant and practice leader. In 2005 Microsoft recognized one of his first CRM projects with a national award for solution excellence, and in 2006 he received his first MVP award, primarily for his widely-read blog and contributions to the nascent Microsoft CRM community. Since that time his writings on CRM have been published in numerous periodicals and websites, and he has spoken internationally about using Dynamics CRM to support effective marketing processes. As the Chief Customer Officer at ClickDimensions, Mr. Wittemann oversees the customer and operations teams with responsibility for ensuring customer success from onboarding through training, certification, product planning, community development, and technical support.

Also looking at his CRM MVP page you can see he has some talks coming up this year

Recent activities

 

Thanks for Matt 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

 

QUESTIONS and ANSWERS

Name, current job title and social media links please

Matt Wittemann, Chief Customer Officer, ClickDimensions

@mattnc

Blog: http://blog.clickdimensions.com

http://mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/mvp/Matt%20Wittemann-33756

 

What does an average day at work look like

At ClickDimensions, I get to do all the things I have always loved about working with Microsoft CRM. I oversee customer onboarding, training, technical support, our certification program and a number of other projects and responsibilities. So a typical day is spent talking to customers and partners helping them understand how to use CRM and ClickDimensions to achieve their marketing automation goals, troubleshooting technical issues, helping to design and test new features, writing blog articles and product documentation, answering community posts on our forums, delivering administrator training, and more. It really varies from day to day, but is always challenging and interested. The best part of my job is that I learn new things every day, even after working with Microsoft CRM for 11 years.

 

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

I have been a CRM and web technologies consultant, a Solution Architect, then a Director of a CRM Practice, a short stint as a Chief Operating Officer, and now the best title yet: Chief Customer Officer. My roles have included everything from CRM implementation, solution architecture, pre-sales engineering, technical support, developer, trainer, business analyst, project manager and team leader, integration specialist, author, speaker… Sheesh, there’ve been a lot!

 

What job did you did before you starting using CRM

I started off as a web developer and designer. When Microsoft introduced CRM back in 2003, it was their first web-based, fully .NET business application. My existing customers had a need for something like that, and since it was a web-based technology, it was a natural progression to working with CRM full-time.

 

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

My first paid implementation of CRM was with version 1.2, eleven years ago.

 

How do you stay up to date with the CRM

I read constantly and always play around with different scenarios in test environments and usually have 4 or 5 trials of CRM Online going at any one time. I like to learn hands on, and when I hear someone in the CRM community has a specific challenge, it’s always fun to see if I can figure out a way to solve it. I also follow a lot of great people on Twitter, which is a great way to get links to the most relevant new articles and stay on top of developments in the CRM world.

 

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

That’s always a challenge, but in the years since I’ve started working with CRM, the community has grown up and there are lots of channels where I can participate. I really enjoy when I have a chance to participate in a CRMUG or eXtremeCRM conference and present or take part in a panel discussion. It’s just become part of my daily routine to write, tweet, blog, and more. Of course, there are some times when there are too many plates spinning, so it’s hard to stay involved at the same high level with the community, but when my schedule allows, I always jump at the opportunity.

 

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

My advice is to be committed to continuing to learn. The technology we work with is endless, and the ways that businesses use it is similarly infinite. Find the things that excite your interest and start there. The best CRM professionals are the ones who are passionate about what they do and always learning how to do it better, whether that is a technical role like a developer, or a business-focused role like an analyst or consultant.

 

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

My first impression was that the single-page app design was very attractive but also a big change. I like the emphasis on process in the UI, but honestly I still prefer 2011’s navigation. I may be an exception in that my work is not restricted to one area of CRM or even a small group of processes, so I tend to be all over the application and like to have several windows open with different parts of CRM quickly available to me, so the single-page app design is not a great fit for how I work.

 

What one feature would you add to CRM 2013

Sticky navigation. If I navigate to an area deep in the Settings for example, it would be great to have a breadcrumb type navigation to show me where I am, and make it easier to get to adjacent parts of the application without having to go back to a higher-level of navigation. (There are some nice solutions on codeplex for this, by the way!)

 

Most annoying feature of CRM 2013

The back button in the browser, or the “save and close” doesn’t always take you back predictably to the last thing you were working on. But I’m sure the CRM team will continue to iron out the wrinkles – 2013 was a huge change, so it will get better over time.

 

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

 

Hosks Dynamic CRM blog – Of course this was going to be my first choice!

It’s hard to pick a favorite. Jukka Niraanen’s “Surviving CRM” of course has emerged over the last couple of years as a great source, but there is also the Tip of the Day, and the Microsoft Premier Field Engineering (PFE) team has a great blog called “CRM In the Field” with tons of informative technical content.

 

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

One year after Salesforce finally gets acquired by Oracle.

 

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

We are seeing a greater percentage of our customers opting for CRM Online. Online has definitely continued to grow in proportion to on-premise. However, I think it will be ten years before the technology addresses all the needs that on-premise can address. They are not just technical needs – mostly they are business, regulatory and integration needs that keep customers in on-premise scenarios. But eventually the cloud will answer those concerns as well.

 

What is the best tool/solution you have used recently

I’m guessing I’m not supposed to tout ClickDimensions here, right? Of course I love our solution, and use it every day. My favorite part is our GoToWebinar integration which makes my life easier in tracking and following up with people who have gone through our training academy.

 

As far as another solution that is my favorite, I’d have to say that I really like what the guys at North52 are doing. I wish their solution had been available on CRM projects I was doing 5 or 6 or 10 years ago – would have made my life a lot easier!

 

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

I have had many of the CRM certifications at one time or another: Applications, Installation & Configuration, Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations, Customizations, etc. I try to keep at least one or two of them current – but I’m a little behind right now!

 

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

I think it is critical to have good BA skills. A good BA tries to understand what value a business hopes to achieve from implementing a technological solution. Whether you are an architect, developer, support engineer, or consultant, if you can’t connect what you are doing to the business’s idea of value, then it doesn’t matter how brilliant your work is. At the end of the day, it is all about driving value to the business.

 

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

Developers are essential, and the more familiar they are with the CRM SDK and the application, the better. But for me, I’ve always been just a hacker when it comes to programming. It has been more important in my career to understand coding and how it works and plugs into the overall solution, than to actually be able to write all the code myself. Of course, it’s always fun when I have the chance to do that!

 

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

I’ve worked with all of these technologies over my career. That’s one of the best things about CRM, and one of the most challenging. We need to understand and be able to work with a very deep stack of technology, from Windows Server, to IIS, the .NET framework, SQL Server, Active Directory, firewalls, even Excel and Outlook. I was fortunate to spend several years early in my career working for a company that did managed network services and I learned my way around all of those technologies pretty well. That proved to be invaluable in my CRM work, where I did early SharePoint integrations, used Scribe for integration and migration work, and am always in SQL Management Studio.

 

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

I used to travel a lot more when I was a consultant and implementer. I’m fortunate to be able to work from home now in Charlotte, North Carolina, and visit our Atlanta headquarters a couple of times per month. Now I can enjoy traveling to Convergence, CRMUG Summit, eXtremeCRM, or the MVP Summit more since I’m not on the road for work all the time.

 

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

It’s hard to imagine, but I recognize that the technology world does not stand still. The applications that businesses used in the ‘90s have largely vanished, and perhaps that will happen someday with CRM. But maybe I will be retired before then!

 

What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP

The best part is the camaraderie with the other MVPs. When I first became an MVP there were only a handful for CRM, and now there are dozens from all over the world whom I have the privilege of calling my friends. Since we all do similar work, we face the same challenges and experience similar triumphs, so there is an immediate rapport amongst the group that I haven’t experienced elsewhere.

 

What are your hobbies outside of CRM

I think I have heard this word “hobby” before. Is that something like golf or knitting? Maybe I will have to do some research J

 

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

Reamde by Neal Stephenson. (Yes, that’s the right spelling. Neal Stephenson is incredible! You have to check out Cryptonomicon and Anathem, two of his best books).

 

I watch a lot of movies, but I’ve really been enjoying watching the History channel show “Vikings”. I think I have a lot in common with Ragnar.

 

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

That’s a great question! Yes, I would definitely say that the long hours and travel have at times been, er, problematic. But I’m fortunate to have a very patient wife and kids.

 

Have you friends ever told you to stop talking/tweeting/blogging about CRM?
Well, the friends that have stuck with me over the last eleven years are probably used to it by now, or they have learned to tune me out.

 

What does your partner/family member(s) think of CRM
They think CRM is boring, but it has put food on the table for a decade, so I think they are grateful that I do this “boring” work! J

 

Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself

My university degree is in Art History. This has obviously been very useful to me as a CRM professional!

 

Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing

John O’Donnell (who’s now a technology evangelist at Microsoft) and Matt Parks were the two CRM MVPs I read and interacted with online before becoming an MVP myself. They’re kind of the grandfathers of the CRM MVP community, or maybe the uncles J

 

Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP

Share what you learn and help people solve problems while being passionate about your work. That’s not only a great prescription for becoming an MVP, it’s a great way to have a happy and rewarding career.

Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)

 

Steve Jobs or Bill Gates

Gotta be Gates

Javascript or .NET

JScript

Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox/Safari

Chrome

Wine/Beer/Soft Drink

Yes please

Certifications or Use CRM

Use CRM

twerking or tweeting

Tweeting. I’m not even sure what that other one is.

books or ebooks

Books

save or autosave

Save

OnLine or On Premise

Onpremise

Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other

Win8

work from home or work from office

Home

Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus

Absolutely neither

Vinyl/CD’s/MP3’s/Subscribe

Subscribe

Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox

Overflowing

Early Bird/Night Owl

Night owl

Do Today/Do Tomorrow

Today

CRM Developer/CRM Consultant

Consultant

Hot Weather/Cold Weather

Hot

Half Full/Half Empty

Half Empty

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

 

donna edwards 0

donna edwards 1

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

https://www.youtube.com/user/edwardsdna

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

 

QUESTIONS and ANSWERS

Name, current job title and social media links please

Donna Edwards, Architect, Hitachi Solutions America http://us.hitachi-solutions.com/

Blog 

 Twitter 

LinkedIn 

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

https://community.dynamics.com/crm/b/default.aspx

 

 

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

.Net

 

Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox/Safari

Chrome

 

Wine/Beer/Soft Drink

Water, Tea, Coffee

 

Certifications or Use CRM

Use

 

twerking or tweeting

I like a little twerk in the tweet

 

books or ebooks

ebooks

 

save or autosave

save

 

OnLine or On Premise

OnLine

 

Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other

Win 8

 

work from home or work from office

Home

 

Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus

Cyrus plant

 

Vinyl/CD’s/MP3’s/Subscribe

Subscribe

 

Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox

Zero

 

Early Bird/Night Owl

Early

 

Do Today/Do Tomorrow

Today

 

CRM Developer/CRM Consultant

Consultant

 

Hot Weather/Cold Weather

Hot

 

Half Full/Half Empty

Full

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Andre Kristanto Margono

After a week off I am back blogging and it’s Wednesday so it’s time for the CRM MVP Q&A and this weeks guest answerer is Andre Kristanto Margono who is based in Melbourne Australia.  Andre is another one of the newly crowned CRM MVP’s

Here he is

 

ANDRE KRISTANTO MARGONO’S

HIGHLIGHTS

Andre Kristanto holds the Australia record for the most number of Visual Studio 2012 exams in the country

Thanks for Andre 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

QUESTIONS

 

Name, current job title and social media links please

Andre Kristanto Margono

Technical Consultant

https://twitter.com/andz_88

http://andz88.wordpress.com

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=63805344

http://rockstar365.com/andremargono

What does an average day at work look like

Team discussion, meeting with client(s), analyse project requirements, build the solutions, Sometimes self-paced study

.

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

Software Developer, Technical Consultant

 

What job did you did before you starting using CRM

Waiter at a sushi shop

 

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

4.0, since January 2011.

 

How do you stay up to date with the CRM

Study the training material from PartnerSource. Get hands-on with the system and start working with it. Read CRM community blogs. Study for the latest CRM certification.

 

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

During commute time from home to office, write blog post/answer questions from forum. Sometimes during weekend when I have nothing to do, write some sample codes/tool.

 

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

Don’t be afraid to start something new and never stop learning

 

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

First impression, cool new UI. Now, the navigation on the new UI sometimes annoying.

 

What one feature would you add to CRM 2013

Built-in PowerView Reports

 

Most annoying feature of CRM 2013

The intro lady that keep appearing and the new navigation menu that quite hard to navigate

 

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

Hosks Dynamic CRM blog – Really helpful when I was transitioning from CRM 4.0 to 2011.

Surviving CRM (http://niiranen.eu/crm/) – Jukka Niiranen’s Blog

 

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

I hope next year (2015)

 

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

At this moment, most of the clients that I’m working with are using on-premise deployment. I reckon until the data-ownership myth has been demystified, on-premise deployment will always be there.

 

What is the best tool/solution you have used recently

KingswaySoft SSIS connector, XrmToolbox, Ribbon Workbench

 

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

CRM 2011 Customization & Configuration, CRM 2013 Customization & Configuration

Yes, to get the most of the latest updates, certifications will “force” me to learn.

 

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

I think it is really important to understand the business needs and translate them into solution.

 

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

I believe it will be beneficial if we know the programming knowledge to understand which “weapon” that will be the most efficient to solve the business requirements. (especially in the selection of javascript, Plugin, Workflow, Business Rules).

 

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

I have some basic hands-on with SharePoint App Development, SQL Server SSIS & SSRS.

 

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

So far, I travelled interstate once. Not sure in future.

 

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

Maybe not. But if CRM is no longer important, I might go back to the web development world

 

What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP

Getting know to the brightest people in the community

 

What are your hobbies outside of CRM

Playing music, watching movie, cycling

 

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

Book: Bible.

Film: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

 

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

I think work in general (not only CRM). I need to stay back late for a couple days due to the deployment

 

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

Nope, on the contrary they are quite supportive. My wife is working in a digital marketing company as web developer, so it is quite related with CRM (especially with marketing module in CRM).

 

Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself

I got the MVP letter on the 1st of April and I thought it was April Mop day prank.

 

Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing

Andrii Butenko, Leon Tribe, Daniel Cai

 

Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP

Contribute anything you know to the community, let the golden idea shines, any idea will be beneficial for the CRM community to grow.

 

Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)

 

Steve Jobs or 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

 

Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other

 

work from home or work from office

 

Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus à never heard of them, I only ever heard about Jamie Miley.

 

Vinyl/CD’s/MP3’s/Subscribe

 

Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox

 

Early Bird/Night Owl

 

Do Today/Do Tomorrow

 

CRM Developer/CRM Consultant à both

 

Hot Weather/Cold Weather

 

Half Full/Half Empty

 

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Jukka Niiranen

This weeks MVP is from the cold climate of Finland and the when ever I hear his first name of Jukka, I think of the Chaka Khan.  Here join me in singing it in your head

Chaka Khan – I Feel For You – Wow this has been watched nearly 5 million times!

That’s it, now the ear worm is firmly placed into your head

Jukka Khan, Jukka Khan.

Here is a picture of him, so if you are ever in Finland look out for him.

Here are his Rockstar highlights, clearly not many people take CRM 2011 exams in Finland! Jukka has been a CRM MVP since 2013 which I was suprised at because I thought he had been an MVP longer than that, which just shows you have to be on top of CRM game for quite a while before bestow the MVP honour upon you.

Jukka rockstar

Jukka has uploaded himself to the internet, like Voldermort he has split his soul into several parts making it almost impossible to delete him.

http://www.niiranen.info/

Not everyone puts in much on the CRM MVP profile but Jukka’s is very good.

Biography
Jukka is the Lead CRM Consultant at CodeBakers, Finland. He started working with Dynamics CRM in 2005, initially on the customer’s side as a project manager for a CRM 3.0 implementation. After managing a development team for global CRM system roll-outs in EMEA & APAC regions and learning the ins & outs of the Dynamics CRM platform while solving real life problem scenarios, Jukka joined a Microsoft partner organization to assume a senior CRM consulting role. With over 10 years of experience on working with customer data management, loyalty programs, direct marketing, campaign management and other CRM processes, Jukka has developed skills for viewing the related information systems through the eyes of the end user and is focused on delivering Dynamics CRM based solutions with high usability to ensure user adoption.
I guess most people will know Jukka from his excellent and detailed blog posts on his blog Surviving CRM
The blog post below I thought were particularly good

 

Thanks for Jukka for answering my questions and after the recent MVP awards I noticed some new people were awarded MVP status, so I quickly pounced and asked them whilst they were still new and eager and have managed to snaffle a few more CRM MVP’s to be questioned by the Hosk.

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

QUESTIONS

Name, current job title and social media links please
Jukka Niiranen, CRM Consultant at Digital Illustrated – www.digitalillustrated.com

Twitter

@jukkan

blogging on Surviving CRM

http://niiranen.eu/crm/

sharing Dynamics CRM news on Google+

http://bit.ly/crmgplus .

What does an average day at work look like
Looking at my work hour stats from last year, around ⅓ of my time was spent on presales related tasks. The rest is mostly around customer projects, either in delivering new system implementations, upgrades, integrations and new feature development. I do meet with customers quite often, but I try to reserve regular slots for focusing on designing solutions to more complex problems and putting together materials that help in communicating these to both the customers as well as our internal team members.

What different roles/Job titles have you had whilst using CRM
My first experience with Microsoft’s CRM was in the role of an ICT Specialist in charge of managing a CRM 3.0 implementation on the customer’s side. Next I moved to a larger user organization that had an internal CRM development team, where I worked as Internal CRM Consultant, Lead CRM Consultant and finally as Manager, CRM Team.

A few years ago I switched over to the partner side as Solution Manager, then Senior CRM Consultant and currently my business card says Lead CRM Consultant. I’m not sure how descriptive these job titles are of the actual roles and daily tasks, but let’s just say that I’ve had the pleasure of working in positions with a good mixture of responsibility plus freedom to influence my own focus areas in the field of CRM.

What job did you did before you starting using CRM
Contrary to what many of my colleagues and customers usually think, I don’t have any technical degree but rather I came from the business side to the world of CRM. I was working with customer loyalty programs and direct marketing campaigns, i.e. using the CRM systems as an end user before moving into designing and implementing the systems.

What was the first version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you worked with and how long have you been using Microsoft Dynamics CRM
My journey with Microsoft’s CRM solution began when they released the first version in Finnish language, which was MS CRM 3.0 in late 2005.

How do you stay up to date with the CRM
The online world is full of great information sources for anyone who wants to keep up with the latest turns in CRM, whether it be Dynamics CRM product specific or related technologies and business trends. Over the years I’ve collected around 200 RSS feeds for Dynamics CRM that I regularly read via Feedly. For the breaking news of what’s happening right now I usually get the information via Twitter and the #MSDYNCRM hashtag.

How do you find time to contribute to the CRM community whilst doing your job
I see the community contributions as a way to improve my capabilities for doing my day job. There’s no better way to learn any topic than writing it down and instructing it to others. During the course of my daily activities I usually come across a number of things I’d like to research in more depth and this is the fuel that I use to power my blog posts. It gives me a good excuse to spend more time on any given problem that I’d normally have as a part of a routine assignment in the role of a consultant. As a result of it, I gain far more insight on the topic than I would have if I’d just deliver a point solution to a single customer.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a successful career in Microsoft Dynamics CRM?
CRM today is quite a different ball game than it was 10 years ago, even though we’re fundamentally still working on the same core challenges of managing customer relationships and all the information that revolves around it. While it’s a bit of a cliché to say, both the technology and the behavior of customers and system users is changing at an ever increasing pace and it’s unlikely to slow down anytime soon. In order to be successful in your career that touches Dynamics CRM in some ways, you’ll need to learn how to embrace that change.

Instead of longing for tried & tested patterns with familiar applications and tools, develop the skills and learn the habits that will allow you to survive in this world of uncertainty that doesn’t have any single right answer to a specific problem. Don’t just “do CRM”, rather try and challenge your own perceptions of what CRM actually is by keeping your eyes and ears open to what others are doing with the same technologies.

What where your first impressions of CRM 2013 and what do you think now.
When the new UI was revealed back in Spring 2013, it really did bring together many of the features previewed earlier in the CRM Online only Polaris release in a consistent and fresh way. Later when the new process management capabilities like Business Rules and Real-time Workflows were introduced this also brought a highly welcome extension to the platform capabilities.

Looking back to the release of CRM 2013 now, it truly feels like a whole new chapter for the product, even if many of the underlying platform components and API’s from CRM 2011 are compatible with the new version. CRM 2013 offers a toolkit for functional consultants like myself to design solutions that are so much more advanced than what was possible just a few years ago, which is why I think the product has a bright future to look forward to.

What one feature would you add to CRM 2013
I work with several devices during the day and always prefer solutions that can be accessed directly from a browser. I’d love to see Dynamics CRM bring the tracking capability of activities available to also environments that don’t run the PC Outlook client, since server side synchronization doesn’t cover all the use cases needed.

Most annoying feature of CRM 2013
I can’t really pinpoint a single feature that would be causing me the most frustration personally. It’s of course not a perfect product for all scenarios and there is plenty of configuration work needed to make the platform behave as a solution that meets the user expectations of specific customer organizations, but that’s just the everyday work that a consultant like myself needs to do.

I guess what I’d most want to see in the product is a more granular level of control being offered to the system customizers for polishing the details in the user experience, since some of the new CRM 2013 features are now more locked down than the previous platform components.

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

1. Hosks Dynamic CRM blog
2. Leon’s CRM Musings

There’s such a wealth of great blogs focusing on the Dynamics CRM features or development side of things that I can’t pick out favorites. Leon’s blog, on the other hand, has consistently delivered interesting insights into a different side of the CRM consulting business that doesn’t get nearly as much coverage in the Dynamics blogosphere. So, if anyone’s thinking of starting their own CRM blog (and why shouldn’t you?), I recommend taking a look at how Leon has managed to turn his own perspectives into a highly enjoyable blog to follow.

What year will Microsoft Dynamics CRM have more customers than Sales force
I won’t give any predictions on if or when Dynamics CRM would possibly pass Salesforce. I think that the most important milestone has already been reached, because effectively there are only 2 solutions out there that most customers view as the potential CRM systems they could adopt and one of them is Dynamics CRM.

Rather than focusing on the rivalry between the two horses, I think the most interesting question to think about would be “who’s gonna be the next challenger?” I doubt we’ve seen the end of innovation when it comes to software that can help companies manage their relationships with existing and potential customers.

Are you doing more CRM projects with CRM online? Do you think it will all be online in the future
If there was no “power of choice” available for Dynamics CRM then it could of course be 100% cloud deployments. However, there are scenarios where an on-premises solution or a domestically hosted server do make a lot of sense from the customer’s perspective, so I wouldn’t say there is going to be a complete end to on-premises deployments within the next few years. Having said that, the cloud certainly is the new default, which means that nowadays you need a good reason for not going with CRM Online, whereas just a while ago it would have been the opposite.

What is the best tool/solution you have used recently
Rather than a single tool, it’s a box of awesome time saving tools that no CRM consultant should be without: XrmToolbox by Tanguy Touzard. I’m sure most CRM folks will have heard of it, but I urge you to also keep up with all the great new additions that Tanguy keeps on releasing into the Toolbox by following his Dynamics CRM Tools blog.

What CRM certifications do you have, do you try and keep up to date with CRM certifications
I previously had the CRM 2011 certifications for Applications and Customization & Configuration. Now that the new version was released, Microsoft Finland was gracious enough to arrange a training bootcamp for current CRM partners to get certified on CRM 2013, so I managed to pass the same exams for the latest version, too (cheers to @fonsell at @MicrosoftOy for making this happen!). I also have a certificate on the SureStep implementation methodology.

Even though certification exams tend to be largely about learning the details in the training materials by heart, I do think they serve as a useful metric for validating a person’s knowledge about the standard application functionality and high level processes. The real skills that a CRM consultant needs will be acquired in the field via real life customer scenarios, but it’s important to have the a thorough understanding of the product you’re working with to be able to recommend the right kind of solutions to the business problems that customers will have.

How important is it to have good business analytical skills working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
This depends a lot on your role in the project, of course. I’d say when you’re working with implementing a system like Dynamics CRM the emphasis on business analysis skills should be quite high. While the product contains a large share of the platform functionality that will be needed for meeting common customer requirements, there aren’t many readymade processes to address the business needs of specific verticals. This is the expertise that someone in the project needs to bring onto the table.

I would further like to stress that it’s not just the industry knowledge that makes a difference between success and failure in a Dynamics CRM implementation project. The general understanding of what information processing challenges users are typically likely to encounter when working with CRM data in the day-to-day tasks of their business roles and how these could/should be solved in a Dynamics CRM based system will be a key ingredient to delivering successful CRM implementations.

How useful is it to have programming knowledge to become a good Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?
If you’ve got a programming background, you can surely get up to speed with extending Dynamics CRM via custom code solutions quite quickly. However, as I mentioned earlier, I see the no-code side of the product’s capabilities growing at such a remarkable rate that a person with zero programming knowledge can solve a large share of the business problems by just learning how the Dynamics CRM platform works.

Me, I have zero experience on writing code and I’ve managed to do quite alright with leveraging the platform when building solutions. It is naturally beneficial to be able to speak the same language as the developers in your team, but I wouldn’t consider programming knowledge to be a requirement.

What knowledge/experience do you have with software/systems which integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM e.g. (sharepoint, SQL Server, Scribe, Etc)
I’ve been more of a power users when it comes to other productivity tools from MS (SharePoint, Excel, etc.) rather than an expert consultant on the topic. I do work with SQL, Scribe and many other applications as a part of the tasks I have within a CRM project, but usually there’s a person more qualified than me who assumes the ownership of configuring these systems. I enjoy learning to use new tools as much as any geek, but I do it mainly to gain an understanding of how they can be used to solve current or future business problems I’ll come across, rather than necessarily being the admin or key user of the systems.

How often do you travel as a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?
Currently I’m working for a company where all the customers are domestic, with most of them also located in the Helsinki capital region where I live, so there’s fairly little need for overnight travelling.

Can you see yourself not using CRM in your career in the future
At times I do ask myself the question “what comes after CRM?” Not because I would be actively trying to distance myself from CRM (technology or process wise), but mainly to ensure that I don’t lose perspective on the big picture of where CRM fits and what it’s connected to, what else is there around it in the great big world of business technology.

I started my CRM journey over ten years ago and at that time I didn’t really have a clue on where I was going to be by this time, nor how the field of CRM would look like. Whatever I’ll be doing in the next 10 years is equally difficult to predict, so I’m just trying to keep my eyes open on new innovations and opportunities around me, to be prepared for the environment that I’ll find myself in the year 2024, and to keep my mind open to a neverending learning experience.

What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP
It has to be the ability to learn from the collective pool of wisdom that is the current CRM MVP community. Not just all the information they possess but also the perspective that it gives you when reflecting on your own personal work with the problems and opportunities that the other MVP’s encounter and share with you.

What are your hobbies outside of CRM
I’ve always been a music freak that looks to fill up any quiet moments in the day with audio waves that provide stimulation for my brain. In the 90’s I hoarded up a large collection of CD’s from various genres of electronic dance music, but in the past few years I’ve had to let go of these physical artifacts and consume my daily dose of beats via streaming services. As for physical exercise, I always prefer to do it in the outdoors, which means cycling trips during the summer or longer walks in the winter time, with my headphones firmly attached to the ears, of course.

What was the last book you read and what was the last film you watched
The book I’m currently finishing is “Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day” by Todd Henry. The last movie I went out to see in the theaters was “Gravity”.

Has CRM ever got you in trouble with your partner/family.
My partner is very supportive of the work that I do around CRM and I’m very grateful to her about giving me so much space for my own hobby projects around it.

Have you friends ever told you to stop talking/tweeting/blogging about CRM? What does your partner/family member(s) think of CRM
I try my best not to expose my friends or family to the CRM related content that I produce, since it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting for them as it is to me. Sure, occasionally I get requests on not being so “connected” all the time, which is when I have to remind myself of the fact that there are people also outside of the social networks, as strange as it might seem…

Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself
My backup plan for making a living in case my business studies wouldn’t have landed me a job was to become a truck driver. During my military service in the Finnish Defence Forces I acquired a license for driving 60 ton trucks, but apart from one summer job and occasionally moving a few busses around for a friend, I’ve never had to practice that profession. Up until this date, I’ve actually never even owned a car myself.

Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing
It’s difficult to know the exact right answer for this, but I would say Ronald Lemmen must have been one of the earliest CRM MVP’s whose blog posts I regularly came across when searching for answers to questions regarding CRM 3.0.

Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP
Here are five principles that I would give as advice for any Dynamics CRM professional aspiring to be an MVP:

Be active on several different sites/networks/forums. No matter if you’ve got the best CRM blog in the world, having a presence that is limited to a single channel isn’t going to be beneficial for the MVP Award evaluation process.

Be consistent. No one has enough time to be active on all possible channels where Dynamics CRM is discussed, so it’s important to focus your efforts on those where you feel you can regularly contribute content.

Amplify the work of others. Often times you can bring value to the community by simply sharing the best content that you have come across while reading blogs. Become the “filter” that other community members trust for curating the feed of relevant CRM news.

Remember to interact, not just share. The Dynamics CRM community is a relatively small group of professionals spread around the globe, therefore a bit of personal touch in communication can make a big difference.

Measure your impact. Keep track of the community related activities you perform, analyze the stats and feedback, then adjust your actions accordingly. Quantifying the value of your own community contributions isn’t easy, but remember that this is the criteria Microsoft will need to apply when evaluating all the MVP nominations.
Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)

Steve Jobs or Bill Gates
Steve Jobs

Javascript or .NET
Javascript

Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox/Safari
Chrome

Wine/Beer/Soft Drink
Beer

Certifications or Use CRM
Use CRM

twerking or tweeting
For the love of god, tweeting!

books or ebooks
eBooks

save or autosave
Whichever the app has been designed for

OnLine or On Premise
Online

Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other
Windows 8

work from home or work from office
Both

Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus
Achy Breaky Heart!

Vinyl/CD’s/MP3’s/Subscribe
Subscribe

Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox
Zero Inbox

Early Bird/Night Owl
Night Owl

Do Today/Do Tomorrow
Do Today

CRM Developer/CRM Consultant
CRM Consultant

Hot Weather/Cold Weather
Cold Weather (which we Finns like to call “Summer”)

Half Full/Half Empty
Half Empty, it’s time for a refill!

 

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Gustaf Westerlund

I love the fact when I’m not sure what, where or who I am going to find when I come to do the wednesday CRM MVP Q&A.  The CRM MVP’s come from all parts of the word and all have very different skills and experience, which makes their answers different and interesting each week.

This week we are off to Stockholm in Sweden, I once visited Stockholm and stayed in a prison they had converted into a hotel.  The things I remember about Stockholm is it was quite cold, the price of beer was astronomical (the taxi driver tried to sell us some home made booze!) and there was some rather fruity TV on But I digress.

Thanks to Gustaf and all the CRM MVP’s who have answered my questions, I have really enjoyed reading your answers

I would definitely recommend subscribing to Gustaf’s CRM blog, it’s full of great posts

here are the highlights from his rockstar profile

Gustaf 1

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

 

QUESTIONS

Name, current job title and social media links please

Gustaf Westerlund, CEO of CRM-Konsulterna, a small consultancy specializing in Microsoft Dynamics CRM in Stockholm, Sweden.

What does an average day at work look like

Don’t know if there is an average day. I have a huge variety in my work, some of the stuff I do:

Running my company, administration, legals and all the other stuff nobody else does… J

Sales. I am the only one responsible for generating business for our company. I have tried to focus a lot on pull marketing so that I don’t have to work the phone, but I still have to visit quite a lot of potential customers and get them to understand that Microsoft Dyn CRM just is the best CRM system in the world, hands down.

Implementing CRM for large and small companies. I used to code a bit but not so much anymore. In larger projects I usually have the role of Solution Architect. In smaller projects I sometimes just do it all.

Training. I do some teaching in both end user training and classroom MOC courses. I like this as it requires you to keep sharp and I get to hear my own voice quite a lot which my wife tells me I like to hear.

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

Programmer, Architect, Solution Architect, Project Manager, Trainer, Application Consultant/specialist.

What job did you did before you starting using CRM

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

CRM 1.2, since 2005.

How do you stay up to date with the CRM

I eat, breath, work, play, blog, twitter, joke, love, hate read and write about CRM.

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

Do I? I find it a constant struggle. I view myself as a bipolar community escapist with a tendency to project inner struggles through the CRM system in Social Media. I leave the interpretation to someone with a degree in psychology.

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

Come work for me! Get goat farm. – Maybe I have to explain that. We have a joke at our company, CRM-Konsulterna, that you have to sacrifice a goat to the almighty DEMO-god before ever daring to do a demo to a customer. As many animal rights activists dislike us doing this in our office, and we also dislike doing this in our office, and it does get a bit messy, we usually just talk about it, and there are actually some decent Youtube clips on goat sacrifice as well if you like to have a look. It might also be more in the nature of “recycling”.

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

I think the new UI with the process flows are really great. There are some things to fix but it is really like a redo of the entire UI so we have to think a bit like it is version 1.0.

I have shown CRM 2013 to customers that have been set on buying CRM 2011 and they have turned on a dime. That did it for me. If customers like it that much, I think we have to listen to that. There are some things that need to be tuned, as there always are, and we have to work with Microsoft on that, but that is nothing new or very specific for Dynamics CRM.

What one feature would you add to CRM 2013

Ability to customize the Activity/Notes section in the middle of the forms.

Most annoying feature of CRM 2013

The special pop-up forms that are so good looking but are so not-customizable… like the address-pop-up which is soooo USA-based. We don’t use Region in Sweden or Street 3.

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

I don’t know, and I am not sure it will matter. SalesForce will soon be bought by Oracle or some other company. It is not a well run company, as Leon Tribe, he has done his homework. I would rather have 10 good customers than 100 bad. I have turned down several customers and I think we more often should ask customers why we should have them as customers. Customers are not worth to be kept at any price and I think that all business should be built on a healthy win-win mentality. SalesForce obviously isn’t as they are not making money.

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

Small customers are online for us. Larger customers are not. We also have some SPLA customers despite the fact that Microsofts process for handling SPLA is a laugh and almost rude the CRM resellers. I almost think that they don’t want anyone to sell CRM that way.

I am a strong believer in the original story that Microsoft had that was “The Power of Choice” so which deployment is right depends on the customer. Banks will almost never be right for Online, small startups will almost always go for Online. We as Partners need to be good at understanding what is best for the customer and recommending this. Having the customers best as the first interest is important for long term win-win relationships which is what I build my business on I suggest all responsible Dyn CRM partners do as well as this will build a great customer!

What is the best tool/solution you have used recently

XrmToolBox

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

CRM Customization/Application 2011/4.0

CRM Installation 4.0

SureStep

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

Very. Especially if working close to the customer. Understanding the customers’ business is essential. We have to be working primarily with the CEO’s, Sales Managers, Marketing Managers, Customer Service Managers etc. and not the IT-Department. The latter is of course essential for a good implementation, but they are just the engine that makes the car move, the CEO is the one who is turning the wheel and pressing the buttons so he has to be in control.

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

It is very useful. I am of course colored by my background as a programmer, I started programming when I was 11 and started assembly programming when I was 15 so for me it is a part of life and essential for understanding computers. But I also think that you should study calculus, physics, philosophy and languages to be a good CRM professional.

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

Quite a lot. I have done quite a lot of integrations with CRM, both custom systems but also with iScala, QuickBix, SQL SSIS.

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

Public Transportation, Car, Train, Airplane.

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

Hard to say. I have put so much of my life into CRM, I have even started a company that does nothing but work with Dyn CRM. But you never know what happen, perhaps I decide to become prime minister, and then I might need a VoterRelationshipManagement System…

What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP

The CRM MVP Community. Getting to know the other CRM MVPs has been great! They are all really nice and helpful and I feel honored to be part of such a nice group of people which also happen to share my passion for CRM!

What are your hobbies outside of CRM

I have two kids, Nora 6 years old and Adrian 3 years old who both love to play Super Mario with me. We (that means me) are currently struggling with beating the final Bowser on New Super Mario Wii. I have a beautiful wife Kathrine who works with Dyn AX.

I also really enjoy computer games, it was one of my planned occupations, that or business systems. Currently it is the fantastic Battlefield 4 on PC! A day or two ago I was proud to make a 686 m headshot with a 8x rifle scope. J We even have BF@CRMK events at our office when we get a lot of coke and play Battlefield at the office!

About once a week I play some tennis which is a family sport. I also used to practice quite a lot of martial arts, primarily Aikido but also Shorinji Kempo, but it is hard finding the time now days.

As for societies I am involved in Rotary, International Order of Odd Fellows, an old society called Par Bricole founded in the 18:th century and a society promoting proper Science called Vetenskap och Folkfolkbildning.

What was the last book you read and what was the last film you watched
I am currently reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky and the last film was the “Battle in Seattle”.

 

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

Yes. End of story.

Have you friends ever told you to stop talking/tweeting/blogging about CRM? What does your partner/family member(s) think of CRM
I cannot stop selling/trying to get people to love CRM which can be a bit annoying for some people… J

 

Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself

I write poetry sometimes and I really like philosophy.

Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing

Mikael Höhne.

Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP

Find your own blue ocean, understand that you don’t have to be the best to be able to share something to the community. There is a lot that can be said about many things not rocket science.

Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)

Steve Jobs or 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 or SPLA

Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other

work from home or work from office

Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus

Vinyl/CD’s/MP3’s/Subscribe

Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox

Early Bird/Night Owl

Do Today/Do Tomorrow

CRM Developer/CRM Consultant

Hot Weather/Cold Weather

Half Full/Half Empty/Bad Design

 

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Joel Lindstrom

It’s Wednesday which means it’s time to demand some more answers from the CRM MVP’s, today we are off to the good old U S of A, where the effective people live (or at least those who work for them, that’s a customer effective joke for you).  Today’s CRM MVP on to come down Hosk’s red carpet is Joel Lindstrom.

 

You can hear Joel when he gave an interview to Rockstar 365

He can also be seen on one of the great MVP chat’s hosted by Donna Edwards

 

looking at Joel’s highlights on his Rockstar profile – http://rockstar365.com/JoelLindstrom, well it certainly won’t take you long to soak up his highlights

Joel Lindstrum

But if you want a good biography of Joel then you you should look at his CustomerEffective Bio , I have taken the Certifications and accolades below and we can see Joel has been an MVP 5 times and been number 50 in the Microsoft Dynamics most influential people.

Certifications & Accolades:

 

You will have probably have read many of the tips Joel has recently been writing about CRM on the blog CRM Tip of the Day, which is definitely a favorite among the CRM Twitters out there

http://crmtipoftheday.com/

 

As always thanks to Joel and the other CRM MVP’s who have answered my questions and shame on you those who have not yet done so.  BOOOOOOO

As usual you can find the previous CRM MVP Q&A at the bottom of this post

 

THE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

 

Name, current job title and social media links please

Joel Lindstrom, Solution Architect, Customer Effective

http://about.me/joellindstrom

https://twitter.com/joellindstrom

http://www.linkedin.com/in/joellindstrom

What does an average day at work look like

I tend to work some unusual hours. I will catch up on email before my kids get up, then help them with breakfast and getting to school, then work on client projects. During lunchtime I will catch up on blog posts or tweets, work on projects during the afternoon, After my kids go to bed at night I write blog posts or work on extra-curricular projects.

 

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

I started as a solution consultant, then my title was changed to technical specialist, now I’m a solution architect. I used to be focused mainly on technical aspects of installing CRM, now my job is more guiding other consultants and ensuring that our solution design quality standards are met and that we follow best practices.

 

What job did you did before you starting using CRM

I was an inside sales representative for 10 years for several companies. Even though that was not my favorite job, I credit it for a lot of what I do now—the sales part gave me an interest in CRM.

 

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

I started with Dynamics CRM in 2007 using version 3.

 

How do you stay up to date with the CRM

I push myself to try new functionality and be actively involved in the previews. I force myself to write blog posts—if you don’t know about something, write about it. It forces you to learn how things work. If there is a part of the application that you don’t use, teach someone how to use it—no better way to become familiar with something.

 

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

I have trouble sitting still and watching television, so I do my CRM community activities after hours, but I will also write blog posts and engage in community activities while taking a coffee break during the day. Like anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets. You definitely want to generate quality content, but don’t think you have to write a 10,000 word blog post each time. It is much better to consistently deliver good average work than to only one time deliver something extraordinary.

 

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

Be yourself—don’t try to be someone else. Find your voice, don’t think you need to be someone else. Also, you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room—there will always be someone who can do something better than you can. But deliver good work, always push yourself to be better, never get comfortable.

Find your niche—if you are a developer, be the best developer you can be. But if you are not a developer, don’t feel you have to be to be successful. The great thing about the CRM community is there is plenty of room for many different types of proficiencies. We need people who are good configurators, good developers, good report writers, server/networking experts, and business process experts.

 

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

Very positive. The UI changed dramatically. I was a bit unsure of how existing users would    take to it, but excited to see Dynamics CRM become more modern.

 

What one feature would you add to CRM 2013

Server sync for every deployment type. This is one of my top 3 favorite features. Can’t wait for Online and mixed deployments to be able to use it and kill the email router.

 

Most annoying feature of CRM 2013

No offense to her, but the “What’s new” woman. She keeps coming back.

 

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

Hosks Dynamic CRM blog

CRMtipoftheday.com. Not saying this because I am one of the authors, but   because I’ve learned a lot from the other tipsters

 

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

We don’t already?J Hard to say, but I think momentum is on our side.

 

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

We are seeing a lot more online projects than we used to, but still a fair amount of on premise. I don’t think On premise is going away any time soon, there will always be industries that can’t go to the cloud, but that number is shrinking. Industries like insurance and banking are still primarily on premise though.

 

What is the best tool/solution you have used recently

There are many of them. Jason Latimer’s CRM 2013 Duplicate Detection, Tanguy’s XRM Toolbox just added a fantastic sync filter manager that is fantastic, I use the orgdborgsettings tool to change the organization settings in CRM Online.

 

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

I have application, customization, and installation certs for 2011 and crm 3. I will be taking the 2013 certs soon. I think it is important, as it helps you keep up to date, exposes you to areas of the application that you might not otherwise experience if you don’t use them.

 

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

Very important if you want to be successful in a career with Dynamics CRM. To be good you need to know how the technology works but also how to adapt it to client’s business, and you need to be able to analyze business processes and translate to CRM design requirements.

 

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

Helpful, definitely, but not required. The more programming knowledge that you have, the more you will be able to do with the application, but you want to balance programming with standard functionality. Every release, there is more that you can do without programming. In CRM 2013, we got synchronous workflows and business rules. If you approach everything as a programming exercise, the risk is you will overcomplicate some solutions where a non-developer solution will work, and if you are not a programmer, you might try to use a workflow for a scenario where a plugin might be a better fit. The trick is being able to know what is the right tool for the job.

 

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 a lot with Scribe and SSIS. I love Scribe for how easy it makes some things like   connecting to virtually any type of database and find it very approachable for people with little ETL experience, and I appreciate SSIS for how powerful and flexible it is, especially with the Kingswaysoft adapter.

My take on it is that the ETL tool you use is less important than following good integration design principles.

 

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

It really depends on what projects I’m working on. I do a lot of remote client work, but will   also travel regularly.

 

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

Anything is possible

 

What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP

By far the insight I get from other MVP’s. Being able to call the smartest people in the CRM community my friends

 

What are your hobbies outside of CRM

I play Legos with my kids and collect vinyl records

 

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

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell and the Lego movie

 

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

Yes, when I had to spend Christmas vacation getting a CRM server back up.

 

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

I always tell my friends that they can follow me on Twitter, but they probably won’t understand anything I Tweet.

 

Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself

I have every Johnny Cash record ever made except for one.

 

Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing

Aaron Elder

 

Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP

Be consistent—someone will not be a MVP by writing blog posts for 3 months—you have to regularly contribute, and find a pace that you can keep up with for the long term. Don’t do it if you are just looking to advance yourself—you won’t make it. Do it if you genuinely enjoy helping others and giving back to the community.

The way I became an MVP was by setting a goal to answer 1 forum post a day—something that you can do in 10 minutes while watching television at night. By answering forum posts, I found out what people were wanting to know. This gave me ideas for blog posts. If I didn’t know the answer, I figured it out, wrote a blog post with the answer, and posted it as the answer.

Even if you don’t make MVP, you will still benefit from growing your knowledge of CRM.

Don’t be intimidated by others in the community—everyone has something that they are better at than you, but you are probably better at some things than they are. And don’t view them as your competition. By sharing your knowledge, we all benefit.

 

Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)

Steve Jobs or Bill Gates

Javascript or .NET

Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox/Safari

Wine/Beer/Soft Drink – Water

Certifications or Use CRM

twerking or tweeting

books or ebooks – both—fiction books, nonfiction ebooks

save or autosave

OnLine or On Premise

Windows 7/Windows 8.1/Linux/Mac/Other

work from home or work from office 

Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus – Johnny cash

Vinyl/CD’s/MP3’s/Subscribe – Vinyl at home, xbox music on the go/at work

Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox

Early Bird/Night Owl – Too often both

Do Today/Do Tomorrow

CRM Developer/CRM Consultant

Hot Weather/Cold Weather – Rainy weather

Half Full/Half Empty

 

Previous CRM MVP Q&A

Gonzalo Ruiz

Leon Tribe

Tanguy Touzard Questions

https://crmbusiness.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/crm-mvp-question-and-answer-andrii-butenko/

https://crmbusiness.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/crm-mvp-question-and-answer-jason-lattimer/

https://crmbusiness.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/crm-mvp-question-and-answer-julie-yack/

 

finally don’t forget to check out my CRM Developer YouTube channel

Hosk’s CRM Dev Youtube Channel