The role of a traditional Dynamics 365 CRM consultant has effectively been superseded with the role of the Microsoft Power Platform Consultant.
The exciting introduction of the Microsoft Power Platform and the increased functionality it has brought has enabled the Power Platform consultant to meet the needs/challenges of a customer regardless of their sector. Power Platform Consultants have been empowered to build tailored solutions, automate processes (Including Virtual Agents) and analyse data from a multitude of different sources - all via the Microsoft Power Platform.
Tisski first introduced the Microsoft Power Platform to the business whilst it was still in its beta stage in February 2018, with customers and Dynamics 365 CRM consultants eager to explore new capabilities using the latest technology available from Microsoft. This early insight into a new product provided a prospective view of the future for our customers and the challenges that lay ahead for Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM consultants. Tisski’s Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM team has grown by an outstanding 81% since 2018, however the challenges continued throughout transitioning time and included:
Gone are the days when a typical day as a Dynamics 365 CRM consultant consisted of working within a Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 Service or Dynamics Marketing legacy environment(s). The increased awareness of other applications such as Microsoft Field Service and Microsoft Project Service Automation have opened doors for Dynamics 365 consultants and our customers.
Dynamics 365 CRM consultants at Tisski have been challenged to upskill and adopt new technologies rapidly. The transition to a Microsoft Power Platform consultant has included maintaining Microsoft accreditation via self-learning and the undertaking of Microsoft certifications which have become more challenging to obtain. However, once gained, these allow individual Dynamics 365 consultants to control their own path for the future, whether that be building on existing knowledge or moving to a different and exciting path.
The effective management of this transition has allowed Tisski to continue in providing the highest level of customer service whilst ensuring Dynamics 365 Power Platform consultants are equipped with the highest level of knowledge and skills.
The Introduction of the Microsoft Power Platform has meant I have had to adapt to new technologies and challenge myself to upskill in a short timeframe.
Utilising learning material available online and through Microsoft Learn assisted me in self-learning and also meant I was able to test the knowledge being absorbed along the way. To put this knowledge to the test, I was able to undertake a series of Microsoft Certifications and gain qualification(s) to stamp a form of recognition. The new Microsoft Certifications and their paths should not be taken lightly; Microsoft have made it more difficult to gain these qualifications than ever before with the scope of exams being expanded, as well as the introduction of role-based exams and scenario-based questions. The MB-901 Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fundamentals exam is a good example of this.
Whilst adapting to the changes has been challenging, the advantages of the Microsoft Power Platform are immense. One example of this is in the introduction of Canvas Apps and Model Driven Apps. Building Power Apps has helped businesses and myself to work more effectively. Canvas Apps have been received well by customers, as together we are able to create a highly tailored interface with the power of a blank canvas using drag and drop functionality - all without the need of writing code. They are also ideal for building task-based or role-based applications.
On the other hand, Model Driven Apps have equally been well received as they are more comprehensive for creating end-to-end solutions using Common Data Service (CDS).
A further component of the Microsoft Power Platform is Power Automate (Re-branded from MS Flow). I have used Power Automate to implement automated processes to replace repetitive tasks that customers had to endure. A recent example of this was a customer who was spending time each week running a report and manually updating this from information already held within the Dynamics 365 platform. We managed to use Power Automate to extract information from different data sources and using out-of-the-box logic, integrate it with Microsoft OneDrive and Microsoft SharePoint without needing to write a single line of code! For this customer the ROI meant they had more time to work on other areas of the business.
There has been a growth in the Power Platform community in the online space, in the shape of virtual workshops with Microsoft MVPs across the globe participating/hosting events and increasing online presence. I have found these sessions engaging and insightful and I know my colleagues have similar feedback. Keeping up-to-date with technology and new releases is now more important than ever as the growing market for Microsoft Power Platform increases rapidly.
Can I really build my own app?
Yes! Customers now have the ability to digitally transform and modernise business processes and applications utilising a single low-code platform. Encouraging utilisation of the pre-built templates and simplicity of the drag-and-drop functionality can pave the path for simple, quick app solutions. Level of individual experience shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to entry and there are a wide variety of FREE learning resources readily available.
Working with a Microsoft Gold Partner can ensure that solutions are completely tailored to requirements and that best practice is followed throughout the product lifecycle.
Living in a data culture, more and more customers are taking advantage of Power BI to make business decisions regardless of which sector they are based in. The manipulation of data allows customers to base their business decisions on hard facts rather than opinions. Power BI also has the capability of showing data in colourful and compelling visuals whilst being interactive for users. Power BI is a great place for customers to be able to explore and experience with their data without having to worry about ‘breaking’ anything.
I’ve heard about Microsoft PowerApps, but what is it?
The Microsoft Power Platform is a business application that combines robust components into one single platform. It enables businesses to create and deploy tailored solutions including apps, reports and automated workflows – all with a low-code approach
The Microsoft Power Platform consists of four components:
The introduction of the Microsoft Power Platform has meant an increased number of solutions can be developed and delivered through low-code whilst maintaining high productivity. This, in some cases, has now lessened the requirement for developers and customers have welcomed solutions using no or less code.
Microsoft also announced that the legacy web client app (known as Dynamics 365 custom) was to become superseded with the release of Model-Driven Apps which meant a change in UI was imminent for all customers using Dynamics 365 CRM. The new UI was the latest generation of web app design and brought in the best in usability, accessibility, functionality and speed to every user. It also opened the doors for different apps to be developed for different teams depending on customer requirements.
Tisski have successfully transitioned existing and new customers from the legacy web client app to the new, exciting UI and continue to do so; Microsoft expect ALL Dynamics 365 CRM customers to have transitioned by the end of 2020. Tisski have achieved this by following a strict ‘evergreening’ process with customers to ensure minimal/no business disruption occurs.
Microsoft have a release plan (formally known as release notes) each year for managing large updates to the platform. This is usually done in 2 waves within the year and customers will continue to be made aware of details of these well in advance, allowing time to plan a transition via the Tisski ‘evergreening‘ process.
"Microsoft’s Power Platform Mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.” Satya Nadella
CEO at Microsoft
The anticipation is that Microsoft will continue to evolve the Microsoft Power Platform which will to allow customers and consultants to continue to build low-code apps faster than ever. Microsoft Power Platform Consultant(s) will no doubt continue to keep updated with the latest progress to ensure they retain the latest knowledge and a comprehensive skillset.