The Digestible Dynamics Podcast: D365 Architecture and User Adoption Best Practices

January 31, 2024

KG:
Welcome to the Digestible Dynamics Podcast, a podcast for the innovators from the experts. We know that you are busier than ever, and the last thing you need as a business applications innovator is a lengthy, drawn out podcast where you walk away with the possibility of learning something new. Well, that's how the Digestible Dynamics podcast is different. Each episode will contain one digestible tidbit about Dynamics 365 that you can immediately apply to your business with the combined experience of three decades in the business applications space. Dr. kj and I understand that the power of technology is not about the features and functions, but rather the value it can bring to your business to help you transform and drive growth. That's why we'll focus on the most useful things that you need to know about the Dynamics 365 platform.

Dr. KJ:
Welcome everyone to another episode of the Digestible Dynamics Podcast, your number one source for snackable tidbits to help you optimize your Dynamics 365 experience. Happy New Year. Everyone. Actually, on a side note, when is it socially unacceptable to say Happy New Year to somebody? Have we passed that time? Is it after the first time you've interacted with them? I'm not entirely sure, and I don't think anybody else is, but because this is our first episode in 2024, I'm going to run with it. So happy New Year to you all anyways. Let's talk more about Dynamics 365. Microsoft has poured lots of money and resources into the Dynamics 365 platform. The platform has been engineered to be intuitive to use, easy to configure, and quick to implement if you use it out of the box. However, we know that many times an out of the box solution is insufficient for many organizations. Each company has special processes, unique workflows, and requires configurations to get the Dynamics 365 platform ready to go. On top of that, user adoption can still be challenging for all types of solutions for all types of organizations. Without user adoption, companies don't feel like they're investing into a technology platform. They feel like they're just increasing their expenses. This week on the Digestible Dynamics podcast, our guest, Kayla Rohde, discusses implementation and user adoption best practices to help organizations get the most out of their Dynamics 365 investment. So let me introduce you all to Kayla Rohde.

Kayla Rohde is a Dynamics 365 solution architect. She has been on an incredible journey working with Dynamics 365 applications for the last eight years. She's passionate about designing business systems that are efficient, user-friendly and scalable. Her best work happens in a team environment where she can collaborate with other creative minds to come up with innovative solutions. Beyond her professional life, she embraces the joys and dog fur that come with being a dog mom to Diesel, a German shepherd of 11 years old and Zena Warrior Princess, an Ozzy doodle three years old. In her free time, she enjoys running around with her dogs, yoga, reading, writing, sharing dad jokes, and savoring life's little moments.

Dr. KJ:
Welcome everyone to another episode of Digestible Dynamics. We have another special guest join in the show today. Kayla Rohde, say hello to the digestible Dynamics crew.

Kayla Rohde:
Hey, team, Kayla Rohde. Super excited to be here with you guys today.

Dr. KJ:
Awesome, awesome. Well, let's just jump right into the first question. So can you describe your role at Western Computer and provide a little bit of an overview of what you guys specialize in?

Kayla Rohde:
Yeah, absolutely. So I'm a Dynamics 365 solution architect for customer engagement applications. So I work for Western Computer. We're a Microsoft Gold Cloud partner. We've been around since I think 1987. We serve industries like biotech, distribution, manufacturing, home building, et cetera. So what I do over here is I have a lot of fun with a lot of different groups of people. Primarily I'm working with our clients, helping them understand how to best use the software to meet their business needs. I also do work in, I'd say a little bit more of mentor capacity, like leader capacity on our teams, helping our functional consultants with their design, any kind of escalations or questions that they have. And then I also help out our project managers in terms of just kind of keeping a pulse on the project escalations, crs, things like that. And then I also get to do really cool marketing content. I write blogs, I do webinars. I like doing recordings, and now I'm starting on podcasts. So we do everything over there.

Dr. KJ:
No, I love first and many. Yeah, it seems like you're an all in one. I like how you roll there. So I mean, when you look at your customers though, I mean how are they truly using it for their benefit that you're seeing in their environment or anybody's environment? Yeah.

Kayla Rohde:
Oh God, I would say we have a lot of customers that we do a lot in the, I'm going to say the service space or I do, at least it's where I spend a lot of my time, so I'm probably going to focus there. We do also work with sales, but on the service side, we see a lot of folks that are coming out of either Outlook or just not an enterprise grade system looking to upgrade into something that's a little bit more scalable. Obviously with the introduction of all of the copilot stuff going on right now, people want to tap into that, right? If we're going to be getting into Microsoft licensing and we're going to be using that product, let's use it to its full potential. So I see a lot of folks using say, customer service. We're using that to organize operations and honestly, really redefine business processes. So that's a big deal. On field service side though. I mean, I've worked with so many different customers that benefit from field service, from project-based companies to actual field install companies, and they're all kind of moving off of pen and paper or Outlook or some other homegrown system that doesn't, again, can't scale. So I think that there's a lot of benefit in terms of being able to scale your business, adopt new technology, so on and so forth.

Dr. KJ:
Love it. And as an architect, it sounds like you're primed really in the trenches, if you will, with the customer as they're implementing it. Now, that said, what are the pitfalls or common challenges customers are facing when they are implementing customer engagement or field service or customer service?

Kayla Rohde:
That's a really good question. I think my answer is going to fall under the bucket of change management to a couple of different areas. So a lot of times when we kick off in pre-sales, we are selling to people who are spending the money making the big decisions. But then when we get into the project, we're working with maybe some team leaders or some end users, and sometimes the goals from our upper leadership don't always mesh with what our end users want. So we have to take some time to help. I'm going to say identify and understand the business goals across the company and then reaffirm with those business users as we're working through the project, Hey, this is what we're working towards. That ties into a little bit with not rebuilding the same thing that you're coming from. That is also something that we see all the time.


Customers are like, this is how I do it and this is how I want to do it. But when you're adopting a platform that has not necessarily just canned business process, but a business process that works in a way that it's supposed to because there's other features you pull in, you have to help both the business team understand here's why we're going to translate how your process works, and then get buy-in from that senior leadership of, Hey, here's the tool that you bought, help sell this to your team with us. So that is a big area that I see. And then I think the other area under the change management piece has to do with a user adoption. So this is always kind of going to be a struggle sometimes because a lot of times when you get into these projects, budget-wise, the first thing that people want to cut is training.


And that is the last thing that you should cut. You should invest so much more in training because you are buying a great tool, right? You're investing in the future of your business, but if your people don't know how to use the technology, they're not going to adopt it. You're not going to see those efficiencies that you're looking for. So I try to push really hard on having tons of time for UAT and then training. We do tend to take a train the trainer approach over here, and I think that works really well because then you're getting your power users, you're getting them to buy in and be the face of the product for the rest of their team, which helps with the translation and the change management a little bit more as well.

Dr. KJ:
That's good to hear. And when we focus on selling the key stakeholders, the C-level, the executives, I think the messaging is different in terms of, Hey, this is the business value. How are you focusing and resolving that change management issue? Are you focusing on, Hey, this is how it can help your line of business, love to pick your brain around that.

Kayla Rohde:
Are you looking for at the C-suite level or with the end users? Kevin?

Dr. KJ:
More at the, because I feel like the end users, when we show them a demonstration, for example, they see it, they're in it, they're using like, wow, this would make our lives easier, especially coming from Outlook. I'm not trash talking Outlook. It's a great tool, but it isn't necessarily a full fledged business application like Dynamics is. So when the end users see that they're already on board, but the management, they might be removed from the day-to-day operation. So what is your messaging when you say, Hey, this is how it can benefit you?

Kayla Rohde:
Well, so typically this starts off with when we're having our initial discovery conversation of why are you even looking at the software? What are you currently using? What are your goals? I really try to tap into what kind of problems are they solving, what's keeping them awake at night? Like, Hey, we're in Outlook. We have no idea who's doing what at any time. We have no metrics. And what I try to do is I try to turn that into a vision that you can see when we're getting through the pre-sales of, here's what I heard from you, you said that we can't hand work off to people because we don't know who's doing what. So then we have no metrics. Well, that turns into a story of, well, with case management, I can route things. I have a history of where things are going. I can see pretty much everything full picture, and then that translates downstream. Here's a picture of all the KPIs that we can build from that. So it's really translating that business need back into something actionable in the software. I think that's kind of the key to it, Kevin, is just figuring out what's the biggest problem they're trying to solve and helping them see that as you're going through implementation or pre-sales.

Dr. KJ:
Makes sense. No, that's awesome. That makes sense. I'm going to come from the other perspective though. I mean, we talked about C-suite, but what about the actual users? They go in there, they're seeing, let's just say they have this one piece of software and it's highly customized. How are you breaking down? I think you kind of alluded to it a little bit, but how are you really breaking down that conversation so that the user understands that this is exactly the business case and why we need to then go back to the c-suite, right? To really have that conversation from the internal, because we can always say, what do we need to try to get a cell or whatnot, but they need the actual data. How are you doing that?

Kayla Rohde:
I think with the end users, a lot of it starts with, well, tell me how you're doing it today. Tell me about the pain points and then give me the blue sky. If you could drive out of here in a Mercedes with this system, what would it look like and why would it look like that? So it really is a lot about asking questions. And most of the time that question is, why do you think you need this? Why would this benefit you? Or why do you think this isn't going to benefit you? Because implementation is a psychological game. You guys where you're trying to help people understand their why, because a lot of times business don't think about this until you ask that. They're like, oh, I've never looked at it that way. So it's asking why and it's listening. And then again, it is translating, here's the problems that I heard, and then helping gain their trust with, Hey, you said that this is a problem for you.


So for example, we have to get our emails lined up with a different inbox depending on the email type. We kind of go through and we color code our emails today. Well, why do you do that? Because that's the only tool that we have. So if I show you unified routing that can route these cases for you automatically, and you're struggling with, well, I don't know how it works, so I can't use it. Well, let's talk about the why. What do you think doesn't work about that? And then I can go back and I can tweak it a little bit and say, well, now I've adjusted it to kind of combat your problem. Does it work for you now? And then it's like light bulbs go on, like, oh my God, this is so much easier.

Dr. KJ:
No, I love that. And so let's ask a different question and let's just go a little different off the rails. So what about security? Everybody wants to know about security, but also everybody wants to know about ai. So when we think about how are your customers incorporating both AI and security, knowing the growing impact across the ecosystem?

Kayla Rohde:
Oh, kj, you're going to hit me with a hard question. I'm going to break this down. The AI piece, I think that that conversation is super exciting. People are just starting to discover it. So in terms of security, I think what we're trying to start do is introducing it within the Dynamics platform. You can go broader into Microsoft copilot, and I think it's a little safer inside the application because Microsoft copilot, you're in being typing stuff up and it's giving you answers. So there's, I'm going to say putting blinders on it a little bit for your end users. And then in terms of additional security, a lot of times I think what really comes down to is some customers want to be able to hide data from one kind of team to the other, and some have no data security. Everybody can see everything. So it does come down to recommending some best practices like, Hey, let's keep as minimal security as we can. And once we go through UAT, we identify that, hey, this user needs to be able to see X, Y, and Z. We can increase that security. So I think the conversation is kind of around, we can be flexible. Let's start really simple. Let's keep things limited. If you don't have a data security policy, let's keep it limited, and then let's add on permissions as we see a use case. But if you're wide open, we'll also have a conversation with you about here's why we should probably put some windows up, right?


I think there's a lot of areas of opportunity there in terms of security.

Dr. KJ:
Love it. Love it. No, that makes total sense. And I think of it in a way of let's get a plan together with the customer first, understand where their data resides. Let's then go in, Hey, as we are testing it out, let's say with 10 users, what is that returning right? Do we now need to go back and look at the permissions? Do we need to bring in our security team and think about purview and hardening that system and making sure that Joe Blow over here doesn't go and grab the CEO's emails or information around HR data and stuff like that? That's the way I think about it. And I think you're thinking about it, right? In the same way as well as we move forward.

Kayla Rohde:
Yeah, I think one of the most common use cases I get, and I don't know that it's necessarily around security, but more so around just preventing unwanted actions, field service, mobile, and the techs, usually clients want to lock that baby down because we don't want techs creating stuff that they shouldn't. We don't want them adding products they shouldn't. So a lot of that comes down to keeping it simple, but we can limit the controls that we give folks access to based on the security in the system.

Dr. KJ:
Fantastic. And you mentioned when we think about security, you have to have policies, best practices. I feel like there is that same ideology around ai, because if you're talking digital transformation, you're talking business applications, ai, especially in the context of dynamics, copilot is going to be a huge, huge point of discussion. But what I'm seeing is there are spectrums to it where one side is very much we need it absolutely no questions asked. This is going to be super helpful. Then you have the other side, usually the IT security side thing. Wait, hold on. There's a lot that can go wrong here. We need to find a middle ground. Are you seeing something along those lines when you're speaking to customers today?

Kayla Rohde:
I will be honest, Kevin, I'm not getting in too deep yet to those conversations with customers, so I'm going to flake on that. But what I've been doing in my own personal research on Microsoft's idea around security is just gaining a better understanding of where is Microsoft putting up walls? So being able to tell customers, Hey, Microsoft's not using the data that you're inputting as part of their language model. This is strictly going to stay within your organization. So those are areas that I guess we're working internally to be well versed on so we can have these conversations. Because the AI piece, you're right, there's a lot who are, we're never going to touch it. We don't need it. It's scary, but that's any new technology, it's always scary until somebody starts jumping in the water and we see, oh, it's not so bad. So I do think that it comes down to being able to speak to what Microsoft is putting in place for the parameters of security and sharing that with clients. And then also we are implementing it ourselves. So we've started off with a copilot and teams. We've got the copilot and Bing. So I mean, every day I sit down and I get a joke from copilot about consulting. I wonder how my IT department thinks about that. But I think that also kind of helps speak to the security model of, hey, we're using it. We're a large software implementation company and here's here's why we're not concerned about security risks. Excuse me.

Dr KJ:
Yeah, and responsible AI is a really big thing too, right? When you think about using ai, you got to use responsibly, and Microsoft has a ton of resources and a team dedicated completely to ensuring that not only we follow responsible AI principles, but that our customers who are using it are aware of and can utilize these policies to help ensure responsible AI is happening. Now, you mentioned you use it to create jokes, so I know that we were working offline that you had a potential dad joke, if you will, around that. So I knew you came prepared, so we wanted to put you on the spot and ask you what that is to end our call today.

Kayla Rohde:
Absolutely. Thank you for the opportunity here to showcase my wonderful joke skills, but it goes to ai. No. Why did the consultant create a Canvas app?

Dr. KJ:
Dunno.

Kayla Rohde:
She ran out of denim.

Dr. KJ:

Oh, perfect. That was great. That was perfect. I love that note. Kayla, I know this is your first podcast, but we look forward to having you back on the show and look forward to hearing more of you on different podcasts that are out there. So thank you so much for being on the Digestible Dynamics podcast today.

Kayla Rohde:
Yes, thanks so much for having me. This was awesome you guys.


Thank you for tuning in to Digestible Dynamics podcast, a show for you, the innovators with content directly from the experts, while we only cover one tidbit of Dynamics 365 per episode. If you want to learn more, head over to our LinkedIn page by searching for digestible dynamics on LinkedIn so that we can guide you to the right resource to help you maximize your Dynamics 365 experience. If you have any other questions, email your host KJ and KG at Digestible dynamics@microsoft.com. Until next time, folks.

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