As we come to an end of another year, the Christmas period provides an excellent opportunity to review what’s happened over the year and to plan effectively for what’s in store during the new year. My 2016 has been eventful, to say the least, presenting a good mixture of excitement, new challenges and learning experiences. 2017 looks to present a number of new opportunities for me to continue working with Dynamics CRM/Dynamics 365 for Enterprise (CRM/D365E), to continue developing the blog further with new content and for me to widen my knowledge more generally of Microsoft technologies in the cloud. Here’s my top 6 list of closing observations and thoughts for 2016:
You can’t learn everything about CRM/D365E, so don’t even bother trying
I have really enjoyed working with CRM/D365E over the past couple of years. As I’ve discussed previously on the blog, it gives those who have “dabbled” in various different Microsoft technologies an open and accessible canvas to work with a number of different technologies simultaneously. As a result, the sheer breadth of potential specialisations within CRM was staggering; with this increased tenfold following the introduction of D365E. There is no point, therefore, in needlessly stressing yourself out, attempting to become a CRM/D365E master. This is particularly true given that the rate of changes to the product mean that it is literally impossible to keep up. Instead of being frustrated, you should take joy and satisfaction at whenever you learn something nuanced or niche about the product and focus your study towards either a technical (i.e. developer) or functional (i.e. Sales, Service etc. areas of the product) specialist. There is plenty for you to get your teeth stuck into either way.
2016 has been the year for CRM/D365E
There have been a lot of developments this year with the product formerly known as Dynamics CRM. This blog has covered the vast majority of these changes over the past year, such as:
- Brand new exams for Dynamics CRM 2016, including the splitting out of the Applications exam into a Sales and Service exam
- The release of the Dynamics CRM 2016 Spring Wave, which brought about the introduction of a number of new features, such as Portals
- The announcement of CRM’s migration into the new Dynamics 365 for Enterprise range of applications
- The introduction of a brand new version of the Developer Toolkit for Dynamics 365 in beta, the first update to this toolkit since Dynamics CRM 2013
A lot to take in, I’m sure you’ll agree! And this seems unlikely to let up in 2017 either. We can look forward to the following next year:
- The release of Dynamics 365 for Business, Microsoft’s successor product for CRM targeted at small to medium size businesses. There is currently scant information available regarding this product, so I am keen to find out more about this at the first available opportunity.
- The (anticipated) release of brand new exams for Dynamics 365
- An expected spring update to Dynamics 365 for Enterprise, which is likely to take the product to its next major version
Now is certainly the best time to be involved in working with CRM/D365E, with the enhanced opportunity for those working with the product to develop their skills further and get involved as part of various projects.
Don’t be afraid to make a big change…
Opportunities will always present themselves - whether it’s learning about a new technology, getting involved as part of a project at work or even moving from your current role to an entirely different one. These should always be explored eagerly, even if you are daunted by the change that they may make to your current circumstances.
…but also don’t be afraid to admit if this was a mistake
Whenever we set out to make a major change - whether in our professional or personal life - we always have the best intentions on where we want to end up. This can often be borne out of a degree of frustration, which can be compounded further if this change does not deliver what we had hoped for. The important thing to remember with this is not to get angry but deal with the situation calmly, with control and take pressing action to get yourself in a place where you are happy. I am often reminded of one of Tony Robbin’s key messages - take massive action. Do whatever you feel is necessary to get you to the place where you want to be. And don’t be afraid to look backwards as part of this. Certainly, from a professional viewpoint, you should always be ensuring that you never burn you bridges with past colleagues/companies that you have worked with, judge any opportunity on its individual, unbiased merit and never be afraid to admit if you made the wrong decision. Instead, what you have done is had a significant learning experience that has helped to develop you further.
Your team is the most important thing about your job
A lot of studies point to the importance of a line manager in an employees happiness and engagement. Whilst this is undoubtedly important, I think this only tells half the story. What I have come to learn this year is the importance of having good and reliable team members surrounding you - including both colleagues who report to you and those who you report to. Having that almost instant rapport with other colleagues, in terms of how they approach daily tasks, sharing the same values as you and in covering your back, is the single most important thing about your role. If this is not present or not working within your current team, then you very much need to take massive action to get the team in the place where they need to be or start evaluating your options to extricate yourself away from the team. You should ask yourself the following questions when attempting to determine whether your team is functional and effective or the complete opposite:
- Do you colleagues communicate openly and honestly with you on a day to day basis?
- Does your line manager give you the freedom and latitude to complete your job in the best way you see fit?
- Is your line manager always approachable?
- When things go wrong, how do your colleagues work towards a resolution? Do they instantly start pointing the finger or do they get actively involved in providing a resolution? What did your colleagues do (if anything) to prevent things from going wrong in the first place?
- What is the team dynamic like? Is everyone in your team professional in how they conduct themselves?
- Does everyone have a clear vision of what the team is working towards, and how this fits in with the wider business?
If the answer is no or nothing to most, if not all, of the above, then you should start to think carefully about how you can make a positive change to the working environment.
Looking ahead to 2017: The blog
At the start of the year, I set myself a personal challenge: start a CRM focused blog and publish at least 1 post a week. So far, I think I’ve done a pretty good job meeting this challenge, although I obviously cannot comment on the quality of the content… :) Whilst I am fully intending to continue posting in the New Year and the beyond, I am currently contemplating some changes to the blog. With the introduction of Dynamics 365, the blog name will soon become retro and outdated. So a new name will likely be required, and possibly a shift in focus towards a more general Microsoft technology focused blog. Watch this space for more info, but for those who have stuck around this year and are still reading, then thank you for your support! I hope I can continue to entertain you in some small fashion in 2017 as well.
Regardless of whether you are a new or existing visitor to the site, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!