The quick overview
Here are the most essential user adoption tips for D365 finance and operations from Rachel Profitt. Stick around to the end, and you’ll get her advice for starting your digital adoption journey off right. Rachel believes the most critical foundation for the digital transformation journey is for customers to make connections between technology and ISV solutions and then tie them to business goals.
Stating plainly, “If you don’t start there, you’re never going to get to the end result you want.”
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The full transcript
Essential User Adoption Tips for Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&O
Rick McCutcheon: Hello, everybody. My name’s Rick McCutcheon. I’m a Microsoft Dynamics business application MVP and I want to thank you for tuning into Digital Adoption Talks. Today, there are over 300,000 business professionals with digital adoption in their job titles on LinkedIn.
On this show, along with my co-host, Joachim Schiermacher, the CEO of ClickLearn, we talk to some of the leading digital adoption experts in the Microsoft ecosystem. And do we have a guest today. This week, we’re thrilled to be talking to Dynamics community legend, former Dynamics 365 MVP legend, and the host of Dynamics 365 Unboxed. Let’s welcome Rachel Profitt from Microsoft. Hello, Rachel. How are you?
[00:01:00] Rachel Profitt in Dynamics Unboxed and at Microsoft
Rachel Profitt: Oh, I’m doing really great today. Thanks for having me, Rick.
Rick McCutcheon: Rachel, we’re going to jump right in and we’re going to let you introduce yourself. And talk a little bit about your Dynamics 365 history, and we’re very interested in Dynamics 365 Unboxed and your role at Microsoft.
Rachel Profitt: Sure. My Dynamics 365 journey started 21 years ago when I was working for an RV manufacturer in Northern Indiana. And we were implementing Damgaard Axapta 2.5 at the time. I started in accounting roles and that’s where I got my finance background from. Transitioned into some IT roles, taught myself how to write X++ back in the day when there was no documentation on these things.
[00:02:00] Passion for training, helping others, and Dynamics 365 implementations
And then I moved into the partner channel for about 15 years. And that’s when I found my passion for training. In the partner channel, I spent a large majority of my 15 years there learning how to, or helping others learn how to use and implement Dynamics 365 throughout all the different versions and years. And then, about two and a half years ago, I moved to Microsoft where I’m at now and I am a FastTrack solution architect.
I think when I jokingly describe to people what I do as a FastTrack architect, I like to say I’m a free resource to customers, to explain things to them that they likely already know. But in all seriousness, I think helping customers understand how to be successful with our platform and talking about a lot of different topics, like project governance, testing, training, your users, adoption, along with those actual technical and architectural questions about the system.
[00:03:00] Dynamics 365 Unboxed on YouTube – new series of videos coming soon
I started my YouTube channel about a year ago at the urging of Dona Sarkar, like the famous Dona Sarkar. And I’ve been doing that for just over a year now. I did take a little bit of a break earlier this year, and been focusing a little bit more on my blog. In my personal life, as many of you might know, I found out earlier this year that I am an autistic ADHD or with PTSD.
On my blog at Dynamics365lady.com, I’ve primarily been talking about that. But I do have a new series of YouTube videos that will be coming very soon. I actually have 11 of them that are queued up. I just need to get past my ADHD and edit them and publish them. Keep tuned to my YouTube channel at Dynamics 365 inbox soon to see some really exciting new content.
Rick McCutcheon: Okay. Joachim, would you like to add anything or ask Rachel about her history?
[00:04:00] Rachel at Community Summit, user adoption and Dynamics F&O
Joachim Schiermacher: No, I’m really just super excited to see you and it’s a really interesting past. I had the opportunity to speak a little bit to you, Rachel, as well when we were at Summit. That was an extreme pleasure. I can see that there’s a lot of competency. And I look forward to talking a little bit about user adoption, especially inside Dynamics and particularly on the F&O side. Very excited to have you.
Rick McCutcheon: And when we talk about Dynamics, Rachel, you are in the F&O finance space. And why don’t you talk a little bit about the program you work on at Microsoft for those listeners that aren’t familiar with it.
[00:05:00] What is FastTrack?
Rachel Profitt: Sure. FastTrack is a program that’s been around since really AX7 and then that rebranding of Dynamics 365. Moving to the cloud can be a little scary. There’s a lot of this buzzwords and terminology and a lot of new technology that is being used in the cloud with Dynamics 365.
[00:05:30] FastTrack team helps Microsoft customers deploy environments, get set up and running
And helping customers along the way I think is really key. FastTrack, it’s certainly evolving, but when it originally started it was really focused on helping customers actually deploy their environments, get things set up and get them running. Now I feel like from a Microsoft perspective, we’re in a much better place. We’ve simplified those deployment steps, we’ve got a lot of great documentation and tech talks out there about that.
[00:06:00] FastTrack team makes implementations go faster
We’re now starting to shift focus a little bit more towards how to make those implementations go faster. And thinking about those business processes that you are using within your organization. And how do we optimize and get the most out of your Dynamics 365 investment while also still trying to make sure we’re dotting all those I’s and crossing all those T’s with your implementation? All of your testing, your training, your program strategy, et cetera, to make sure that we’re successful.
[00:07:00] Microsoft adding more product-specific workshops – finance, supply chain management and more
I spend a lot of my time, when I’m working with customers, talking about focusing on those things. Since I’ve started Microsoft, we’ve started to evolve and add a lot more workshops. We now have workshops that are product specific. We’ve got some finance workshops, we’ve got some supply chain management specific workshops and so on, where we can actually talk about business processes and how you’re implementing the solution to get the most out of your solution.
[00:07:30] What role does digital adoption play in Microsoft 365 Unboxed and on the FastTrack team?
Rick McCutcheon: Rachel, we had I think a great conversation when we were at DynamicsCon in San Antonio, talking about this whole area of digital adoption. Because I’m coming from the CRM side, which has traditionally been a problem with digital adoption. You’re coming from the AX F&O side of things. Where does of digital adoption play a role in what you’re doing with your unboxed show as well as what you’re doing with your Microsoft program?
[00:08:00] Success by Design Nuggets – tips for good implementations
Rachel Profitt: Great question. One of the key things, or one of my key playlists on my Dynamics 365 inbox channel is called Success by Design Nuggets. And so, these Success by Design Nuggets are short videos where I’m giving typically just one or two tips about how to make sure you’re having a good implementation. I probably have 4,000 more to make, so bear with me. There’s a lot of them out there.
[00:08:30] 12-part series on how to extend F&O using the Power Platform
But I think the other thing that I’m working on internally, to your point, Rick, is like how do we help customers use the entire platform going across the CE and the F&O sides of things? Some of you might be familiar, I did a TED Talk series last year that was a 12 part series on how to extend F&O using the power platform, which are all the tools that are our CE friends, sales, customer service, field service use on a daily basis. But teaching you how to use those with F&O.
[00:09:00] Business process documentation is the new and exciting project
But I think my next pet project that I’m working on right now, and I’m very excited about it, is this idea of business process documentation. Breaking down the barriers of the accounts receivable module and the sales and marketing module in F&O versus Dynamics 365 sales. And starting to have the conversation about, “Well, let’s talk about order to cash.” And when we think about order to cash as a great example, there are seven different products that Microsoft offers to help you with your order to cash process. And this can be very confusing.
Rick McCutcheon: Plus everything in the ISV space.
[00:09:30] Business process documentation in the ISV space is confusing
Rachel Profitt: Oh, yeah. Exactly. You add all this stuff in the ISV space and it’s super confusing. As a customer, how do you navigate that? How do you know which one is right for you and which one should you be using to meet your business requirements? I think this idea of flipping the script on some of our documentation and aligning to some of these business processes is super exciting for me. And starting to write documentation that talks about order to cash in business processes.
[00:10:00] Write documentation to make implementations go faster
And here’s the differentiators. Here’s how you might choose to use Dynamics 365 finance and supply chain management and Dynamics 365 sales. And I think one of the things that I really hope for is to get the community involved and to break down these barriers of let’s share our knowledge, let’s share our experience. Let’s write this documentation, let’s make our implementations go faster.
Microsoft has some lofty revenue goals to meet in the next several years. And I think in order to meet those, we all have to come together. And while myself and my team here at Microsoft can do a lot of great, I think together as a community, we can go a lot faster, a lot stronger, a lot better. And I think everyone will benefit.
[00:11:00] Deliver better process descriptions to partners and customers
Joachim Schiermacher: I think this is probably the most exciting thing. And I’m seriously getting goosebumps when I hear that the idea that we are leveraging on the most important asset that we have inside the Dynamics community to deliver better process descriptions to both our partners and our customers.
I think this is a fantastic initiative and it’s one that most of your competing vendors, how do we actually bring a very strong community together to start facilitating that the clients are getting better user adoption? And typically better process descriptions that allow them to actually do a transition to your project. I think it’s a wonderful thing.
[00:12:00] Connectivity around deploying into MS Docs
I’m hoping, I’m seriously hoping that we get a chance to look into this. I know that we have some of the connectivity around deploying into MS Docs. We are capable of doing that. We’ve done that before. I think that we are going to have to investigate if we can perhaps help on the tooling side of this and make sure that that partners have some strong tooling on the other side. I’m really hoping that we can move this forward. I know that you are in a hurry to do this as well, Rachel. Yeah.
Rachel Profitt: Definitely. We were…
Rick McCutcheon: Rachel.
Rachel Profitt: Oh, go ahead.
Rick McCutcheon: Go ahead. No, go ahead, Rachel.
[00:12:30] Templates and outlines reducing barriers to make it easier for people to contribute
Rachel Profitt: I was just going to say, we’re in early prototyping stages right now. We’ve prototyped out some kind of shell docs articles, creating templates and trying to reduce the barrier for people to be able to contribute. If you’re not familiar right now, anyone can contribute to Docs today, but it’s complicated and you have to know markdown. And it’s not the easiest thing in the world.
[00:13:00] Following in the footsteps of Azure Architecture Center
I think what we’re hoping to do is reduce those barriers, make it easier for people to contribute by providing them some templates and outlines. And we want our partners and our community members to be able to showcase their knowledge. And so, we’re following suit of what our Azure Architecture Center has done. And Azure is already doing this I think very, very well.
We want our Dynamics community to do the same thing. And to your point, Rick, there’s all these ISVs out there. I think when you start to layer in these ISVs and these partner solutions that have industry expertise and all these niche industries. I think when we take the baseline and we add in and layer in ISVs and partner expertise, then it’s just going to get better.
Rick McCutcheon: The last couple of weeks we’ve talked at both shows, DynamicsCon and the summit. And what it got me thinking about is we’ve been away from the community for a few years because of the pandemic. And now, when I was in DynamicsCon, I’m sitting next to two people with Enterprise on premise installs that they’ve been running for 10 years. And they really haven’t looked at, “Where do I go next?” until now.
[00:14:00] Rachel Profitt helps people in the community get started
And they really didn’t need help on power apps yet. They just needed help figuring out, “What do I do? How do I get started?” And I saw the same thing at community. I was working at the CRM desk, and people were coming up to me at the beginning of the community. And saying, “I’m on premise.” Two came up to me, “I’m on premise with AX. Where do I go here? What do I do?”
And luckily, I knew you were working at the desk, so I don’t know if they told you I sent them over. But I said, “There’s a desk over there with a purple banner.” I said, “And Rachel Profitt’s there. Go over there now. And she’ll tell you exactly where you got to go and what you have to do.” I think there’s an importance on not only getting the documents, getting the videos, but getting our communities back together.
[00:15:00] Community can help customers in the decision-making process
Rachel Profitt: Absolutely. I think it was great to be able to be at conference again in person and talking with people. I think I learned a lot. I think we get going. And I’ve been doing this Dynamics 365 thing for four or five years now. But to your point, there’s still a lot of people that are still back on AX 2009 and 2012. I know when I was delivering sessions, we always tried to do the, “Show of hands, who’s running what versions?” And I even heard a lot from GP customers coming over and confused about, “What should we be doing? Should we go to BC? Should we go to F&O? What’s next for us?”
And I think even in those beginning decision making stages, it’s hard to know which way should we go. And I think it’s another one of those areas that I think we as a community can help our customers along in this decision making process. And showcase your expertise and your skills by contributing. Whether that’s through these Docs articles.
[00:16:00] I have a dream that one day we will all share everything we know
Or obviously, Rick, you’ve got this channel where we’re doing these podcasts. I think there’s a lot of ways the community can contribute and make this Dynamics role a better place. I feel like it’s now time to do my Martin Luther King. I have a dream that one day we will all share everything we know.
And Dynamics 365 implementations can be easy. You can use this whole stack together. And while Microsoft is working in advancing the platform and bringing the two application suites closer and closer together, we need to continue to work closer and closer together as a community, as the product comes closer and closer together.
[00:17:00] Strength in community for SI and ISV partners
Rick McCutcheon: Rachel, we talked about community. We’re glad we’ve got strength in the community. And we saw the turnout at these meetings that the customer base is looking for it. And we both worked on the partner side of things. What can SI and ISV partners do to get involved with digital adoption and not just focus on, “Hey, we’ve got all this functionality?” But how do we get our customers to absorb it? Because on your end, from an F&O perspective, they tell me there’s eight to 15 ISVs connected to every big install. That’s a lot of people with their hands into digital adoption.
Rachel Profitt: Definitely. I think getting back to the basics of your business processes and what you need and why you need it, and program strategy are what I view in my head as your two starting points. You have to really understand your business processes internally. And I think it’s actually, it seems simple. Like, “Oh, order to cash.” And I think we all get the basics of order to cash. We take an order, we fulfill an order, we invoice an order, we capture a payment, and then we collect on that payment.
[00:18:00] Think about what you hope to get out of the Dynamics 365 adoption
But in real life, there’s a lot more to it than that. And I think getting back to those basics of what are your actual objectives, what do you hope to get out of this Dynamics 365 adoption? And thinking about your goals and objectives. And when I was talking to customers at Summit and DynamicsCon and just in general, one of the things I always encourage people to do is don’t talk about software with me right now.
Take the software out of this. As a company, when you listen to your CEO, what is your company’s vision? What is your company’s goals? And that has to be your starting point. If your goals are to increase sales or increase customer satisfaction, that has to be the driver. And so everything you do from a technology standpoint should stem from that.
[00:19:00] Make sure technology solution furthers business goals
And I think when we talk with our customers about these ISVs, about what Microsoft offers out of the box, it all has to relate back to that thing. If we’re talking about increasing sales, is how is this going to help me increase my sales? And if it’s not, why are we doing it?
I think if we’re looking to increase sales and we’re putting all these things on top of it that aren’t helping us increase sales. Maybe they’re helping us increase customer service or they’re helping us go faster, we have to equate that. And I think helping customers draw those dotted lines between our technology solutions and your ISV solutions to their actual business goals is pivotal. It’s so critical in the digital transformation journey. If you don’t start there, you’re never going to get to the end result you want.
Rick McCutcheon: And at the same point.
Rachel Profitt: Did you have something?
[00:20:00] Process for making it simple so users adopt – and don’t go back to spreadsheets
Rick McCutcheon: As you start to bring in core Microsoft technology and ISV, we’ve got to make this process as simple for the user as possible. We got to keep that in mind because I’ve done a lot of work in the last two years from not all the way back from the quote to cash side of things with a lot of CPQ vendors. We’ve got to make it simple or they’re just going to revert to their spreadsheets. And they’ll give you as much information as they need to, but their world will be revolving at Excel as we’re trying to bring in this information.
[00:21:00] Have the user and end-goal in focus
Rachel Profitt: Yeah. And I think to your point, it’s like, okay, so you have to start with those goals in mind. And then to your point, Rick, step two in this process is you have to have that user focus. You have to have that end goal focus. If it’s too hard, if it’s too many clicks, if it doesn’t actually meet the business objectives, they’re going to revert back.
And a lot of times, I see businesses, they put all this really cool technology and it’s really great, but it’s too hard to use. Or we didn’t train our users, or we forgot to ask about X, Y, and Z. And so there’s these corner cases that we didn’t cover. And that’s where testing strategies and training and adoption strategies and change management strategies are so critical. We have chapters in our Dynamics 365 implementation guide that are all about these topics.
[00:22:00] Brand-New Change Management chapter coming soon to Dynamics 365 Implementation Guide
Change management is a new chapter that’s coming hopefully really soon. We’ve been working on it for a while. But there’s a lot of resources. If you’re not really sure how to do change management, I encourage you just go do an internet search. You can find so much information and get a lot of great tips. I think we’re going to be helping by publishing some standard guidance.
[00:22:30] If nobody can use a solution, it doesn’t matter how amazing it is
But even as an ISV, when you think about what’s different about your solution, what differentiates you? And how to help your customers adopt that, how to help your customers train that. And translating this into business processes in the way end users think and the way end users use systems on a day-to-day basis and the way they operate is super, super key. Because even if you build the most amazing technology solution, if nobody can use it or nobody knows how to use it, it doesn’t matter.
[00:23:00] ISVs can contribute by translating technology to actual business processes
It’s been like my saying a lot lately. This is not the field of dreams. If you build it, they will come it. It doesn’t work that way. I think the way ISVs can contribute to that is work to translate your clicks, your technology to actual business processes and benefits. And then when you’re implementing those solutions, we can compare those business processes that you’ve outlined your best practice to, “Okay. If this is your business process, this is how you configure thesolution.”
[00:23:30] How to identify where change management points are
And when we do that whole comparison, that gap analysis of here’s what I do today versus this is what my technology offers, we now know where we have differences. And there’s differences, you just identified where your change management process points are. And you have to put the efforts into those change management process points to be able to train and teach your users.
[00:24:00] The hard part is translating business processes to real-life business problems
At the end of the day, anyone with some PDFs or a video or whatever can learn where to click. But it’s how to translate those business processes to real life business problems. That’s the hard part. And I think that’s where we can all contribute. Whether it’s your ISV solution or standard out, maybe it’s a creative way to use out of the box solution.
There’s a lot of that I think in sales, customer service and field service, where there’s creativity being used to implement these solutions in industries that you maybe never would’ve thought of before. But the reason they were successful was because they translated those business processes to the clicks and the configurations and the setups you need to do.
[00:25:00] Partners help customers compare differences and translate them to foster change management
And at the end, right in the end, those partners translate where these partners are bringing values. They’re helping customers compare the differences and translating those and helping them with that change management. Guiding them through the configurations and then finding the gaps. Where can we make this even better?
Rick McCutcheon: Yep. All right. Rachel, on what you said, and I love the idea around change management. But I think when I was talking to our AX customer that’s been on the same system for 10 years and their CRM was sitting out here somewhere. And maybe they had a very low level integration between the two.
[00:26:00] Change management is a constant
Change management is going to be a constant. It’s not going to be like in 2016 we put a new system in and it’ll change a little bit. I think now we’re in the cloud and we’re going across finance, we’re going across CE, we’re going across field service, we’re going across teams. And with Sales Viva. We’re going across the call center. Change is going to be constant. I think there’s going to be a responsibility of the partner to stay engaged. And as we’re making those changes, really concern themselves around adoption.
[00:26:30] Digital transformation is not a one-and-done
Rachel Profitt: Absolutely. What you said is so, so important, Rick. Digital transformation is not a one and done. It’s not like you go live with any Dynamics 365 product or any technology product for that matter, and you’re done. Digital transformation is a journey. You should constantly be transforming your business. What’s next?
When you get that initial implementation done, you should have a group or a team of SMEs and people in your organization, whoever that is, that are talking about this. Maybe it’s on a quarterly basis, maybe it’s on an annual basis, whatever cycle makes sense for your business, but it has to be constant.
[00:27:00] Business and technology constantly evolving ways to engage employees
And to another point, I think to add to what you were saying, it’s we’re evolving technology, but your business is constantly evolving too. The supply chain is evolving. COVID happened and changed the way we work from a human capital management standpoint. Businesses are still trying to figure out how do we engage our employees and keep them invested in our business so that they want to stay here and create work-life balance and create work environments that are great for them?
Rick McCutcheon: And how do we get them back in the office?
Rachel Profitt: But do we really need to get them back in the office? Question mark.
Rick McCutcheon: Exactly.
[00:28:00] Digital transformation supports businesses
Rachel Profitt: It’s like that digital transformation needs to support these things. And I think that’s why, we as Microsoft, we’re inventing all these cool new things on top of Teams and Office. That’s where Viva was born out of. And it’s going to continue to happen.
Another barge is going to get stuck in a bay somewhere and it’s going to mess up our supply chain even more. Or whatever. I think whatever is happening out in the world affects so many aspects of our business. I mean, the way the economy changes, affects the way we operate our businesses. How do we make things more affordable? How do we make things go faster?
[00:29:00] FastTrack helps get value, faster
Because the way the economy is right now, it’s tough. And we can’t just keep inflating our prices and making things take longer. It’s like how do we get more value faster? And that’s one of the key things FastTrack is really focused on, how do we get more value faster? I like to use the analogy of how do you eat an elephant? I mean, implementing ERP technology solutions, especially, I think it’s true of even CRM solutions like sales, customer service, field service. But how do we eat an elephant, Rick? Well, we eat an elephant one bite at a time.
I think the key here is figuring out how do we adopt and attack our digital transformation one bite at a time? And what bite is most valuable? Do I want to eat the steak first or do I want to eat the broccoli on my plate first? Which one makes more sense? And depending on your business, it might be a different answer what’s more important to your business.
[00:30:00] Getting started with digital adoption
Rick McCutcheon: Rachel, we could talk about this all morning, but we’re going to have to stop at some point because this is a whole different conversation around understanding where to get started. But on today’s session where we’re talking about digital adoption. Any closing thoughts, especially around what people need to do to get started on this journey?
Rachel Profitt: Yeah, I think my closing thoughts, if you take nothing else away from this, two things. One, start by documenting those business goals and objectives. And step two is have a business process focused approach to your implementation. If you take nothing else away, take those two things away.