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Welcome to the "Steve reads his posts podcast". For those of you who are too busy, or too lazy, to actually read my posts, I have taken on the huge effort of reading them to you. Enjoy.

Steve reads his Blog Steve Mordue

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

Welcome to the "Steve reads his posts podcast". For those of you who are too busy, or too lazy, to actually read my posts, I have taken on the huge effort of reading them to you. Enjoy.

    Hit 50K Users? Get ready for the knock-offs.

    Hit 50K Users? Get ready for the knock-offs.

    Shortly after we launched RapidStartCRM back in 2015, a couple of competitors followed us into the emerging space we identified. They are gone now, but new ones occasionally pop up. I hear "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".
    First Mover Advantage As the very first simple-to-use CRM solution built on Microsoft's Business Applications platform, we did have an early advantage. We brought a lot of SMB knowledge to the offering, and SMBs were eating it up. My assumption that there was a market hungry for CRM, but turned off by the complexity of Dynamics 365 or Salesforce.com, proved correct. Even Microsoft was a promotor of RapidStartCRM, seeing it as a path to capture a segment of the market they were never very good at. But the first mover advantage won't carry you forever. While we may be able to forever claim we were the first, it requires ongoing work to continue to claim we are the best.
    First Users Advantage Being the first to market is important, but having the first users of a new product, is much more valuable. As an SMB ourselves, we could anticipate many needs for a simple CRM, and we incorporated them into the very first version. But our ability to anticipate needs pales in comparison to actual user feedback. While largely the same application (in appearance) that we launched in 2015, there have been over 25 version updates over those years. Every one of those updates was a direct result of feedback from our growing user base.
    I see what you did there When we launched, there was no "AppSource", the best our potential competitors could do was watch one of our videos to try and reverse-engineer what we were doing. A few tried, some even copying and pasting our web copy. I was mostly annoyed at the sheer laziness of their efforts. It's a little different today, our app is now available to anyone via AppSource, and not surprisingly of the competitors I am aware of today, each of them had installed RapidStartCRM in advance of launching their copies. Some have at least attempted to take a slightly different approach, yet others simply came up with a catchy name and are basically trying to replicate what they think we are doing. One even pretended to be a customer and reached out with questions! Even Microsoft closely dissected and reviewed RapidStartCRM as they were developing the "Business Edition", the "never launched" predecessor to the Dynamics 365 Professional offers.
    The Missing Link The primary reason we have had so many updates, while our competition seldom gets past their first one, is the over 50,000 users we have on our app. You don't get that many users launching a knockoff with your fingers crossed. Sure our brand recognition for RapidStartCRM is high, but that would not mean anything if the app was not excellent, and continuously updated as new capabilities come out and features are requested, as long as both of those items fit within our mantra of "Simple-to-Use". We closely evaluate any changes, to ensure we don't trip the touchy complexity wire. This is a lesson some of our aspiring competitors should learn as they replicate our concept, but then proceed to add a bunch of crap to it.
    Simple isn't Easy You would think that building something simple should be easier than building something advanced... it's not. Even with Microsoft's vast resources, the Dynamics 365 Professional apps that they positioned for SMB, missed the simplicity mark by a mile. The fact that so many SMBs are using the professional apps is a testament more to Microsoft's marketing might, than the apps being appropriate for most of their SMB customers. It's funny how our roles have reversed. When they were first promoting RapidStartCRM it was with an eye towards eventually moving those new customers to Dynamics 365. Instead, many Dynamics 365 customers are moving to RapidStartCRM. Of course I knew this would happen, but I continued to smile as they told me about "their" plans for RapidStartCRM.
    It's about the Churn In

    • 6 min
    Your organization (tenant) is over capacity

    Your organization (tenant) is over capacity

    It seems like a couple of times a week I get a panicked message from a customer who saw the dreaded alert: "Your organization (tenant) is over capacity" in the Power Platform Admin Center. Sometimes they are over a little, and sometimes they are using 500% or more of their allocated capacity. Let's chat about this shall we?

    Capacity We still have a handful of customers on the "Old Model", the combined "Extra Storage" SKU. If I recall it was $10 USD/GB... and people complained about that. Recently Microsoft changed from the "Additional Storage" model to a "Capacity" model. In the process they split the storage buffet into three entrées: Database Capacity, File Capacity and Log Capacity. They also changed the pricing... significantly. Additional Database Capacity will cost you $40/GB/Month, additional File Capacity goes for a mere $2/GB/Month, and additional Log Capacity comes in at $10/GB/Month. Truing up can be an expensive proposition.
    What will happen? The first concern of customers seeing this ominous alert is that their business applications will suddenly stop functioning. Clearly this would not be good for Microsoft's business relationship with that customer. So nothing currently running will "stop". However you may notice that will not be able to create new environments, or copy or restore environments, while you are over-capacity. It is not clear if there are any other things that may be happening like throttling your speed, etc., but regardless, you are out of compliance. So while not something you need to solve immediately, you do want to solve it. If you have an urgent issue like needing to copy or restore an environment while you are over capacity, you can request a 30-day extension.
    Buying your way out For some customers, the least expensive option is to simply buy your way out of capacity debt. We recently had a customer with about 100 Sales Professional licenses inquire whether moving to the Enterprise Sales licenses would be an option. Not a chance, in their case the cost was almost triple, and only got them halfway there.
    So how much do you get? Many Dynamics 365 customers have no idea how much storage capacity they have, or how they got it. You can get a better understanding in the Power Platform Admin Center.
    Here is an example screenshot of a tough situation:

    As you can see this customer is way over their allotment. On the right side you can see how they got their allotment, including their default capacities, additional capacity via additional user licenses (not all licenses include this), and any extra Capacity they may have purchased, all of which sum up to their totals. In this case this customer has quite a few users, but most are on Dynamics 365 "Professional" licenses, which add no capacity. We estimated their cost to true up by just buying the capacity needed with a small cushion would be about $3,300/month. Wow!
    Alternatives There are several things you can do to help this situation. First we'll tackle the low-hanging fruit, that I can immediately see is their Log storage, which is about 700% over. Since log storage is not very expensive, their cost to get right-side up on this is not that much, about $160/month, so it is not worth having "our" team do anything. But on their own, they can delete some of their old logs, or if they need them, export them out to cold (cheap) storage. They can also look at "what" they are logging to make sure each item needs to be logged, they may have hit the ole "Check all" option when they set it up.
    The next item to look at is File where they are about 422% over. Again, their cost to get right-side up on this is not that much, about $300/month. On their own they can run some advanced find queries and delete unneeded email and note attachments, and just pay the difference. The cost to do more, would not have an ROI.
    Lastly, we come to the real problem... Database, where they are also about 435% over.  This would be expensive to buy out of @$40/GB, a

    • 10 min
    "Even after everything, we still have adoption problems"

    "Even after everything, we still have adoption problems"

    One of the smartest things I have done in a while was to introduce a monthly Principals call with our customers. Our customers are all very happy with our team, so why rock the boat by injecting myself? For the same reason I might tell the waiter that my food is "fine" when it isn't.
    The Owner's Dilemma Every single day people go into a restaurant and have a sub-par meal. It seems the wait staff everywhere has been trained to ask leading questions, like "isn't your steak great?", with a huge smile on their face. Like many people, it's easier to just say "it's fine", rather than interfere with their smile. Instead, I just make a decision to not come back. Meanwhile, the owner asks smiley how things are going, and they reply, "Well people seem to love your food!". Which leaves the owner wondering why sales are down. Our sales are fine, but I'm not taking any chances.
    How's it Going? I have no interest in a "feel good" conversation with my customers. Instead, I am more like a Business Applications detective, asking hard questions, probing for the real issues. It was on one of these recent Principals calls that a customer conceded that they were having adoption problems. Ugh... the perennial bane of Business Applications. This particular customer was on Dynamics 365. In addition, they had bought basically everything that Microsoft business applications group offers, including Dynamics 365 Marketing, Customer Insights, Power B.I., oh... and a few more "Insights". They had also built out an extensive user training library. It seems like they had done everything possible to insure adoption, yet for a particular group they were struggling.
    Carrot, Stick or Both The usual way most organizations approach adoption is, "Use it, or else". Or else what? This seems to range from, "you'll get a reprimand (oh no!)" to "you're fired (oh shit!)", with a lot of options in between. The growth in "work from home" has not helped the adoption challenge. A few other organizations try the more "touchy/feely" approach. "If you use the system, we'll enter you in a drawing for a "NEW CAR!!!" And still other organizations use both, you either get a new car, or you get fired. (You have to say that in your best Alec Baldwin voice.)
    Damn Salespeople Most organizations have workable adoption from their administrative staff, and pretty good adoption from their support staff. It never fails, when I hear this concern, it is always related to the sales staff. For this particular customer they had an even bigger challenge in that their key sales staff is made up older "Rainmakers".
    Rainmakers Most businesses have a sales team. Within that team you have mostly average sales people, but often there will be a few that make most of your sales. The 80/20 rule applies. These are your "Rainmakers". Any other salesperson could quit and you wouldn't bat an eye, but if a Rainmaker quit... it would keep you up at night. Rainmakers are rainmakers because they are smart, and smart enough to know that they are Rainmakers... with leverage. The kind of leverage that, if they don't use your system, they know nothing will happen. They are completely unmotivated by your pleas to track their sales activities. So your forecasts are shit. Whether you are heading for your record high month, or record low month, you won't discover until the following month. Herein lies the challenge.
    Attempts so Far The Rainmaker challenge was not lost on this customer, and they initiated several efforts to overcome it. More training materials of course, and an ongoing effort to make their apps simpler to use. Not unimportant, but not effective either. In my experience the only way to motivate a Rainmaker is to provide them with a tool that makes them more money by using it, than not. Full Stop! Easier said than done, but all other efforts are window dressing.
    Some Ideas for thought Vlad, a Principal in our organization on the call, suggested playing to ego as one idea. If you know you are are a

    • 7 min
    We Upgraded from Dynamics 365 to RapidStartCRM

    We Upgraded from Dynamics 365 to RapidStartCRM

    I have had my head down for a while working on the next version of RapidStartCRM. We also recently deployed RapidStartCRM for our own support operations. In the process, I came across a few items that I thought would be of interest to the users of our free app, and since they would also work for any Power App, including Dynamics 365, I thought I might discuss them.
    Next Version Before I get into this, I want to clarify what I mean by "Next Version" of RapidStartCRM. We have been developing this product since 2015 when we launched it a the Worldwide Partner Conference (Now called Inspire). Over the years we had made hundreds of updates and tweaks in direct response to users. We also refactored the solution a couple of years ago to run on the low cost Power Apps licenses in addition to Dynamics 365. Each update, with the exception of the refactoring, had progressively fewer changes as we honed in on our target customers' requirements. I am pleased to inform you that the next version will have the fewest tweaks yet... I mean it is damn near perfect already. So let's get back to our internal project.
    Forceworks Support We had been running our support operation on Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement for over 10 years. Several times I had contemplated moving it to RapidStartCRM, but as a certified partner my licenses were free, so I kept putting it on the back burner.
    Our support operation is not very complicated. Customers buy blocks of hours which we add to their bank, and we track our activities against those blocks. We also maintain a portal where customers can login and see their bank balance as well as review all activities.
    We had been using a third-party portal since before Microsoft even contemplated a portal product. The portal company had been purchased by another company for other assets of value to them and the portal product came with the package.  But portals was not a priority for them. I figured it was a matter of time before they shut it down. So the time had come to move.
    Dynamics 365 So, as I said I get Dynamics 365 licenses at no cost. So it might seem an obvious choice just to fire up a Power Apps Portal and connect it to our existing instance. and be done. However, as years have gone by now with us supporting customers on RapidStartCRM, many of whom had moved to it from Dynamics 365, I have come to not really like Microsoft's first-party apps very much. I truly feel they are unnecessarily complicated and bloated. And while my licenses may be free, any additional database capacity is not. Our instance, even though it was not doing all that much, was consuming the lion's share of our capacity. So I made the decision to "upgrade" our support operation off of Dynamics 365 and on to our own RapidStartCRM. Also, Power Apps Portals works the same on RapidStartCRM, so there was no reason to continue with the bloated beast. And, if for some reason I was no longer getting free licenses, my cost would be about $10 vs. $95 per user... a factor in many other customers' "upgrading".
    Migration We could have done this upgrade/migration in a day, but I took this opportunity to make some improvements to our process. Mainly around automation, nothing we could not have done before, but this was a good time, since we were opening things up. We started with the same RapidStartCRM solution as our customers get, and installed it from AppSource on a new environment the same way any customer would.
    We made use of the RapidStartCRM Accounts, Contacts and Cases. We created two custom Tables, one for Case Notes, to track time and activities, and one for Support Hours, to track the customers' purchases and banks. We also created several Cloud Flows with Power Automate... things like calculating hours and various customer notifications. In addition, we added some specific charts to the RapidStartCRM dashboards for quickly getting a view of things. We also tweaked the RapidStartCRM App to hide Opportunities and a couple of other ite

    • 7 min
    Steve has another Chat with Toby Bowers

    Steve has another Chat with Toby Bowers

    I have had my head down working on some big things, and it has been a while since you heard from me. Well, I'm getting back to it with a follow-up chat with Toby Bowers, the Leader of the Microsoft Bizapps ISV Program. I managed to catch him in his car, and got a great update on some new things happening in the ISV arena. Enjoy!
    Transcript Below:

    Toby:
    Hi, this is Toby.
    Steve:
    Hey Toby, Steve Mordue, how's it going?
    Toby:
    Hey, Steve. I'm doing well. Thanks. How are you?
    Steve:
    Not too bad. I catch you at a decent time?
    Toby:
    You've caught me at a fine time. I'm actually in the car at the moment. I'm just taking my team out for a little celebratory launch after our big Inspire event and also our Ready event earlier this week. So it's actually a good time. Let me just pull over so we can have a chat.
    Steve:
    It's Been a pretty frantic couple of weeks for you guys.
    Toby:
    Frantic, but good. Yeah. Yeah. We had a great showing at Inspire. We made some exciting announcements across the business applications business, but especially around our ISV program, ISV Connect, as you and I have chatted about before. So, it's been good.
    Steve:
    Well that's [crosstalk 00:00:50]-
    Toby:
    How about you [crosstalk 00:00:51].
    Steve:
    [crosstalk 00:00:51] the reason for my call is to try and catch up on ISV Connect. We talked some time ago about some things that you kind of had just inherited this role from Googs who moved on and were kind of getting your feet wet. Now you've had a close to a year in this position, right?
    Toby:
    Yeah, that's right. That's right. I remember our initial chat and I think in fact I'm guilty, Steve, because we agreed to speak a little bit more often, but it's been an interesting year this past year, as we all know, but yeah, it's been almost a full year of execution since we last spoke and I even remember Steve, the nice article you wrote with some suggestions for me as I sort of took over.
    Toby:
    Yeah, I'd love to actually go back to that. We can talk about a little bit about some of the enhancements and announcements that we made last week.
    Steve:
    Yeah. I mean last week, I think for a lot of the ISV's that they weren't thrilled with some things as the program got launched, they were starting to kind of get their arms around it. But some of these announcements that I was hearing and hopefully we can talk about today, anything of course isn't NDA, I think should make the ISV community pretty happy. It's making me pretty happy. And really kind of throw some gas on that fire.
    Toby:
    Yeah. Well, absolutely. I'd love to reinforce it. I know, I know you get a lot of people listening to your impromptu calls here. So why don't I do this? Let me maybe just set a little bit of context, just kind of where we left off Steve, and then I can hit on the high notes of what we announced and then we can dive into any particular areas. That sound all right?
    Steve:
    Yeah. You are pulled over, right?
    Toby:
    I am pulled over now, yes.
    Steve:
    Okay.
    Toby:
    You got my full attention.
    Steve:
    All right sure, kind of hit some of the highlights.
    Toby:
    Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Well, for those who don't know, we originally set out with the ISV Connect program a couple of years ago to attract ISV's to our platform, building and extending upon it. That platform being both Dynamics 365 and the power platform with a specific focus on partners who had great industry or vertical IP to enhance the portfolio and delivering better value to our joint customers. So through the program itself, it's a revenue share program and we reinvest back in the ecosystem in the form of platform benefits, go to market benefits, co-selling with our field.
    Toby:
    So when I sort of took over Steve, I wanted to sort of get a full year of execution in place. And in that first year we were pretty happy with the numbers. We have over 700 ISV's enrolled in the program. Now we use AppSource as sort of the cornerstone of the program. We have, we have 1

    • 36 min
    Steve has a Chat with Ryan Cunningham

    Steve has a Chat with Ryan Cunningham

    So I noticed Ryan Cunningham, Product Lead for the Power Apps side of the Power Platform for Microsoft, suddenly come available in Teams. So of course, I ambushed him, and we had a great conversation about Power Apps and the whole Microsoft Business Applications group. Enjoy!
    Transcript below:

    Ryan Cunningham:
    Hello. This is Ryan.
    Steve Mordue:
    Hey, Ryan. Steve Mordue. How's it going?
    Ryan Cunningham:
    Oh, Steve Mordue. How you doing? Does this mean I'm in trouble?
    Steve Mordue:
    No, you are not in trouble, but you are about to be a guest on my Steve has a Chat podcast if you have time and are up for it.
    Ryan Cunningham:
    You mean like right now?
    Steve Mordue:
    Like right now. Already recording.
    Ryan Cunningham:
    Hey, okay. Let me check my calendar. There's nothing I'd rather do right now than being an impromptu guest on a Steve show.
    Steve Mordue:
    Well, we'll try and make sure you don't regret that decision.
    Ryan Cunningham:
    I regret a lot of decisions, Steve. But it wouldn't be the first.
    Steve Mordue:
    So let me ask you first, how long have you been with Microsoft?
    Ryan Cunningham:
    I just crossed five years.
    Steve Mordue:
    Five years.
    Ryan Cunningham:
    Just this past fall.
    Steve Mordue:
    I used to be a Salesforce consultant. We were Salesforce consultants for about 10 years and we moved over to Microsoft when they first moved CRM online back in 2011. So about 10 years ago.
    Ryan Cunningham:
    Sure, yeah.
    Steve Mordue:
    And I remember there being a few bumps making that transition going from on-premise to online, but then it kind of leveled out into what I kind of called the lazy river ride. It was predictable, it didn't move very quickly. There was no urgency and then James took over and he brought in all you young guys. It's been like a rocket roller coaster ride ever since. You ever got one of those really big roller coaster rides where you start praying for it to end, but you know it's not going to. It's just going to keep looping around and you can't get off. I almost feel like for a lot of us partners that have been around at least since it was lazy river, man, my head is rocking from all of the stuff you guys are doing.
    Ryan Cunningham:
    We don't do lazy rivers very well, Steve.
    Steve Mordue:
    Not anymore.
    Ryan Cunningham:
    Not anymore.
    Steve Mordue:
    Not anymore.
    Ryan Cunningham:
    At least class three rapids around here.
    Steve Mordue:
    How is it like on the inside for that kind of pace and ideation and everything that's going on internally?
    Ryan Cunningham:
    It's a great question. It certainly has not been constant here either. And again my experience in this community is not as long as yours. I joined at about five years ago and specifically joined the Power Apps team long before Power Apps was really a thing. I joined the team when Project Siena was for those that are familiar with that term, the sort of precursor to Power Apps was kind of in an early beta phase and there were grand ambitions of expanding out who could build software, but not a lot of... How do we say it coming out? Not a ton of product truth yet behind that.
    Steve Mordue:
    So I was in the audience, I think for one of your very first presentations before a big group of this product. You looked a little deer in the headlights at the time.
    Ryan Cunningham:
    I still feel that way sometimes. But if you take that over the course of the last five years where that idea has solidified, that product has gotten more mature. Certainly there's still more work to do, but we've gone from literally zero humans using at least standalone Power Apps to millions around the world and really also in the same breath gone from very long tail, very simple use cases to this grand merger with the Dynamics platform and customers building and trusting frankly much more sophisticated workloads to the platform.
    Ryan Cunningham:
    The world has changed a lot for us internally in how we approach this problem as you go through that product maturit

    • 1 hr 2 min

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