This year marks the 10th time I’ve attended the Dynamics Communities User Group Summit –- I can’t believe it! I keep going back because it’s one of my favorite conferences. Why do I enjoy it so much? Because unlike at other events, I get to interact with real-world Dynamics and Power Platform users. In my job, I find it invaluable to see and hear how the solutions are being used “in the wild.”
The only problem with UG Summit is there’s just so much to see and not enough time to see it! Over the past 10 years, I’ve discovered that planning and organization is key to getting the most value out of your UG Summit experience. With that in mind, I’d like to share a couple of lessons I’ve learned –- so you don’t have to:
Before You Go
- Pre-build Your Schedule –- To maximize your time it’s always best to determine beforehand what sessions you want to attend. Go onto the Schedule Builder tool -– it makes it really easy. You’ll also want to have a back-up schedule in case any of the sessions you choose are full.Note: Sessions that have multiple time slots on the Schedule Builder tend to be the most popular sessions and they fill up fast.
- Contact Your Microsoft Partner -– If you have a partner, it’s good to connect with them before you go. They might have un-advertised receptions, contests, and events you don’t want to miss. They’ll also let you know what sessions they will be speaking at and hosting.
- Pack Light -– I’ve spent many of my early years lugging around backpacks, briefcases, and laptops to the UG Summit. But, after a couple of days they were heavy and clunky and just ended up slowing me down. Stay agile! All you need is smartphone or tablet to take notes and pictures. OneNote mobile is your friend!
At the Conference
- Get Up Close and Personal — This event is your chance to get detailed feedback and information from your partner and the Microsoft product team as well. Take advantage of it. Get demos, ask questions, watch videos — It’s a fantastic opportunity to get impactful information about your existing solution, new features, and roadmaps.
- Engage with Other Users — Other users likely know your journey; with clear memories of the challenges and successes of their software implementation project. These peers can give you a point of view that’s different than Microsoft, vendors, or partners. So seek out your peers at the UG Summit. It’s a rare opportunity to collaborate with them and learn about the best workarounds and solutions to your challenges.
- Power Up the Power Platform — This is the event to learn about PowerApps and Flow. As a Dynamics user today, you will want to see how the platform has evolved — the last two release waves have greatly enhanced extensibility and functionality. If you are a long-time Dynamics user you might be surprised to find that you know a lot more about the Power Platform than you thought you knew — so check it out!
After You Get Home
- Take Time to Digest — I know, I know…you are probably on information overload at this point. Luckily, the user group keeps the session decks and videos online and accessible for a full year after the event. This gives you a chance to absorb what you’ve learned.
- Follow-up — Don’t be shy about contacting presenters if you want clarification or more information about something you’ve seen. They love hearing from attendees and are happy to answer questions or get feedback on their presentation.
- Blog It — If you are like me, you will have learned a ton of info that you will want to share. Blogging is a great way to communicate your experience and new knowledge with your company as well as other Dynamics users.
So these are my tips. I hope they spare you a little bit of pain and help you have a fun and productive time at the 2019 UG Summit. If you want to say hi, come see me in the Hitachi Solutions Booth #801. I would love to talk with you about your experience.