Ashley Steiner on The MVP Show

Ashley Steiner on The MVP Show

Ashley Steiner
Microsoft Business Applications MVP


  • Ashley Steiner’s background as an independent consultant specializing in Dynamics 365 Sales and Dataverse integration. 
  • Talks about Ashley’s podcasting - the Dynamics Hotdish
  • Ashley’s involvement and journey into technology – how did it start and how did she land in this space  
  • Ashley’s Microsoft technology background – business apps, power platform and dynamics  
  • A conversation with Ashley about her involvement with Dynamics 365 Sales  
  • Find out more about Ashley's journey to becoming a Microsoft MVP 
  • Ashley shares her journey as a woman in tech and her experiences as an MVP. 
  • The role of Dataverse in empowering businesses to make data-driven decisions and drive growth. 
  • Ashley talks about the importance of data integration and management in the modern business world and how Dynamics 365 Sales and Dataverse can work together to enhance sales processes. 
  • Ashley shares her expertise on integrating Dataverse with other platforms and tools and the value it brings to businesses in terms of efficiency and productivity. 

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Thanks for listening 🚀 - Mark Smith


[mark]: today's guest is from the USA she works as an independent consultant for dynamic three six five in the power platform she was a first awarded to n v p and twenty twenty two so nice and now she has a podcast called dynamics hot dish and we're gonna uncover and talk a bit about that on the show you can find full links to her podcast linked into it bios things like that in the show notes for this episode all welcome to the show

[ashley]: thanks mark thanks for having me on

[mark]: good to have you on always like you know starting off and i've had so many nvps through the show and many nowadays that i've never met and you know back when we had n v p summits and things like that i used to meet every boy in person it's been three or four years since that's happened tell me a bit about food family and fun what part of the u s you're located in what do you do when you're not doing microsoft technology stuff

[ashley]: yeah so i'm actually based out of wiskensin so i have a fun midwestern nasally accent that will be very noticeable throughout our conversation so yeah so i do things that i would say are typical to probably the midwest i spend a lot of time at home working on my home i bought a house actually during the pandemic perfect time to move so fixing that up as a seventy year old house so i'm spending a lot of time doing some renovations and fixing up the outside things like that love sports is most normal american do i like to cook read travel i've been starting to pick up traveling quite a bit i've been to like forty five states would love to travel more internationally but but yeah trying to see at least what we have here in america since it's so big and diverse enjoyed that

[mark]: such a smart move so if you've seen forty eight what are still on your bucket list to do

[ashley]: within the states or outside

[mark]: yeah within the states because forty eight what is there fifty two states from memory

[ashley]: there's fifty states i've been to forty five

[mark]: there's fifty states okay okay

[ashley]: so i have not been to alaska or hawaii alaska would be number one on my bucket list i'm from wyoming so i feel like alaska is probably very similar you know in the eography and things like that have not been to alabama or mississippi so like the deep south and then of all places vermont um in the north east so kind of spread out all over

[mark]: wow so i've been to two of the places on your bucket list then still to do i've been to mississippi

[ashley]: very lucky

[mark]: and i've done hawaii i did hit why after the last n v p summit that was in person so on the way back home because you know new zealand where i'm located is very bottom of the world it was nicer to go from seattle to hawaii spend a week in hawaii and then haw back to new zealand then

[ashley]: won't say it's kind of on your way so why not stop

[mark]: exactly exactly exactly

[ashley]: yeah

[mark]: and i want to go back to way i loved it great place and

[ashley]: i've heard that

[mark]: i love mississippi i've been to mississippi quite a few times because microsofp used to run quite a few conferences um there so

[ashley]: okay

[mark]: this is this is a bizaps conferences years ago so yeh been there a few

[ashley]: crazy

[mark]: times tell us about dynamics hot dish dinner

[ashley]: yeah so that kind of started um it was three of us we've been friends in the space and i would say that's one of the cool things about the dynamic world is i would say a lot of my closest friends are from these conferences that we go to like you said conferences and these shared interests i think we all like live love and breathe this technology and so i have two friends they're also based here in the middle west there in minneapolis and we would get on the phone and talk about dynamics and we're like you know what maybe some like maybe other people could enjoy and learn about what we're talking about and

[mark]: exactly

[ashley]: so thought we'd give it a shot and just you know kind of record conversations we'd have anyways and so yeah so that's how it starts started in the pandemic we were at home no kind of missing that connection with people so so definitely started that we've actually re vamped over the summer we took the summer off we needed some time after posting like seventy weeks in a row we rely well let's take a break

[mark]: i know i was like i was blowing away like one a couple of things that i never have done on my podcast which is break it into seasons and i see you've broken into seasons which i think you know and maybe something i need to address or do going forward but after five years i've just going for you know doing podcasts i've i probably need to look at that but i was blown away by how many you've done because i see you know people get into podcasting and they're like hey that's you know a great thing and if you look at the states a lot of people don't make it past five podcasts ever

[ashley]: right yeah so we kind of looked at the numbers in this past spring we were like you know let's take a somewhere off let's go back to school take a somewhere off you know kind of re think about how we want to do it and then we all have side projects right withal of things that we work on we were all work with a non profit called tech fluent liz actually started that provides technical mainly power platform and dining it's training to marginalized communities here in the u s the goal is to kind of decrease the wage gap there's

[mark]: nice

[ashley]: a lot of diversity issues in the tech world especially in the us so that's the goal of that and our first cohort was so successful i think we had a seventy per cent graduation rate

[mark]: wow it's great

[ashley]: yeah i think we were aiming for like twenty thirty you know what i mean let's you know is the first one so liz has actually decided to dedicate full time to the non profit to help it grow we have over a hundred applicants already for our neck cohort in march

[mark]: wow so good

[ashley]: and so yeah so now the podcast is just me and merlin um and so we continue we want to continue it we're both still involved in tackfluent but just taking like kind of a less a role to kind of split because it was a lot last year i'll say probably the last before summer those like eight months were we're rough we were all trying to do too much so

[mark]: yeah yeah tell us a bit about how your cohorts run how long does it run for what's involved in the techfluent side of things

[ashley]: yeah so the cohorts are six months um and it's training full day training on mondays and fridays

[mark]: nice

[ashley]: um and so there's a i would say there's an interview process application interview for the the learners to make sure it's a good fit for both sides um and it's full day trainings we offer not only technical skill training we also offer you know oh my the you know the soft skill training so you know so because these are likely people who have never worked at a company they've never worked in a professional type role so we're teaching them things like negotiation how to write emails um

[mark]: excellent

[ashley]: how to converse in meetings how to take notes

[mark]: so important

[ashley]: things like that it is you know because those are things i remember i worked like a law firm in college a lot of the things i learned then you know you just you wouldn't learn on the job now so so yeah so we do a lot of stuff training they do two projects in order to graduate they do an intern ship as well like kind of a

[mark]: awesome

[ashley]: on the job for about a month and then they also have to pass to certifications order to graduate

[mark]: awesome awesome

[ashley]: we provide them all of the training and we have amazing volunteers we started with zero content just a dream and a plan of here's what we think people should know and we had an amazing group of all ter step up and take topics and create all the content themselves so everything flowed together we had we had mentors all around the world we actually had some mentors in europe you know fit the us hours

[mark]: awesome

[ashley]: into their schedule so yeah it was it was a pretty cool thing and i love to see i mean diversity text being a woman in the tack industry very passionate about it so really excited to see how this girl is in and the difference we can make

[mark]: so good so good how talking about diversity how did you get into tech yourself you know what was that journey for you what were you doing how where did you first land with you know teck and then was there a stepping stone to getting to specifically microsophteck as in the buzap side of things or power platform or dynamics

[ashley]: accidental i think you'll see that with a lot of people especially you know ten thirteen it's been a little over thirteen years since i've been in this industry um back then it was all accede no i was in marketing i was a marketing professional i graduated with that in college and so i was doing social marketing and internet marketing and websites and my boss was like you log into a serum on the website let's make that part of your role and fell in love with it so i started as like just entering data manually from like a book of lists to hey did you know you can do sales processes and then twenty eleven came out and i was like who look at these pretty dash boards and took training um so i fell into it accidentally and then just really saw the future and like what you could kind of saw that there was going to be a big need for people that would become experts in it and i say i got lucky because back then there was not such a thing as a car madman it was kind of just whoever had extra time in the sales or marketing department and i made a career out of it so

[mark]: nice

[ashley]: i've always traditionally kind of been on the user side the customers side as an ad man or manager of a team that kind of thing

[mark]: so you must have started what serum for

[ashley]: yeah for at so ve been around a while

[mark]: nice nice well that's that's a good long time have you have you now are you doing more in dynamic stay today or you doing more in the power platform where you're building and i'll make the distinction like this because you know the dynamic ultimately sits on the power platform but building apse from scratch rather than extending a first party ap what's

[ashley]: so definitely sorry definitely the dynamic side um that is my specialty i would say i specialized in sales i've been working with sales teams since the beginning marketing a little bit of customer service um and i've actually am starting to get into project operations um that has a nice bridge over to like finding b c things like that so

[mark]: exactly

[ashley]: um i would say definitely the first party apse i i'm not there's parts of the power platform that i'm not i don't love like power automat as a non developer it's tough for me to get on board i see the value but yeah power app understanding where canvas ape would come in um and then power b i get into as well

[mark]: nice you know as in some years ago i was actually living in london at the time when i wrote a blog post about dynamics through six five sales and and i basically inferred that it was twenty year old technology and microsoft hadn't done any investments in it and you know keeping in mind i built my entire career i started with dynamic serum one point two

[ashley]: nice

[mark]: around it and what i was doing was saying that you know isn't it time and of course what we've seen in the last twenty four thirty six months massive new functionality whether it be around forecasting whether it be around like the latest things with umsals calls the outer creation of your sales notes and activity so voice coming into the mix for sales people that allow you know we've seen the high velocity type selling ability with sequences and things to come out what's been the kind of highlight in the last three four years the real the feature that you're like if you're going to demo to a client you're gonna show on this feature because it's awesome

[ashley]: um it's a mix between the forecasting i love that you brought that up because i remember the days where you had to build forecast team using the goals and you're like one by one manually creating all these goals metrics and it was terrible so i'd see the forecasting is probably number one but all of the ai features so

[mark]: nice

[ashley]: anything that you can do with like analyzing notes emails um prepping okay you haven't even opened this opportunity for three days maybe you should open it and take a look um all of the ai stuff is phenomenal and probably the most exciting part of just dynamics in general even on the marketing side it's kind of creepy what it can do but it's it's really changing the world and i think it's a big differentiator with maker soft and dynamics to sales force and other tools

[mark]: have you found the split out of you know when you started you had dynamics what was called c m back then and it included customer service included i was in included marketing and of course now we have sales customer service and this whole separate application that's been built around marketing quite different than the fork that happened between cars a service and sales right splitting out what's been that you know what's been your observation of that kind of split into three different products over the years

[ashley]: well it's allowing people to get more focused i think people would get confused on okay where does this fit into hear um and bring things in or people would try to do too much at one time i'd say that probably always the failure of any implementation is that they say oh cool we have all three so let's work on all three now you're able to kind of segment in um as a customer you're able to prioritize what what is interesting to me is how it's all the one same data based on the back and rated data erse um but it is very different to implement them now you know it's not like you just stand up the one and it's really easy to stand up the others are very segmented and different which i don't know if that's good or bad right it's good that there's distinction and differentiation like i'm even working on project operations like i said and that is a very different set up

[mark]: totally

[ashley]: than then sales um well they're still connected right because you take an opportunity and turn it into a contract um you know and then that creates a project so it's it's an interesting model but i think it was the direction that it needed to go just to kind of separate yeah i would say separate the ability to take on too much at one time or split the rules

[mark]: so that's interesting you raise project operations there and it's been you know project project management from microsofs point of view has bounced around a few different air as over the time right it was traditionally in the ape or an a x back in the day then when you know the predecessor the data verse came out we saw project move in whatever that underlying kind of precds even um world and then my understandin this is where i get you know not clear because i haven't you know spent any time in the last three years in this area is it back as part of dynamic three six five finance as a module of that because if it is you talked transitioning a order sorry and sales opportunity to that system are you kind of using like virtual records for that or virtual entities or or is it a seamless connector between those two systems

[ashley]: yes so it's actually not a part of of finance so it is actually i would say technically in the c e family now

[mark]: is it still in date so is data versus the underlying

[ashley]: yep

[mark]: wow i didn't know that

[ashley]: it's in data verse yeah

[mark]: wow

[ashley]: so it's in data verse um and it shares you yeah it shares with the sales so um you actually do need to create an integration between either b c or f n f n c m whatever they're calling it these days you do

[mark]: exactly

[ashley]: need to actually build the integration between those two systems to p o it's not you know you just use the know out of the box whatever integration tool but yeah it's actually part of data verse um and it's a really seamless easy transition from sales over to po now it's really cool it's way better than p s ever was

[mark]: yeah that was interesting product i tried to run a large practice on it in its early days because i was always early adopted and we had some challenges back is there still any integration then as an out of the box integration between that and what i don't even know what it's current name is microsoph project you know the actual desk top application that used to exist and had to serve a component is that being bought in is it now ace story or is it not

[ashley]: so not with the dust top at but they've actually come out with project online

[mark]: got ya

[ashley]: and so when you worked with when you work with project operations you actually imbed project down line is imbedded

[mark]: right

[ashley]: within the tool so you can work either in project operations or you can open it up in your browser and just work right in project um

[mark]: right

[ashley]: so it's it's a really interesting you know direction that they're taking i think eventually they'll probably get rid of and just the desk top version of project i think they're moving more towards just the browser based items

[mark]: makes sense

[ashley]: but there are some problems with that though because some data lives only in project and not in the data verse because of that in bed so still some kings to work out but i noticed there they made a ton of changes even in wave two this year um to project operation so they are investing a lot into it

[mark]: yeah it's definitely a key too in market so interesting tell us about becoming an n v p how is that for you

[ashley]: um i hate to say it was like a long time coming and i had these dreams like eight years ago like yeah i'm going to be an m v p and this is my goal and then kind of just was like you know why it's i worked really hard i would say like eight years ago six eight years ago and then i kind of was like you know what i need to find just something i enjoy doing and it will just come naturally and that was the advice i talked to a lot of mvps at that time and they were like find something you enjoy and then it'll come don't work so hard it shouldn't be like you're working hard to be an m v p it should just come naturally with what you enjoy doing and so i kind of found that i liked helping people i met to where a lot of people especially new admonds into the space um you know with the podcast and those are all things that i enjoy and so honestly when it came and when you know matt beard big shout out to matfrend ominating me

[mark]: nice

[ashley]: um he was like i'm sure you know matt really well at data eight m he was like hey i'm nominating you and it kind of came as a surprise like i wasn't thinking about it i wasn't you know so it's kind of like whatever m p said when you're not looking for it that's when it'll come

[mark]: nice nice

[ashley]: when you find what you enjoy in the space and truly i love what i like about what we do is that everybody wants you to succeed so you can reach out to anybody and they will help you nobody will turn you away and i've really enjoyed that part of it and i e tried to embrace that and so i would say that's that's kind of a journey and i always wanted to be an v p is an n user i think it's a lot more difficult to become an m v p when you work for a and we're um and i know kyle did it kylykayser and i wanted to also you know you can do it like as an you know as a customer you can become an m v p so

[mark]: ashley thank you so much for coming on the show

[ashley]: thank you mark for having me

Ashley SteinerProfile Photo

Ashley Steiner

Ashley Steiner started her career in Digital Marketing but found a love for connecting business processes with technology when she started using Dynamics as an end user with version 4.0. After learning how to customize version 2011 in a broom closet, Ashley decided to make Dynamics her full-time career and passion and chase jobs, speaking opportunities, user groups, webinars, and networking opportunities all over the country. Ashley enjoys enabling the salesperson’s CRM experience to increase productivity, organization, and sales funnel. Ashley earned the Microsoft Business Applications MVP award in early 2022. Ashley met Merlin when he worked for a previous partner of Ashley’s company employed. Through the community, Ashley and Merlin were able to stay friends and as they say, the rest is history!