LUMEN adoption of the Power Platform with Andrew Gaskins

LUMEN adoption of the Power Platform with Andrew Gaskins

Andrew Gaskins


  • An introduction to Andrew Gaskins’ life and background. 
  • Andrew’s story and his journey to the Power Platform. 
  • How has Andrew scaled an internal team using the Power Platform? 
  • Should the team that develops the power platform and its leader be a part of the company or be adjacent to it? 
  • Andrew talks about what exactly is supportability and how does it work? 
  • How does Andrew create CoE within his organization that creates Power Platform? 
  • Andrew’s view about ongoing management and supportability. 
  • How did Andrew respond when a company hopes to add a new product to its line but lacks the resources to do so? 
  • How does Andrew handle connectors and components? 

AgileXRm - The integrated BPM for Microsoft Power Platform

Support the show

If you want to get in touch with me, you can message me here on Linkedin.

Thanks for listening 🚀 - Mark Smith


[mark]: today's guest is from denver colorado in the u s of a he's a global power platform lead at lumen technologies he's a technologist by day and a composer by all the time actually all the time he's a great lego fan so we'll unpack that in a moment you can find his linked to his bio socials et cetera in the show notes for this episode welcome to the show andrew

[andrew]: thanks for having me

[mark]: good to have you on the show tell me about this composing what you do composing wise

[andrew]: so i think kind of getting back to composing after being gone from for a long time but that's originally went to school for for audio engineering and for for composing and spent a lot of years working especially in the electronic space and doing a lot of ambient work that's kind of what i'm starting to kind of get back to

[mark]: so ambient work tell me about that yeah

[andrew]: so when kind of thinking back to like what brian ino has done or kind of some of the try to think of who are the kind of contemporaries of that but what i do is i refer to is a sonic color ism and so i've worked with other artists where what i do is i take samples of like an instrument just there there they're playing the instrument and then we then we create kind of this sonic template from those individual sounds so it's a lot fun

[mark]: well well interesting tell me about food family and fun those things that you do when you're kind of not composing or not working what do they mean to you

[andrew]: well so our family is small and my my son is he's he's nero diverse so it's kind of changes your dynamic on food so i say recently our our big journey has been on home made pizza and learning to how to do that and do it properly that's been that's been a lot of fun so

[mark]: nice

[andrew]: yeah and i think you know we live here in colorado and i've heard people kind of compare new zealand and colorado in terms of just like all of the bums and everything so we like to spend a lot of time here kind of just you know moving around we this last summer we started getting into paddle boarding and yeah so that's been that's been a lot of fun to do so we've been spending our time doing that and then we're a big lego family as you said earlier so that we spent a lot of time doing that and we i'd say you know fun fun wise my son is actually in park or so i spend i spent a lot of time at the park or gum watching so i think i'm living vicariously through through what he's doing

[mark]: well well just on the pedal board because it's something i'm considering taking up myself being that i've got water all around me as an i live right on the coast and on one side of it in let harbor which is quite flat how long at a time would you spend out an hour two hours on the board you know as an your cause strength and things like that

[andrew]: yeah we i think that was we were kind of surprised we didn't we didn't know you know what it was going to be like so that first time i think we were a little cautious my son had already actually taken lessons so you know he's out paddle buying you know paddling by us and he's doing downward dog and everything to kind of show off and so we got out and we were actually kind of surprised at you know you take a few duns the first few times and then you know we found ourselves you know generally out there for a couple hours at a time because it's just it's so relaxing

[mark]: last question on panel boarding do you have a hard board or do you have one that you compressed her blow up

[andrew]: yeah we have we have the inflatables but now that we've we've done it i think we're all thinking hard boards would be really nice to have

[mark]: nice nice nice so tell me about loman technologies

[andrew]: yes so we are we're a fiber provider and across the world so you know we have deep sea connection where north america mea we have a lot of our counterparts as well who are in india and were also a technology company so we're in were company that really embraces change um it embraces new technology so that's that's kind of one of the exciting things about working at lumen

[mark]: what took you on the journey to the power platform

[andrew]: you know i think it just it it occurred out of necessity it was an area that hadn't really been looked after u and i came from the sharepoint side so from there it kind of was like well this is this is kind of falling into our area and it makes a lot of sense to kind of kind of look at this and see what's going on when i look at back like what our journey was i was looking you know when was our first app created and was back in two thousand seventeen and that was my app so realized that we were like okay this is this is something but but then we kind looked at how it ramped up and so what happened was you know our team was primarily responsible for share point than the then the share point online you know conversion that we did and then we started to look at okay we have all of these assets here you know and how can we start to get our arms around them and i think you know one of the first things was we were looking at it saying we have all these connectors in place and what do we do how do we approve these how do we make sure that people are being safe and i think that was kind of the point were i like all right we need to actually start looking at power platform as a whole and even just starting from the governance aspect from it before anything else that's kind of how we got started there

[mark]: so it's interesting said you're in the share point team because one of the discussions i often have with organizations is should if they decide to go down a pathway of power platform should the lead of the power platform and the team that then gets developed under that role should they reside within it or be adjacent to it there's a lot of cross over but do you see it as a team that that should be better specifically into it or do you think it should be in your experience adjacent to a t and what are your thoughts on that

[andrew]: you know i think that's that's an interesting question because i don't know that it's in either or i think that there's the technology understanding of it and what's happening there in terms of supporting it um so i think that that is still very much an i t function but then on the other side you're looking at so what is your what's your security um you know what your governance around it who is your who is your center of excellence who is that so then who is your champions group and then who are your stake holders and then i think that's it they all come from different areas within the organization so i really think it's a marriage of of all of those

[mark]: yeah interesting tell me you know just it'll be of interest to the listeners twenty seventeen was your first p development how many epps are you up to now internally

[andrew]: we're about forty five hundred apps internally

[mark]: okay and automations using power automat as well

[andrew]: yeah we are just a brown nine thousand as well

[mark]: nine thousand okay

[andrew]: yeah

[mark]: awesome so that gives a sense of scaling and then the other the other number i'm interest in is what's the size of your maker community now citizen develop your business developer

[andrew]: so our maker community and that's one of the things that i just love so much we're around two thousand makers

[mark]: wow

[andrew]: currently at loman and those are active makers and then they are also ones who are who are actively involved in our community so we've got we've got a good size a good sized community that really just keeps growing

[mark]: incredible and all up your company head count

[andrew]: we are i want to say i think we're around thirty six thousand right now

[mark]: okay awesome so it just gives some percentages and scaling of what you have going incredible so what's your role what's your role now

[andrew]: so i'm yeah i'm the i'm the global power platform lead at Lumen so in that but it encompasses a lot of a lot of areas right now as we kind of grow the team and and learn how to how to make everything work

[mark]: what's involved your role

[andrew]: yeah so we you know kind of starting at the admonside like we just talked about so it's kind of like you know that that daily care and feeding and then kind of moving through that making sure that you know we're doing things like monitoring the c we you know what's know what's happening within our environment looking at that and looking at are is it that we now should maybe be more concerned about or thinking of and i think that's something about this role is that you you never stop thinking about ways that you can do things better yea so from like the administration and the government side you know where i think it especially as you're in conversation with other people you start realize okay oh i didn't think about that and that's a really kind of great thing so it's like you know like a list of notes of things like okay we want to you know we want to get these in place and we want a tink about that so there's that side and then it's also the intake process of looking at what other people what they need i hold office hours four days a week and

[mark]: okay

[andrew]: so it's two two half hour sessions each day and then from there people who can come in and they can ask questions you know power etimate or you know power apse primarily we don't work a lot with power on that side and so i'm able to kind of work with them from either you know questions or architecture standpoint and we're able to kind of give guidance and then we see those those people kind of they go off and then they become part of our community as well and then i get to lead the lumen makers and so that's kind of our monthly that's our monthly meet up and

[mark]: nice

[andrew]: yeah so we it's really really cool we get to talk about you know like here's what's happened in the last month and we always kind of re cap a little bit you know here's what's happening in our space here are things to look at always kind of reminding people of like hay security security security you know watch your data those types of things but then the best part is that we have each month someone from the community presents so they're showing what they're doing they're you kind of using it as the use case and then they're showing also behind the scenes what did so you know we kind of have that that full impact so it's not it's not us it's not me showing you know hey i did this and kind of boring people to death each month so were we really are where you know we're encouraging people learn from others and then they also feel more comfortable and more emboldened to kind of engage in the community um and and people started answering the questions and it's it so that's kind of my day to day and then you know we do training as well in communications so

[mark]: okay so this is very interesting can you just give me a rundown is that monthly meeting you have about an hour long or less or what's a type and what does it look like from a schedule ways isn't what's your running sheet look like for that

[andrew]: yes so it's about fifty minutes each month we kind of start off each year this is our second year in this trying to have a theme um around kind of just kick things off so last year was lego which you know made sense um and this year is is actually basically quotes from from musicians um and it's always like okay so this is something about creativity or thinking process things like that so that's kind of how we kick it off is always just you know and a little background on on the subject and then from there we kind of go in and we we give what we call the state of the platform so that's you know hey here's how many makers we have here's how many flows here's how many apps

[mark]: nice

[andrew]: which also always leads us into don't forget to clean up after yourself so you has that idea we're trying to be you know we're tryin to be good stewards of our tenant then will kind of cover now things that have happened over the last month you know in terms of releases or something that that we feel as you particularly useful for someone and then might even just do a quick tech demo around that

[mark]: nice

[andrew]: and then from there will then we open it up for the presentation which is really the that's kind of the main part of that time and then we open that up for q and a and then we wrap it up

[mark]: nice

[andrew]: usually happens

[mark]: nice

[andrew]: around fifty minutes or so and we have you know anywhere from lately it's been about anywhere from a hundred and ten to a hundred and fifty people attending when

[mark]: wow

[andrew]: we host it yeah soon it's good

[mark]: and are they in person or remote

[andrew]: all remote

[mark]: high or remote or some and is your your makers geographically how dispersed are they

[andrew]: they are all over you know i say that were we almost follow the sun in term in terms of our makers from so from you know west coast north america all the way to we actually have some wine in australia who he was

[mark]: awesome

[andrew]: making yeah yeah so it's it's really cool to see

[mark]: m oh the structure and how you you know form your structure how much does it aline with your organization al structure or is it totally dependent of that and what i'm talking about is as you have people in different locations is it just a purely a flat structure of all those makers come up to you or have you created any kind of sub teams based on um you know there might be a focus that i just focused on h r within the business or or supply chain or another you know how is your teams forming your maker teams

[andrew]: yah this has been almost an organic approach because our team is is still small so we don't have that ability yet to to kind of create those those those areas to guide so we see you know we see h r we see r field operations groups and some of are government groups and those they they have their own space and they have they've taken leadership they've taken ownership of those environments

[mark]: nice

[andrew]: and so that's kind of we we've empowered them to do that with with the guard rails and i think that's kind of the most important part is having those guard rails in place but then being able to kind of support so you know our ideas that if you own that environment and you're doing the work but then you may also have kind of a distributed team on that side then we're expecting you to kind of answer those questions from that group and then come to us with you know what you can't you know what you can't answer or what you can't seem to to figure out at the time

[mark]: so you talked about coming to us so i take it you and there's a team of you that your full time job as a power platform rather than you know you're doing other things plus the power platforms that would that be right

[andrew]: yeah that's share point still is you know is in our view but it's kind of one of those natural marriages and then our team is just kind of naturally coming into from that share point side um you know we have some challenges because a good part of our team is actually in bangalore india so there you know there can there can be issues in terms of what they can support and where they can support it but with that you know we're finding ways to look at okay because have an environment strategy um and you know we're able to address it by department then we can take those we can say all right well this area is is supportable so you know recently started putting into the so just in time access to the environments you know and so we do the you eight hours they can go in and they can help support in those areas and then in the environment where they shouldn't have access or can't have access that's just just not something there so we're kind of looking at how does that all has at all start to play

[mark]: yeah how does what's your rational for putting that access that act or just in time access purely security measure

[andrew]: it is and the idea that also there's you know there's an auditability there and we're not just leaving something just something open and it's now stevens and that from so from even from the on shore perspective trying to limit that access as much as we can where we are so yeah i think it's always just about trying to keep the door is closed as much as you can

[mark]: yeah you mentioned supportability there at which point doesn't app go from the rounds of i created an ap to help me in my job and then i shared it with five people now five people six of us using it at which point do you go do you know what we're going to have to wrap our arms around this and put a support model because now this app is moving into the realms of you know maybe o productivity to actually it's important for the business we want to make sure that you know you don't get the bus effect somebody doesn't you know that you have one developer and they all knowledge of it how do you make sure that you don't fall over as an individual leaves the organization built the ap and what you're thinking around that

[andrew]: yeah that's so you know they always you brought up the bus in the or the lottery and i remember you know early on of my career i had an app thrown over the fence to me and it had very little documentation with it and i called back to our headquarters and i said so can i just talk to the developer who was working on this so i can get some ideas i said yeah you could but she just won the in twenty million dollar lotto two weeks ago and we have not seen her since so we've actually had the lottery app so we do i do that it's that's always kind of front and my my mind the so you know we're looking at the co we're looking at the reporting there first of all to be able to see okay where are these apps because you know they start within the default environment and that kind of personal productivity side we do see that we we are also really fortunate just about a year and a half ago we licensed the enterprise for the peruser power app since

[mark]: unlimited as per person now right

[andrew]: exactly yeahyahso that

[mark]: makes sense

[andrew]: that opened a data verse that opened up everything so now we're able to look at that and see okay um a couple of things happened is that we'll see when when as are becoming more critical a lot of the times is when we start to see d l p violations so we see those we see those policies that are having problems with saying okay i'm trying to use data verse and then that very quickly ends up in a conversation and we're able to then guy them and that's where the we look at and we say okay so you know here's what you're doing and so we're going to move you into this kind of shared premium environment um and there that's where we want you to kind of work from your own developer environment do all your work and then you promote it really really simple application life cycle management there then and also some of those conversations like i was talking about when we have those those those office hour conversations that time will also kind of reveal okay is a group like h r and we know that we should take h r and we should move them into their own environment and then not only is it their own environment but now it's their own stack so it's it's dev test production in that enisode we're working on then bring the a l m story into that

[mark]: exactly

[andrew]: which has been a big challenge but we're finally across that

[mark]: nice

[andrew]: and i think right before i think a lot of changes are gettin ready to happen but you know we have that that in place and then we support those people on that side i remember one of our biggest apps that that was kind of our first really big app was for covidtracking we didn't know about it because we didn't have co in place yet we weren't seeing that and we were looking at making deal p changes in order to put in the co and so at a change request in thursday night got that all set up moved data verse of their movesomeof the connectors um fifteen minutes later the red lights are you now going off and saying wait what happened here and and we found out that oh my gosh they've got a covid app which is getting ready to go live at eight a m tomorrow morning we just we just crushed him with you know the d p change so you know this kid one of those first times of like okay we really do have to make sure that we're paying attention to to what's happening here because it's so easy to impact someone

[mark]: so back on that supportability at which point do you go you know what we need a f a q document library for this app we need to make sure our help desk do do you hand it over to your internal help desk to support it or are you your team the internal help desk for laps built on the power platform how do you think about one you know supportability and then on going management development you know so it now has its own life it's going to have feature requests that's goin to have bugs that need to be squashed all that kind of standard stuff when you build software it's now important to the organizer and how do you make sure these things are all put in place so that you can smoothly handle it company wide

[andrew]: yeah so our our help desk right now doesn't really all they just route the tickets for us they bring them in and then will assist but generally what we what we expect at this point is that the owners of the area and the owners of the app have taken care of their ability to manage their u to manage the issues and to really i guess really be their own help desk and then when they run into issues then we're basically their support um so we don't we don't work with their end users we really i think that's you know that's part of it too is that m with it getting out of the way and letting you know this digital transformation happen and have these people be able to do what they want to do there's also an expectation of okay are the expert in your area so we expect you to support your app but we also know that there's also going to be areas where from a technical standpoint you're going to run into it shoes and so that's where we're really here to help you and to kind of streamline that process we don't have currently a large portfolio of apps within our team but that is something that we're looking at you know at what point do they does something become like to your point earlier mission critical and then should it you know go into our portfolio and we ascend all are the support for it at that time

[mark]: so one of my observations are in business is that when a power platform community is established and a center of excellences is installed and you've you've got your power formal lead and things like that is that there's two audience that happen inside the business we'll leave it to one side um you have the makers right the people at the coal face they know their job they know house a bit of technology is going to solve the problem that you educate them on the technology start empowering them they get enabled then there's another business group that are you know management leadership layer and they need our solution to do x they don't have makers in their team but they want to come to you and say hey we need an ap that does this this this we think the business impact is going to be x y and typically in the past they would have gone and done a market scan for a product that would be fit for purpose but of course now you've got all licensed it makes good business sense to go you know what let's see if we can do on the power platform first is that a better solution than going to market for another product how do you handle those scenarios that the business is saying we need stuff you we need you to build something and here's our justification for it but we don't have the people that can know we don't have the makers in our team

[andrew]: yeah that's that's still our weakness and that does happen and we and we do support those and we do have those um kind of they are and that's why early was saying we don't really have the portfolio but i say it's it's we don't we don't have that evolved portfolio that everybody understands it's not something that we're out there saying oh hey you know come on over let us build your app for you even though i know that that's that's what we actually know all want to be doing um is doing that and and so we do you know we do work with the teams we have you know for instance we actually are getting ready to roll out a kiosk so touch screen ceos that we you know built empower apps for one of our edge enterprise computing centers and it was one of those where so they came to me and they said hey we really want to do this and we talked through it and i said yeah i said that would that would be really good but let's actually also talk to let's talk to our teams microsoff that we that we work with regularly because at that time it was power pages were you know kind of just slowly coming up and you know was like well would that make more sense in power pages and you know we talked to that team ad they kind of came back and they're like well i don't think that's really the area for this and you know then i kind of went and they went silent kind of expecting that we were going to be doing the work for them and then then you know they pop up on the radar and someone from their team was like well i just took the reins um and created it so you know now that side it's a partnership and i think that's probably we have more partnerships than we do as where we just built for them and we and now we're the holding company for them

[mark]: yeah my last two questions will focus on um connectors and components because there are two things that once again i feel that you know that like somebody in your role those are two things that you're going to get a lot of request for and there's governance particularly around the connectors and then there's repeatability around the component the internal component libraries that you would build so first of all on the connector side you know i'm not talking about the connectors that you get out of the box i'm talking about the custom connectors that united to plug into some type of system of record data said that you have and bespoke application see um how do you go about because once again a maker is not necesary going to know how to build a connector not in any now stretch but they're gonna need one right they're gonna i need to happen the dartascent we have in the organization i know it's there i currently exported to xcelanddo whatever but i would like to you know and you have a robust way of doing that how do you handle those connected discussion and then going you know what we're going to build one because there's enough demand in the business now we're not going to use you know copy and past any more to get the data from that system and into something that we can transfer or it with what's your thoughts

[andrew]: we we've a we have a lot of people at loman who are really capable with with understanding apis and kind of like so what that means in terms of the data access and how they work you know some of them are actually even responsible for building those internal ap is on our side

[mark]: awesome

[andrew]: they're the ones that are generally the first to kind of jump at that idea of okay i want to access my my data through the gateway and we're going to hit it so you know again back to that idea separating the know the personal productivity and then working with them making sure that that what they're they're hitting is not going to be you know socks critical anything like that that basically shouldn't go out and making sure that that they're hitting the data and keeping the data where it should be instead of deciding to move it over to data verse on that side so you know we we work with them there generall e always in their own environment um on those types of things because we find that also easier to support from that side and so then so that's we it's actually been an easier journey than i expected and that was one of the biggest really catalyst i think for that licensing was that ability to create those custom connectors and to to reach into our data on that side so it's been a really good story on you know for us and i've been really excited to see that happen

[mark]: nice nice now on the component front what what are the typical you know where components not available out of the box but you want to do something unique do you have many use cases for that how do you manage that

[andrew]: you know so we're just kind of starting to see that and that that journey is kind of starting to evolve i think that our our makers are becoming more sophisticated by the day and i think they're starting to understand that and i think we've also were trying to make sure that we also to identify this idea of okay what is we we have the citizen maker but the citizen citizen developer but then we have the makers as well you know so we kind of identified because we have a we have a pretty large group of people who have transformed what they do at loman and are now full time makers um and so

[mark]: wow

[andrew]: those are the people that are now starting to realize okay i can i can create these components and i can re use them and i or our goal next year is to start really trying to pull these together build that catalogue of those reusable components right now we're trying to show them like the creator tool kit and how to start using that get them in the idea but i said we have we have a few people who are very aware of creating components and re using components and i think there are a lot of people who are just they're also so focused on what they're trying deliver that they're not quite they're not quite there yet and then part of that also falls on me to make sure that they understand

[mark]: exactly

[andrew]: and that that training is there and a and so what's our row map to get there so i think that's going to be yeah

[mark]: and component extraction you know when you see somebody in the business do something really awesome you know we could turn that into re usable asset to know you know to pick pick that out in the organizations of working with see that similar type thing whether it can be anything from a rating for how do we rate power as internally right and you want it consistent and then there's usability that componets that organizations want to be consistent umtheming branding et cetera

[andrew]: well i was just gonna say too on the like like like like using hr is an example you know that that's a group that they have looked at a and they're starting to realize what re usable components are and in a lot of cases i think that's more almost like you know unit by unit that it's may be re usable for them and then things like the creator kit are things that are reusable for everybody um is more what i've seen at this point but i expect that to kind of change

[mark]: nice nice well andrew it's been absolute pleasure to have you on the show and i'd like to do a part two at some time next year to see how you're going on your journey thank you so much coming on the show

[andrew]: thanks mark i really appreciate it

Andrew GaskinsProfile Photo

Andrew Gaskins

Andrew Gaskins works in the Power Platform space (low code). He is the Global Power Platform Lead at Lumen Technologies. Andrew has been working with so many amazing Makers each day. In addition, he loves to support others on their journey to realize the potential of these tools in their hands.