Microsoft Business Applications MVP
FULL SHOW NOTES
Microsoft MVP YouTube Series - How to Become a Microsoft MVP
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Summit Community: https://www.summitna.com/speaker/william-mclendon/
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Thanks for listening 🚀 - Mark Smith
[mark_smith]: Today's guest is from Orlando in the US of A. He works at Hitachi Solutions America as a solution architect. He has been awarded his MVP first in 2022. He has over 10 years of experience supporting business objectives through information technology. He's a co-organizer of the Power Platform School in the US. You can find links to his bio and anything we cover that's worth clicking through to in the show notes for this episode. Welcome to the show, William.
[william_mclendon]: How are you doing mark? Thank you for having me.
[mark_smith]: Good man.Good. It's good to crank into this. What the listeners won't know, of course, that we just had a bit of banter off here as you passed on the regards of Mr. Ben Volmer to me and his dodgy questions that he, of course, is well known for.
[william_mclendon]: Yeah, he's good at that.
[mark_smith]: He's good at that. He's good at that. Excellent. Well, let's get to know you. Tell us about family, food and fun.
[william_mclendon]: Man, my family. So I got married about six years ago, and that changed my life. I have two wonderful, amazing kids. They're almost grown now, but they were babies when my wife and I started really, I can say courting. And oh man, they have been my world. So I got a lot of family members, a lot of cousins, and so we were happy to add more to the family. I love to read and study more about tech and quite frankly chill out Try to hit a couple golf balls every now and then I'm a big guy man. So anything food related. I'm all for man. I Love good old barbecue man and anything else I'll eat. I love food man. So Definitely
[mark_smith]: So good, so good. What, you talk about reading, what type of books are you into, any particular genre?
[william_mclendon]: Right now it's all everything technology. And you know what, believe it or not, the dummy series has a couple of good articles, they have a couple of good books about customer service. So as things of the platform tend to shift more, it's always good to brush up on some customer service facts. And actually an older book too, still very viable. It's about automating your sales force. It was written back in the early 90s. It's funny to hear about technology like floppy disks, Fundamentals and foundations and the principles of the book still hold true today So it just shows you that even though this stuff was written almost 20 30 years ago Companies still have a lot of some difficulties, you know implementing some of this technology were falling through on some really good principles
[mark_smith]: Cool, man. It's cool. I've just been reading a book of Hugo, a guy in the, I think, sorry, he's in Europe. And he's written a book called the Power Platform Solution Architects Handbook.
[mark_smith]: And, you know, I've seen a lot of books come and go in the, you know, in our area of business applications. And,you know,there's been books that I've read, and I feel like they're almost learn. It's like features of the product. Like you can do this, you can do that. But this guy's book, it really unpacks the whole power platform journey. Things you've got to consider, things you've got to like, and it's like you can tell the author is writing from experience rather than book learnt and just put another book out, you know,and so yeah, really, really good book. I'll get him on the podcast sometime. Am tell me, tell me how did you get into tech? what was that jouenry for you?
[william_mclendon]: Oh man, I can, yeah, we got time. So my journey into tech started when I was a young man. My uncle actually wrote the electrical, help program, the electrical system that the state of Florida uses now for the electrical grids. And so as a young man, I used to go to his house because he also built old computers. So I'm never gonna give you dates because I'm not gonna show how old I am. But he used to build computers. mess up his mess up his entire System or set up and then I would get yelled at and then so in order for me not to get beat I had to memorize how to put things back together. So he wouldn't know He was kind of a bit OCD so he would always know what he wouldn't get mad as long as it worked So Basically, it was it was it was basically a matter of survival if I got something right or wrong I started coding at 13 with basic a guess I dated myself a little bit back there. And then I started, coincidentally, my high school signed a deal with Cisco. So they taught Cisco classes in high school. Now I was just a dumb kid. I signed up for it. A couple other guys I still communicate with today. We signed up for it. Shout out to Ryan Masfeller and Frank Diaz. And we joined the academy and we learned how to program NT was just out so we also worked on the system admin side and we did stuff for the school. It was free labor so then I went into college, got my degree, went up to DC, started consulting and haven't looked back. I did shift into business apps though about two. I programmed, I ran into CRM about 10 years ago and I took a course like some others because for the company that we were working for. So it was basically a case auditing system for preventative maintenance or preventative measures. So my relationship with Ben, Ben took it as something he told me to do is like 15 years ago, but I didn't listen. So for five years, I completely ignored the guy about this. So finally I was like, hey, I need to build a system that can track cases and we can act on them. What do I do? Dude, check out dynamics finally. And so we did that. So I took a course, implemented it, and I fell in love with it. And I haven't looked back since. Finally went into, went full time consulting business apps for about a little five and a half years now. So started from in-house and then went full time consulting. So been consulting for with systems admin, and then finally did business apps. And so I was a director of IT at my previous, about two employers ago, but, you know, started my working my way back up, man. So it's been a great journey, but it's still technology, because I love and enjoy, I thoroughly enjoy working with the tech. So it's all about tech.
[mark_smith]: So if we look at the product suite that Microsoft has under business apps, and there's like, I think it's around 30 plus different applications in that suite now it's so large. What are kind of your go to? What do you kind of have the most knowledge around in that tech space?
[william_mclendon]: Man, it's going to be field service and universal resource scheduling. I scheduling for me has always been it's just been my bread and butter. Field service is something that I feel service. Interesting enough, field service was the first, I would say business process that I was able to really grasp. You know, sales is so ambiguous in so many ways. Customer service is customer service, right? But field service was from a larger business perspective, that I was able to, that I was interested in, and it just grew. So dispatching work orders, preventative maintenance, that was easy, but then scheduling. And so when they said you could schedule anything with URS, that tickled my ears. So I tend to, you'll tend to see me talk more or less about scheduling, you know, getting available resource times or anything related to field service platform, but we talk about dynamics. Yeah, that's
[william_mclendon]: those are my those are my two go to man.
[mark_smith]: So, so, so reasal scheduling, which is, you know, it's a big, big thing in its own right, as you say. Give me a couple of use cases that you've done that didn't involve field service.
[william_mclendon]: Oh, simple. Oh, goodness gracious. Easy. So one was for, I don't want to get in trouble for NDA.
[mark_smith]: No, don't say the company names, just the industry type.
[william_mclendon]: One was for,yeah,no company names. One was for financial industry. They were actually scheduling people to come visit their appointments for their branches. So this is just when COVID hit. This was just when COVID hit. So that was a big, big deal. And they already had the licensing, right? use the scheduling the resource availability module. I'm sorry API. Also too this one was a US retailer. They had appointments that needed to be booked for their for their technicians. So this is when I fell in love with this one because detail, but we, we use the very popular control to display those availabilities and we built a web service and paying directly off of the, again, resource availability API. Uh, so search resource availability API. So those are some two, those are two and other healthcare ones that were similar. But if you really look at it, they tend to have the same case, you know, who is available, when can they get there? Who, what, when, where, how do we answer that with scheduling? And so realistically, it just gets down to the, I mean, we get down to the degree, it's just, how do you want to present that to the customer? Right. Scheduling anything is a, you are, this is a phenomenal tool that I think is underutilized. Um, but when you need it, you know exactly where to go and it's there.
[mark_smith]: Your use case here was quite interesting because my next question was because I just hadn't thought about it until I was talking to you was The use case around where somebody self selects their scheduling So I take it in your portal scenario there They could log in they could see the available appointment slots that they could take not from an individual's perspective But from the resource schedule, which is that's a powerful story right there and that would impact a lot of companies
[william_mclendon]: So it was lead generation. So they would enter in their details, we would capture that lead information and then they would need the, you have the structure, because it's data driven, right? So we had to structure territories by zip codes and align their bookable resources accordingly. But it was interesting that, one of the biggest problems we had was making sure that those available time slots were visible. before they exposed the API. So you still had that challenge. And I'm not going to pretend to say Annie's last name, but he knows who he is. He's another MVP. I won't dare pretend to say his last name. It's always messed it up.
[mark_smith]: anti-Paya Jan. Yeah,very hard to say it,right?
[william_mclendon]: But there you go. I'm sorry,folks. I'm a Southern American. I will mess that up. Apologies, Anti. Really, he created a Power Automate that would put those bookings into Outlook calendars. And so I just used Graph API. to reverse the process. So we had kind of like a bi-directional sync going on. And so you could also leverage different Azure offerings if you needed some sort of database to kind of track any change logs. So for me, I used it as a tool to talk about in some of my MVP sessions. And then you get to use some of those, like I said, beefy offerings. So we went overboard with Cosmos, but we didn't do that for the client. I did that for me just to show that how flexible it is. Man, that use case, it was a huge use case and getting that kind of bi-directional sync, that availability that was present there with Power Automate was incredibly helpful. We were very pleased at what we built, incredibly pleased at what we built. The ROI was huge.So that's all I can say.
[mark_smith]: Do you know much about licensing? Do you know much about licensing? On the scheduling? I don't know if you can license outside of a field services. Can you?
[william_mclendon]: about with what? on the schedule. You can schedule anything. URS comes with everything CE.So.
[mark_smith]: No, no,but can you get a license for scheduling only without getting field service?
[william_mclendon]: Oh, I don't know. That's a good question. I need to look at that.
[mark_smith]: Because I always thought, and I don't know why I thought this, I always thought they were going to license it independently, right? Because there's a ton of use cases, just like we've covered today, that have nothing to do with people going out from an organization to the field, right? Which is your field service and your connected field service. But there's definitely a heap of use cases which are resource scheduling like you've given, you know, in the financial sector, in retail, in healthcare, I'm seeing a heck of a lot. Huge case for you, healthcare. Huge
[william_mclendon]: for healthcare. All right, it's the lifeblood for a couple of deployments that we made for a couple of healthcare organizations, but it's huge, especially with COVID. There was one for vaccine scheduling that was done. There is, yeah, it, yeah, huge, huge, huge. Best of good question, I need to look at that. I just thought it was always available. Well, I know it's always available, everything's CE, It's such a powerful tool.
[mark_smith]: I just think there's many use cases where you could just use that standalone, but I don't know as in if it's the same prices, field service, who cares, it's irrelevant. Tell me about what you found in coming into the MVP program.
[william_mclendon]: in trouble. So here's the funny thing. I didn't necessarily, I wasn't trying to reach out to be an MVP. So I, I was very quiet in that, in that, in that area. And if it wasn't for, I'm going to say Trisha Sinclair and Dion for yelling at me, like Trisha yelled at me the first time, maybe she encouraged me, I'm sorry, not yell. Trisha was
[mark_smith]: Sure sure, it's awesome, right?
[william_mclendon]: incredibly encouraging. Yeah, Trish Trish Trish got Dion on the horn like literally called and deans like dude tell your story who cares it was already written do it again um and even before that uh julie yak i met her at uh d 365 extreme in portugal and she put me on a hackathon with a bunch of folks so shout out to julie um you know And, you know, they, they were always so helpful and reassuring because when you're putting your stuff out there, like, I mean, especially if you're, especially when you're writing a blog, you know, that's that's a form of art, that's a form of self expression. And you're worried about being judged, right? You're worried about what people are going to think. Are they going to say this guy is stupid? What is this guy? No, you know, all these things run through your head. cares, trust us. And, you know, they encouraged me to put myself out there. And so I did. And the first time it was so nerve wrecking. I did a, it was a session and it was about your rest actually, your rest, reversal, resource scheduling at scale, my first session. And I was so nervous, I was glued to my notes and I'm kind of like just reading and shaking. And I'm not going to say this person is but they were like, just be yourself. Just be That was incredibly helpful because that took the pressure from up here to down here And then you realize that some folks in the community are just incredibly warm and welcoming and kind and Honestly, they like the same thing you do. They just like talking about the tech So eventually after a few years of writing and getting myself out there I got the nomination and got the nod but really My favorite part of that journey was the power platform school I don't know if we're going to talk about that now, but
[mark_smith]: We're going to talk about that now. So tell us about, you know, a lot of people won't know what the Power Platform School is, and because we'll put links to the show notes. If I remember right, Trisha kicked it off right in the UK. By the way, she can recommend some great rum. I've had some great rum from Trisha's recommendation. In fact, she might even got me a bottle. I can't even remember. She might have actually.
[william_mclendon]: She got you a bottle. She's never gotten me a bottle. I'm just gonna say that
[mark_smith]: I was,see, I used to live in,
[william_mclendon]: I want that and I want that on the bar on the broadcast
[mark_smith]: I used to live in London. So that's where I met her. In fact, I think I met her first at Scottish Summit, the very first Scottish Summit that ran. And I met her parents as well there. Yeah, but tell us about the school.
[william_mclendon]: Oh yeah, absolutely. So shortly as I'm writing things out, it's interesting, Mark Christie was talking about making changes, him and Ian, and Mark's a real good guy. And it got me thinking, I'm like, hey, how do I kind of improve diversity within this space? Coming from, again, the networking side, it's very rare that you see African-American males individuals, very rare. It's even more rare in the business app space. And so, you know, I was like, how can we extend this opportunity to other folks in the community? That's why I started thinking about it. And I was spitballing with Trish and Trish was I think Trish was kind of like preparing me to jump in in the US side. She just wasn't telling me. But I said, Hey, you know, this was bothering me Trish. I'm like, I just, I just want to see You know, I would look at our org charts, my employers, and I would see that I'm the only one in an entire regional space. And that to me is a problem. I think that companies don't necessarily know where to go to get people. Or folks aren't aware of the opportunities that are present. But anyway, Trish said, hey, we ran this in the UK. Would you like to run it in the US? Or help run it in the US? Sure, tell me what I need to do. And so that's how it started. She gathered up a couple of good folks, I'm going to say a couple at first, right? Couple of good folks at first and then it blew up to the team that we have now. So we had our first iteration in the US about three years ago and it was a lot. It was a lot, but it was so well. We, couple of folks that, couple of folks from the US side that were ready to go, they got second class and that entire class, I'm gonna say about 90% of that class got hired and now we're on our third session. So I just spent the entire day doing model-driven apps in a day so still very involved with every aspect of the school whether it's mentoring, whether it's recording events, whether it's to give back. And I gotta say this, we've gotten an absolute amazing amount of support from our sponsors. Did not expect to see, hey, that kind of response and everyone being so eager and willing to participate, not just in our regular community, but also in the MVP community. And even in the partner channel, you know, I work for Hitachi Solutions, love but I still communicate with our other partners and with other partners and they were like, hey, how can we help and who can we hire?
[mark_smith]: love it.
[william_mclendon]: That just blew my mind. I did not expect to see such a positive response from these partners. So it's a great program and I love everything about it that we've been doing.
[mark_smith]: That is so epic. I know we're at time and there's so many other questions I wanna ask, maybe we need to do a podcast with you and Trisha and get the three year update on how this is going in its own right, right? To see the impact and yeah, we'll do that on the Power Platform show I think.
[william_mclendon]: Hey, I'm all for it, man. Yeah,I'll afford it.
[mark_smith]: William,it's been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show.
[william_mclendon]: Thanks Mark, appreciate it man, wish you the best.
“Change is the only constant in life” – Heraclitus
And nowhere is that truer than in the information technology field. And what William McLendon has done for his entire career is to help companies change. This has included moving from outdated systems that hindered business to ones that enable the business to be more efficient and competitive in today’s ever-changing marketplace.
In the past 15 years, he has worked with organizations large and small. For the past five years, he has helped Fortune 500 organizations leverage Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, resulting in better performance and being more competitive. This has included working through complex compliance and regulatory requirements that required a multi-disciplined approach to make the move cost-effective and meet business requirements.