Microsoft MVP Challenge: learning something new

Summer is here and I’m enjoying the weather. But it’s not a reason to stop learning. I participated in a Microsoft MVP Challenge in May and had a chance to spend 30 days learning something entirely new for me. Let me share my experience with you.

If you read my previous blog post, you probably remember me challenging myself to learn something new. Passing a test and getting certified wasn’t my goal this time; I just wanted to spend a month getting to know a different set of tools and technologies. I can’t hide it for too long: the challenge was covering Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.

I never tried or had a chance to work with them with Dynamics 365; that’s why I felt like I needed to know more to be able to at least understand it better along with Power Platform, at least at a high level.

I started with Dynamics 365 and realized right away it was indeed very different from AI and software development. It’s a set of business-focused applications: ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management). So, first advice here: don’t expect ANY similarities. But I started it with an open mind, so it wasn’t discouraging. Later on, I got to “practical” chapters and was a little disappointed they were only click-throughs and not try-it-yourself. By “click-throughs”, I mean something similar to a PowerPoint presentation, where you click through it and see steps and screens from Dynamics 365. It’s not easy to get a test account. In some cases, you have to use your company email, which can be inconvenient (or you might not even have an email in the correct format), which might play a significant role in how the practical parts were set up. I hope Microsoft will find a way to make it more interactive and let students try things themselves. If you have access to Dynamics 365, I recommend trying those exercises on an actual product.

Introducing Microsoft Dynamics 365 - Microsoft Dynamics ... Parts of the Dynamics 365 platform

Some modules of the Dynamics 365 part of the challenge reminded me of my school years. If you didn’t know, I got two majors in school: Economics and Computer Science (it was called “Applied Informatics in Economics”). We learned how to work with different financial and enterprise tools: CRM, ERP, econometrics, etc. I see how Dynamics 365 is similar to other ERP suites. That can be a bonus for people who has experience with ERPs. But if you are just trying to get an overview of the application and functionality, then the challenge can be a little overwhelming. In general, I would recommend doing the challenge if you want to dig a little deeper into Dynamics 365 or even want to take an exam at some point. Overall this part included modules covering customer service, field service, marketing, finance and operations, supply chain management, warehouse and inventory management and sales. All those modules are available separately as well, so you can pick and choose.

Let’s move to the Power Platform part now. For me personally, this part was more interesting. It was still a little far from what I’m used to – coding, but closer than Dynamics 365. This suit covers no code/low code tools for both developers and non-developers. It’s an excellent option for mixed teams and for building quick solutions. I tried a couple of offerings from the Power Platform suit here and there before but wanted to learn more about other solutions. I recommend this course/challenge for everyone who wants to learn about the platform offerings and how to use them. I know there is a separate challenge for Power Platform available right now, along with Dynamics 365, AI, and others: As I mentioned before: those challenges are great ways to learn more and prepare for exams.

Microsoft Power Platform
Microsoft Power Platform parts

This platform covers a wide variety of solutions: AI, Business Intelligence, and even Mixed Reality. The MVP Challenge didn’t include all of them (it’s impossible to include all the tools in a course), but I had a chance to learn more about Power Virtual Agent and Power Automate. I like how those tools are helpful for both non-developers and all other kinds of professionals and save a ton of time. I recommend signing up for a Power Platform trial and check it out yourself.

The third part of the challenge was focused on Accessibility. A lot of things there were new to me, and I was happy to learn about them. It’s essential for everyone, especially professionals building new software, to know about using and developing accessible solutions. You want to be inclusive and create software for everyone. I saw great examples of accessibility tools from Microsoft and learned about principles to be mindful of.

I created a condensed version of the MVP Challenge for you to check: It’s a collection of modules I liked the best from the challenge. I was bummed I wasn’t able to complete the challenge on time, but I still learned a lot, and I’m glad I’m able to share my experience with you.