Deploying Dynamics 365 Field Service with Magnus Sørensen

Deploying Dynamics 365 Field Service with Magnus Sørensen

131. Today’s guest is Magnus Gether Sørensen, a Dynamics 365 Field Service expert at Delegate in Denmark. 

 Magnus shares with us some of the Field Service projects he has worked on, as well as the interesting challenges that his customers have encountered using the application.

Plus, Magnus talks about what’s new and next for Field Service and gives a few tips for teams implementing the application.

 Episode Highlights

  • [0:30] Magnus’ background and his career in business applications
  • [03:29] Magnus’ experience using Dynamics 365 Field Service
  • [06:27] The challenges of using Field Service in Denmark
  • [10:03] On whether Field Service is often integrated with back-office systems
  • [10:58] Demand for resource scheduling optimization
  • [13:45] Comparing Field Service and Resco
  • [17:08] What's new and next for Dynamics 365 Field Service
  • [22:06] Features and changes that Magnus would like to see Field Service implement
  • [24:07] Top three lessons Magnus has for teams building or deploying Field Service
  • [27:44] Magnus’ experience co-organizing Nordic Summit 2022
  • [30:10] On why the Nordic Summit is a free event


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[00:00:00] Neil Benson: Okay, Magnus Sørensen, welcome to the Amazing Applications Podcast. It's great to have you on the show. Magnus is from Copenhagen in Denmark, and he's a senior consultant at Delegate, which is a pretty big Microsoft partner based in Denmark. And they've got a couple of Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards for low-code development and data and AI. So they kind of specialize in big data, IoT, machine learning, and, of course, customer engagement as well. Magnus, really great to have you with us. Welcome to the show. 

[00:00:29] Magnus Sørensen: Thank you. Thank you for bringing me on. 

[00:00:30] Neil Benson: Well, I wonder if you could just share with the audience a little bit about your backstory, your career in business applications and share a little bit about life in Denmark as well, working in this industry.

[00:00:40] Magnus Sørensen: Well, life in Denmark is pretty easy, so I mean, even though there's a big crisis, we have nothing to complain about. So I think we'll skip that part. But for my career, I mean, I started working in Dynamics when I was a student. I was studying to be a software engineer and I found this consultancy delegate and I've been there, been with them for five years then I took a bit of a break. And now, I'm back again. Worked with every part of Dynamics that is not CRM. I've actually yet to build a proper CRM system, which is pretty funny. As you know, we regularly abuse the Dynamics platform and push it to its limits. And that has been my specialty, as I would put it, trying to find the limits of the platform and figuring out how far you can push it.

[00:01:27] Neil Benson: So you've never worked on a classic sales project or customer service project before? 

[00:01:32] Magnus Sørensen: In that case, it would only be to push it further. I have never worked with the standard. I've actually never built a lead to opportunity flow and so on. 

[00:01:40] Neil Benson: You mentioned you've done some exciting stuff with Field Service. Do you wanna tell us about some of the Field Service projects you've worked on? 

[00:01:47] Magnus Sørensen: Sure. So some of the bigger ones have been for customers that work in the supply industry and they have used Field Service to send technicians out to replace meters and for electricity and water and heating and so on. And one of the bigger tasks that they had was to replace every single meter in every single home in Copenhagen and, of course, that is a very big task. And first, we looked at the suite that Microsoft had. And for mass booking work orders, there's this new functionality in Field Service called resource scheduling. And the idea is that you put in the work orders that you want to schedule and then you can tell the system when do we want these booked and which resources do we want it to prioritize and so on. So a ton of customization. And then you just press go and then the system in the background just goes ahead and book all of these. And it was working quite well until we started to apply it to our case. So we created small hubs of data and what we realized is that it considers everything with the same travel duration as being right next to each other. And that would be fine, but the only problem is that the duration for a travel time is the whole number of duration field, which is in minutes. So everything that was within one minute of travel time from the previous order would be considered being right next to it. I don't know how fast you can go on your roads, but there are some roads where you can go 80 kilometers an hour. I don't know what is that — 50? 50 miles per hour or something? 

[00:03:27] Neil Benson: That's right. It's about 50 miles. So in Australia, we're in kilometers as well, but not everywhere else.

[00:03:32] Magnus Sørensen: Oh, okay. Perfect. So you could go pretty far. You could go about 500 meters in that time. And for everything within 500 meters to be considered right next to each other would break with this idea that you could just park your car and just do all the meters in that area. So we had a chat with Microsoft, and they had a ton of excuses. Basically, they said that they used the Bing API. The Bing API supports it. It could even go down to five decimals of a second. So it's pretty precise, but I just called them out and said, but your duration field is in, is this whole duration field. And then they said, yeah. So unless the Field Service team decides to introduce another field that is a decimal for seconds or something like that, then this issue will never be resolved. 

[00:04:23] Neil Benson: It's a pretty unusual scenario where there's so many customer sites right next to each other, you know? It could be in an apartment building that are all, you know, in the same latitude and longitude. You can't replace the meter in 25 apartments all at once just because they're in the same building.

[00:04:38] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah. And I think that's also a pretty good case for why it's harder for Field Service implementations here in Denmark. I had an anecdote that a customer gave me. That was when he talked to the manufacturer of Volvo in the States. They were talking about how big is the automotive industry in Denmark. And then he said, well, the entirety of Denmark is just one small department for them in the States. So that also tells a tale of how small Denmark is in comparison and it also means that whatever first party Microsoft product comes out, we usually have to customize it heavily or peel things away in order to make it work in Denmark.

[00:05:18] Neil Benson: Well, if it makes you feel any better, Magnus, my parents-in-law are Danish. In fact, my wife's last name is Sørensen. We just went to the 150th anniversary of the Danish Club or the Scandinavian clubs here in Brisbane. So I've got a lot of affection and empathy for folks in the market. Of course, I've got a lot of Danish furniture and design around my house. So, yeah, it's a great country. But I can imagine you're at the limit of what Microsoft is testing or planning. 

[00:05:47] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah, but we still make it work, so it's fine. And that's pretty cool that you have roots in Denmark.

[00:05:51] Neil Benson: Yeah. Well, actually, you know, Microsoft's got big roots in Denmark as well. Division is a Danish company. Zapta I think was a, Damgaard that was the original company behind Zapta. I think that was another Danish company. So, you know, there's still a lot of Dynamics developers working for Microsoft in Denmark today. Yeah, hopefully, you can lean on some of those guys, too. Speaking of, well, it's not Business Central, I guess. I don't know if you've ever done, I had a challenge a couple of years ago with a recently small Field Service customer who had about a hundred trucks, and it's a classic electrician, plumbing, air conditioning kind of company, and about a hundred trucks running around Brisbane. They wanted to use Business Central for ERP and had all their inventory in there. And then they had the service technicians running Field Service, and they wanted to be able to look up in real time inventory levels either in the truck, in a, they had a kind of a mobile truck with just parts and spares in it. And then they had warehouses and depots around the city as well. And we had a real hard time trying to figure out how we would do real-time inventory lookups in Field Service. I don't know if you've run into those kind of Field Service challenges as well. 

[00:06:59] Magnus Sørensen: So we haven't done anything real-time, but the thing I'm wondering is how real time does it actually have to be? So how often does the warehouse and your truck change? To me, it sounds like it would mostly be changed by the technician, so I would have sort of a replication layer. We've done a ton of different ways to integrate to the ERP system because, of course, it is usually where you keep your warehousing. And we have done some custom implementations based on the Azure Service Bus. So the Dynamics platform would just queue messages and then it would be caught on the Division side. We've also done stuff that wasn't Business Central, but it was fine as an operation where we've tried dual-write and that has worked okay. I would say it works. It transfers data. But the only weird design choice to me is the way that the tables then replicate it to some static table on the Dynamics instance, and then you, it's your job on the Dynamic side to react to changes to that table. And I think it's fine. But it, of course, duplicates data. So it puts a lot of responsibility on you as a Dynamics consultant that you should be aware of when data comes in and what you should do with it. 

[00:08:06] Neil Benson: Right. So you're responsible for deleting those staging records as well once they've been processed?

[00:08:11] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah, at least in our experience. I doubt that created something.

[00:08:14] Neil Benson: Do you see many standalone projects or do you often see Field Service integrated with some kind of back-office system? 

[00:08:20] Magnus Sørensen: No, it's usually integrated with stuff. Very few standalone systems. I mean, there are some where the core businesses is the product that they are installing and so on. In that case, it is their core business. But there are a ton of places where they sell some service or, for example, for the supply company, the meters are just a method of getting their money. So it's not the primary business. The primary businesses to do it as cheap as possible. So, I mean, but in any Field Service project in Denmark, it is a big part of the business, both because the product is really expensive, at least in the Dynamics world, compared to other companies like Salesforce and so on. It's pretty cheap. But at least in the Dynamics world where people have gotten used to $5 licensing and so on, it's pretty steep.

[00:09:09] Neil Benson: Yeah. By the time you get a technician and give them an ERP license and a Field Service license, it really stacks up. I was gonna ask you about resource scheduling optimization. You mentioned that this customer had a challenge using it because everything was in a minute in terms of the locations that you're providing the service. Have you seen much demand for it? Because the projects where I've evaluated it, because I think it is an optional add-on, there's an extra cost for it. And some of the customers have looked at it and just haven't gone ahead to purchase it. Have you seen a lot of demand for RSO? 

[00:09:41] Magnus Sørensen: Few of our customers are ready for that. So a Field Service project usually goes in stages, and you end up in one of two places. So — with the resource scheduling optimization of people would actually be able to go there. Then you would have come from either Excel or pen or paper to keep track of your task. And then you would go on to realizing that the schedule board is a digital version of that. So you would just only be in the schedule board. At some point, you would start working with agreements because you would do the same task every single time. So you have these recurring bookings. And then at some point, you would build so much trust to the system that it can do what you already do, and then just let the system do it and then you'll handle every single customer exception when they call in and so on, right? So that would be the transition for those kind of schedules. 

[00:10:38] Another transition that we also see is giving more power to the technicians. You assign them areas or districts in the Field Service center, right? But perhaps you could go even further down and just create your own custom sub-districts. And then you assign work orders to those districts and then you just tell the technician, hey, go drive here and just pick whatever you would want. That works in the scenarios where the customer is not expected to be home. If you have some kind of heating that is located outdoors and you need some service on it, then, strictly speaking, you don't have to be home. Then the technician can plan his own day and so on. It also works very well in the industry as well.

[00:11:18] Neil Benson: It reminds me a lot of my Scrum projects where we fill up a product backlog and the developers pool product backlog items from it based on their capacity, right? So you're giving service technicians the same capability to pool work rather than pushing work to them and trying to fill up their calendar. I like that idea. I haven't come across that pattern before. 

[00:11:36] Magnus Sørensen: But it also just ends up being, what do you trust the most? Do you trust your technicians the most? Do you trust the system the most? So that's how you end up in these different solutions. And we've had customers that are going both ways and none of them have reached, of course, this utopia at the end. That's always trouble everywhere. But, yeah. It seems to work out. 

[00:11:56] Neil Benson: Speaking of Field Service and some of the evolutions that have been made there, what's the latest with the Resco application, which we used for a long time in Field Service and the native Microsoft Field Service application? Are they both still in the field today? Are you leaning towards the Microsoft application now? Or is there still lots of scenarios where yet Resco is a better option?

[00:12:19] Magnus Sørensen: Well, in the preface, before we started recording, I told you that I can't lie, so I'm not going to lie. The Field Service mobile app is not where we want it to be. We see a lot of problems with it. The customers that are seeking to reduce the amount of outstanding money they have on their Field Service technicians and so on. The amount of money they pay, they seem to go for either a canvas app or something like that, so complete custom solution. And the other customers that have used features that depend on Resco, like their inspections, which is a questionnaire, they could have just called it that as well. But the idea is that whenever a technician goes out and do some service, they fill out a questionnaire and do a checklist. It's pretty standard in the industry that you don't have to think. You just fill out this form, and then we know that you have done everything that you should. The businesses that rely on that, they can't go away from Resco. The Microsoft Inspections answer is not there yet. 

[00:13:16] Neil Benson: Okay, so it's still a journey.

[00:13:18] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah. Hopefully, it will be there at some point depending on who you work for. If you work for Resco, you hope that they keep dropping the ball. But that said, I mean, if you have a very simple requirement, if you're just about going out writing some texts on some bookings and then closing them, then it's completely fine. But if you want to do any kind of kind of customization, make some very dynamic forms and so on, then Resco is still very powerful. I mean, Resco is even more powerful than what you can do on the Dynamics form natively. It's super powerful what you can, what you're allowed to touch. 

[00:13:51] Neil Benson: Yeah. I remember being impressed with it when I went through the training. It was a few years ago now. But, yeah. There was things I could do in Woodford, which I wished I could do in a CRM form. 

[00:14:00] Magnus Sørensen: Yes. And, of course, I mean, you could also consider going full Resco. That is Resco's sales pitch right now is just drop the Field Service and Dynamics and integrate with our service instead. And they do have some critical things. But to me, those things are scary, coming from a Danish person. It's very much just — are those either like Uber and so on where you can see your driver and then you can see that he goes into a gas station and gets some food and so on. I mean, that's. Why would I need to see that? To me, it makes sense to just get a text, hey, he's coming within the next 30 minutes. And then whatever he does on the way, it's, you can go ahead. 

[00:14:40] Neil Benson: Yeah. I've become a bit obsessed when I order an Uber, for example, and I watch the car coming to my door. Why is he going that way? And, yeah, it's probably too much information.

[00:14:48] Magnus Sørensen: And just imagine the environment for the technician that he has — he could go to a customer and say, why did you go there? Why did you take that road? I'm just gonna make some service on your air conditioning. Why should you care? 

[00:15:02] Neil Benson: Good point. It's probably not what the technician needs is more oversight from the customer.

[00:15:06] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah. There's a pretty big thing in Denmark about that. That the schedulers shouldn't. That's a pretty big thing at Denmark about that, where schedulers shouldn't be able or the managers shouldn't be able to spy on their technicians in that kind of way.

[00:15:19] Neil Benson: Oh, so it's like a employee privacy principles, yeah. What else is happening with Microsoft Field Service in terms of what's new? Anything in the latest release notes that you're excited about or the customers are getting excited about? 

[00:15:32] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah, I mean, the past release notes have been very tiny, in my opinion, on Field Service. It's clear that they have been focusing on stabilizing a lot. It works fine. The only real big problem in Field Service right now is how long it is to create a reservation. It takes a minimum of 10 seconds. That's a pretty long time, right? But for new features that I haven't worked with. So, of course, for me, it's just new shiny toys, and I can't — them. That is very much the remote assistant part and the idea that you have super — of technicians that you can contact and then go on a Teams call and then draw on the screen and say, this right here, you need to twist that, and so on. I think that whole idea of crowdsourcing knowledge live is a very big thing that I have yet to see any of my customers think. It's a very good idea that I need to explore.

[00:16:29] Neil Benson: And it opens up some really interesting scenarios. There's a lot of engineering disciplines that are massively short-staffed, you know? They just don't have enough engineers, especially senior qualified engineers. And where things like remote assist might really open it up so that less experienced engineers, maybe just a couple of years' experience, can serve as a pretty complex piece of machinery. I know that a local roadside assistance club here was looking at solutions like remote assist for servicing electric vehicles. So, you know, they've got a lot of roadside mechanics with 20, 30, 40 years of experience servicing diesel engines and petrol engines but fewer people with any experience helping to get electric cars, electric vehicles back up and running again and, whether it's flash charging them or some other incident that's happened at the roadside. Maybe using something like Remote Assist to help those engineers with an electric vehicle expert at headquarters.

[00:17:26] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah, sounds like a great idea. And, of course, to me, it just, I've only seen the live examples and they work. So Delegate is part of a bigger organization called Broad Horizon and one of our sister companies there have tried the remote assist VR thing. And they created a guide to completely disassemble and reassemble a mobility scooter. They tried to test it, so they just put one of their, please don't fault me but I think it was someone from HR or reception or something, like no technical ability. And they were able to completely disassemble and reassemble this disability scooter just by following this VR guide. 

[00:18:07] Neil Benson: So this is with the HoloLens?

[00:18:08] Magnus Sørensen: Exactly. Exactly. So they just try to see like how much power can you give to a person if you just have a one-time investment of a HoloLens. Of course, I don't think that we should replace all skilled workers with civilians with HoloLenses. But perhaps you could outsource some home renovations and service to your own customers by just shipping them some HoloLens. I could see that being an idea. 

[00:18:34] Neil Benson: You probably don't want a CRM consultant servicing a nuclear, you know, power station or anything with a HoloLens, but you could probably, I had a plumbing issue. My plumber could have probably fixed it from his office with just me wearing a headset and told me how to clean out the lines and things. You know, there's only so far I can go with YouTube, but if I have an expert plumber in my ear or in my line of vision, that'd be awesome. 

[00:18:59] Magnus Sørensen: I had the same problem. So Denmark has a ton of regulation, right? What you can do on your own house. And anything that is screwed to the wall regarding plumbing, you can't touch. And I had a faulty installation. And I mean, I could see that I could screw it, but put it out, replace it with a new part, but I'm not allowed to because that is part of the installation of the house and not just some sink. So I had to call a plumber to come there for five minutes. It's so stupid. I even had the part myself because they, in the hardware store, they were allowed to sell this thing to me, but they never told me I wasn't allowed to install it. 

[00:19:42] Neil Benson: It's funny. My Danish father-in-law is a qualified plumber, so he practiced his trade in Denmark before moving to Australia many years ago. The Australian hot water, maximum hot water temperature in a house is 55 Celsius. At his house, I think it's probably 70 Celsius. He's got super hot water. And he's got a return pipe, so it circulates constantly from the hot water to the tap. So as soon as you turn on the tap, you get this scalding hot water. Like, wow. Kurt, what have you done? I thought there was a regulation in Australia. He's like, Australia doesn't know what it's talking about. I'm a Danish plumber. So, yeah. Gotta watch out for those Danish plumbers. 

[00:20:17] So, moving along, if you were making investments in Field Service, if you were at Microsoft in charge, what would you like to do next? Where would you invest Microsoft's R&D budget in Field Service? 

[00:20:29] Magnus Sørensen: Well, I mean, from a complete Danish perspective, I would love a Field Service lite, where you have very few things. Ideally, just the schedule report. That's really the simplest feature that you need. And then a ton of things that runs under bookable resource booking. I would just take it off and make creating a reservation fast. That would be nice. And so, a completely bare-bones Field Service would be nice. 

[00:21:00] Neil Benson: Yep, I'd go for that. Australia is a population of 25 million people, so it's five times bigger than Denmark maybe. But we have a lot of very small businesses and very few large businesses. So we probably have the same thing where we've got a lot of companies who might just have five or 10 technicians who can't afford a full Dynamic 365 Field Service configuration. You know, there's a lot of entities to set up and configure and populate. And, yeah, if we could really strip it down and simplify it, that'd be awesome.

[00:21:29] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah. But I mean, I'm not a business major. But I would say that it's pretty obvious that they bought FieldOne. And now, they need to recoup those costs somehow. And they can't just peel it away because it's still the same thing underneath. So it's probably pretty hard and it is a pretty big beast. I think the only first party app that's bigger is marketing. That's also very big. 

[00:21:52] Neil Benson: I mean, it's a great product. It's great servicing those enterprise organizations that have hundreds or thousands of technicians and they can build a really great business case around a Field Service project. But there's lots of small plumbing teams, electrical teams, HVAC repairs who. I think we could compete much more aggressively in the small midsize market. And with a, like you said, a stripped-down Field Service. 

[00:22:16] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah, that would be pretty cool. 

[00:22:18] Neil Benson: What are the top three lessons you think that you'd like to pass on to other teams building or deploying Dynamics 365 Field Service?

[00:22:27] Magnus Sørensen: That would be general things that apply to everything. Build something early and make it work, and then build upon that. There are ton of solutions out there. And also lot of other parts of consultancies that try to take a different approach and try to scope everything out. To me, that has never worked. Also not with a platform that changes every single month. It's no longer just every two times a year, right? It's pretty often. So be completely agile. That is my main advice. Then make no assumptions. I have burned myself a lot on Field Service by making assumptions on how it worked. I usually don't need any more confident boosts, so that hurts me when I try to assume how things work. I don't know about —. 

[00:23:10] Neil Benson: I'd love to expand on the, you said be completely agile. Obviously, I'm a big proponent of an agile approach. I recommend an agile approach to all of my customers and all of my projects. One of the challenges I get from Field Service teams is that they might have a system today, whether that's pen and paper or Excel, and if we give them Dynamics 365 Field Service and it's not complete, then they're gonna be stuck. They're gonna be using an application that's less than what they have today and they wanna wait until there is a critical mass of functionality that they can use. You're recommending start small, start early, get it into the hands of the technicians. How do you balance that — replacing an application that might have more features with a Dynamics app that is really pretty simple? 

[00:23:59] Magnus Sørensen: To me, this also applies to every single scenario. Whether or not you have a fully-fledged Field Service implementation and even on that customer 10 years from now, you should always have your protocols and procedures before everything goes down. So if you have that, then you can also implement new stuff while the old things still are in pen and paper. If you can succeed in that, then you don't have to do these leaps and these giant go lives where you stay up all weekend then migrate to the new system. And then you stumble and fall and hurt your head. You could also do a slow, methodical implementation where you just let the business people, or the schedule person in this case, do whatever works. So allow both systems to exist at the same time and then just create systems around that ensures that they function. Strictly speaking, you don't have to have every single work order in Field Service in order to make it work. You could have a single department or even just half of them. Just have a single technician and every single work he does is on there. Then the rest of the business just functions as it should, and the business should cope but should be able to cope with it, right? Because if they are one technician down because of health problems and so on, they should function anyway. So whether it's just health preference or making a new IT system, it should be the same issue. 

[00:25:24] Neil Benson: Great. I love that idea of just taking like a single technician or maybe one district or one product line and asking them to adopt Field Service give you that rapid feedback until it's ready for everybody else to adopt. You won't get better feedback than actually putting it in the hands of technicians, watching them drive around with your application in their truck. 

[00:25:43] Magnus Sørensen: And it's always a big worry of how do you get superusers. Well, you just organically create them because then when the all of the technicians need to be on the platform, they've been on the platform for several years. And, hey, we know it. 

[00:25:55] Neil Benson: Cool. I just wanted to wrap up. If I can ask you, you were at Nordic Summit recently, and I'd love to get some advice from you because I'd love to put on an Australian business application summit. Tell me about the experience of Nordic Summit. What was it like? 

[00:26:08] Magnus Sørensen: Well, first of all, it was an amazing summit. And also, the feedback that we got from the attendees has been overwhelmingly positive. We haven't actually gotten any super negative feedback. It's only been constructive criticism for things that we've seen, stuff like the air conditioning didn't work in one of the rooms. I mean, that's gonna hurt.

[00:26:27] Neil Benson: Should've had a Field Service technician on standby. 

[00:26:30] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah, I mean the advice starts with bring a great group of people together. We are, I should have these numbers really, but I think we are around 12 people all across the Scandinavian countries that are co-organizing this. And each person have their own responsibility and they have done that job to perfection. And, of course, we are, now, we are working on next year's summit. We have yet to come back with details. But, yeah. I think there's just one thing. Bring a great team and then you can fix all the problems along the way. But for us, the main focus on Nordic Summit is to keep the cost low for the attendees. Nordic Summit was free, and then it was just completely paid by customers. And then — customer sponsors and bring quality content to summit as well. There is this circle that speakers come if there are a lot of attendees and sponsors come if there are a lot of attendees. But attendees only come if there's quality content. So it was a pretty big priority for us to bring people that are recognized in the community, that people know and then that we know have delivered sessions a ton of times. We had a few new speakers, but at least for this summit, only brought, mainly brought experienced speakers. 

[00:27:47] Neil Benson: Yeah. I think that that's a great balance because, you know, there are certainly gonna be local people in the Danish and Swedish and Norwegian community who want to speak the first, for the first time to their local audiences. And, you know, at the same time, you've got superstars like Nick Doelman flying in, talk about Power Pages and things. So you have to have a balance, I guess, between those well-recognized experts and the new folks who we wanna nurture and give them their first opportunity as well. So I think you, sounds like you did a great job balancing those.

[00:28:17] Magnus Sørensen: Thank you. And, of course, you should just get going. Create a conference in Australia. 

[00:28:21] Neil Benson: Couple of questions then. How do you decide whether it should be a paid conference or a free community conference? A paid conference, for me at least, get some skin in the game from attendees so we don't have lots of no-shows. I hate the idea of, you know, 600 people registering and 300 people turning up, and I've done all the catering and everything else for 600 people. And it also allows me to afford better food, better venue, better audiovisual — I do recordings — better swag. You made the decision to keep Nordic Summit free for attendees. Was that a difficult decision or was that a pretty easy one?

[00:28:58] Magnus Sørensen: It was a pretty easy one because we believed that we could deliver the same quality as a paid conference for free. And there are a ton of things that you could skip on. I mean, people say they like swag, but what value does it actually add? We had no recordings, but that was a decision because we want people to show up. At least from our own opinion, I think that's the consensus among the organizers is that we don't want to record and do some kind of livestream because then people won't show up in person. And that is the entire goal of a conference. Otherwise, you could just go on YouTube and look up a video. I mean, the big part of Nordic Summit is the things around it as well. You don't just come for the sessions. You come for the ability to speak with a lot of people, reach out to the speakers afterwards, and network, and so on. Because that's what we see is the big value of a conference. It is actually there. Of course, there are some great sessions, but the true value and what you take home is the network and the ability to question people later. 

[00:30:02] Neil Benson: Yep. Love it. Did you do some paid training opportunities before the Summit? That's quite a popular thing. I've seen conferences where there's maybe one or two days of training, half day or full day, deep dive and with maybe one expert trainer, and then the conference kicks off a few days later. Was that an approach you used as well? 

[00:30:22] Magnus Sørensen: Yes. So we had two pre-day workshops, one for Nick Doelman, actually. One that he held, I think it was three years back or two years back when it was called Power Apps portals. And now, he modified the entire workshop. I mean, he has held that workshop a ton of times, but now he modified it to the new style of Power Pages and what Power Pages is this going for now. So that was pretty cool to have a completely new session. And then, we had Mohamed. Unfortunately, I didn't get to talk to him about how his session went, but I had the feeling that it went super well as well. His session was on Power Platform governance, and that is, it was clearly something that people wanted to talk about. And there's a struggle out there.

[00:31:03] Neil Benson: I think it's great if you can take those topics that you just can't cover in a, you know, 30-minute or one-hour conference presentation. You can maybe get the highlights. But it's great to find those experts and deep dive with them in a closed room for a whole day and come out of there with a whole ton of knowledge, maybe ready to take a certification or ready to deploy technology back in your customer environment. So that's awesome. 

[00:31:24] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah. I think it's one of the feedback that we got was that they even wanted multiple days. But, of course, then it gets — as well. For those free sessions, eight hours of intense training is already a lot. So I don't know whether that will happen. But, of course, that just means that it was a great session. It was a great workshop when you just want more. And still, that also means that you have to bring quality workshop hosts. They need to know their stuff. They need to be dynamic in how they deliver the session to adapt to their audience and so on. So that was also a big point for us. We didn't want someone to deliver their first workshop at our Summit, at least not this year. 

[00:32:00] Neil Benson: One last question. That's great, Magnus. I really appreciate your insights. My friends in New Zealand are throwing the New Zealand Business Application Summit in November. And their recommendation if I wanted to do something similar in Australia was to use Microsoft offices 'cause they're lower cost. But I find them challenging to get access at the weekends, especially when you wanna put on a conference. Where was your Nordic Summit located?

[00:32:22] Magnus Sørensen: So we had the pre-day at the Microsoft office on Friday. And then the Microsoft offices in Stockholm were too small to the scope that we had for this Summit. So we had it at a hotel, at a conference hotel. But I was at the London user group in February or something like that, and they held it at the Microsoft offices. So I think it's just about talking to them and then they will have someone, no, perhaps that wasn't on a Saturday, actually. Maybe I'm getting the dates mixed up. 

[00:32:54] Neil Benson: The UK user group is usually at Microsoft's headquarters at Thames Valley Park. But I don't think it's on a weekend. 

[00:33:00] Magnus Sørensen: No, I think you're right. So, I don't know. That must be the answer. Hopefully, Microsoft will put up a venue. Otherwise, try to rent something and get some sponsors. I will not bring up that much drama, but since Dynamic Communities changed their focus away from user groups and towards these big conferences, it is harder because now we have to find sponsors on our own. And these smaller events can't exist anymore unless there is a very dedicated organizing team behind them. So if you are in a country where you used to have a ton of local user group meetings and now you don't, well, try to Google. Figure out why. 

[00:33:43] Neil Benson: We've got really good user groups here. I'm part of the Brisbane user group committee. Like you said, we don't record our user group sessions 'cause we love to bring people into the city once a month to come and interact, which has been awesome. We've got some great Australia and New Zealand and Asia Pacific apps partners to rely on for sponsorship as well. Some great thriving partners in this part of the world. So I think, yeah, I think we could pull it off. I need just need to start looking into it, start booking things and get, like you said, get that organizing committee together. Perhaps if Nordic Summit 2023 is in Denmark next year, I could bring my family over to have my kids meet some of their cousins and aunts and uncles in Copenhagen. That'll be awesome. 

[00:34:21] Magnus Sørensen: Yeah, we'll see where it will be, but you will be very welcome. 

[00:34:23] Neil Benson: Okay, that'll be great. Magnus, thanks so much for joining us on Amazing Applications. I really appreciate you joining us. Is there anything else I should have asked you or anything else? You've got your blog at and you're on Twitter @XrmWizard. And I see you're also one of the people behind the Power Platform weekly newsletter on Twitter as well. So that's @pp_weekly for everybody on Twitter. Make sure you subscribe to that. Is there anything else you'd like to share with the audience before we go? 

[00:34:51] Magnus Sørensen: No, I mean I don't blog that much. Most of my work it goes into physical meetings and the newsletter so. I mean, if you don't follow this newsletter, do it. I think we have, what, 7,000 followers on LinkedIn and we have over 2,000 subscribers, I believe. So go join the fun. 

[00:35:09] Neil Benson: Yeah, well done. I'll make sure we share that in the share notes. Thanks so much. Keep sprinting. Thanks, Magnus.

[00:35:15] Magnus Sørensen: Bye.