"OMG, I love your new system. It's so easy to use!" with Bruce Sithole, 365 Mechanix

"OMG, I love your new system. It's so easy to use!" with Bruce Sithole, 365 Mechanix

#102. Bruce Sithole's team at 265 Mechanix built a Power Portal application for a business to business lender that earned some serious kudos for his customer. Find out how in this episode of Amazing Applications.

We also cover:

  • Starting your own Microsoft partner business
  • What is takes to achieve FastTrack Recognized Solution Architect
  • Which is better: FTRSA award or MVP award?
  • Building amazing Power Power applications
  • What night to release a new deployment
  • Using feature flags in our applications
  • Working in hybrid teams: customer and partner together
  • Microsoft Australia traineeship program

Resources
Bruce Sithole on LinkedIn
365 Mechanix on LinkedIn
FastTrack Recognized Solution Architects | Microsoft Dynamics 365
FastTrack Recognized Solution Architects | Microsoft Power Platform
Microsoft Traineeship Program

Support the show (https://buymeacoffee.com/amazingapps)

Transcript

[00:00:00] Neil Benson: "Oh, my goodness. I love your new system. It's so easy to use and pre-populates nearly everything. I wish all the lenders systems were like this." How would you like your customers to get feedback like that from your Power Portals applications? 

This is Amazing Applications. Welcome back. Hi, I'm your host, Neil Benson.

Thanks for downloading another episode. We've got lots to cover with my special guest, Bruce Sithole. Bruce is the founder of 365 Mechanix in Sydney, Australia. He's also a Microsoft Business Applications MVP, and a Microsoft FastTrack Recognized Solution Architect.

Bruce's team has built a Power Portal for a business to business lender, and got some great feedback from his customer's customer. 

You'll find show notes for this episode at AmazingApps.Show/102. Let's meet Bruce and find out more about his Amazing Applications story.

Bruce. Welcome to the Amazing Applications podcast. It's great to have you on the show, finally. 

[00:01:28] Bruce Sithole: Hey, Neil. Good to be on here after a few false starts.

[00:01:32] Neil Benson: I appreciate you making some time for us. I'd love it if you could just take a moment to introduce yourself for the audience. You and I worked together back in the glory days at KPMG Australia. Let us know what you're up to now and what your background is and Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.

[00:01:47] Bruce Sithole: So yeah, Bruce Sithole, my name. Started way back with CRM three and version four back in New Zealand. So it kind of just jumped into that as you know, looking for a job. So just whoever would hire and it happened to be Dynamics. And as we all know with Dynamics, it's never just CRM has, it was always like SharePoint or external bits and pieces.

So kinda got to play with all the business applications suites. Various roles, functional, technical, whatever hat I needed to wear on a particular day. Yeah. Then moved to Australia, went to the couple of partners as well as going customer side, which is also great. It was a great experience, you know, being on the customer end, then obviously you and I, Neil, worked together, KPMG.

And since then set up our own consultancy firm, 365 Mechanix. Originally from Zimbabwe but grew up in Botswana and South Africa and yeah, Australia is home now. So,

[00:02:42] Neil Benson: Good for you. So what were you doing before your career in Dynamics 365. 

[00:02:46] Bruce Sithole: I'd completed my university degree and I was complimenting it with a business diploma. And to be honest, I was essentially just looking for work. So I was actually doing a bit of sales. I was selling time sheets, not time sheets, timeshares. You know, those timeshare apartments for Gold Coast, but from New Zealand.

So it was all commission-based and pretty brutal. But yeah, earned my stripes then.

[00:03:08] Neil Benson: Wow. 

[00:03:08] Neil Benson: Yeah, 365 Mechanix, that's that's your own business? It's been going a couple of years now. It seems to be growing really quickly. I see posts on LinkedIn fairly regularly as you welcome new team members on board. 

[00:03:21] Bruce Sithole: Yeah, so 

it's bootstrapped. So, self funded and started at about two and a half, three years ago. It's a all blur. And yeah, we're a team of 14 now. And typically focusing in the industry would naturally fall into was financial services and not-for-profits and.

[00:03:39] Neil Benson: Two opposite ends of the spectrum. Lots of profits and not very much profits 

[00:03:43] Bruce Sithole: Exactly. It's one of the, like, how did this happen? But to be honest, the financial services feed the not for profits, so you there to say. So we focus obviously on the business application space and just trying to, I guess, take a different approach and you know, being our size and then what lane we kind of stay into, but also in seeing what I liked, and didn't like, when that previous partners or on customer side. So, you know, as everyone thinks, they can do it better or can change things. So I was like, let's go have a look. So you for really going things are going well, 

[00:04:14] Neil Benson: I've flip-flopped between running my own business and working for somebody else. It's exhilarating and fun running your own business, but you've got to stay on your toes. 

[00:04:23] Bruce Sithole: Yeah.

And it's not easy. I'll tell you that it's not all glamour like they say. People wanna tell you the good things, but not, not the hard and long kind of nights. 

[00:04:30] Neil Benson: So is 365 Mechanix a systems integration business, or is it an ISV partner building your own software products? 

[00:04:38] Bruce Sithole: I'd say system or S.I. system integrators primarily, but we're also working on a few IP and ISV solutions, which are starting to get a little bit of traction. So hopefully to kind of build on that. So it's, it's, we're trying to do the continuous loop, you know, so will. Plugging now ISV or IP that will bring out a project, a bit of implementation localization, and the circle of life kind of keeps going on.

[00:05:01] Neil Benson: Yeah, that's good. If you can diversify your income streams between pure consultancy work and a bit of software license revenue as well. 

[00:05:08] Bruce Sithole: That recurring revenue is like golden egg where you can just sit back and it just keeps dipping obviously where it's the bread and butter currently. And with the current climate with COVID, there's a lot of the shortage of skilled consultants or in Sydney, primarily, you know?

[00:05:23] Neil Benson: And you've been awarded the FastTrack Recognized Solution Architect recognition recently. What was that process like? 

[00:05:30] Bruce Sithole: It 's a big process. And it came about through, I guess, with some of the customers would when working with, with. Bruce, you know, you guys can, you specifically are actually really good. Like we've worked with other architects and so forth. And there, this stuff you're doing with us is really great.

And sometimes, as I.T. Consultants we're a little bit we've downplayed our skill sets. I was like, no, yeah, it's okay. I'm you know, but they're like, no, no. And they kind of got this conversation going with Microsoft too. And then the nomination process came through. But then even going through that was a grueling interviews, where some of these top guns from Microsoft where they review the architecture of some of the solutions of the project you put in forward.

And even then they ask you questions where there's no. There's two right solutions. So like in second you did this and like, why don't you do that? You got to just, probably like, Hey, my enters, cutting. Sorry, I can't talk, but I'm, you're just talking through those options, you know? So it's like, yeah, being reviewed and having to prove yourself, but then, yeah, then just quiet for a few weeks after that. Got the notification from James Phillips. And that was pretty exciting. You get a whole cool a box of swag too. Pretty awesome. Unfortunate obviously with COVID they couldn't do as many of the things and, other benefits like that, but yeah, no, so far it's great. 

[00:06:43] Neil Benson: So that's quite different from the MVP award, which is about community contributions and the thought leadership where there's no real technical standards that an MVP needs to meet. The FastTrack Recognized Solution Architect, you don't have to do anything in the community. You just have to be a really awesome architect from a technical perspective. So there's a technical standard that Microsoft is examining that you have to meet. So, yeah, so two very different awards and you're one of the very few people I know who holds both. 

[00:07:14] Bruce Sithole: Yes. Yeah, it was. Humbling to be honest. And, but also yeah, on reflection it's a little bit, trying to take all the kudos on not take it it's like, grateful. But yeah, it was again, a mix of the customer success and also the right support team. And also just dedication to the course, right. Being in the trenches for a while with this kind of platform. 

And it's, it's weird. Like it's now like I'm the grownup, you know, like I know even like before, you'd be like, oh, look at these people with all these and all these, you know, like these kind of look up to, and then still look, I still look up to them, but then now it's not people like tapping me to now saying, Hey, how'd you do this?

And I'm like, oh really? But 

[00:07:53] Neil Benson: Every recognition you get Bruce as well deserved, it was a pleasure working with you. And in fact, we're still working together a little bit on another client project, and I look forward to more of those in the future as well. 

[00:08:04] Bruce Sithole: Likewise. 

[00:08:05] Neil Benson: The FastTrack Recognized Solution Architects swag, I have to say, is better. I've seen lots of MVPs posting those little glass rings and stuff that they get, but you know, the FastTrack Recognized Solution Architects, there's a jacket. There's I think there's a rucksack. If somebody was going to say to you, Bruce, you can only have one of the awards. Would you rather have the FastTrack Recognized Solution Architect or the Most Valuable Professional? 

[00:08:31] Bruce Sithole: Neil, Neil, you're putting me on the spot here. Only right now, I'd say maybe the FastTrack architect award. Just for the, just based on the numbers, I guess. 

[00:08:41] Neil Benson: Right. 

[00:08:41] Bruce Sithole: But 

[00:08:42] Neil Benson: So you think it's more impactful for your business? It's helping you get recognition and build credibility that helps you in a client engagement. 

[00:08:49] Bruce Sithole: To be honest, not as, not, not a hundred percent yet, like maybe I maybe I'm but the MVP program. For example, I love the community and all the connections there, and that's a lot more tightly knit that rather than the FastTrack, because even then I asked the team, cool, how do we engage? And they're like, no, no, we'll talk to you in in time. I'm like, oh, okay. So, no, not as an engaging in, in that sense, but also still I'm obviously access to the product team and, I'll try with all my strengths to hold onto both, but

[00:09:18] Neil Benson: Good. So the FastTrack is a annual award, so you have to be recognized each year. You have to go back in front of that panel and justify your existence. 

[00:09:26] Bruce Sithole: Exactly. Like, I didn't realize that part either. I was like, okay. So, you know, and, and this way also like a bit of a struggle on my end, you know, like trying to do three tracks: the MVP, FastTrack solution architect, and run a business, and family too. 

[00:09:42] Neil Benson: So you think that running a bigger business, it's going to get any easier. 

[00:09:45] Bruce Sithole: Well, that's the dream. That's what I keep telling myself. Oh, it'll get better. Surely. Yeah.

[00:09:50] Neil Benson: Good luck, I just hope you can hire an operations director or a CEO to run it for you. 

[00:09:56] Bruce Sithole: Yeah. That's what I've been thinking about, actually. You know, those like on a Sunday night, then back at it again. But it's been easy with a motivation when you're doing it for your own and like, it's different doing on the trenches and you're doing it for another partner and you're like, why am I doing 16 hours for a pat on the back or something. In terms of the future, I'm not a hundred percent certain on where we'll go but... 

[00:10:14] Neil Benson: I'd love to invite Microsoft partners and customers onto the show to discuss an amazing application that they've built for one of their customers and just coincidentally, I noticed on your LinkedIn feed a little while ago, you got some great kudos from a customer who said, I've got a quote, this one, "OMG, I love your new system. It's so easy to use. And it pre-populates nearly everything. I wish all the lenders systems were like this". So presumably that's a lending application you've built for someone in a financial services sector. 

I just wonder what it's like, what goes through your mind when you're designing and building and assembling a team and working with a client to build, you know, a really impactful business application. 

[00:10:57] Bruce Sithole: Sure. I'll touch on, on both of them a little bit. So the LinkedIn post you're referring to that was a solution based on Dynamics portals for a financial services company, we'll call them, Good Time Loans, for now. 

The company that's been around a while, you know, they bought other companies too previously. And was this essentially being disrupted, right? They were the top dogs a while back and, you know, the market changes be it, you know, with things like Afterpay coming in around and, you know, everyone wants to do FinTech and open banking and all these wonderful terminologies and platforms. So what we, I guess, looked at for this particular release, we just recently did was their customer's experience, right. They don't necessarily go direct to their customers for these loans. They go through a channel network. So it's obviously quite competitive and everyone else will be offering similar services. So our customers are like, well, who should I be using? You know, when should I give my customer to? 

So what we wanted was a process that was quick and easy for them to submit these applications with Good Time Loans and, because they obviously use Dynamics 365 Sales internally. So they run the opportunity pipelines in there. It made sense for us to look at Portals to provide that as the external capability for the customers to submit these applications. But also wanted to make it as slick as possible. And so investigated some of the web services available in Australia here for pre-population. So you could type in, for example, an ABN, which is an Australian Business Number, which is what all companies have to have if you're a legal entity or registered. And that, for example, confirmed when are you a registered, if you're still valid, your entity type, if you're a trust, if you're a company or a sole trader, but also behind the scenes, it also has key information about who the people are on the company, like who the directors are, their date of birth and the company address. So you can imagine if you just plug in one thing that their returns so much information and it's all kind of pre-populated so you just going next. So you just confirming the details, allowing you to change information if you need to. But it was a big effort because obviously there's still the existing platform or existing system in place, or, you know, rolling this out with, without disrupting the internal processes and yeah, that went live this past Thursday night. 

And then that kind of feedback came straight back, not obviously to us directly, but to the customer. And then who forwarded that feedback to us too. It was great validation on, on the focus on the solution. 

We went through a process we're getting like a focus group too get early feedback and iterative too. So we were like, let's deploy rather quickly, get early feedback and, you know, start with a small group, before scaling it out.

So right now this is only available to the existing customers who had access to an older, different portal. And so this week, it's just been making sure all the kinks are sorted out and so far it's been great. And then there there'll be a mass marketing exercise going out in the next few days to onboard more customers for them. So, which then brings more, you know, like, the challenge there is around ongoing support and things like that. And then our releases have to be more careful. Microsoft releases need to be a bit more mindful of external students and, yeah, good times.

[00:14:11] Neil Benson: You mentioned a couple of things there that really intrigued me. First of all, there was a Thursday night release.

I worked for an investment manager in London many, many years ago, and they launched everything into production on a Thursday night. And they selected Thursdays very deliberately because if anything went wrong and there was an issue, then on Friday, all the people in the business and all the people in IT were available to fix it.

And just as they were heading into the weekend, there was less customer activity on their platforms. So that was much better than doing things on a Friday night, when I remember the DBAs were always in the pub, and if things went wrong and we're heading into the weekend, nobody's available to help fix it. So you get dragging people into the office at the weekend was always a bad idea.

So was that a deliberate choice on your customer's part to do releases on a Thursday evening?

[00:15:00] Bruce Sithole: Yeah, similar, similar kind of approach where we'll get a bit of live production validation and testing and yeah. Buckle up if we need to on the weekend. But then coincidentally last Thursday that was like, They would like this actually going to be our busiest day. So I'm like, ah, okay. That wasn't part of the plan, but we had to roll with it. So, yeah, that's a hundred percent good approach or not what you just said there for those exact same reasons. 

[00:15:22] Neil Benson: Yeah. And then releasing iteratively, I guess if you're deploying a portal, you can select some customers to be able to log into your new portal. And that's quite a good way of controlling who's got access. 

I wish there was an easier way for us either in Power Apps or Dynamics 365 apps to be able to control the rollout of new features. That'd be great. I wish we had a feature flag that said, I only want users with a certain security role or in a certain business unit to be able to use this new feature. I think that would require probably quite a lot of engineering effort on Microsoft's part, but, you know, I wish that was easier in our applications.

[00:15:59] Bruce Sithole: Yeah, no, I agree there. Like the usual tricks we do is if it's tables let's just release it in the background, no security role, you know, we start like the integration and just monitor them. So we're having production information going to production, but no one's done the wiser. So for example, we, you know, integrated with Oracle and all the invoice in the ERP.

But then, then we turned on the lights, but yeah, to your point, you know, with portals and stuff like that, or other features, it's a bit harder to be that granular to govern that access. 

[00:16:27] Neil Benson: You mentioned the customer experiences. What they're trying to achieve was that the feedback that you got was, was that from one of your customer's customers or is that internally within your, from your customer itself?

[00:16:39] Bruce Sithole: The feedback was on from our customer's customers. Yeah, that, that actual, you know, the actual end person users who use the portals. And to be honest, the first time they see portals, it's like, can we change this? Like, you know, in terms of like the, the, the, the look and feel. So we, we also spend a lot of time on that changing the CSS and some of the navigation, a lot of it trying to do as like, custom coding as possible, obviously for maintainability and you know, when we leave the customer and hand it over to the internal teams.

But yeah, that was, yeah. We like also a guiding principle was it shouldn't need like a, a training guide or manual. It, it should be intuitive enough to say, go and get from A and get to D, you know, and flesh out any kind of issues there. So things like pre-populating, you know, typing in loan amounts, you know, having some of those commerce or formatting, you know, to make it a bit more readable.

So those are the things where we're in the trenches on, rather than things like. That's it right back to Dynamics or Dataverse those things, what kind of like 90 events. It was more about the, that user experience and yeah, we spend a lot of time there too.

[00:17:49] Neil Benson: So how do you balance that between a requirement that the customer thinks is absolutely necessary and that you know, is going to result in a lot of customization? How do you prevent your applications from being over engineered? They meet the customer's specific and complex requirements, but somebody going to have a hell of a time supporting and maintaining it, how do you make those trade-offs in your projects.

[00:18:11] Bruce Sithole: In my mind, it's kind of, we played back and say, this isn't configuration does not customization. And this isn't a little bit more effort here, but the sound is out of the box. You know, you explain those key components and it's essentially two weeks. Negotiated we'll say, look, if this comes up, we'll, we'll do it.

Let's put it on the backlog of phase two and then it never really comes up because it's not as big an issue as we suspect. But then sometimes where if it does occur where it's actually it isn't needed. We, then just make that awareness and we need kind of documented you for, in terms of some of the almost like the handover kind of guides and just added in there.

But again cause obviously portals itself, it's a completely diff like it's built on Dynamics or Dataverse, but it's also quite a different animal in itself. And then how things work with those lists and all those views and baking in the integration. Cause sometimes too, we had some BAs and who are more like working on the portal front-end or like trying to navigate and not really understanding how it ties to Dynamics.

And like, I want to click on this thing and not show me blank context or the one that's because of the data behind the scenes is it's bad or it's looking at a particular filter query. So that level of understanding to cause, well, what I'm finding it interesting currently is. A lot of our customers, it's, it's a bit of a, no, all of them, it's a hybrid model in terms of how we engage.

It's never just, you guys run the whole project completely. There's an element of there may have a PM there. And we fold into that team where maybe 50 50 in terms of the core project team. But yeah, I'm not finding. I don't know, maybe it's just us, but we were doing the full kind of like, here take complete ownership. A lot of customers also wanting to have that internal IP and capabilities, I believe.

[00:19:58] Neil Benson: Yeah. Yeah. I like that approach. I love to see my customers invest in their people too, training them in Dynamics 365 or Power Apps. And I love working alongside them, providing them with our knowledge and experience. I don't want to be there forever. I'm a consultant. I'm going to get onto the next project. So I just want to leave behind a system that's great, well supported and can be enhanced by my customer. I don't want to sit on a support call day after day trying to teach somebody how to fix it. So I think those blended or hybrid teams are a great approach. I do think some Microsoft customers, and a lot of Microsoft partners, seem to struggle with it. They would prefer a nice clean project where the partner's team is entirely in control and that they can manage the scope and the budget much easier that way. If there are new people with no previous experience that you have to train while you build, then that can make your schedule more unpredictable, I guess.

Do you prefer one approach over the other or do you find some customers prefer one approach? 

[00:20:57] Bruce Sithole: Well, I prefer the blended approach too, to be honest, like to those points you, you mentioned, and that ownership, they can take on an ownership too, of the, the solutions. But yeah, it's, it makes sense as a customer to, I'd be always almost recommending that they have that investment cause otherwise you'll have a complete dependency on, on a partner and that you don't always want to be there to flicking tickets down the track too. But there, there, there is a balance where obviously as consultants and as partners, we know new things or what they should be looking out for which customers can't really stay on top of, but again, that's more than a, an advisory kind of role and Hey, we should be thinking about this rather than no, I can't log in.

Or, you know, this user doesn't have a security role than me, you know, help you with that.

[00:21:43] Neil Benson: Thinking about that portals project that you just described, have you seen demand coming from your customers for classic Dynamics 365 apps, Power Portals, Power Apps, maybe canvas or model driven apps. Is there a particular trend or something that everybody's crying out for the moment or is it still a pretty steady across all those different parts of our portfolio?

[00:22:04] Bruce Sithole: What I'm noticing a lot of now is definitely Marketing. Even if you're just purely on Power Apps only, or, or with the first party apps Marketing is coming as a, we need this and more recently too, like these first party apps you know, Sales is getting a lot of, kind of traction with all the stuff Microsoft is doing in their, on, in with some of the models and features and capabilities with things like sequences, which are, it's almost like what playbooks used to be.

And some of those things where people just want to. I want everything online and it comes in and things get automated, you know, flick and set and forget. But and then, then that's the one end. And then there's natural end where they're like, Hey, Power Apps on our five bucks each or something like, we want to have those things to where that maturity level isn't quite there yet.

So to be honest, those are the three kind of areas. I, well, we've seen a lot of traction is like Marketing, Sales and also just, just Power Apps.

[00:23:00] Neil Benson: Yeah. Yeah. I've seen that a lot. I haven't done a Marketing project yet, but I see lots of my friends are busy deploying Dynamics 365 Marketing and Click Dimensions. I'm still doing a lot of Customer Service work in financial services and currently working on one in a government client building a lot of custom applications on Power Apps as well.

I haven't done a lot with canvas apps yet, I have to admit, but there seems to be a lot of people doing, doing that. I've noticed when I got my immunizations recently, my vaccine. All of the scheduling, it was done on a Power Portal. And then all of the administration in the clinic was all done in Power Apps. I could see the nursing staff were using Power Apps. So that was, that was great to see. Microsoft seems to be firing on all cylinders right now. It's it's right across the board.

[00:23:43] Bruce Sithole: Yeah. And it's even, yeah, across obviously all of Australia, like the the supply of work is. Steadying on it's thought things will taper off a little bit, but even, I think internally Microsoft are struggling with having their own internal capabilities so they trying to ramp up to, and get people up to speed internally to the solutions.

So, yeah, it's a thankful, it's a good space to be in. And there we'll see how it goes, I guess.

[00:24:07] Neil Benson: So what's your plan for growing your team, Bruce? You know, there's only a limited supply of people with a couple of years experience. Have you started hiring trainees or apprentices yet? Have you got to that stage? 

[00:24:17] Bruce Sithole: Yes, we worked with Microsoft and a local education company called MEGT that did this apprenticeship program where we hired a couple of their grads and they're with us four days a week. And one day they go back to TAFE and uni sorts of two year program would the idea that they finished their Cert level IV after two years, and then you can decide to bring them on board full-time or not. And it makes sense, right. They, they know that once you've spent an invested time with people for two years, you're a little more likely than not to say yes, please come on board full time, instead of trying to find someone else.

And yeah, it is, that is a, an approach where we're looking into, right. Because it's the same pool of people, especially too with all the restrictions currently right now. It was different when Sydney was open. And it's still finding customers still really appreciate people coming, not onsite permanently, but having to check in they'll come for a coffee or let's have a boardroom and then, go do your, your, your work remotely per se.

But, and then, so, cause, everyone was also talking about ideas about, you know, it can be completely remote, right. But it's also a bit different trying to have someone who's based in Perth or Adelaide, engaging completely with customers in Sydney or Melbourne. Right now, obviously that's all fine cause we're in lockdown and everything's totally remote, but in terms of access to different pools everyone knows my kind of network on the same kind of people and the same kind of people, all aspiring lap is everyone's kind of just fighting in that same space.

So it's kind of like when you need to be a bit more creative and invest in other areas, right?

[00:25:47] Neil Benson: Yeah. I'm really interested in the training program. I think it's a fantastic way of bringing new talent into our community. 

And I'm trying to get Microsoft here in Queensland. I'm working with a recruiter who works for a big global HR firm. He's got a bunch of Microsoft customers and partners who between them have probably got 20 vacancies that we get staff with trainees. I just need to get Microsoft here to help me, you know, get the program launched in Brisbane. So I might need to tap you out for some introductions to the folks who run that training program.

[00:26:15] Bruce Sithole: Yeah, I think they would love that. Yeah, if you can get those kinds of numbers in. I'm sure they'd be happy to help.

[00:26:21] Neil Benson: Yeah. Well, we could use hundreds. Well, twenty is just a small start, but you know, let's start there. If I could do that, 

[00:26:28] Bruce Sithole: Yeah. 

[00:26:28] Neil Benson: Right.

[00:26:28] Bruce Sithole: Yeah. It's an interesting approach. Well, there's two parts to it. I see. One is obviously the technical capabilities, but that's a lot of focus is on low code, no code. Right. But I'm interested in your thoughts here, too, is around, the, even the programs or the skillsets around things like being a good consultant, like is that to get people from a different line of business, not necessarily IT to get someone from who's coming from business or some other kind of line of work and then teach them the low code stuff. Cause that's relatively, I won't say easy, but you know that you can teach, but core analytical skills or consultancy skills, right? Those customer facing skills. That's totally different. And stereotypically, people let's say who are in hardcore coding don't necessarily want to do those types of that type of function.

[00:27:13] Neil Benson: Right. I think you're right. I think it's a blend of the, the Microsoft certifications give you some of those technical skills. And some people might come from a computer science background as well, be a bit more technical than that, but we also need to provide them with business analysis skills, project management skills, change management skills. How to be a great consultant, how to ask great questions, lead a room, facilitate a workshop, how to document things. So sort of some technical documentation skills, how to draw models and illustrations. There's a lot more to it than just, you know, getting your PL 900 Power Platform Fundamentals certification.

I think it probably does take a couple of years to be a good associate consultant, but it's, I think it's a worthwhile investment. 

[00:27:53] Bruce Sithole: Yeah, that is true. Yeah. 

[00:27:55] Neil Benson: So what's next for you, Bruce, you're busy with the FastTrack solution architecture work. You've got your MVP activity going on as well, a business to run and grow, a family to look after and grow as well. Any conferences or user groups or, you know, movie deals and new albums or books coming up?

[00:28:10] Bruce Sithole: No, the, my hands are pretty full at the moment. Neil. I only think I can. I'm possibly looking forward to is a bit of travel next year. And I don't know. Is there anything happening with MVP Summit? Is it, are they gonna venture on and open that up for.

[00:28:24] Neil Benson: Oh, I think, I think there's a good chance. I'd say maybe 50 50 at best. I'm more skeptical that we'll be allowed to leave Australia and get back in. 

[00:28:32] Bruce Sithole: Yeah, that is true. But yeah, I think it's all just for me, just buckling down for the rest of the year. It's only four months to go until four months till Christmas. And yeah, just riding this all out. Consolidate and then yeah, stretch out again next year.

[00:28:45] Neil Benson: So if people want to find out more about you, Bruce, and your work, where can they follow you? Where's the best place to reach you?

[00:28:51] Bruce Sithole: Probably LinkedIn. So this is Bruce Sithole, my full name, and I think that's the slug. I'm not as active as I used to be on Twitter, so yeah, follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. And it we'll go from there.

[00:29:02] Neil Benson: All right, Bruce. Well, thanks so much for spending some time with us on Amazing Applications. It's great to get your insight into what it takes to build an amazing application and all the other stuff we discussed around trainees and the FastTrack program. Thanks so much, really appreciate your time, Bruce.

[00:29:18] Bruce Sithole: My pleasure, Neil, when the time went by quickly. I