#133. Today’s guest is Michael Roth, a Power Platform consultant with Avanade who specializes in governance.
In this episode, Michael walks us through how he keeps business apps amazing by working on only the fun stuff, i.e., governance and licensing, and understanding how users experience tech, specifically Power Platform.
Michael also highlights the importance of governance and shares with us some of the biggest mistakes he sees organizations make when they don’t consider governance, what he would like to see Microsoft improve, and more.
[00:00:00] Michael Roth: What do you want to use the Power Platform for? Do you want this citizen developer movement? Do you want your IT department to develop quick wins and quick solutions with Power Apps, for example? Or do you want the whole package, like fusion teams and all of that? If you know where you're going with this, then it helps. If you know the goal, then you know — then you might have an idea of where to get or how to get there. So, this is something — why do you want to use Power Platform? That's the first question that I ask all my customers.
[00:00:29] Neil Benson: Welcome to Amazing Applications episode 133. This is Neil Benson from Customery. Thanks for joining me today. I really appreciate you for listening. I hope you enjoy the Amazing Apps Podcast, but even more than that, hope you find the show helpful for either learning something or being inspired to build your own amazing, agile Dynamics 365 and Power Platform apps. If you do, could you do me a favor and share a favorite episode either on LinkedIn or perhaps internally with your team? Scroll through the recent episodes and pick the one that you like the most. The episode number is the first thing in the show notes, and the URL for the episode is just amazingapps.show/episodenumber. For example, this is episode 133, so it's amazingapps.show/133. Sharing the show really helps the podcast to grow and helps me reach and help more business apps builders just like you and keep the show going.
[00:01:27] We're gonna meet a special guest, Michael Roth, in just a moment. First, I'd like to congratulate — Tirth J Upadhyay at Quartech; Stephen Maynard at Factor; Mike Pacy and Richard Ashby, both from Incremental Group. They've all completed my Scrum for Microsoft Business Apps course and achieved their professional Scrum Master certification with scrum.org. Well done and thanks for being part of Customery Academy. I really appreciate you. I'll add a link in the show notes if learning scrum and getting certified in applying successful scrum patterns for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform apps is part of your learning plan for 2023. I hope it is.
[00:02:05] Michael Roth is a colorful Power Platform consultant with Avanade and he's from Germany. He's been a Microsoft MVP since 2021. His specialty is Power Platform governance. So, in this episode, we dive into how to build amazing apps and keep them amazing by looking after them and supporting our community of app builders. Let's go, Michael.
[00:02:31] Michael Roth, welcome to the Amazing Applications Podcast. It's great to have you on all the way from Germany. I'm sitting here in sunny Brisbane. What time is it in Germany with you?
[00:02:40] Michael Roth: It's half past nine here.
[00:02:42] Neil Benson: Oh, wow. I really appreciate you coming onto the show. So, great to finally meet you. I've seen your profile, some of the community work that you've been doing all over LinkedIn and Twitter. Pretty recognizable with your beautiful blue head of hair. And you're doing some amazing work around governance, which we'd love to get into. But it'd be great just to let us hear your backstory — how'd you get into business applications and what you're doing today.
[00:03:04] Michael Roth: I will start with a quick introduction just to say what I do and maybe then that makes sense — what I do and why I do it. I'm a Business Apps MVP for I think one and a half years now and I work as something that's called manager and experience tech. And this is a title that's confusing on the one hand, but I kind of like it because I can morph it into anything that I want to, actually. And what I do with work with governance is I work with the Power Platform and I focus on only the fun stuff. This is governance and licensing. I think we can agree on that. And this is the whole thing. I try to work around the users, actually, and how they experience tech and how they experience the Power Platform and the local platform. That's what I do, I think.
[00:03:46] Neil Benson: And you've got an interesting background. You've got a master in arts, not a very traditional path into Business Applications. Tell me a little bit about your journey from being an art student to being a Business Applications MVP.
[00:03:58] Michael Roth: In university, I studied — I don't know the correct English term and I try to get it. Sometimes, I read the word "pedagogical science" or something like that or educational science, if you will. And there was a specific part that was focusing on some kind of consultancy, actually, that takes your educational science knowledge and puts it into consultancy, rather if you like support your customers in the educational sector like schools and preschools and all that or you take your knowledge around learning and people and humans and put them into the business world. And that's what I did. So, I started as a business consultant actually. And to be totally honest, I'm lazy as fuck. I'm sorry. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say that or use swear words, but I'm lazy. And, yeah. At some point in my career working as a change manager for mostly IT projects 'cause I like IT and tech because I'm lazy, I dipped my toe into Power Platform. And at some point, I built my first flow, which was a tea timer. Press a button. Three minutes later, I got reminded to put the teabag out of the cup. And that was actually the beginning.
[00:05:04] Neil Benson: So many times I've left my teabag stewing in the cup, yeah.
[00:05:07] Michael Roth: See? I'm solving real-world problems here. And, yeah. I think that's kind of the thing. From there, I tried to really dive head over heels into Power Apps and Power Automate and build things and it worked out okay, I guess. But then I kind of reconsidered what I'm actually good at, and this is talking to people and explaining things and connecting the dots. So, now, I'm focusing more on the governance part of Power Platform, do a lot of presales, and also the whole organizational implementation because many of my customers are — we have Power Apps now and we clicked. Now, we have apps. What now? What's next?
[00:05:47] Neil Benson: Yeah. And so, you're at Avanade in Germany. I noticed recently that Avanade, I know these numbers might change from time to time, but you've got 68 Microsoft MVPs at Avanade, which is amazing. And you were hoping for just one more. Is that right?
[00:06:00] Michael Roth: Yes, absolutely. 69 is a nice number. Well, but actually, I think there are some things going on right now, which I'm not supposed to talk about, but I think the number will increase pretty soon. We got some really nice names here in the line. And, yeah.
[00:06:17] Neil Benson: Avanade's obviously one of Microsoft's biggest global partners and it's wonderful that they're supporting so many of their team with their community activities. So, hats off to Avanade.
[00:06:26] Michael Roth: Yes, absolutely. They do that like with full hearts and I really like that.
[00:06:30] Neil Benson: Yeah, cool. So, I've got some customers who — my background is mostly Dynamics 365, and I've got customers building Dynamics apps, then they're building some Power apps. Then, long time later, thinking, oh, governance, holy smoke. We ought to do something. And I was wondering. Do you get many customers coming to you with governance first, thinking, we're gonna build out a Power Platform application portfolio, but we should really set off with the right foundations and think about governance first? Or are they all like my customers who think about governance sometime later when it's maybe too late?
[00:07:08] Michael Roth: So, you think there are people out there who think first and then act? That is nice. Faith in humanity. No, actually, I think I got this question a lot actually from every customer. They're like, we started already and now, oh shoot! Now, we have a governance thing going on. And I get asked a lot. Are we the only ones? No. All of my customers and really all of them built the first apps the first flows to see how it works, if it works, if it's something for them, and then they think about governance and organizational implementation and how to get like value out of it. So, your customers are definitely not alone. I'm still left to be surprised by my first customer who thinks about governance first.
[00:07:51] Neil Benson: Yeah. And the types of people that you're working with, are they system administrators, are they IT managers? Who are the types of people that typically think about governance? Is it the IT crowd? Or because we're building business applications, do they tend to be line of business managers that worry about governance?
[00:08:06] Michael Roth: I would say half and half. Half of them are actually from the IT departments, not necessarily administrator. Surprisingly, I hardly know anyone who identifies to themselves as an Power Platform admin because I think that role is kind of, you get this when you are in the wrong room at the wrong time and then you are a Power Platform admin or you are like the general admin and you do a little bit of Power Platform on the side, so something like that. So, that's one part. And the other part are actually people from business who just earned the role of platform owner or product owner or something like that and now, they have to consider it. But they only approach me and contact me when they got approached by IT security from their own organization. So, what is it what you're doing over there with Power Platform? So, if you consider security in governance, well, let me call someone.
[00:08:55] Neil Benson: Yeah. So, I get that quite a lot and a lot of my, particularly towards the end of my bigger projects, we get a lot of our work initiated by IT security, having a lot to do with penetration tests and shakedowns and all sorts of things. So, it's all good. You know, we have to be grown up, responsible adults and play nicely with other people's data. So, yeah. We try and follow some good secure practices. My preference is just to eliminate my production access for as long as possible and, you know, give it to as few people as possible as a starting point.
[00:09:25] Michael Roth: But let me just add one thing here. I think it sounds a bit like that governance is there to protect data. It is, yes. I often get that governance is received as something that shuts down possibilities and limits possibilities of people and users and makers. I think it's actually quite the opposite because you need to have some rules and basics and guidelines on how to work with Power Platform. Otherwise, you can be kind of lost. I always think about a traffic lost. If you ever travel to a different country and you drive a car there and you know all the, you have like streets and cars and bike lanes, that's fine. But you have so many rules that you're not fully aware of and you're a little bit lost and you're a little bit like, should I go here? Can I go left? Or something like that. And this is something good governance can actually enable makers and give them security and that's what I really like.
[00:10:17] Neil Benson: Yeah, a bit like drive safely.
[00:10:18] Michael Roth: Yes. But you can only drive safely if you know what to do and what not to do. And that's super important, actually.
[00:10:23] Neil Benson: And the customers that are thinking about governance interacting with you, do they tend to be large enterprises? I imagine Avanade's got a big portfolio of large enterprise customers. But I'm just wondering if governance is an important topic for organizations of all sizes in all industries? Or does there tend to be certain types of organizations that worry about it more than others?
[00:10:42] Michael Roth: Well, yes, Avanade has a focus on the large enterprise customers, obviously. And so, there are a lot of customers that I deal with. But before working with Avanade — and now, sometimes like as a side hustle, I work sometimes with NGOs, like really small organizations, like one person in the IT department or something. And especially smaller organizations, they benefit from governance point of view that they are secure. I think regardless of the size of the organization, everybody wants to be secure and wants their data to be secure, especially in Germany, you have like the worker councils and GDPR and all that, especially benefit from the, if you have like an idea how to work with Power Platform, like vision or something like that, and if you communicate that vision, that is always the core of the route where I start my governance journey. And that helps in particularly the small organizations because now, they have an idea what to focus on and what they can leave aside. Like small organizations don't need a really tricky compliance process or something. That is usually, that's too much for them. But if they know that, they can leave that aside and they can focus on what matters for them.
[00:11:42] Neil Benson: Yeah, okay. So, maybe you don't need six layers of approvals to get your app into productio, and you can streamline your processes, but you should have a process, right?
[00:11:51] Michael Roth: You should have a process. That always helps. Gives you structure and security. And, yeah.
[00:11:56] Neil Benson: What are the three big mistakes that you see organizations make where they haven't yet considered governance? You've come in. You've done maybe a quick scan of their environment. What are the top three things that stand out as, oh my goodness! How do they get themselves into this mess?
[00:12:10] Michael Roth: Oh, I would have some stories, actually. But I think I would focus around the things that I think are most important and that are not rather technical things. The first thing I just mentioned is the vision. What do you want to use the Power Platform for? Do you want this citizen developer movement? Do you want your IT department to develop quick wins and quick solutions with Power Apps, for example? Or do you want the whole package, like fusion teams and all of that? If you know where you're going with this, then it helps. If you know the goal, then you know — then you might have an idea of where to get or how to get there. So, this is something — why do you want to use Power Platform? That's the first question that I ask all my customers. Quite unusual, I guess, because most of them are like, oh, what? Because we have it in our seated M365 license. So, I think that's the first one. And the second one that follows is the mindset. Because I think the whole idea of a low-code platform and giving my users the possibility to work on their own flows, for example, or apps requires a I would say modern and flexible mindset because it breaks up silos and it breaks up boundaries of classical collaboration structures. And this can be scary not only for IT administrators but also for business owners, who say, do I want everyone to like mess around with my data? And it's difficult to shift a mindset, but I think since we are, our organizations are operating in a volatile and ever-changing environment, we need a flexible idea of modern collaboration, actually.
[00:13:37] Neil Benson: Yeah, that's something I need to work on. I think I'm stuck in the old school IT mindset. Oh, let me just hold onto this and protect it. I don't want citizen developers running amuck but.
[00:13:49] Michael Roth: You're not the only one. I'm as well.
[00:13:53] Neil Benson: But I've seen some beautiful really hyper-productive applications built by people, you know, in their job role 'cause they have an intimate understanding of what their team needs and what they don't need — something that development team might never have. That kind of intimacy with their business requirements and the challenges they face and the nuances of their business processes. So, I need to fix my mindset, I think.
[00:14:17] Michael Roth: I can send you a nice blog I wrote about that, like how to change the mindset and to get new ideas to get new goals. Anyway, my third tip, so to say, is the communication part. And when I come to customers and they started already on thinking about governance and implementing things, they have their tenant settings ready, they have data loss prevention policies in place, environment strategy, all that beautiful things. Okay. Did you document that somewhere? And we all know how much joy it is in writing documentation. But and some of them even say yes. And then I get an Excel spreadsheet with all the data loss prevention policies and all the connectors listed up. I said, okay. If I'm a maker in this organization and we have three environments, what can I do in the environments? Will you send me that Excel spreadsheet? They said yes. Okay. I wouldn't know what to do with it. So, if you have thought about governance, what to do with the Power Platform and what are the rules and whatnot, then you have to communicate it to the maker, obviously. And maybe at this point, I really would like to emphasize the Power Platform Community Hub that was published by Microsoft only recently.
[00:15:17] Neil Benson: It's quite a recent one, yeah.
[00:15:18] Michael Roth: Yeah. Basically, just a SharePoint collection template that you can deploy. And I really like that because that is some kind of opinionated guidance by Microsoft. And I have so many customers that see, oh, they published something. What is it? Then I tell them, I say, oh, it's communication. That's so important. Well, if Microsoft published the template for that, it seems to be important, so we should do that. And that is gold for my work, actually.
[00:15:43] Neil Benson: Yeah. I've noticed some quite a few developments recently and Microsoft publishing more adoption frameworks and community tools to help us with communication, to help us with design patterns. Some really good stuff coming, which is awesome I think. I wouldn't say it's been an area of neglect, but people like the Power CAT team have really taken some of these best practices and made it available to all Microsoft customers, which is wonderful. And I imagine you've got your own set of internal tools and best practices as well. One little thing that my teams do I think reasonably well, we go in, we start documenting our processes. Here's our release management process. Here's how we're going to take a set of customizations, wrap them up in a solution, store them in source control, and then release them into production. So, we're starting to document that kind of stuff and then document the environments. Our favorite tool we're doing all of that is just a wiki. Whatever wiki the customer already has that is easily accessible by us, by other Microsoft partners, by obviously all the internal staff as well, and much better than an Excel spreadsheet, which who knows if it's current or out of date. And it's, who's got a copy of it in their drawer, so to speak. Yeah.
[00:16:48] Michael Roth: Yes. Yeah, the old version thingy. In the end, I would say, doesn't matter the tool, actually. You can use Excel, but if it has to work, you have to like communicate what are your intentions, what are the rules, and how to work with this. And if you just center with spreadsheets with a lot of connectors, that doesn't help anyone, actually.
[00:17:05] Neil Benson: Yeah. I wanna talk about the Center of Excellence for a moment because I think of a Center of Excellence as a group of people who are sharing best practices, discussing their environment strategy or their data loss prevention policies. It seems to be a trend. People think of a Center of Excellence now as a toolkit because there is a starter toolkit available that's labeled as Center of Excellence. I think the concepts are becoming confused a little bit. How do you think of a Center of Excellence?
[00:17:30] Michael Roth: A center of excellence or the Center of Excellence starter kit?
[00:17:32] Neil Benson: Right, so they're different. That's the challenge.
[00:17:36] Michael Roth: Yes, yes. Two things, yeah. So, center of excellence like group of people coming together sharing things, best practices and knowledge — I love it. I think that's something that I've experienced actually at quite a lot of employees and workplaces. And I really think this is basically the community idea. Like if I know something great, then I share it with others and they build on top of that and then something amazing happens. I love this. So, yeah. And I can see why the Center of Excellence starter kit is actually named that way because they are collecting best practices and tools that you should at least consider and share it basically for free, which is great, but it's easily confused and I think the naming doesn't really help all the time. I'm a huge fan of the Power CAT team and the Center of Excellence starter kit is something I constantly talk about and constantly work with.
[00:18:20] Neil Benson: Good. So, tell us about some of the latest features in there. I try to keep up with it, but I'm sure you're much closer to it than I am.
[00:18:26] Michael Roth: I think the latest feature that I saw were a video app where you have a canvas app that lets you store videos from external sources like YouTube. Or if you have Stream, you can use your own for like sharing videos, for example, Power Apps or Automate, which is nice. We have like a little rating feature, thumbs up, comments, and stuff like that. So, a little mini YouTube, but built on Power Platform for your organization. This is really nice.
[00:18:53] Neil Benson: Those could be internal videos or externally hosted videos?
[00:18:57] Michael Roth: Yes.
[00:18:57] Neil Benson: Okay. Gotcha.
[00:18:58] Michael Roth: Yes, both of them. Yeah, that's really great. So, if you have internal videos, great. You can use them. If you just want, I don't know, the latest videos of a YouTuber you follow for Power Apps, you can put it in there as well. So, this is really great. What I really like and what I really would like to work on myself is the admin task tool, I think it's called. It's basically a model-driven app that lets you build a work schedule for the Power Platform administrator. So, all the things that you need to do on a regular basis or every month or something like that, you can build it. I'm not a huge fan of model-driven apps, actually, 'cause I'm a huge UX/UI fan and I think —
[00:19:33] Neil Benson: Oh, arrow through my heart.
[00:19:36] Michael Roth: I'm so sorry. But I like the idea actually that because Power Platform administrator isn't a job that you do as a site job or something. This is like a full-time job, and even better if you have a whole team. And to get yourself or the team organized, an app is helpful and they have like pre-considered tasks that you have to do. And I really think that helps and I kind of wanna work with it a bit and to see where it can go and create, I don't know, something like a schedule where I can see the like a week for example and to see when are my tasks due, what do I need to do, deleting environments, and adding users to new environments — all this kind of stuff.
[00:20:14] Neil Benson: It's really odd because I would've thought Azure DevOps is a natural environment for those kind of operational tasks. Azure DevOps doesn't have recurring tasks. It's a missing feature. Like from an operations point of view, that's a big gap. It's got lots of great functionality for developers, you know. Operations people? Not so much. It's got some way to go.
[00:20:34] Michael Roth: Yeah. I think, too, I can't talk too much about DevOps because I've hardly used it, which is a shame. I think it is — just from reading the description and seeing videos — I think it's great for ops. Haven't used it too much myself.
[00:20:47] Neil Benson: Right, okay. Does canvas apps know to help administrators manage their recurring tasks, their weekly schedules and things?
[00:20:53] Michael Roth: Not yet. So, the Power CAT team released a model-driven app for that. And it's just me that I'm, have difficulties with working with model-driven apps.
[00:21:04] Neil Benson: Well, that's because you're an artist. You've got a base of UX experience and skills that I just don't have. So, if I was to design a canvas app, it would end up looking terrible and unusable and I'd have to put a lot of emotional energy into trying to make it functional whereas I can just roll a model-driven app and not worry too much, you know, the on the grids and forms, they're all given to me. I can just adopt the fluent UI and not have to worry too much about it.
[00:21:29] Michael Roth: See, I come from this M365 background and SharePoint, so that was obviously my first data source. So, canvas app was like the natural first thing for me. But there's one feature that got released recently, but maybe I would like to, not really recently, but the Managed Environments. I think they get talked a lot about because there are kind of okay-ish features in there, but the whole downside of is it in every environment that you install it, every user requires a premium license and this is a huge showstopper for many of my customers. And I work with a lot of customers to rebuild the functionality just on the base of SharePoint, which works great. So, I'm still excited to see what they're, where they're going with that.
[00:22:10] Neil Benson: So, what are the benefits of Managed Environments that customers would love to adopt but can't because of the licensing snafu? What are the main reasons why they wanted to use them?
[00:22:20] Michael Roth: I think the core feature, which I really like is that you can limit the sharing capabilities of Power Apps. Like if you say, I have an app and please alert me or please set a limitation to share with not more than 10 people or five people or something like that because as an administrator, I would like to have an idea of what's going on in my environments and which apps are like really, really useful for a lot of people. If it's an app that deals with critical business-related data, then I would like to know who's working with it. Other way around it, if an app is used by 30, 40 people, then maybe that's a great app. Maybe we should share. We should talk about it. So, this is a nice feature. But on the other hand, you can build that functionality yourself that works.
[00:23:05] Neil Benson: Do you think Microsoft's gonna reconsider the licensing position that, you know, they have done in the past for other parts of the Power Platform?
[00:23:11] Michael Roth: Yeah. I don't know. But I think there is a lot of things going on with licensing lately. Power Pages got the known licensing model and I've seen a lot of communication around everything that is in between Power Apps and Power Automate. Like you don't need a Power Automate license and a lone license if it gets triggered from within the context of an app and the context of an app is actually whatever that means. And I just got this nice quote from somebody working at Microsoft for the Power Platform: “It's within the spiriting of the licensing guide.” So, because the licensing guide is not a legal binding document, but it has to be in the spirit of the licensing guide. And that sounds, I don't know. So, there's movement in the licensing sector right now. So, don't know where it's going.
[00:23:58] Neil Benson: Thank you. I take exactly the same position. It's a licensing guide. It's not an agreement. It's not a contract. I haven't signed it. It's additional advice from Microsoft about how to apply the terms and conditions of the licensing agreement that you've agreed to. But it's just a guide.
[00:24:15] Michael Roth: Yeah. Just a guide.
[00:24:17] Neil Benson: Yeah. There's so many apps now in the Platform and, you know, the way that they're all licensed is slightly different and there's lots of different ways of interpreting things. So, it is good to have some guidance as to what is permissible and what's not. But, yeah. Sometimes we have to get a little bit creative, go back to our friends at Microsoft, consult with their commercial teams to find out, you know, is this scenario within the limits or outside, and go from there.
[00:24:41] Michael Roth: Yeah, exactly. That helps. Like communication, talking to people helps.
[00:24:46] Neil Benson: So, have you, do you see much demand for Power Apps customers adopting Power Pages and building external-facing portals? Is that something that customers are doing?
[00:24:54] Michael Roth: Not really, in my experience only. I've seen a lot of use cases where customers or people from Microsoft approached me and said, hey, this would be an nice use case for Pages. And with a, when we look further into it, we realized, no, it's not. I still struggle to find good use cases actually, which are valuable for the licensing price, but that just reworked it. So, I'm not sure if I'm up to date with the last prices or latest prices. Haven't used Pages as much as I would like to.
[00:25:23] Neil Benson: Okay. I do see quite a lot of demand from my customers. And one that I'm working with at the moment has just deployed a partner application built on Pages. Works really well. I've seen others where they've maybe got an enterprise content management system. They're using Adobe Experience Manager or Sitecore. And so, they wanna stick with that technology and just call the dataverse APIs and retrieve data and create records and things. I think Pages fits a nice gap there in the middle. I've got one customer who didn't like the user interface restrictions of Pages. Wanted to build a really nice externally-facing application. So, they built it on a canvas app and then licensed all of their external users with a per-month per-user license. And that's worked really well. The license fees are a little bit more expensive, but this customer has been able to build the user experience that they were really looking for on the Canvas platform. So, works really well. There's lots of options.
[00:26:17] Michael Roth: Yeah. That is the point. I really like the whole range of the Platform gets extended by Pages by a lot. And just because I don't have use cases or customers yet doesn't mean that isn't a good product. So, I just didn't have the chance to play around with it as much as I like because usually, if you like experience new products, that happens for me at least in the range of a project and not necessarily in my free time. I play with the old products in my free time.
[00:26:44] Neil Benson: If you were in charge of Microsoft, what would you be working on next? What would you invest your development resources — in enhancing, improving, or building something new?
[00:26:52] Michael Roth: Oh, first of all, I don't want to be in charge of Microsoft at all. This is not my kind of job. But what I would really love to see would be something that I don't use but I've seen the demand for that a lot and that is when developers or makers can — I think Microsoft just announced something like the co-developing experience that more than one people can work on one Power App. I don't know how they solved it yet. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm really excited because that's the first thing that I hear from Code First developers a lot. Like this is a limitation that really, really would be nice to solve, I think.
[00:27:30] Neil Benson: Yeah. My team, we spend a lot of time — so, we have our daily scrums in the morning. A lot of that is focusing on who's doing what so, you know, we don't clash with each other for the rest of the day, at least. It takes a little bit of coordination. So, I'm really interested to see how Microsoft's solving it. We've got additional challenges that some of my projects, I'm working with other teams from other Microsoft partners, so the same dataverse environment but completely different applications. We just have the same data model underneath, so that's even more coordination. That's gonna be really exciting. Some tough problems to solve.
[00:28:00] Michael Roth: Absolutely. And I'm really impressed every time I hear somebody talk about GitHub and the whole open source thing that's going on there and how many people can contribute at one thing and they merge code and I don't get it really. I try. I really try. But I think this is amazing. The whole concept around this is actually, it's above my mind, but it's great.
[00:28:23] Neil Benson: That's, I think it's a really tough position for Microsoft. They've got a massive community of professional developers who rely on, you know, GitHub and Source Control and Azure DevOps and integrated development environments and Visual Studio and all that stuff. And they need to keep going faster and build more creative and solve bigger, harder problems. And we've gotta bring along this community of fusion teams and then citizen developers who — I've never thought of Source Control. I've never thought, you know, they want to develop in production and don't understand why they have to go through this DevTest cycle, you know? Two very polar opposite audiences to try and please at once. Microsoft's doing okay on both fronts, I think, but it's gonna be a long time before everybody can be happy.
[00:29:06] Michael Roth: It's still a journey, yes. But I think they're doing quite okay, yes.
[00:29:09] Neil Benson: Do you see a lot of customers with this idea of a fusion team where we have app makers who are, you know, maybe line of business people working alongside professional developers?
[00:29:20] Michael Roth: Lately, I hardly do, actually. I see such fusion teams at Avanade, which I really like. I think it's great. But I think my latest projects, which weren't focused on governance were around a challenge where the customer says, okay, this is a cool platform project and we should do that. And when I come in as a solution architect, for example, and we build the whole architecture and then we realize this isn't the Power Platform project at all. And I think often it's Power Platform is still a huge buzzword for many customers. Like this is what the cool kids are doing. I want to do this as well, which is nice. I really like that. And often when customers approach me and they say like, this is what we want. Can we do those Power Apps? And even when I say, yes, that's possible, they want me or my team to develop it. And then they just wanted to deploy it. And then I ask, are you going to work on that app by yourself? Nope. Do you want to customize it or enhance it? Nope. So, why should we use low-code then?
[00:30:20] Neil Benson: I've got exactly the same debate going on with a couple of my customers.
[00:30:23] Michael Roth: Yeah. I mean, I have a whole team of devs and they're cool with Power Platform but with any other language as well. So, why should they use, like limit themselves with low code when the customer doesn't want to work on the app anyway? So, I don't get that.
[00:30:36] Neil Benson: Yeah. I'm gonna pass it over to you and hope for your support team to be able to maintain it and extend it and look after it.
[00:30:42] Michael Roth: We can do that, but that's actually quite expensive.
[00:30:44] Neil Benson: Yeah. I've got the same debates raging with my customers at the moment. Yeah, we want you to take a low-code approach first. Okay. Who within your organization is going to extend it or look after it once we're done? Oh, no. We're gonna hire a manage service partner to do that for us. Okay. Well, maybe a Code First strategy, which is often quicker to build, easier to maintain is more appropriate. But we have to fight that fight.
[00:31:08] Michael Roth: Yes, absolutely. But I think that's something that Microsoft should consider in the near future, like how they build their marketing around Power Platform. Because I think many customers still don't get the idea, or at least the idea that I have for Power Platform, and why they should use it. Like we could use it instead of some Code First development. But I think the real power of the platform lies within the citizen developer part that you have. In your seated license, you have like the opportunity to build flows and apps and whatnot, but everybody can do that. And this really brings value because the more small solutions you have but they solve real case issues, like with my tea bag. This is something that made my life easier and I didn't need like a whole dev team or something. But those processes there that you have like, I don't know, sorting files in a SharePoint library or like an approval process if I want to go on holiday or something like that. Those processes you have, they take time and they're being done manually and that doesn't make any sense. And those are my most favorite Power Platform projects because you can have a lot of them. We have lots of those processes that we do since forever. And that is the mindset that needs to happen. We can look at those projects and don't necessarily gather the new ones, but we should modernize our whole organization.
[00:32:31] Neil Benson: Yeah. It's funny I'm just thinking about some of those old processes. Walking into a new customer environment, we're there to build quite a sophisticated Dynamics 365 application with lots of Power Platform components. And they say, okay, first thing you need to do is apply for a building pass so you can come up in the elevator and get into the office and you need a government ID. So, two application processes, both initiated on a Adobe PDF form that require a physical signature but I can't print it out 'cause I don't have a, the access pass is needed at the printer, to secure a printer. So, I have to fill in the form, email it to somebody, they print it, then I sign it, then I scan it back in and email it. Ah, jeepers. It's just — okay, I've just discovered my next project at this organization once we finish this mission-critical Dynamics application.
[00:33:19] Michael Roth: Perfect example. I love it.
[00:33:21] Neil Benson: Those old processes that are initiated with a web form or an Adobe form or an Excel spreadsheet that looks like a form. Yeah, let's fix all of those.
[00:33:31] Michael Roth: Yeah, and I have the Excel underscore one, underscore final, underscore final one. I have this version. Is this the current version? I don't know. But and then if you have like the whole workforce equipped with Power Apps or Power Automate and they get the basic idea and the basic training for that and they can apply this knowledge to those processes, that would be amazing. What then real benefits actually are possible and I really love this situation when it may click, ah-ha! That's what we're gonna use it for. Love it.
[00:34:01] Neil Benson: Yeah. Do you see any larger customers that have competing platforms? They've got the Microsoft Power Platform and some other, you know, low-code/no-code productivity platform there as well? Or do customers, you know, generally, approach you because they're just a Power Platform?
[00:34:18] Michael Roth: I know there are other local platforms, but I couldn't name one of them. I know I should maybe because I should like get a broader mindset and see what's out there and not solely focus on Microsoft but don't have time for that.
[00:34:34] Neil Benson: Fair enough.
[00:34:35] Michael Roth: I'm too busy building Power Platform projects.
[00:34:38] Neil Benson: I'd see a few customers with a little bit of adoption of something else. And they're, they'll come to me and say, well, can you help us do an evaluation? Or can you help us understand the strengths and weaknesses of the Power Platform versus this other one? It's a little hard because obviously I don't have any experience of the other platform that they've got, and I'm not exactly the most independent judge in the world. So, I can only speak for the one I love. But, yes. Interesting to see some others emerge.
[00:35:02] Michael Roth: As we're speaking of it, I just have a customer with a project right now going on and they had a different local platform and they built an app, but it didn't work. Kind of worked but they had very hard limitations on how to design the canvas. And they have this assembly line for quality management and it didn't work too well. And, yeah. Now, we are rebuilding the whole thing with Power Platform.
[00:35:25] Neil Benson: Okay, alright. Lesson learned. It's a shame you can't remember the name of the competitor. We'd name them and shame them here on the show.
[00:35:34] Michael Roth: Yeah, yeah. But I don't remember. I'll have to look it up.
[00:35:38] Neil Benson: So, Michael, before we let you go, I do wanna discuss your amazing style. Tell me a little bit about the hair color. Is that a natural hair color? Have you had some enhancement done? Tell me what's going on there? It's amazing.
[00:35:53] Michael Roth: Well, thanks.
[00:35:54] Neil Benson: And the nails, too.
[00:35:56] Michael Roth: Yes, yes. I've painted nails since like a couple of years. This is not my natural hair color. I dyed my hair, obviously. No, I don't know. I think at some point, I realized that I don't wanna grow up. I like blue or many colors, actually. So, I think why not? And actually, when I was younger I had quite long hair like to my waist or something. And then I didn't want to do anything with my hair because it took so long to grow it. And now, I have short hair and I think why not? If I don't like it, I can just shave it off and try something new just to experiment with things. And the thing with the nails is actually I got two little kids, two daughters. And I think when they were young, I realized that when you're reading children's books and you have the classical gender roles, like the doctor and the nurse or the male doctor and the female nurse and the same with lawyers and with craftsman and all this thing and I don't like that. And I want my girls to grow up with the idea they can become anything they like and it doesn't matter how somebody look. And that doesn't define anything. So, I said talking is one thing, but acting is another. So, I paint my nails and we have regular like nail polishing parties together and they like it. And I actually like to be on the playground with them and other kids approached me. You have painted nails. I said, yes, I know. And blue hair? Yes. Why? Of course, I like it. But you're a daddy. Yes, I am. My daddy doesn't do that. But maybe he should or maybe he shouldn't. I don't know. Do what you like and what feels good. So, yeah.
[00:37:31] Neil Benson: It's funny. I have two daughters as well. I have an older son and then two little girls and they would love to paint my nails and try their latest lipstick shades on me. So, maybe I should just say yes and go for it and record for videos.
[00:37:44] Michael Roth: Yes, absolutely. Yeah.
[00:37:47] Neil Benson: Alright. Great. I do love your idea of exploring all kinds of different professions and roles for women and girls that there are still far too many gender stereotypes. My wife and I are constantly battling against that and trying to bring up girls that have endless possibilities. There's still a lot of pressure and they still love playing with dolls and falling back into those little girl stereotypes, and that's okay if that's their choice. I just don't want them to be limited so.
[00:38:14] Michael Roth: Yeah. If they have the choice and they still choose to like perform things that are considered to be dressing pink or something, if they enjoy it, that's just fine. But especially in our tech world, I think it's very, very necessary that we like open up the mind and get rid of these old structures and old ideas and old gender roles and stereotypes. And I think women have it difficult in the tech world and I think that's not fair.
[00:38:41] Neil Benson: Yeah. We've seen far too many cases of that, of this, the, yeah, the comments and the abuse and the approaches that the women in our profession, in our community get. And we've got a long way to go to solve some of those issues.
[00:38:53] Michael Roth: Absolutely, yes. Still a long way.
[00:38:55] Neil Benson: Yeah, cool. Well, on that happy note, wow! Is there anything else, Michael, that I should have asked you that you'd love to express an opinion on or share with the audience?
[00:39:02] Michael Roth: Oh, I can talk all day long actually, but I think we covered my main areas, actually — the governance, maybe unusual background. I didn't talk too much about tech but about mindset and change and all that and a little bit about feminism. Yep. That are the important parts.
[00:39:23] Neil Benson: I noticed on your Twitter profile. "Feminism" is the second word you used to describe yourself — a feminist, actually. Yeah, amazing.
[00:39:29] Michael Roth: Trying to become better. I have like the situations where I'm stuck in an old mindset and I'm still stuck to old structures because I grew up in such a world and I am a white cis male, so yeah. I'm trying to make up my mind to see inequality and then stand up against it. Not always successful but I'm trying my best
[00:39:49] Neil Benson: Very good. So, apart from your Twitter profile, which is @michaelroth42, how else can people follow you and tag along in your content and find out what you've got going on?
[00:39:59] Michael Roth: MichaelRoth42 is actually the baseline for everything. This is the end of my LinkedIn profile as well. So, Twitter, LinkedIn. And I have a blog, www.michaelroth42.com, where I mainly blog about Power Platform governance and I have a whole series on governance, how to get started and all this. Yes, michaelroth42 is the tech that works.
[00:40:18] Neil Benson: Are you gonna change all those handles whenever you grow up and eventually become 43?
[00:40:23] Michael Roth: I'm not even 24 yet. 42. 42. So, this is just the Douglas Adams reference to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
[00:40:31] Neil Benson: Yeah. Meaning of the universe.
[00:40:33] Michael Roth: Yes, exactly.
[00:40:34] Neil Benson: Yeah. Very good. Very good. Okay, well, with that, Michael, thanks so much for coming on and joining me on the Amazing Applications Podcast. It's been a lot of fun chatting with you. All the best. Thanks very much.
[00:40:44] Michael Roth: Have a nice afternoon.
[00:40:49] Neil Benson: Thanks, Michael, for joining me on Amazing Applications today. Visit amazingapps.show/133 and you'll find links to Michael's social sites, which are all MichaelRoth42. If you enjoyed the lesson that Michael shared with us about Power Platform governance, please remember to comment on this episode on LinkedIn. You ll find it on the Customery company page. Follow that page, comment on this episode's post, and share it with your connections. Michael and I would really appreciate it. In the next episode, you'll find out whether I'm beginning to hate scrum. And I've got another guest for you in the episode after that. Until then, keep sprinting.