A Peek Behind the Convergence Eval Curtain – Follow Up

April 21, 2011

MVP Mark Polino just released a really nice post about what goes on behind the speaker’s curtain – see Convergence 2011: A Peek Behind the Eval Curtain. I thought I would pick up where he left with my own insight on the subject.

Let’s start by saying that Microsoft Dynamics Convergence is the biggest stage on the planet for us speakers and presenters in the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM world. The amount of time that goes into preparing our sessions, assembling presentations, handouts, and demos, and making sure we are ready by the time the event actually happens is ginormous. In our case (David and I) it’s at the tune of more than 3 months and with a 12-hour difference – we are invited more than 6 months in advance, IF and when we get invited. For those of you who think we just show up on stage, there is no such thing. We actually have to earn our stripes to be in front of you every year.

So how do we earn our stripes you may ask?

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is to introduce topics that are always relevant to the community or act upon the ones that are requested by you. In our case, there’s been much interest in the Support Debugging Tool and Development Tools for the past 3 years now (if you also consider the Microsoft Dynamics GP Technical Conference), that we have become the defacto presenters for these tracks.

The second thing is to make sure that we can actually deliver… and here comes the catch 22. Delivery can only be measured by your evaluations. So it takes A LOT of convincing, a lot of good ol’ politics (in the good sense), and a good track record with the Microsoft Dynamics community to get on stage the first time around.

Once selected as speakers, we begin working on our presentations for the event. I have to be honest here… David and I always look forward to beat Mark Polino and become The Number One Microsoft Dynamics GP session and the top Convergence session, if at all possible. So yes, 1/100 of a point does count in that pursuit.

As Mark mentioned in his post, this is all in good spirit and the only one benefitting from this fierce competition is you, the attendee. Now, take our collective competitiveness and multiply it times 120. That’s how many other speakers and presenters are looking to beat everyone else across all 4 products + CRM. Every single one of us walks into the speaker room just hoping to see our names in the top 10 sessions of the ENTIRE event. Yes, those fancy flat screens are not there to catch up on Days of Our Lives, but rather to see how we are doing overall.

Speaker Room

Like Mark, we strive not only to deliver good presentations, but to hear back from you. Hearing back from you allows us to correct, fine tune, adjust, make changes for IF and when we are invited again. So your comments are important. Here are some of the ones that bring joy to our lives and relieve some of the stress:

“Excellent beyond excellent. Great dynamic between the presenters and the info was beyond useful, wish I would have had this 6 months ago on a project. Thanks for this class!”

“These two should go On Tour………..at first you get worried that their comedy act will delay getting the facts out but somehow they manage to not only give you what you need but even more before the session expires. EXCELLENT”

We don’t know who you are, but you sure know who you are, so if you are reading this thank you, thank you, thank you for your input.

We also suffer from the odd comments that makes us scratch our heads too:

“Too much information trying to be pushed out for the time allotted. Speaker talked the whole time while going through slide and the demos were just screen shots no real demos.”

Too much information? Talk through slides? Demos were screen shots? If you are familiar with David and I, you will probably know by now that we only used a summary version of our 150+ presentation slide deck and love to deliver lots of information and demos instead. This is why you paid money to come to the event to begin with! So buddy, there’s no such thing as too much information when it comes to Convergence.

We also tend to get the one comment that makes us do what we do even more and better:

“I know many people like these presenters, but personally I find them to be a bit over-the-top and too much in love with themselves. They obviously know their stuff, but their ego’s get in the way of me enjoying the session to be honest.”

I have never (ever) claimed to not have an ego and much less not being in love with myself – ask David or Michael Johnson! Yes, if you want to be on THIS KIND of stage and perform at this level you do have to know your stuff and I am frankly not ashame of either. Attendees want to know that you are a confident person who they can come up to and ask a question that have been tormenting them for months, but better yet, they want to know that they can get an answer on the spot.

That’s why I am invited in the first place, but then again, comments like these are very far and in-between.

As for the ego part, the next time you see us, don’t be surprised if we are being chauffeured in a limo to our session room. Did I mention Microsoft putting us up in the presidential suite at the Ritz Carlton?

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP
IntellPartners, LLC


>Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Wrap up

April 17, 2011


Well, another year, another Microsoft Dynamics Convergence, my birthday is past, and David is now home. It’s amazing to think just a few days aback David and I were hosting a GPUG session and presenting 2 topics over 3 days, and all the work that went in to making our sessions a success – thanks to all of you who attended!

As is customary, this post will provide a summary of (most) links where you can find information on Convergence just in case you were not able to attend the event or miss any of the previous posts. So let’s get started:

The Dynamics GP Blogster (this site):

Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Day -4
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Day -3 & -2
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Day -1
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: GPUG DayONE
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: General Reception
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Day 2 morning
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Day 2 afternoon
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Day 3
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Day 4 Morning Closing Session
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Houston 2012: Day 4 Morning Closing Session
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Day 4 Morning Closing Session (Cont.)
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Day 4 afternoon
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Evals Reminder
Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Presentation Materials

Also, keep tuned to The Dynamics GP Blogster on Facebook for more pictures around Convergence that did not make it to the blog.

Developing for Dynamics GP (David’s site):

Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Getting There
Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Preparation
Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Day 1
Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Day 1 cont.
Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Day 2
Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Day 2 cont.
Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Day 3
Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Day 4
Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Day 4 Guest Speaker
Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Day 4 cont.
Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Getting Home
Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta – Wrap Up

The good thing is, most of the blogging community was present at Convergence and had an opportunity to capture some of their experiences too:

Belinda, The GP CSI (Belinda Allen)

DynamicAccounting.net (MVP Mark Polino)

The Dynamics Confessor (MVP Leslie Vail)

Dynamics GP Land (Christina Phillips & Steve Endow)

gp2themax (MVP Frank Hamelly)

The Virtual Convergence site is up and you can now relive and download the presentations you attended.  I know I did not attend a lot of the sessions that I would have liked to attend, so I will spend a few days going through these.
Microsoft Dynamics Virtual Convergence Atlanta 2011
Finally, there are a few things at Convergence you just don’t do, dancing being one of them – see Dwight Specht’s post, Don’t dance at Convergence for clear examples as to why this is a bad idea. However, I have to say that my cohorst David Musgrave has the moves. Thanks to MVP Leslie Vail and Sheila Jefferson-Ross we now get a window into David’s abilities. This video should be going viral pretty soon.
See you all at Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Houston 2012!

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP
IntellPartners, LLC

>Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Presentation Materials

April 17, 2011


The materials for our presentations are now available for download. Click the link for each session to retrieve the zip files containing all the summary slides (used to present), the extended slide decks, and the Microsoft Word documents detailing each topic presented. Remember… we worked really hard to provide the samples and documentation included with our sessions. If you have any comments on the materials, please feel free to add them to this post.

The Learning Resources page on this site has been updated to include these presentations too.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP
IntellPartners, LLC

>Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Evals Reminder

April 15, 2011


Hope you had a great time at Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011 and that you made it home safely. Now that you have had some time to catch up on your emails, please visit the Convergence website to fill out the evaluation forms. Your input is the only venue we have as presenters to improve our content and delivery.

Remember that Convergence is also helping the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta (YEA) organization by donating $5 USD for each form submitted.

Eval Reminder slide

Also, if there’s any topic you would like to see included in future Convergence events, please include in your overall event eval.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP
IntellPartners, LLC

>Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Day 4 afternoon

April 14, 2011


Day 4: April 13, 2011

After the awesome closing speach by Malcolm Gladwell and the interactive discussion session on Security, we came across Pam Misialek, who was just out of a meeting and also on her way to lunch. .

Mariano Gomez and Pam Misialek

Little after catching up with Pam, we saw John Lowther walking down the corridor and caught up with him as well. As you can expect, we all were dragging feet by then, but managed to keep up the good spirit for the rest of the afternoon.

Mariano Gomez, Pam Misialek, David Musgrave, John Lowther

On our way to the Meal Hall, we stopped to say hi to Greg Willson and Patrick Roth who were manning Support in the Community and Learning Center area. We also ran into fellow blogger Yulia Smotrova and MVP Leslie Vail. Yulia was on her way out to the airport to grab her flight to New York City.

David Musgrave, Yulia Smotrova, Mariano Gomez, Leslie Vail, Greg Willson

After lunch, David and I were quick to the Sydney Marcus Auditorium to see fellow MVP Mark Polino presenting his session, CSGP06-R2 Getting More Out of Microsoft Dynamics GP: 50 tips in 50 minutes. I have to say I truly enjoyed Mark’s session as there are still these little things that escape me, even working with the product for so many years.

MVP Mark Polino

Next, we returned to the Community and Learning Center to decompress for a bit before our session. The hour break went by pretty quick. I had a chance to catch up with fellow IntellPartners’, CEO Ted Mauldin who was talking to a few people.

The break was short lived with David and I having to go to room A-305 for our session, CSGP014-R2 Administering Microsoft Dynamics GP Like a Pro with the Support Debugging Tool. We opened our session with a number of songs being played off David’s laptop. This was a good starting point as many attendees were already on their last ounce of energy.

The session began with our (now) traditional introductions. From there on, everything went very well, managing to keep people awake, though I have to admit we were both dragging feet as well. For all of you who sticked it out until the end, David and I truly appreciate your kind words and support.

The professors at work (and having fun!)

The session ended on time, but we still managed to spend the next 15 minutes answering questions, despite being completely drained.

Q&A – way past our session’s time

We made plans to go to dinner at the Omni Hotel. On my way there, I caught up with the eOne Integrated Business Solutions team from Australia. These dudes also looked like they could use some sleep themselves. Low and behold, there was Pam Misialek too! We all discussed briefly the outcome of our ran through Convergence and said our goodbyes.

The eOne Solutions Team crashing after a long week (and Pam Misialek, but this is not what you are thinking)

After a couple drinks at the bar, we moved to the McCormick and Schmick’s restaurant at the CNN Center. The truth is, this was everyone’s last effort to get some R&R time before leaving the event for the day.

David Musgrave (Microsoft), Joyce Vanjura (Fuddruckers), Mike McDowell (Stay-Home Healthcare), MVP Leslie Vail, Jorge Cortez Monroy (Taylor Shellfish), David Eichner (ICAN Software), John Lowther (Stay-Home Healthcare), Ted Mauldin (IntellPartners), Mariano Gomez (IntellPartners)

We had a great time, but it was now time to say goodbye. David, Ted, and I headed out of the CNN Center. I dropped off Ted at the North Springs MARTA station from where he picked up his car. David will be staying with me for the next 2 days, debriefing and evaluating our sessions.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP
IntellPartners, LLC

>Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Atlanta 2011: Day 4 Morning Closing Session (Cont.)

April 14, 2011


Day 4: April 13, 2011

Where do I begin…

Minutes earlier, we were finding out about Houston having the honor of hosting the next Microsoft Dynamics Convergence event. If this was exciting, and if seeing the YEA kids performing was exciting, then I couldn’t imagine what the last minutes would bring.

Doug then introduced guest speaker, Mr. Malcolm Gladwell, Staff Writer for The New Yorker and best-selling author. Now this was a real treat! If you haven’t heard about Mr. Gladwell, his body of work often deals with the unexpected implications of research in the social sciences and makes frequent and extended use of academic work, particularly in the areas of psychology, and social psychology – see Wikipedia entry.

Malcom Gladwell, Guest Speaker

Mr. Gladwell’s speach centered around how technology can aid in the decision making process. To illustrate his point, he brought to light research conducted in sports around teams holding home court advantage. Research conducted throughout diverse professional sports showed that 62% of the time teams with a home court advantage went on to win their match against the visiting team.

By the numbers however, home teams had no apparent advantage over the visiting team and showed no superiority. The research looked into the distance traveled by visiting teams, whether the local weather played a factor in visiting teams performance, or the crowd had an effect on players, and a number of other elements.

Finally, research concluded that the major game influencer for teams with home court advantage were the referees – though, Mr. Gladwell was quick to point out that the vast majority of referees do their job with integrity. Referees are influenced by the size of the crowd. Research conducted in soccer, showed that in soccer stadiums where there was a track field separating the crowd from the actual soccer field, the officiating calls were much more accurate and had little to no influence on the game outcome. However, in stadiums where there’s no track field, referees would favor the home team in a larger percent of their calls or would whistle less calls in favor of the visiting team.

Malcom Gladwell

So, how does technology assist with the decision making process:

1. Technology can make decision making transparent. As humans, we are not good in explaining our decision making process. Technology helps in fact checking and correcting bias.

2. Technology can help in simplifying decision making. Human judgment fails when the number of variables increase. When the plainfield clarified judgment is restored. Overall, human judgment is fragile and succeptible to bias.

3. Technology protects from disruption and corruption by restoring fairness. Technology enables judgment.
In the case of sports, Mr. Gladwell noted that research showed that when the MLB instituted the strike zone box device to show whether umpires were making the correct calls or not, that umpires themselves were less prone to make the wrong call against the visiting team leveling out the plainfield with the home team.

Instant replay, allows NFL referees to have a private time to review a play, bringing and restoring fairness to the game.

Malcom Gladwell and Doug Kennedy – Q&A

 After the Closing Keynote Session, David and I got a run through the Expo Hall to take a picture of the Rockton Software crew. You can tell the Rockton crew had quite a bit of fun the night before. We snapped a picture and quickly left to go to the interactive discussion session, IDGP04-R2 Tips & Tricks for Maintaining Security in Microsoft Dynamics GP.

The session was manned by Bob McAdam, Andy Snook with the subject matter expertise of Microsoft’s Terry Blazer. As the session went on, David and I became facilitators for the bits and pieces that came up on the Support Debugging Tool.

Mariano Gomez (IntellPartners), David Ahalt (MonaVie), David Musgrave (Microsoft), Andy Snook (FastPath), Bob McAdam (Tribridge), Terry Blazer (Microsoft)

The session, IDGP04-R2 Tips & Tricks for Maintaining Security in Microsoft Dynamics GP, ended with lots of questions from the attendees and got us excited about our 4:30 PM session to follow, but lunch time was upon us.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP
IntellPartners, LLC

>Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Houston 2012: Day 4 Morning Closing Session

April 14, 2011


Day 4: April 13, 2011

After the phenomenal opening minutes earlier, it was time to know which city would have the privilege of hosting the next Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2012 event. Doug Kennedy announced that Houston, Texas would claim this honor.

Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Houston 2012 Intro Slide

Doug introduced Danielle Moon, Project Coordinator at NOV Tuboscope who immendiately outlined the Top 5 coolest things about Houston and why the city makes perfect to host the next Convergence.

Top 5 Coolest Things About Houston

So now that you know, mark your calendars and begin making preparations for Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Houston 2012, which will run from March 18th to March 21st, 2012, and will be hosted at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Convergence Houston Dates and Venue

Of course, there’s no Texas without its cowbows, so Doug was presented with a hat for the occasion, all the while he prepared to introduce the final act of the morning.

Doug Kennedy wearing a cowboy hat

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP
IntellPartners, LLC