The Value of User Group Membership | Dynamic Communities (Video)

Below is a recorded webinar with Dynamic Communities discussing the benefits of joining the Dynamics User Groups: D365UG FO, D365UG CE, D365UG Business Central/NAV and GPUG. Find out how to join, engage and advance your proficiency to the next level in this recorded webinar.

The content and connections help you do your job faster, easier and more efficiently. Now more than ever, the virtual User Groups are here to support you. Your Community is always on!

Webinar Transcript:

Melissa: Hi there, everyone. Thanks for joining today. My name is Melissa Greenhill. I’m a marketing specialist here with Encore Business Solutions. And today we have Alka and Sue from Dynamics Communities to talk about some of the value of the user group memberships. So, hi there.

Alka: Hi, Melissa. Thank you so much, and good morning or good afternoon, wherever you may be located. We are actually on the East Coast presenting to you. So, we’re in afternoon mode at the moment. We do wanna thank Encore Business Solutions for this great opportunity to share what our user groups are all about. We do get excited anytime we can talk about the value of the user group communities because of the resources and reach they bring to our members. As Melissa mentioned, I’m Alka Desai, acquisitions manager and together with my colleague Sue Whitney who is a membership director here at Dynamic Communities. We’re going to talk to you about the benefits of full membership in your user group and engaging your team in key aspects of the community. User groups are available across the Dynamic’s products and the Power Platform.

The D365 user group gives you access to both finance and operations and customer engagement. All user groups include content across all product versions. A feature we just added that we’re really excited about is the Getting Started pages that you can use as an evergreen reference tool. They walk you through finding the best resources available for you. Dynamic Communities is the leading peer-to-peer technology, training, and education community across all of the Dynamic’s products. As you can see from the numbers, the communities are very active. We are a global organization with a worldwide membership, 280,000 members plus. We offer learning in a variety of ways including events and training and expand your connections through local user groups in 55 different countries. The communities provide users who work in a similar job role, industry, or common geography, a place to network, learn from one another, and to discuss topics relevant to your success.

We were founded in 2005. For a little bit of background, based on the idea that grew out of a vision of a few Microsoft Dynamics AX users, they got together and formed a small user group of their own to connect with themselves and other users to learn firsthand the best way to leverage the software they use every day. From that initial vision to the mission that remains today is the same, to maximize the value to both individuals and companies using your solution. We want to help you become more proficient and more confident in your solution. It’s the volunteers like yourself who help foster the learning. This and the unbiased nature of the user group brings the greatest value. Microsoft partners, such as Encore are also part of the community and provide educational perspective from a different perspective. And now Sue is gonna talk to you.

Sue: Thank you, Alka, and thank you again Encore for having us on this call. So, one of the special aspects of the user group communities is the connection that is made. The connection of people who are like-minded professionals like yourselves, people who are eager to learn, and people who wanna engage with others, whether it’s locally, nationally, or globally. And that is one of the defining characteristics of all of these group communities. It’s that connection of community-to-community, peer-to-peer, learning, and sharing of resources in big ways and in little ways. You can have something that you’re doing every day that just you wish you could make it a little bit easier. And there are ways to connect with people who have walked that same path. So, the user groups are there to make you work a little bit smarter, get you to go deeper in your product, get you to leverage the relationship that you have with your solution provider so that you can continue to build upon the successes that your organization has had.

And with that, I’ll go ahead to the next slide. We’ll talk about the reach of the community in a variety of different ways. There are many, many touchpoints that you can have when you head out to one of the user group websites. Whether you’re just visiting the site and looking for different information, you can see we’ve got 30,000 average website visits per month. So, it’s a healthy amount of traffic that’s out there. The open forum participation is tremendous across all the Dynamic’s products. So, that’s a great area where you can go and you can post a question, or maybe you have a shortcut that you wanna share. And that’s a way that you can start to give back and share some of your knowledge. You may think that it’s a little thing, but to someone else, it’s a big thing. So, the participation in our discussion groups, it’s full of passionate people to share.15,000 logins per month. So, these are folks coming to the site, going in, logging in, they’re downloading files. There’s a variety of different file types that are out there.

There are webinar recordings that are posted. There’s a library that is also posted in the open forum where people share templates that they’ve created, or they’re blogging about something that they have just learned, or maybe they’re just sharing what their implementation or upgrade path was. Every relationship has its pros and its cons and maybe someone just wants to document, “Hey had this, you know what, but just be aware of this or be proactive and ask this to the solution provider.” The community reach is amazing as Alka mentioned 55 countries and that knowledge is shared across events and local user groups. Online activities. There are a number of different virtual learning environments that are available for you whether you want to do it on demand, or if you prefer to be in a live webinar, where you have that Q&A and you get to hear what others are absorbing and what others are asking. The peer networking. There are ways to search different directories, there are ways to find others, either geographically, role-based, industry-based, a lot, a lot of different ways that you can find others to connect with and find out how their path is going in their product.

Academy training. And in one of the slides later we’ll go into that a little bit deeper. But, you know, sharpen skills. I believe everybody likes to learn, and everybody learns in different ways. And the academy training offers a lot of different ways that you can find how you can become the best learner that you can be. And what is membership in Dynamic Communities? Membership is amazing. You get your entire company to be part of one membership, and that’s huge. One person joins and everybody in the organization gets the benefits. You have unlimited access to the content library and that includes those educational how-to webinars. Some are incredibly product-specific and will go very, very deep into one part of a product. Others can help you improve skills that you already have. Maybe you wanna get a little bit more advanced in Excel or find out how to leverage teams a little bit. There are lots of different types of webinars and the search feature in the sites will help you find exactly what is gonna help you get to that next milestone that you wanna get to.

Discounts. Everybody loves discounts. If I can, I’m gonna attend that event no matter what, because that’s gonna teach me and help me meet people and I can save some money that helps offset the cost of my membership. So, discounts are certainly a part of being a member. The membership directory. You know, part of being part of a community is finding people and that involves going to in-person events, but also and especially now, during this online environment that we are all living in, how do I find someone like myself? How do I find someone who’s in this role or someone who’s in the role that I wanna get to? Maybe I wanna advance myself a little bit. I wanna go through the directory and I wanna find what’s the next level for me to head to? And maybe I can get into a relationship with that person, be a bit of a mentor for me. Professional and development opportunities. There’s a lot of ways to be involved in the community. Lots of ways that you can put your toe in the water and start honing some skills not just to make you a better employee, but to also make you a better person.

And access to Microsoft. We have a great relationship with Microsoft. We really provide the community part and Microsoft provides a lot of the product expertise. Those subject matter experts that we get from different solution providers and partners, as well as users that have become experts, are amazing and great. And then we complement that with our relationship with Microsoft where we can share product road maps, tips, tricks of leveraging their products. Microsoft listens. They have some great feedback forums. They wanna hear how people are leveraging the products and hear what they could improve on, and there’s some great vehicles in being part of the community to provide that feedback, and to hear directly from Microsoft R&D folks, Microsoft product specialists, Microsoft marketing folks directly. Special interest groups. Are you in on-profit? Are you in the government sector? Are you women in technology? There’s some special interest groups that are out there that you can go a little bit deeper in different types of relationships.

And of course, special passes. Again, we get a little bit into the discounts there for our user group summits, and also different types of recordings that are out there. We do have for members the Summit North America from 2019 user group recordings that are now available for members. So, there’s a lot of great content that’s out there.

Alka: As Sue mentioned there is a lot of great educational content. And some of the other areas include the on-demand content library of over 800 webinar recordings per user group. We also offer live webinars. We have a great robust discussion forum for each user group where you can post your questions or search through the thread to see if it’s already been asked and answered. You can also receive a daily or weekly digest of the discussion forums sent right to your inbox. That’s a great way to keep up so you don’t have to log into the website. First thing you can go straight through your email that you received. We also offer local user group meetings which are held virtual at the moment. We have academy hands-on training classes, certification, and credentialing exams. In-person and virtual events are held around the world. Members receive access, as Sue just mentioned, to presentation recordings from the Community Summit North America event held last year. And we do have a number of discounted rates for our events and training classes.

Academy training courses are live deep-dive interactive courses offered in three formats, online, on-site before an event, and a hybrid of both. Courses range from half to full-day and expand not only your product know-how but also your knowledge of supporting tools, technologies, and processes. CPE credits and certification are also offered. We offer our Power BI black belt series as well as a CRM administrator, black belt series where you progress through a series of modules, learning at your own pace. For Dynamics GP users we offer four professional certificate programs and credentialing exams. Content is presented by your peers so you get first-hand knowledge from product users who are subject matter experts in the industry. We encourage you to check out the academy calendar for classes starting next week. Just to name a few we have D365 F&O Security Overview, Modernizing Financial Planning and Statistics using Microsoft Power Platform, Dynamics GP Beyond the Basics, and Manufacturing in Dynamics NAV and D365 BC.

For our upcoming event calendar, the user groups offer events that are community-produced education to help maximize the performance of your technology. We have quite a few coming up for you to leverage. The Power Platform World Tour is a two-day event usually held in various locations around the world. Next week’s event has gone virtual to accommodate for these times. It will be held May 13th through the 14th and we do encourage you to register for that. D365 Focus North America includes 90-minute deep-dive technical sessions on specific job roles and provide some tools to sharpen your skills and solve challenges at an intermediate to advanced level. That will be held May 18th through the 21st, also a virtual event. We will be replicating the live networking opportunities that you would normally get in an on-site event throughout our virtual events so that you are still making those very important connections. Community Summit is our marquee annual event and it’s held in three areas around the world, North America, Europe, and Australia.

Summit North America will be held this year in Nashville, Tennessee October 6th through the 9th. Last year at Summit North America we had an attendance of over 7,000 across all of the user groups. And as you can see, Community Summit Australia is scheduled for August 19th through the 21st. Sue, I’ll hand it over to you.

Sue: Thank you. Local user groups. Local user groups are amazing. So, what is a local user group? A local user group is, in essence, a community in a community. It’s defined by geography but there are over I believe, 350, maybe even 400 local user groups worldwide. Some of them are, you know, focused on AX F&O. Some are CRM CE, BCNAV, GP, and Power Platform local user groups. And the local user groups are a great way for you to take a few hours out of your day. They’re free to attend and you basically go and there’s educational content that’s presented. There’s usually some light fare and beverages. There’s networking opportunities, and it’s a great way to meet people that are in your specific geographic area so that you can start networking locally and also learn something new about the product that you’re using, about the solution that you have. And it’s a great way to make those connections. Sometimes they’re in the morning. Sometimes they’re midday and sometimes they’re kind of like a happy hour after work.

So, I encourage you to go out to your user group, and search under resources for your local user group, and join that local user group. I’ve been to several of them and I love every time that I go because I’m always meeting someone and I always walk away with some sort of a tip, whether it’s from the actual not instructor, the actual presenter that was there, and/or from just talking to people that are sitting next to me, and starting up those organic conversations. So, I highly encourage it. The local user groups are an amazing way and they’re still having meetings even during this time. Their meetings have become virtual but once all of the stay-at-home restrictions are lifted I know that they will go back to be in-person events. And also added bonus, some of the leaders have been able to have different experts Skype into their meetings, whether the expert is from Microsoft or someone who has some subject matter expertise that they wanna share. So, it’s a really, really good environment, really good experience.

And then how can you get involved? There’s some great ways to get involved in your user group. The four categories that we talk about are, share, present, write, and lead. And what that really means is that you can share knowledge that you have in a variety of ways. You can go into the online discussions, and you can share a tip or a trick that you have. You can write a blog, maybe about a recent experience that you had, case in point a recent implementation upgrade, or user adoption. If you’re an admin and you have figured out a way to get your users to adopt some changes to the product a little more quickly than you expected and you just wanna share those tips and tricks. Presenting. Presenting is great. That’s another different type of volunteer opportunity, whether you’re presenting at a local user group, or you’re presenting at one of the events. We have local events, like the world tour events, or our focus event. And we have larger events, the marquee events that Alka mentioned or summit events that take place in North America, Australia, and in Europe.

It’s just a larger stage and more people that can…a greater audience that you can reach. Writing, lots of different ways to write. We do have a digital magazine and we are frequently looking for content to be included in that magazine. So, that’s a great way if you prefer to write rather than speak in front of people. Lots of great opportunities there. And of course, as I already mentioned in the discussion groups, we also have some newsletters for some of the user groups. So, if you wanted to find out, “Hey, can I just, you know, get a short article in the newsletter?” Reach out to Alka, reach out to me and we can find out when the next newsletter is coming out and see what the topic is and how that fits in. Lead. Lead really gets to the programming committees that we have. One of the amazing aspects of the events that you will go to the Dynamic community puts on is that it is peer-to-peer content and it is peer-to-peer content that’s reviewed. So, the process is that we put out a call for proposals or call for submissions, and we gather all the submissions.

There is a team that is put together on the programming committee and they review what the submission was, they look at the audience, the tracks that have been identified, and how do those slide in. So, you could definitely look to lead to be part of that group that really makes those decisions on what content is gonna presented at what event. Or we also have leaders that act as advisors. Each user group has its own advisory committee. So, that could be another aspect that if you’re looking to expand your visibility, you know, you also wanna show to your employer, “Hey, I’m being part of this group. I’m giving of my time.” And as so frequently happens that when you give, you always seem to get more than what you give. And that is very true of the user groups as well. You’re gonna learn things that you didn’t even realize that you needed to learn or that you wanted to learn and you’re gonna make connections that you never realized would be so impactful to you. So, there’s lots of different ways that you can get involved. And we do have a gemstone award program as well.

So, at the end of each calendar year, we look at who has volunteered, because every time you volunteer, every time you do something, there’s points that are triggered in our database. And then we summarize those points and it goes into what we call our gemstone awards of either Ruby, Sapphire, or Emerald. And that’s also a great way for you to have that recognition that, “Wow, I have given of myself in these different areas and now I’m getting this recognition.” It’s nice to have, you know, a lot of people volunteer. They don’t want the recognition, but it is nice to have that. And at the same time, also to be able to go back to your employer and say, “Hey, look, thank you for letting me volunteer my time during work to be able to do some of these things. And look at this, you know, I received this recognition and in essence, the company has as well” because, you know, usually it’s your name and the company that you work for that gets recognized. So, there’s a volunteer profile for you to be able to get started that you can just head out to the user group sites or email Alka or email me and we’d love to connect you with the appropriate person internally

And user memberships. So, this is where we get to the heart of what is the importance of the membership. There’s various levels that can suit what your company needs. So, the memberships are usually, not usually, the memberships are set by the number of users that you’re gonna have in your company. So again, you buy that one membership, the whole company gets access. So, if you’re a certain, you know, if you’re looking for a small team or a mid-market or the unlimited every person in your organization to have that membership experience, then that’s how you would base which one that you would sign up for. And it’s, you know, just choose that one and everybody in your company gets added. We do have one primary contact on the account. It’s usually the person that has initiated the join but everybody can be added as a contact. We have a great support team. So if there are ever any questions, of course, Alka and I are always here. We can help, as Alka mentioned, the Getting Started page is a great resource for people to know what are the first things I should do when I do join as a member?

We also do have an amazing 21-day trial experience. So, for 21 days, you can experience what it’s like to be a paid member and access some of that content that is behind a firewall for a paid member, and be able to share it with your co-workers as well and say, “Hey, check this out. This is something that we definitely wanna continue with.” And Alka and I can help you in that journey as well. And we have a pretty extensive onboarding experience. We don’t just say, “Hey, join” and then never engage with you. We have a lot of supporting materials. We have a supporting staff that can help you get the most out of that membership. Because, at the end of the day, the membership is there to help you meet people. It’s there to help you learn and it’s there to help you just take your solution to a deeper level, and be able to leverage all the benefits of it and have that strong relationship that you have with your solution provider. And if you have any questions, there’s Alka’s contact information and my own. We will definitely get back to you and we look forward to seeing you all online in the community. And hopefully, one day not too far off, seeing you actually in person at one of our events.

Melissa: Great. Thank you so much, Sue. I’m wondering if you have chance to answer a couple of questions.

Sue: Yep. Sure do.

Melissa: Okay. And one question is, do you offer any discounts for membership or training or events?

Sue: We absolutely do. Alka do you wanna take that one, or do you want me to take that one?

Alka: Sure. I can take it. We do offer a discount, especially for Encore’s customers. Encore does have a special code that you can use. And if you reach out to us, we’re happy to provide that, or Melissa can provide that to you as well. It does give you a 10% discount on memberships, so joining the community for our academy training, online courses, and select events. So, that’s a great value and it is a special code provided to you by Encore and Dynamic communities.

Melissa: Yes. Great. Thank you. So, yes, you could reach out to any of us at Encore as well, for that code. One more question, what does that trial membership include?

Alka: So, the trial membership, as Sue mentioned, gives you access, it unlocks that content area which is really the part of the user group content. We have over 800 webinar recordings in the library, per user group and it would give you access to that on-demand learning. It also at the moment gives you access to the select presentation recordings from our Community Summit event from last year. So, that’s a special bonus that we’re offering. And the content portion of the trial membership is really key.

Melissa: Wonderful. Thank you. And that’s all we have for questions right now. Did you have anything more to add?

Sue: I was just gonna add in that we are also available, that if anybody would like a personalized tour or a personalized demo, we can do a 10-minute demo, we could do a 20-minute demo, we could do a 30-minute demo whatever suits your needs to walk you as well as any other users that you have in your company or folks that might be interested to walk through exactly how the membership can help benefit them.

Melissa: Yeah. That’s great. Thank you. Okay. Well, that’s great. Thank you both so much for coming and presenting to us today. I hope everybody has a good afternoon.

Sue: Thank you.

Melissa: Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

Alka: Thank you.

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