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Getting up to speed on D365/AX

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For those who may not be aware, the Dynamics space is growing rapidly. For example, in the Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (FO) area, its had a couple names and several different official twitter handles in the past year or so... Names asided, new modules are being added, upgrades being streamlined, Retail processes and installations optimized, and a focus on proactive over reactive system maintenance are being implemented.

While all that new functionality is great for Dynamics 365 FO, the entire Azure stack and other Dynamics products (Sales and Marketing, Talent, etc) are now pieces of the overall puzzle to your deployment. Ignoring them from your solution is going to be a mistake.

Its near impossible to keep up with it all. You need a solid baseline on the systems (all of them) and then be able to translate the updates that come out to know what is changing on the almost monthly basis. So how can you and your org ramp up in your knowledge as quickly and efficiently as possible? There are a few options and all of them can be used in conjunction with each other:

Option 1: Documentation
You can read all the documentation. Thats a total snooze fest and you'll forget most of it by the time you actually jump into the software. Documentation lacks the application of the concepts and real world scenarios.

Option 2: Dig in. Experience
Roll up your sleeves and dig into the application. Nothing beats getting into the application and making things happen. This can be a bad first step if you are unfamiliar with the application, best practices, typical configs, etc. You can set something up for given business scenarios but what happens when those scenarios inevitably evolve? You don't want to config yourself in a corner... And its easy to do...

Option 3: Conferences and tech sessions
Conferences and tech sessions are a great way to learn from experts and get an understanding of the content. You can ask questions and attend sessions that typically have experience levels for the sessions so you can get the right content. But more importantly, you can network with others. Thats critically important as the community seems very small at times...

There are a few conferences you should try to go to if you're serious about being in the AX/D365 space: AXUG Summit and MS Business Applications Summit.

AXUG Summit is run by users but has become an authority summit for everyone in the community to convene at. Sessions are put on by end users, partners, and Microsoft. It is here where you can get some of the most candid information from everyone from execs to developers. #1 tip is to not go back to your room at the end of the days' sessions. You'll do a lot of networking with great discussions around the hotel and at the restraurants/lounges.

The Business App Summit is new and has never existed. It seems to be a combination of both the old Convergence which was like a sales-y summit with the MS Tech Conference which was put on by the Microsoft product group and had about as detailed information as you could get about the bits and bytes of the applications.

You can register for AXUG here: https://www.axugsummit.com/register 
You can register for the MS Business Applications Summit: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/businessapplicationssummit 

Option 4: Social Networks (and blogosphere)
Subscribe to blogs, RSS feeds, email newsletters from ISVs and partners, etc. There is valuable information in sales materials as well. Remember, there is never an obligation to buy services but you'll get a lot of free useful information as long as you can parse through the sales stuff...

Summary
So to round this up and reinterate, the above options are things you should do in conjunction with each other, but are NOT mutually exclusive. Hopefully this helps everyone! Let me know if you're at a conference and want to network!
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