When Shannon Mullins received her first Microsoft MVP award in April, she had just about given up all hope of ever getting that all-important email.
A Microsoft practice director at management advisory firm MorganFranklin Consulting in Washington D.C., Mullins was nominated for the award sometime in early October. In fact, Mullins and one of her friends with a similar background in the community had been nominated at the same time. And they were both being mentored by the same person. Mullins explained:
She found out a month before I found out, that she didn’t get it. Honestly, I thought that if she didn’t get it, I didn’t get it. I literally almost fell out of my chair when I saw the email, because I was just shocked. I thought, ‘Oh boy. OK, this is happening.’ It was a very surreal moment.
I think I was actually with one of our managing directors and I saw the email come across. I was like, ‘Can you hold on a second? I can’t talk right now. I’m speechless.’ It was pretty cool. I had someone on the phone with me when I read it, so we were just celebrating virtually.
A 20-year career with Dynamics
Mullins has worked with Dynamics products for over 20 years as an end user, a consultant and currently as a practice director. She started her journey with Dynamics GP but has also become proficient in Dynamics 365 Business Centra, Dynamics NAV, and D365 Customer Engagement apps.
It’s really just my passion. Before I even thought about being an MVP, I was already doing MVP-type activities to promote Business Central and before that it was GP obviously. I still love GP, don’t get me wrong, but the only thing we can really sell right now is the cloud.
That was already my passion, but then about six years ago I started teaching [Dynamics GP] for Dynamic Communities [GPUG] and just really loved it. It was just exciting to help other users and not for a sales reason, just to be part of the community and help people and create awareness.
From GP to D365BC, reluctantly
About two and a half years ago, Mullins was working as a senior implementation consultant for Dynamics GP and SQL Server at another Microsoft partner. At that time, company executives wanted her to learn D365BC so she could help sell and implement the product. However, as a diehard GP fan, Mullins was less than enthusiastic.
I said, ‘I don’t think so as I don’t see GP going away. You’re going to have to really prove to me that Microsoft has built a product in the cloud that works because we all know how GP upgrades have gone before. But also [you have to prove] that there’s enough need that that’s where the market is going.’
So at that time I just was not interested. And then by the time [User Group] Summit came around, I felt a lot more comfortable when Errol [Schoenfish] was talking to the partners. I felt they had finally got the product name right, they finally had a product [and it seemed like] this was actually going to happen. Then it became interesting to me because I really felt like Microsoft at the beginning didn’t know what they were doing.
In June 2018, Mullins was recruited by Kraft Enterprise Systems. The company was acquired by MorganFranklin Consulting in March of this year. When she moved to Kraft, sales were stagnant, which she discovered was a result of the company’s continued focus on GP and delay on adopting Dynamics 365 cloud solutions. Few customers were calling about GP, she said.She told her management that something had to be done about the situation. After all, she didn’t make the switch to Kraft just to sit on her hands.
I like to stay busy and I wanted to know what we could do to get where we needed to be. So, I actually got connections at Microsoft, found out where the best training could be, where we could get involved in the CSP program, who we should partner with. And then I started doing the training myself because we didn’t have enough money at that point to hire someone to train us or do the implementations.
It was like, ‘OK, we’re going to learn this and we’re going to sell it and we’re going to hope for the best,’ and that’s pretty much how it happened.
A jack of all trades and master of all
In her role as Microsoft practice director at MorganFranklin Consulting leading the Microsoft Dynamics team, Mullins works on presales, sales training, webinars, conferences – sometimes she even builds reports to help clients. Put simply, she doesn’t say no to anything. In addition, Mullins and her team also work with the Power Platform.
Within the last month, we’ve had two clients come to us saying, ‘Hey, we need to get our data in the database, we need to connect it to CRM and we need to then be able to have our customers view it. We also need to have these approvals. We also need to do all this, and then eventually we want to implement ERP.’ So rather than come to us [for the] ERP, it’s, ‘Hey, I have all these other challenges.’
In the past, Mullins’ team would’ve just said, “No, we’re not doing that for you. That’s expensive what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to build software.” Now, however, the team can use Power Apps to build apps for their clients in record time.
“We can also show clients exactly what we did and then train their teams to build [apps] with Power Apps. I feel Microsoft has really [put] the power in the hands of the people,” Mullins said.
In addition, to her involvement with Dynamics Communities and speaking and teaching at a variety of meetups and conferences, Mullins also writes the blog From GP to BC – All Things Dynamics ERP where she focuses on Dynamics GP, Business Central, and more.
I started the blog after Directions last year after my good friend Steve Endow sat me down and said, ‘I really think that you need to become an MVP.’ I said, ‘What? I don’t even know what that means. I know a lot of you have it, I just don’t know what it means.”
At that time, Mullins was really overwhelmed with running a practice, so thinking about becoming an MVP seemed a little daunting. She explained to Endow that she didn’t even have enough hours to have a hobby at that time. He stated his case, stating that he felt there were not enough female experts represented as Business Application MVPs and he thought Mullins was a real candidate. And she began to realize it sounded like an interesting opportunity.
Steve coached me and one of the things that he actively recommended was having a blog. I had been blogging for companies I’d worked for in the past but I was being paid to do that. This, however, was a whole other level because you had to create your own blog and spin it up.
Recently, Mullins has started working on a blog series about Microsoft’s competitors in the market.
Because Business Central is gaining so much attraction, we’re starting to compete heavily against NetSuite and Acumatica and Intacct and starting to realize that all the comparison charts out there are very biased. So I write about everything Business Central can do and present the facts that I know about what [the competitors] can’t do and then let people make their decisions from there.