The first Days of Knowledge ended 24 hours ago. We had over 50 Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central experts from USA, UAE, RU, NL, BE, FR, IS, CZ, DE and DK to give more than 500 participants two days of new knowledge about Business Central. I'm still trying to consume the experience. And thought that I would share with you how we made it happen.
A little over year ago, Simon Bertelsen (CEO of RelateIT) had to idea about regional Business Central conference in Denmark on a Friday and Saturday. His company sends most of their developers to NavTechDays in the fall to learn the latest about Business Central. But he missed the same opportunity in the spring, to get what NTD offers them in the fall. It should have a wider target and include their sales and marketing, application and technical/infrastructure consultants, who also needed a conference with the same dept as NTD.
With Microsoft now having two yearly major releases of Business Central, but not twice the employee training budget, it was also important that it was on a Friday and Saturday. When sending employees to a conference, then the highest cost is not the actual conference fee, hotel and transport, but the hours they are not able to bill their customers. The cost be even higher if they had to go a location, that would require them to also use additional days for transportation. A two day conference can sometimes be four-five working days. He also believed that most of them would love to invest their Saturday into getting even smarter. And that there would be many other partners who would have the same issue.
I was contacted because Dynamics User Group some years ago, had talked about arranging our own conference and that I know a most of the potential speakers. And I live only 45 km. from Odense. We had our first meeting in July and from here on, we planned the conference together with a team from ReleateIT. We got a bit of a setback when Directions NA was moved from the fall into spring. The date we had planned now only was one day apart. It would mean a very hard time getting enough speakers as many of them would be same who would be speaking at Directions NA. So, we set the date for May 24th and 25th 2019 instead.
Next was to find the speakers for the almost 40 sessions we had planned. We would split the conference into 5 tracks. A track for sales, consultants, infrastructure, developers and one dedicated to our sponsors.
We had also planned a Career track, where we would invite interested students from Danish IT colleges and universities to get a two-day introduction into a future career working with Business Central. Even though the price for these special tickets was almost free, then was more difficult to find enough participants, than what we believed. Maybe it was too close to the exams. So, we sadly had to cancel this track, but gave the few who had signed up this way, full access to the entire conference.
Directions EMEA also thought it was a good idea, so Torben Kragelund also joined our team, which was a huge help when it came to get the conference visible to the partners and getting participants.
In the end we had more than 50 speakers on stage in the almost 40 sessions. Except for the ISV/Sponsor track, then all track sessions were 90 minutes long. Enough to allow the speakers give participants a much deeper knowledge to a subject, than what would have been possible in 45 or 60 minutes.
I had a session with two long-time friends (Mr. Test) Luc van Vugt and Palle Arentoft (known to everybody in the Dynamics 365 Business Central/NAV User Group) in the Development track. We gave the participants an introduction to the development practice called acceptance-test/behavior-driven development (ATDD/BDD). Especially how to apply this to Business Central development and hereby get better and more bug-free solutions, automated tests and system documentation in the same go. We had a fun time with Luc rapping, us talking about development methodologies and practices, testing and had a little "The Three Amigo's" role play/demo on how get from idea to feature acceptance faster. We hope that the message was received and that more development teams will start writing automated tests before they write their code. No test – no code.
Being home again then I must say that I have gotten even more respect for Luc van Dyck for year after year arranging NavTecDays all by him selves. It's a lot of hard work, and I was only doing a small part of the work. Simon and Mathilde Dahl Pedersen and the staff from ReleateIT did most of it.
Even before we know the result of the participant survey, then alone from the feedback we got at the conference, we think that we can say it was a huge success. Everybody I talked to was very happy and thought that it had been one of the conferences, where they had the most benefits and they all were looking forward to the one next year. Of course, we also have a list of things we have learned from and would like to do better next year, but all in all we are very happy to. I don't think that we will change much in the format.
I already said thank you to Simon, the participants, speakers and sponsors on stage, but once again a big thank you to everybody who made Days of Knowledge come true and supported us in one way or another.
We hope to see you all again next year, because Days of Knowledge is actually going to be your annual Dynamics 365 Business Central conference. We are going to start planning the one for May 2020 in the coming weeks and expect to be able to announce the dates soon!