So I need to come clean about what I’ve been up to during the last year or so… I’ve been quiet on the old socials and on the Teams scene for a little while now. You would be forgiven for thinking this was down to the fairly obvious reasons of trying to get me and my family through the world turning upside down from covid related activity, but no it has in fact been because I have been writing a book… No not a novel, but a technical study guide – you know the ones, a proper doorstop of a thing.

MCA MS 700 Study Guide cover

I still can’t quite believe that this is true, or that I have in fact finished but as we get close to the US publishing date (October 8th) and I’ve been asked to confirm my address for the comp copies I’m entitled to, then perhaps I can believe that I have done it and can now legitimately call myself an author (perhaps?! This counts right?).

Now first things first, I know you’ll all want to know where you can go out and buy this fine and fabulous tomb that I have created, well worry not if you head to* you’ll be able to grab your very own copy to hold, keep, love and squeeze (*yes, an affiliate link. Can’t blame me for trying to double dip right?).

For those that may not be that close to the Microsoft exam scene, the MS 700 is one of many exams that Microsoft produce which allows the taker to showcase their skills with a particular technology or in a particular job role. This exam is aimed at people who need to manage and support a Teams deployment for their organisation covering everything from managing users, policies, meetings, telephony and other integrations.

So how did this happen, how did I get this opportunity? Well during the early parts of 2020 I’d been contact by someone over at Wiley asking if I was interested in writing a study guide for the Microsoft Teams Administrator Exam (MS 700) under their Sybex brand. As it happens way back in 2008 I had done a spot of technical proof reading for them on one of their Server 2008 exam guides (MS 70-642) and I remembered being incredibly proud when I spotted a mistake in one of the screenshots and was able to replace it with a screenshot from my own home lab. Anyway, this is listed on my LinkedIn page along with an outline of my experience working with Teams. This must be what led to the first approach to see if I was interested in producing this guide for them, after all I’ve been working with customers deploying Teams ever since it was a thing.

While this was a very cool thing to be asked, I was a bit unsure if it was something that I could successfully pull off, nothing like a nice bit of self-doubt (who else did they ask that turned them down?!) that I’m sure most of us would suffer from in this situation, but after a bit of reflection it seemed like far too good an opportunity to pass up so I spent some time working out how I might tackle such a complicated topic and worked out how to re-group and combine the Microsoft objectives into a bit more of a narrative that I felt made sense to someone learning Teams. I pulled together my submission and sent it over just as the first UK lockdown hit. We then had radio silence for a little bit while the world started coming to terms with the new normal but then in June 2020 I got the news that my submission had been approved and I had a contract to sign.

Fast forward to now and here we are with everything done and dusted and my efforts are about to be presented to world where people can leave me stars out of five and possibly nasty comments (they are going to be nice comments instead right?). It’s a scary prospect but one that I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.

I’ll spare you the details of the writing process, or perhaps I could cover it in some follow-up posts but suffice to say that I have learned an awful lot this year not just about the publishing process including how to write in American 😉 but also about Teams itself, I tried hard to sure I was as accurate as possible about how things worked so that I can explain things properly.

So yes, here I am with my name on the front cover of a book, and I think I’m pretty proud of myself. Obviously, I couldn’t have done this without the help and support from a large number of people who I’ve tried to make sure I listed fully in the acknowledgements section, and I was supported by a large number of people at Wiley who know a lot more about grammar and punctuation than I did!

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