CRM 2011 Training courses update 2012

I realised the other day that my previous article about the Microsoft official training courses available for CRM 2011 is now over 6 months old, and I felt it was about time for a fresh look to update some of the items there with new material.

I also wrote about how you can get qualified in CRM  through the MS Dynamics CRM 2011 Certification Tracks and Exams. Again, some of this was getting out of date so I have included information in this single post about the courses and the exams to take if getting certified in CRM 2011 is your goal.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is going through a period of very high adoption, with many CRM 4.0 customers upgrading their on premises system to CRM 2011, or switching to a cloud solution with CRM Online. People with skills in Dynamics CRM are in high demand as a result, as well as internal staff looking for ways to get their knowledge updated to the latest version.

Microsoft Official Courseware (MOC) courses for CRM 2011

Although there are four main exams (Applications, Customization, Installation, Extending) there are many more courses, most of which are already released, others around the corner. All of these are discussed in this article.

What’s Missing?

November 2011 saw the R7 release, which was also rolled into Update Rollup 5 (and UR6). This included new features such as the Activity Feeds / Posts / “What’s New” wall for internal social-media style following of updates. Other highlights included changes to charting capability through the UI (multiple series for example) and some additional field types being supported in dialogs (lookups and dates in particular), as well as record URL values being available to Workflows without extra code.

None of the official courses cover this material yet, and none of the exam requirements list the need to know about it, although in the real world you may want to get familiar with these areas in order to get the most out of the features available.

Unchanged CRM 2011 courses

What’s New in CRM 2011

The “What’s New in Dynamics CRM 2011” course 80289A is probably a little bit “old hat” now and I don’t expect many people would sign up for this one-day introduction to CRM 2011. Note, this course does not cover new features in the R7 release (see above), it covers things which were new compared to CRM 4.0. Having said that, none of the courses below have been upgraded to cover this content yet either, but it’s the “what’s new” title which could be misleading here.

Applications Courses

The big difference from the CRM 4.0 approach is the splitting up of Applications into four separate one day instructor-led course:

80290A: Marketing Automation in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

80291A: Sales Management in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

80292A: Service Management in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

80293A: Service Scheduling in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

80290 covers Marketing Lists, bulk (aka Direct) e-mail, Templates, and Campaigns. 80291 includes sales-oriented Goals, Reports, exporting to Excel, some charts, dashboards and Workflow processes. 80292 deals with Service Cases, Contracts, Queues, using Workflows with Queues, service-related Goals, Dashboards and Reports. 80293 specifically looks at service activities, services, resources and booking these using built in scheduling tools and conflict checking.

These four courses, plus some real-world experience, should provide you with the necessary knowledge to pass exam MB2-868 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Applications.

Installation and Deployment

80296A: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Installation and Deployment is two-days of instructor-led material, during which you will actually install CRM 2011 from scratch (in a Virtual Machine environment).

Coverage includes different installation and upgrade scenarios including internet-facing deployments (IFD), how all the components fit together, including things like the e-mail router and Reporting Services. This course gives you the core information you need to prepare for exam MB2-867 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Installation and Deployment.

New or updated courses and exams

New version of 80294  Customisation course

80294B: Customization and Configuration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is a three-day classroom based course which is designed to prepare you for exam MB2-866 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization and Configuration.

I taught this updated B revision for the first time last week and it was a huge relief compared to the A version with almost all the kinks and errors ironed out. This is a pretty full three days, so come prepared for long hours and lots of information. Even if you have some knowledge of CRM 4 there is sufficient new material covering the new features to make this course really worthwhile if you are considering an upgrade. Theoretically the course covers all the skills needed to build and customise your CRM 2011 deployment to meet your business requirements.

There’s lots of coverage of the organisational and security model (business units, security roles, users and teams, and field security), other key features such as managing auditing and using solutions, and plenty of material on customising entities, fields and relationships and on the front-end user interface components such as views, charts and forms.

What you won’t cover is anything to do with processes (workflows and dialogs), how to use JScript for client-side event-driven interaction, Reports, .Net plugins etc. Lots of areas which may feel like “customisation” are intended for end-users to do for themselves and so are covered on the applications courses (eg workflows, reports), others are seen as “developer” topics and are dealt with on the Extending course 80295 (see below).

New! Workflow and Dialog Processes in CRM 2011

Course 80444 Workflow and Dialog Processes in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has been announced for release in March. I am pleased this is still a one-day course and kept separate from customisation as there is a key target audience here for super-users and business managers to be able to build their own workflows or dialogs to help manage their day-to-day processes within specific areas of the organisation.

It would make sense for some people to do the four applications courses or 80294B followed straight on by this new Processes course. I would certainly not suggest anyone take this course as a starting point if they do not already have a good grasp of CRM (4 or 2011), how entities and relationships between them work, and the types of data and business processes they need to manage. Given the timing of this course release, it includes coverage of the Q4 2012 / R7 / UR5 features such as including URLs in e-mails which provide links to records for the recipient, and using lookups and date time fields in Dialogs.

This course does not have a specific exam associated with it, although it will help give a deeper understanding of Processes, which are included on exam MB2-868 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Applications.

New! Reporting in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Course 80445 Reporting in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is announced but not due to actually be released until the end of March. It is a one-day course which covers loads of ground about charts, including exporting and editing the Chart XML before re-importing. Reports are dealt with in depth, starting with the report wizard, then moving onto using Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) to develop reports using SQL queries as well as FetchXML. There is no specific exam lined up for this one at the moment.

Introduction to CRM 2011 – new course

Course 80442 Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 provides an introduction to CRM 2011 in a new one-day instructor-led format. This is ideal for people with no previous experience of Dynamics CRM as a foundation for other courses.

It is also aimed at business managers or project teams at an early stage of their implementation (perhaps still undecided if CRM is the right platform) to give them a grounding in the core capabilities of CRM without getting too bogged down in the technical details not taking the several days required for the Applications or Customisation courses.

The course covers key CRM concepts, the Web browser interface, Outlook CRM client, searching and reporting, data import, mail merge, charts and dashboards.

This course does not have a specific exam associated with it.

Extending CRM 2011 – exam now available

Course 80295A Extending Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 was released in August 2011 and is a three-day course aimed at Developers who need to write custom code, plugins and workflow assemblies to provide functionality which is outside the capabilities of the core application itself. This course also covers related areas such as client-side programming with JScript, customising the Ribbon and the Sitemap by editing the XML for a solution and integration with other systems using a variety of techniques.

The related exam MB2-876 Extending Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 was released in December so people who have already taken this course can now finally prove their skills. Now that all the key exams are out, hopefully there will soon be some news on exactly what the requirements are for the various IT Pro Tracks, but at the moment the Microsoft Learning page for Dynamics CRM Certifications is still only listing CRM 4 qualifications and requirements.

Administration in CRM 2011 – still no official news

I have not yet seen any announcements regarding an updated Administration course to match and replace the previous80002 Administration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. If I find out anything about plans for this, I’ll update this post.

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