Exam tips for MB2-867 CRM 2011 Installation and Deployment

Earlier this week I passed the exam MB2-867 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Installation and Deployment and scored my highest ever marks on a technical exam (as opposed to Microsoft Office Specialist exams). I thought I should share some tips about how you can best prepare yourself for this exam, and thoughts about techniques for taking the exam itself. (Aside: yes, I know I signed an NDA so there is nothing in this article to tell you anything too specific about the exam or the questions I was asked on the day).

Disclaimer / bottom line: this is my day job; I install, customise and deploy CRM 2011 for my customers and as a freelancer for some Microsoft Dynamics partners. Aside from consulting work I train other people how to do this stuff, as well as writing and providing technical review for various courses and books on the subject. So my experience of taking this exam would be slightly different from, say, a systems administrator who has just been asked told to implement Dynamics CRM for the first time.

Despite my previous knowledge of the subject I still worked through the 80296A: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Installation and Deployment course. This made sure I was covering all areas of the topic which might come up on the exam (including scenarios I have never actually come across in the real world) as well as giving me the opportunity to apply my pedant radar to the course and submit any errors I found to Microsoft so that other trainers can make sure they get things right in future.

I anticipated that the exam would be the type of thing that I hate with a passion:lots of questions about tiny technical details that anyone in their right mind would check in the relevant documents or with a quick online search,so I prepared on that basis. I don’t really count myself amongst the generation Y kids, but to some extent I agree with the idea that I should not have to rote learn facts much more easily (and accurately) recovered through technological means.

What is the minimum processor speed for installing and running the 32 bit version of the CRM client for Outlook? Does anyone actually care? Unfortunately this stuff is covered in the “objective domain” which is essentially what is on the skills measured page for MB2-867, so in theory you should know this stuff.

Even more frustrating is the software pre-requisites – when you install CRM it checks for various Windows components and extra bits of software being present. If they are not already installed the CRM installer tells you then installs and configures them anyway! So is it useful to be able to remember whether File Server Resource Manager (for example) is a pre-requisite which CRM needs? I don’t think so.

Anyway, ranting aside, whatever the subject or exam you take, you need to know the things you might be tested on. So do check out the skills measured page for MB2-867 and make sure you know the topics covered there and pay attention to the relative percentages of different areas – there is no point in knowing everything about the e-mail router if you know nothing about reporting extensions; things need to balance.

Revision technique

I learned a long time ago that reading is not a good way to learn -  I need to do things myself for the best possible retention, or failing that I need to think about what I am reading and make notes, significantly shorter than the original version. This means that the next round of revision takes less time since I only need to read the short notes rather than the original longhand version. More importantly  the mental processing required to take a whole page and turn it into a single line helps it to sink in.

While I was revising for MB2-867 I made some very basic notes about the key facts I thought I should learn, and which I did not already feel I had soaked up just through doing real-world installs. I have shared them here so you can use these, learn from them, discover things you did not already know, or maybe find pointers to things you need to go and research in more depth. These are provided here as is, with no guarantee of accuracy or usefulness. I wrote these before I took the exam, so there are no clues in here as to what you will find on the exam, only what is in the list of skills measured.

MB2-867 CRM 2011 Installation exam revision notes

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