Exams for Dynamics CRM 2016 and 2015 Update 1

Microsoft have just released details of several exams for Dynamics CRM 2016. Let’s take a look at what new exams are available, and how they have changed from their previous versions.

Note that on every page of exam objectives you will see this disclaimer in bold text: “Please note that the questions may test on, but will not be limited to, the topics described in the bulleted text.”. You should also read this article in the same context – I have no inside knowledge here (and if I did, I could not share it), so I am basing all my tips on the published, available information.

“Applications”

The “Applications” courses and exams keep changing. The training went from a three-day course for CRM 4.0 to four separate one-day courses for 2011 (Marketing, Sales, Service, Service Management), then this dropped to two one-day courses for CRM 2013 (Sales and Service). Throughout all of this the exam remained a single “Applications” exam, up until MB2-704 "Microsoft Dynamics CRM Application". This exam title has no version number but is clearly aimed at CRM 2015, or CRM Online of the same internal version and timeframe.

Now the exam has been split into two parts and the version number is explicitly stated once more. I think splitting it is a good thing in order to properly test candidates on the breadth of the application, which has continued to grow with each new release of features and functionality. It also means you can focus on one area at a time or indeed take only one of the exams if you work only in one particular field (perhaps supporting a vertical application). You can see what the learning objectives are at these pages:

MB2-713 Dynamics CRM 2016 Sales 

MB2-714 Dynamics CRM 2016 Service

If you need to get up to date quickly with all the changes in the sales and service modules of CRM 2015, and the extra new things added for 2016, why not contact CRM Masters for a day or two of expert training?

Customization and Configuration

First a quick note about exam MB2-707 Dynamics CRM Customization and Configuration. This exam (for CRM 2015) has changed since it was first released in January 2015. It took a while, but it seems that the list of objectives has been updated to reflect new features in CRM Online Update 1 (Spring ’15 release). So what changed there?

As I mentioned in my article this time last year (Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Exams), this exam included objectives about calculated and rollup fields which were new for 2015 (compared to 2013), but did not mention hierarchical security or hierarchy visualisations. It now includes references to a few more new or updated features:

  • Work with relationship hierarchy visualization (I assume this means know how to configure this for a system or custom entity, and how this appears in the UI, how to modify the “tile” used – hint: it’s a new Form type)
  • Identify entities for which hierarchical views are available, create hierarchical views (note, some system entities are already enabled and can be turned off, other system entities are not enable but can be enabled for specific OOB relationships, custom entities can be enabled)
  • Manage mobile forms (not new, but do note that the detailed bullets are actually talking about forms for Tablets, not “Mobile” forms for the phone client. So it could be that questions in this area have been updated to reflect changes to the tablet form limitations. No specific mention of phone client, but I would expect there could be questions on that too)
  • Business Process Flows – describe branching logic for guided processes (new, much requested feature)
  • Apply AND/OR, IF…THEN…ELSE logic in Business Rules (again, important new feature to be familiar with)

So if you are yet to take the exam for 2015 (and do not feel ready to tackle the 2016 version), make sure to have practiced and be comfortable with the topics above.

Now on to MB2-712 Dynamics CRM 2016 Customization and Configuration. Again, notice the version number has returned so it is clear what to expect on this exam. There are several new areas in the objectives to be aware of, both in terms of new features and some things that have previously been left out. The rule of thumb in the past has always been – if it is on the exam, it is covered by the training course (this is not true for non-Dynamics subjects such as SQL Server or Exchange). But there are no longer any official instructor-led classroom courses for CRM, so this has meant a bit more freedom for the exam-writing process.

Previously in order to write a particular training “product” for a given timeframe, such as Customization and Configuration as a three day course, the scope had to be set to make this realistic to teach in that time. So in some cases compromises had to be made in terms of content. Over time, as new features were added to the product, topics were cut from the course to make room for newer material – gone are the days of doing some simple JavaScript or configuring various system settings, in favour of auditing, charts, access teams, business rules etc.

This exam seems to have a much broader scope than the previous version, including things such as System Settings and Workflows. It remains to be seen how detailed the questions are for these areas, or whether they are quite high level. Despite covering more ground, the learning objectives are now described in much less detail than before resulting in a shorter page but with much less clarity as to where the weighting really lies. In particular, Solutions is lumped together with forms, views and visualisations for a total weighting of 24%. It is not clear how this would be divided up, which I think makes it much harder for a test-taker to decide where to focus their efforts.

New topics that I could spot amongst the overall description (italics for new content within an existing topic):

  • Configure Dynamics CRM Settings – including document management and collaboration, configure email (I can only assume the email configuration is quite high level; this is not a deployment or installation exam. I take “collaboration” to mean Yammer and/or Office 365 Groups)
  • Manage Security Hierarchy
  • Create Alternate Keys
  • Work with hierarchical data
  • Implement form customisations and mobile clients (as above, no clarity on which clients, but assume tablet and phone clients are covered here)
  • Use Themes
  • Configure Business Rules, conditions, and actions (conditions is a new topic if you learned 2015 and took the exam before the Spring Update, but easy enough to learn or you will already know this stuff if you are working with current online deployments)
  • Implement and manage Workflows, Dialogs, and Custom Actions includes Implement Workflows, identify Workflow types, implement Dialogs and Custom Actions; identify when to use Business Process Flows, Workflow Dialogs (sic) and Custom Actions. (I agree it is useful to have a good understanding of the use cases for these different process types, where they fit and how to create them. Not sure how much can be easily tested on detail of actually writing them adding steps etc. Custom Actions is particularly sneaky in this exam since in 2013 you could only call them from code, but now can call them from Workflows so you might not have done much with them).
  • Understand Business Process Flows…stages and categories, work with multiple entities, use conditional branching (Categories was not called out explicitly before but was implied in the overall understanding of BPFs, I expect to be asked how to change the category list in the global option set for this. You could use multiple entities in 2013, but the limitation of 1:N relationships and re-using a previous entity are now lifted. Conditional branching is new to Spring ’15 update, so update your skills if you have not done so already)

Overall, I think the new customisation exam has a good set of learning objectives. It will be interesting to find out how well a short exam can cover such as broad range of topics.

If you want to get your customisation skills up to date quickly and find out all about the new features in CRM 2015 Update 1 and CRM 2016, you could sign up for one our scheduled courses at CRM Masters, or get in touch about us coming to train a group of people on your own premises.

Online Deployment

There is another new exam MB2-710 Dynamics CRM Online Deployment, not to be confused with MB2-706 Dynamics CRM Online Deployment, of course!

CRM Online does have version numbers, and obviously these are used in any discussion of features, releases, updates etc. But to keep in line with the “branding”, the exams for Online Deployment have no version number in their name. So if you are scheduling this exam, make sure to take the one you are prepared for, and in most cases I would suggest to take the latest version, especially if you are concerned with your CV being up to date, or using your exams towards a Partner Competency for as long as possible.

They do seem to have sorted out the complaints about this exam now. Gone are the subjects about hardware and software requirements, AD groups and so on, with the emphasis shifted towards supported clients, O365 and ADFS (if you are doing SSO). There seems to be more detail about tenants and instances, and the cadence of online updates and how to manage them, while the old “Upgrade” topics have gone. Managing users, email, and the various clients (Outlook, tablets, phones) are all still covered.

There is now a brief mention of some “light” customisation topics:

Customize Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online
Create new fields; modify values for option sets; modify entity forms; create new entities and reports; modify views and dashboards

This is only one sub-topic of a heading with a total weighting of 10-15%, so don’t expect this to be very detailed.

Lync, SharePoint and Yammer were only mentioned in passing on the old exam objectives; these and more are now covered in a whole section titled “Manage related services”, worth 10-15%:

  • Describe related services
    Identify related online services; integrate Microsoft Social Engagement with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online; manage campaigns with Microsoft Dynamics Marketing
  • Integrate Yammer and SharePoint Online
    Describe Yammer and SharePoint Online; identify SharePoint Online integration types; describe the integration process
  • Integrate OneNote, Skype, Skype for Business, Office 365 Groups, and OneDrive for Business
    Compare Dynamics CRM Notes and OneNote; identify storage location for OneNote notebooks; configure OneNote integration; integrate Skype and Skype for Business; identify limitations for Skype and Skype for Business; describe Office 365 Groups; identify requirements for Office 365 Groups; integrate Office 365 Groups with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Overall, a sensible update to this exam which more closely matches the job description of someone implementing CRM Online. I suspect this will be harder for people to coast through based on old knowledge, and will properly test your understanding of some of the new technologies around CRM.

    Marketing

    The old exam MB2-720 Functional Application in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing has been retired and entirely replaced by a new exam last year MB2-709 Microsoft Dynamics Marketing. This takes account of the many changes to the features available in MDM, and includes the topic of integrating CRM and MDM.

    Share!

    If you have taken any of these exams and have some experience to share (without breaking your exam NDA), or have things to ask about taking these or other Microsoft exams please join in via the comments.

    Asking for copies of the questions or trying to advertise brain dump sites will get you marked as a spammer and I might forward your details (including IP address) to Microsoft for good measure. I do not tolerate exam cheats; it just erodes the value of the certification for those us who work hard for it.

CRM 2015 Customization Exam MB2-707

Last week I took and passed the newly released exam MB2-707 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customization and Configuration. The exam title does not mention CRM 2015, although that is clearly the version it is aimed at.

I guess this is because Microsoft don’t want to confuse things when the exam covers how to customise Dynamics CRM 2015 on-premises or CRM Online, which does not really include the version number as such a prominent part of the branding. If you pass this exam it should be clear that you have the skills to customise CRM 2015 on-premise or CRM online equally.

Looking at the skills measured, the only new areas covered compared to the CRM 2013 Customisation exam MB2-703 are calculated and rollup fields. There is no mention of hierarchical security, or configuring sales or service modules such as SLAs and Entitlements or the Product Catalog.
Read my thoughts and tips for passing exam MB2-707 »

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Exams

Some of the details of exams for Dynamics CRM 2015 are now available.

Take careful note of the “Skills measured” sections for these, as they are not exactly aligned to the equivalent 2013 exams in all cases. Courses for these are all e-learning, available via the Dynamics Learning Portal (DLP) for customers and partners signed up to appropriate support plans. Some learning providers may also offer these as a “blended learning” experience, with a classroom instructor to walk you through the course and address areas of difficulty and answer questions. It remains to be seen whether this is a popular option for many people or not.

MB2-704 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Application

Slightly strange title on this one. Watch out for the fact that this includes some aspects of social listening, so if you are not using that in your organisation you need to do some good reading on the subject.

MB2-707 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customization and Configuration

Looking at the skills measured, it seems that the only new areas covered are calculated and rollup fields. There seems to be no mention of hierarchical security, or configuring sales or service modules (arguably the right choice, as those are possibly business area manager tasks, rather than initial customisations).

MB2-706 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Deployment

Strangely the skills measured for this exam (as of 28th Jan) have lots of overlap with MB2-708, including knowledge about installing the server.roles, SSRS and ADFS for example (I get that ADFS can be used for authentication with online, using federation, but the description sounds more like normal IFD config to me). You will also need to know about online admin of users in the Office365 platform, or Microsoft Online Services as they prefer us to call it these days.Integration with Exchange, Lync and Yammer are included too.

Upgrades, troubleshooting, VSS and data encryption all seem to include topics that would only apply to on-premises environments. This is a truly confusing exam outline, it will be interesting to see what it is like in reality.

MB2-708 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Installation

This one is aimed at skills needed to implement and manage CRM On-Premises deployments, including things like configuring IFD, high-availability options and troubleshooting.

MB2-720 Functional Application in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

Focussed entirely on MDM rather than the limited marketing functionality in CRM itself.

I’ll update this post with details of other exams as they become available.

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).

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Changes to Microsoft Certification Exam interface

A short post to highlight some changes made to upcoming Microsoft exams. Many of my readers will have taken several Microsoft Exams on the Prometric platform in recent years and may have been frustrated by some of the more clunky elements of the exam interface.

You will be pleased to hear that some of these things are being improved immediately in various exams just being released, and it looks like the intention is to push these changes through across the board to other current exam titles too. Read about how the exam interface and question types have changed»

Exam tips for MB2-866 Customising CRM 2011

I recently passed the Microsoft exam MB2-866 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization and Configuration, and I wanted to share a few thoughts about my experience, and hopefully help others who also want to gain this certification.

Of course, like every other exam this was done under NDA, so I can only give some general thoughts and not discuss specific questions or answers.

All change

I find many exams for a new product version like this seem to deliberately ask lots of questions about the new or changed stuff rather than the old elements that have remained largely the same (this was certainly true of the MCAS exams for Office 2007). I can only assume this is to avoid people coasting through on old knowledge from CRM 4, although it does seem to risk not testing some of the core knowledge.

Obviously some features are unchanged and some questions still cover them, but the feeling is that to pass the exam you really need to have studied the new material and properly practiced using these new skills. Of course, in the real world of actually getting on and using CRM 2011, knowledge passed along from previous versions is all very useful as well.

Are we nearly there yet?

In order to avoid worrying about running out of time, what I tend to do is make some very quick and rough calculations when the information comes up at the beginning about how many questions there will be and how much time is allowed. If it’s easy enough to work out in my head, I figure exactly how much time per question. If not, I just figure out for a bunch of them – however many makes the maths easier, say 5 or 6, and likewise round the time down a bit if it makes it easier to figure out, which also gives you some slack time at the end.

If you have 75 questions , you have 1/15 of the time for every 5 questions, and 15 is easy to divide into hours. So for a two hour exam that’s 8 minutes for every 5 questions (15 goes into 60 four times, so into two hours 8 times). Read more exam-taking tips and some of the important changes to remember in CRM 2011»

CRM 4 MCITP Certification tracks updated

The exam requirements to become a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) in Applications for Dynamics CRM 4.0 have been updated slightly. Now you will be able to take (or use an existing pass in) exam 70-680 Configuring Windows 7 instead of the out-dated 70-620 Configuring Windows Vista Client. Hurray!

Dude, where’s my transcript?

The only strange thing here is that whether you have already passed this exam or take it now, it won’t count towards making you an MCITP on CRM 4 until September. Why would that be? Answer: because internally at Microsoft Learning, the matrix of which exams count towards which qualifications is handled by the Transcript Database, and there is a planned update to that taking place in September.

This means that any exams you take now which are not already featured in the database / matrix simply don’t count towards anything, and will not show up on your official MCP / MCT transcript that you can access through the Microsoft Professionals portal or share with anyone else. Essentially, you can’t prove you have passed any of the new CRM 2011 exams, for example, because they don’t have a pigeonhole for that yet, so “computer says no”.

Update October 2011: They have fixed one part of the transcript database so it does at least show up the exams you have passed, but for MCTs it is still frustrating as the whole Dynamics range of products is shown in strange ways. I can apparently teach subjects in which I have no knowledge at all, while on the other hand I can’t cover courses for which I have passed the relevant exam. Hopefully this will be largely resolved when they finally release the requirements for the CRM 2011 tracks.

What about the tracks for installers and developers?

While this is only a small change to the Applications track, I wonder if this is a sign that the other tracks will follow, such as allowing exams in Exchange 2010 rather than 2007 for the Installation track.

This also bodes well for the MS Dynamics CRM 2011 Certification Tracks and Exams which look more likely to use current versions rather than older ones, which will make them more relevant and achievable for a longer time into the future.

Update October 2011: Yes it was a sign of further changes! The Installation and Deployment track now includes 70-432 (SQL Server 2008 Implementation and Maintenance) and 70-431 (SQL Server 2005) as an elective alongside the Exchange 2007 and Windows Server 2008 exams. This looks promising for people wanting to qualify as an IT Pro in CRM 4 using 70-432 and being able to count this towards CRM 2011 too (but not the SQL 2005 version which is not supported for CRM 2011).

Does this change make anyone out there an MCITP in Applications or Installation who was not already? What other exams do you think should be included as electives for the CRM 4 or 2011 tracks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

MS Dynamics CRM 2011 Certification Tracks and Exams

MS Dynamics logo

Update Feb 2012: I’ve written a much newer article bring up to date all the information about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 training courses and exams in one place here: CRM 2011 Training Update 2012

I see lots of people asking about the CRM 2011 certification track, exams and courses and although most of this information is available, it is not very well linked together. So, to try and get things straight and written down in one place, here’s my take on “how to get certified in CRM 2011”.

Individual CRM 2011 exams

There are three core exams already available for CRM 2011, very similar in concept to their 4.0 equivalents, and the details of what is required for each one are on these pages (and their various tabs for skills measured, preparation materials etc):

MB2-866 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization and Configuration

MB2-867 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Installation and Deployment

MB2-868 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Applications

The fourth exam “Extending Dynamics CRM 2011” is not yet available, but it is planned for release in August, and I’ll update this page once details are up on the Microsoft Learning website. Update: the details for Course 80295A Extending MS Dynamics CRM 2011 are now available.

Read more about the available certifications for CRM 2011 and what you need to pass to achieve each one»

Microsoft increasing exam prices on July 1st 2011

Microsoft will be increasing the cost to take any of their technical or developer track exams worldwide on July 1st, the first increase for several years. This change will affect pretty much all their exam tracks except for the top-tier MCM and MCA, the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA – aimed at school and college students mainly), and the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS, currently managed by a different exam provider anyway).

In the UK this means an increase from £88 to £99, so if you want to save that extra £11 then get your exams done before the end of June. Both of these prices are ex-VAT, so for those of you paying your own way through a certification track that means you will need to find an extra £13.20 from your own pocket, or £15.40 more than a year ago thanks to the VAT increase as well. If you already have pre-paid vouchers which are still valid, you should be able to use these for some time, but read the small print on the page linked below.

More information on prices for other countries, details of voucher eligibility and plenty of FAQs on the Microsoft page about the exam price rise.

UK MCTs will have already seen that their exam discount will increase at the same time by 5% which takes out a lot of the sting here, but early adopters in the training community will no longer get the super-bonus discount for taking exams within the first 90 days of release, which is not such great news.

Exam objectives for MOS 2010 exams are now available

If you are interested in Microsoft Office Specialist 2010 certification, you may be interested to see that the full exam objectives have now been published for the various MOS 2010 exams, including the expert level ones for Word and Excel. Some of these exams are not yet released (such as SharePoint, due in June 2011), but by knowing the objectives which will be tested you can start to put together your training plan.

Subject Exam number and link
Word Core 77-881
Excel Core 77-882
PowerPoint 77-883
Outlook 77-884
Access 77-885
SharePoint End User 77-886
Word Expert 77-887
Excel Expert 77-888

I passed the Excel 2010 exam during a break at a conference last year, but I’ve been waiting for the Expert level exams to come out so I can go and do the Word and Excel Expert ones as well as Outlook and PowerPoint in a single day to get them all done at once for my MOS:Master certification. This is what I did for my MOS 2003 and similar to MCAS 2007 (when I did Vista as well, but there were no “expert” exams for 2007), and I just find it the best way to “blitz” them and get them all passed in one go.

(Just in case anyone missed it by the way, the Office exams are now back to the “MOS” branding rather than MCAS, and anyone with an MCAS 2007 certificate is retroactively awarded a MOS 2007 in its place.)

Good luck to anyone planning to take these; let me know in the comments how you get on!

Microsoft Second Shot is back again for 2010

After a very long wait (and some said it might never happen), Microsoft have reintroduced their Second Shot campaign so that you can register to take an exam and if you fail you get a second chance to do a free retake. You register with Prometric,  then they email you a code. You use this voucher code when you register online to take your chosen exam, for which you pay the normal fee (or reduced rate for students, if applicable). Last time round you could not use second shot and a discount voucher (eg one from a Self-paced training kit) since you can only put in one code. Once I actually get a breathing space to take an exam (things are pretty busy right now) I’ll update to let you know if this is still the case.

Offer details:
Dates: January 13, 2010 – June 30, 2010.

Details: You must register, obtain a voucher code, schedule, pay, and take the first and (if necessary) the retake exam before June 30, 2010.

Applicable exams: This offer applies to all Microsoft Learning IT professional, developer, project management, and Microsoft Dynamics exams, including academic exams. Visit the Learning Catalog and search for your next exam

Eligible countries and regions: This is a worldwide offer that is available at Prometric test centers only.

Note Only one Second Shot voucher is available per purchased exam.

Notice that the deadline for taking the first time and retake is the same – June 30th 2010. Previously the first exam had an earlier deadline and the retake had an extra month or so if you were taking one.

Read more about Second Shot »

Passed 70-291 to become MCSA:Messaging

“Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Windows 2003 server Network Infrastructure”, also known as The Beast has been slain.
Turned out to be a cuddly bunny rather than a beast (a bit like the end of Monty Python’s holy grail only in reverse).

I had put this off for so long because I thought I was weak on a couple of areas and needed some polish, and since everyone says it is one of the hardest I wanted to be sure to nail it.
But I was in the exam centre on Friday anyway (taking my CRM Applications exam MB2-632, also nailed) and I had second shot to back me up, so I figured “what the hell, even if I fail majestically at least I will know much more accurately what to expect on this one next time”.

So I waltzed away with 889 in a shade under half the time available (105 minutes out of 215 – I know some do better than that but I was well pleased with the result). Finally gave me my MCSA:Messaging and only two more to go (293 and 294) to MCSE.

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Microsoft Certified Application Specialist times five

MCAS logo I took five MCAS exams on Friday and passed them all. Some were easier than others, as always, but overall I found them a lot less stressful than when I took four on the same day to get the Microsoft Office Specialist:Master qualification.

Overall I like the way the Office exams work – the real application (minus the help!) running in the top half, and the questions at the bottom. Each question has a few tasks to complete, and you are measured on the end result, not how you got there.

This is a much better test of real-world ability to use the software than any multiple-choice questions can ever hope to be. Yes, it means that you could take a few wrong turns, and click on some irrelevant buttons before finding the thing you were looking for, but you can do that in real life too. The exam is limited to 50 minutes, so you can only afford to do this on a handful of questions, and you need to be able to make up the time on other questions by reading it once and going straight to the correct feature or function.

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