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»

Quick CRM customisations

I recently found some interesting (and easy) customisations for Dynamics CRM 4 that I though I would share.

Linking to LinkedIn

I’m using Office 2010 with the CRM client installed, and I’m also using the LinkedIn Social Connector for Outlook. I had a few problems at first with Outlook 2010 beta, but a quick uninstall of the social connector component and reinstall or the latest version of the OSC beta as per this Microsoft article did the trick. It’s not something I rely on hugely but it can be handy sometimes. Even more useful would be to get information about my CRM contacts directly. This can be done for Accounts (ie companies) as explained in this article by CRM MVP Marco Amoedo. I must get round to going through the solution to see how it might be possible to modify it for individual Contacts, although I expect getting the results to match the right person might be the tricky part.

Copying addresses from Accounts to Contacts

Maybe you imported a load of data and have Contacts with no address, or you have Contacts who work at sites other than the main head office. Either way it would be great to be able to copy any of the multiple addresses associated with an Account directly to a Contact. I found a nice little solution to do just that on the BusinessNone blog. The html code (which is attributed to Microsoft’s Pierre-Adrien Forestier) needs to be published on your web server then simply called from an iFrame on the Contact form.

This presents all the addresses associated with the Contact’s parent Account so you can choose between them with a click of a button. Note that the “Address name” field is used here to distinguish between the sites. I have often seen this field completely overlooked (or even removed from forms) or misunderstood (being used for the name of the premises or building, or simply the first line of the address). The Address Name is simply “how do you refer to this address?” – head office, New York store, Dallas factory, LA regional call centre or whatever.

Visit this page to download the iFrame source for Address Picker (Ben Vollmer’s Skydrive, Hotmail / Windows Live login required) Note: you need to follow the link to the Skydrive page then download, you can’t right click the link here.

Do you find these useful? Do you have any other favourite quick and easy enhancements for CRM? Let others know in the comments below!