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Are You Certifiable?

This month’s guest blogger and CRM MVP Larry Lentz shares with us his experience with the Microsoft Certification Program.

Becoming Microsoft certified is not only a good way to demonstrate to others your knowledge and grasp of Microsoft technology, but preparing for those exams is a tremendous learning vehicle as well. Preparing for an exam forces you to delve into areas of a product that you might not normally see in your day to day activities. But knowing how it all works can make your understanding of the day to day tasks even deeper. Certification is also a requirement for certain Microsoft programs like the Certified Partner competencies.

There are several certifications available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. There are basically two levels: Microsoft Certified Business Management Solutions Specialist and Microsoft Certified Business Management Solutions Professional (MBSP).

clip_image002The Microsoft Certified Business Management Solutions Specialist requires passing only one exam. If you are specializing in CRM, you can take exams for either CRM 3.0 or CRM 4.0.

Dynamics CRM 3.0

  • Applications (MB2-423) – This exam covers the use of CRM. There are four instructor led one-day courses that prepare one to take this exam. The exam covers all four areas.
    • 8521A – Sales Management. This is the primary user course in my opinion and should be taken by anyone involved with CRM, including administrators and customizers.
    • 8522A – Marketing Management. This course is targeted toward the marketing folks and deals with managing and maintaining Marketing Lists and Marketing Campaigns.
    • 8523A – Service Management. This course is targeted toward the Customer Service folks and deals with Cases, Queues, Service Contracts, etc.
    • 8524A – Service Scheduling. This course is targeted towards service organizations that need to be able to schedule people, places, and things (called resources) to provide required service for their customers.
  • Customization (MB2-422) – This exam covers how to customize CRM to make it “work the way your business does.” One can prepare for this exam by taking the three-day Customization course, 8525A. Although the class does touch on some elements of programming, one does not need to be a developer. The course and test cover how to customize CRM forms, create new entities, develop workflow, create and manage reports, and touches on how to integrate CRM with other systems.
  • Installation and Configuration (MB2-421) – This exam covers installing CRM, configuring and structuring the security elements, moving CRM to other platforms, etc. The 8526A – Installation and Configuration course prepares one for this exam.
  • Extending CRM (MB2-498) – This is primarily targeted towards those who will develop their own code to extend the capabilities of CRM beyond what is available out of the box. Course 8531A prepares one for this exam. Though it is quite technical in nature and a programming background is valuable in this area, non developers can gain a considerable amount of insight into CRM’s capabilities by taking this course.

There are other courses such as 8529A – Administration, and 8530A – Data Migration that do not have associated certification exams.

Dynamics CRM 4.0

  • Applications (MB2-632) – Preparation for this exam has been consolidated into one 3-day course, 8913 – Applications in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. It still covers the same topic areas as the 4 one-day courses in the 3.0 track, but as they pertain to 4.0, of course. Workflow is now covered a bit in this course since 4.0 now allows individual users to develop their own workflow routines.
  • Installation and Deployment (MB2-633) – The 3 day 8911 – Installation and Deployment in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 course is preparation for this exam. They have removed the security portions that were in the equivalent CRM 3.0 course and inserted them into the Customization course. This course focuses on installation and basic configuration of CRM.
  • Customization and Configuration (MB2-631) – There is another 3 day course to prepare for this exam, 8912 – Customization and Configuration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. This course is similar to the corresponding 3.0 Customization except that the security elements (Business Units, User Management, Security Roles, etc.) have been moved from the Installation course to this one. They have also removed the Workflow, Client Side Scripting, and Reporting sections that were a major portion of the 3.0 class. I understand there will be an entire course devoted to Workflow in the future.

clip_image004The Microsoft Certified Business Management Solutions Professional (MBSP) certification is a ‘premier’ title that requires a number of exams. The requirements cover not only CRM specific exams but other areas of Microsoft technologies as well. These cover such subjects and SQL Server, Exchange Server, and Windows Server as well as development tools. The Professional certifications also have competencies, just like the Specialists certifications. Each has different requirements but each generally requires a couple of CRM exams as well as several others.

Since there are so many choices, it’s best that I direct you to the Microsoft Certification web site at http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/dynamics/default.mspx. Scroll about half way down the page to the Microsoft Certified Business Management Solutions Professional section.

I hope you will pursue Microsoft certification in Dynamics CRM. I think you will find it a journey worth taking.

Larry Lentz

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