Preparing for Exam MB2-866: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization and Configuration

Like most people, I don’t generally like taking tests. But like some people, sometimes I really like taking tests. For me, the fun tests are the ones where you know the subject matter well, the questions are reasonably well-written, and are about important concepts. In my view, the Dynamics CRM exams have usually met these criteria, and the Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization and Configuration exam (MB2-866) definitely meets them.
I took it last week and immensely enjoyed it. It’s significantly different from the 4.0 exam, which isn’t surprising since Dynamics CRM 2011 has so many new features in the customization and configuration topic area. So if you’re preparing for this exam, I hope you find this little prep-guide helpful. And if you do, here’s something you may find even more helpful: I’m kicking off my Dynamics CRM 2011 exam prep series with a 3-day live online training program in November, and if you want to register or get more information, please visit our CRM 2011 Certification Prep page.

Exam Nuts & Bolts

The exam itself is long: there are 75 questions and you must score a minimum of 700 points to pass. I’m not sure how the questions are weighted, so it’s hard to know exactly how many questions you need to get right to pass, but the old rule was that 70% was the minimum passing score, and my guess is that’s still about right.
You get almost three hours to take it (2 hours and 30 minutes if I recall correctly), and how much time you need obviously depends on how well you know the material. You can mark questions for review. My advice here is on your first pass through, try to answer all the questions, and mark for review only the ones that are not easy or obvious. If you get to 75 and find that you’ve marked 90% plus of the questions for review…well, that’s not good! J
There are two main kinds of questions:
  • Multiple choice with only one answer correct (option buttons)
  • Multiple choice with multiple possible correct answers
The problem with the second kind is that you don’t know how many correct answers there are. I thought I remembered the CRM 4.0 exams indicated how many were correct (“select the two best options”), but in any case, this time you don’t know how many to choose.
Generally I’d say the test design was fine. That is, there weren’t very many poorly worded questions, you could usually tell what the point of the question was, I can’t remember any single-answer questions where I thought there were more than one that was correct, and so forth. Test design is difficult, however, and I’ve (still) yet to see a certification exam I’d consider flawless. On the current state of the MB2-866 exam, I’d say the test design is as good as it needs to be: poor test design will not be the reason somebody doesn’t pass the test.

Topic Area Overview

Here I’ll survey the topic areas, including their percentage weights from the exam page, and give you some highlights and things to look out for in each one. One caveat: when you take the test you don’t know which topic area any particular question is from. And if you look closely at the Skills Measure tab on the test page (here: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?ID=MB2-866#tab2 ) you will see there’s some overlap. For example, the first topic area (organizational structure) includes a sub-area for “managed solutions and properties”, yet there’s an entire topic area (the last one) called “Implementing a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Solution”. This is confusing, but it’s important: the number of questions I got on various aspects of solutions seemed to me well over 13% of the total, which would come as a surprise if you didn’t realize that general topic comes up in more than one of these topic areas!
Anyway, here goes, with a focus on what’s new in Dynamics CRM 2011.
Configuring a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Organizational Structure (15 percent)
  • Business Units. Business units can be deleted in CRM 2011 under certain conditions, so be sure you know what those are. Make sure you are familiar with default teams for business units.
  • Architecture Concepts, where and how to customize Dynamics CRM. Understand which customization options are different between Dynamics CRM Online and on-premise.
  • System Settings. Understand the new system settings, such as currency precision, auditing, goals. Understand how Language settings work (on the Administration page), and how Currencies and Fiscal Year settings work (both on the Business Management page).
  • Solutions. This is a big topic – I’ll cover it below.
Managing Users & Teams and Security (15 percent)
  • Security roles themselves work essentially the same in CRM 2011 as in CRM 4.0. But…there are so many new things to secure in CRM 2011 that there are a lot more options! For example, you can understand how the entity-based and task-based privilege model works, but if you don’t understand how in Dynamics CRM 2011 it’s applied to things like who can manage solutions, and who and how you can control access to charts and dashboards, and all the other new stuff, you’ll have a hard time with a lot of the questions on the test!
  • Append and Append to. Just remember: if you don’t have append privilege on an entity you can’t append it to anything; if you don’t have append to you can’t append anything to it.
  • Teams are a full-fledged security principal in CRM 2011. This is one of the most important improvements in the security model, and it’s well represented on the test. Make sure you know how to maintain teams, add users to teams, assign security roles to teams, when teams can be deleted and what the implications are, and so forth.
  • Field Security is an important new feature and again well represented. Know what kinds of fields it can be applied to (custom fields only!), how it’s done, and who can do it.
  • Maintaining user accounts is reasonably similar to how it was in CRM 4.0. Make sure you know what’s required to add users (e.g. you can add a user without a security role but not without a business unit), whether you can delete users (no), what happens to users if their business unit is disabled (they can’t access CRM but they still take up a license!), what happens to records owned by a user whose account is disabled (pretty much nothing), how to bulk reassign records, and the like.
Customizing Attributes and Entities (16 percent)
This may be the most detailed topic area on the exam. For example…
  • Option sets get a lot of coverage, and make sure you understand global option sets. For example, work through what happens if you use a global option set on forms for two different entities and change it from one of them.
  • Make sure you have detailed knowledge of the different data types available for custom fields, and which field properties can be changed after saving a field.
  • When you create a custom entity, which settings can be changed after saving and which cannot? If you define a new entity as an activity entity can you change your mind about that or about whether it’s displayed in the Activity Menus? (no and no). Can you change your mind about support for Notes, Activities, Connections, Sending e-mail, Mail-merge, Document Management or Queues? (no, no, no, no, yes, yes, no). How about Duplicate detection or Auditing? (yes and yes).
Customizing Relationships and Mappings (15 percent)
Of all the topic areas on this exam, this one is probably the most similar to CRM 4.0. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Make sure you really understand the ins and outs and N:N relationships, especially the differences between native N:N’s and manual N:N’s using an intersection entity.
  • Understand how Connections implement N:N relationships. (Connections are new in CRM 2011)
  • Understand how you can access relationship properties (e.g., through form navigation – this is new in CRM 2011) and what you can customize once you get there (the difference between Parental, Referential, Referential (Restrict Delete) and Configurable Cascading – this is the same as in CRM 4.0)
  • Know what mapping does and doesn’t do.
Configuring Auditing (9 percent)
  • Who can configure auditing?
  • How do you configure audit partitions? Which ones can be deleted and when?
  • What version of SQL Server (on-premise, of course!) do you need to configure audit partitions?
  • Can auditing be turned on and off for an entity? If it’s on, which fields are audited by default? If it’s on, are schema customizations audited? (yes, all of them, and yes)
Managing Forms, Views, and Charts (17 percent)
Lots of new stuff in this topic area!
  • How do you create multiple forms for an entity and what can they be used for? How are they assigned to security roles?
  • What’s the difference between system-defined and public views? (same as in 4.0) Can public views be deactivated? (yes, new in 2011)
  • Make sure you know the ins and outs of lookup, associated and quick find views.
  • Can you export a chart’s XML definition file, modify it, and then import it? (yes) If so, what is that good for? (CRM can display multi-series charts, but the chart designer can’t create them, for example)
  • Can you create a personal chart, export its XML definition file, and then import that as a system chart? (yes) If so, what’s that good for?

Implementing a Solution (13 percent)

When you consider that you get questions on this in other topic areas, it really means it accounts for more than 13% of the total questions. Plus it’s all new, so make sure you’re up to speed on topics like these:

  • What are all the different components that can be part of a solution? Which of those components are form-enabled?
  • What are the differences between managed and unmanaged solutions?
  • When do you create a managed solution? (when you export it)
  • What happens if you import several managed solutions on top of each other? How does conflict resolution work?
  • How do solution versions work? What happens when you import a new version of an existing managed solution?
  • What are managed properties for and where do you configure them? (they control whether somebody can customize components of a managed solution, but they are configured in the unmanaged solution!)
  • You need drill-down detail knowledge about what the managed property options are for different components (e.g., entities, forms, views, fields and so forth), as well as for the differences between system entities and custom entities. Here’s an informal treatment of the subject:
Here are the possible managed properties for a custom entity:
In addition to managed properties at the entity level, they can also be set at the form level:
The view level:
The field level:
Charts are like forms and views: each one either can be customized, or not.
System entities, and system attributes of system entities are different: they cannot be locked down as part of a managed solution. For example, for account:
Account name field on account:
Same for the other customizable components (views, forms, charts). But for custom components of a system entity, those can be locked down according to the same rules. For example, here are the managed properties for a custom chart of a system entity:

25 Comments »

  1. Adam Karlsson Said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 3:41 am

    Hi there!
    I am studying for taking certification
    MB-868 Application next friday.

    If someone have any examtests out there
    please send me this documents.

    Thank you in advance!

  2. ismail tutumluer Said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 7:58 am

    Nice summary.

  3. Mangesh Mahadadalkar Said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    Hi Richard,

    This is very useful article for the newbies of MS CRM 2011 who which to take the certification exam. I have searched an looked for tips and tricks to clear the exam. I donot have the Official Microsoft Training kit as yet.

    So your article is as a text box for us…

    Thank you for your effort.

    Regards,
    Mangesh Mahadadalkar.

  4. Preparing for MB2-867 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Installation and Deployment « Customery Said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 10:29 am

    [...] article was inspired by Richard Knudson’s similar article on preparing for exam MB2-866 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization and Configuration. Thanks Richard. Advertisement LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", [...]

  5. Berel Lax Said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

    Adam,

    I just took the MB2-868 exam and have some very good information regarding I’d rather not post on the blog. Not sure best way to share this with you.

    Berel

  6. Jaco Kofman Said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

    Very helpful, thanks for posting this.

  7. Anonymous Said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 8:09 pm

    Adam,
    I took the MB2-868 earlier this week and, among other things (MOC, e-Learning), used the prep questions from pass-guarantee.com. Literally when I got to the exam the questions were exactly the same as the prep questions and I made a 1000 on the exam.

    Best of luck on your exam!

  8. Helena Said,

    September 15, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    I’m studying for the Applications exam and then the Customization & Configuration exam. If anyone has any old prep exam please let me knonw where I can find them to use as study materials.

  9. AdamV Said,

    September 16, 2011 @ 3:21 am

    A great article, Richard – you beat me to the punch, as I passed this a couple of months ago and had still not got round to writing up my thoughts on my blog yet (real life getting in the way!).

    I too found that solutions seemed to be overly-present in the number of questions asked, but that is the point of the weighting, so that even if you had 25 out of 75 on that topic, the scores are adjusted to normalise it back down to 13% (plus the extra bit for the overlap in other areas).

    Thanks for the great summary of how managed properties work, that was probably my weakest area (my own fault for not prepping that bit of the topic well enough).

    In general I find many exams for a new product version like this seem to deliberately ask lots of things about the new or changed stuff, to avoid people coasting through on old knowledge (from CRM 4). Obviously some stuff is unchanged and some questions still cover it, but my feeling was that you really need to have studied the new material, whichis probably a good thing.

    Interesting (but depressing) to see in the comments that there are still people who are happy to ask for and to give information which is outside the bounds of the NDA, and even link to blatant braindumping sites which flout copyright laws and degrade the value of certification.
    Getting a score of 1000 based on parrot-fashion learning of answers does not mean you know the subject, and probably makes you positively dangerous working on real-world solutions where no-one tells you the answer before you start.

  10. Richard Knudson Said,

    September 16, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for the detailed comment and analysis. I agree on all points. On your last note about braindumping/pirating/parroting: I should probably be more careful in approving comments, for one thing. But I also think there are people who might not really know the difference between legit pre-test vendors (measureup, for example) and the copiers…guess I should write an article on the topic, right?

    On that topic, who are your favorite vendors for legitimate exam prep content?

  11. Metaphorix Said,

    October 7, 2011 @ 9:10 am

    thanks for the update, I haven’t take the exam yet but it is on my list of things to do.

    This will help

  12. Exam tips for MB2-866 Customising CRM 2011 « Getting IT Right Said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 5:11 am

    [...] Knudson has boiled down some information on his CRM Trick Bag blog about how managed properties of managed solutions work, and what options are available, which I wish I had spent more time on as it seemed [...]

  13. AdamV Said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 8:26 am

    I’ve added some more thoughts about the exam in general and more specifically about solutions and the changes to terminology around attributes/fields and field data types here:
    http://blog.meteorit.co.uk/2011/10/11/exam-tips-for-mb2-866-customising-crm-2011/

    By the way, your post formatting seems to have gone a bit wonky. Looks like you truncated a bit in the middle where you were itemising the breakdown of the objectives, which left a tag open and everything thereafter is in heading 3 style or something.

  14. Code Warrior Said,

    October 22, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

    Hi All….I am taking this exam soon…Any tips or literature which might help?

  15. mcsnufflelaupagus Said,

    December 2, 2011 @ 1:50 am

    Hello Richard!
    I am from Asia and I came across your article while preparing for the certification exam. Everything that you have written here was very helpful. Thank you very much!

    I just took the exam today and I passed! :)

  16. Richard Knudson Said,

    December 3, 2011 @ 10:04 am

    I’m glad you found the content helpful, and congrats for passing. These exams are not easy, and it’s quite an accomplishment to pass them.

    Thanks for reading!

  17. Prachi Said,

    December 6, 2011 @ 6:10 am

    Hi Richard,

    I took the exam last week and passed. I refered your blogs while preparing and were really very helpful. Thanks a million!!

  18. Paul Bauer Said,

    December 6, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

    Just passed this exam, thanks for the guide!

    I was able to study the items on your guide for about an hour and it had huge impact during the test. Thanks again.

    One study question I’ll add, for anyone studying for the test:
    Can you export a managed solution? (No)

  19. Richard Knudson Said,

    January 4, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

    Congrats, Prachi! And thanks for reading. Richard

  20. Richard Knudson Said,

    January 4, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

    Thanks Paul, and congrats on passing the exam! Here’s a corollary practice test question to the one you contributed:

    If all you have is CRM Online and you want to maintain and develop customizations on an ongoing basis, but not in a production environment, what’s the best way to do it?
    (Just keep creating 30-day free trials and on day 29 or before of each one, export everything as an unmanaged solution and import it into the next one). Cheers. Richard

  21. Steve Said,

    April 2, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

    Disappointed to say I just took MB2-866 and failed. I’d agree though that the fault was my own, and the test questions seemed clear and fair.

    I was trying to use the MS eLearning, and I just don’t like prepping that way. I’m astounded that there still aren’t any actual BOOKS covering this material.

    Richard, I just found this blog a few minutes ago, and will definitely read it thoroughly as I prep for my retake.

    Thanks for your efforts and I hope & expect to pass on my next attempt.

  22. Mohamed Akil Said,

    April 9, 2012 @ 8:20 am

    Very helpful article, thanks a lot Richard Knudson

    In fact, I’m preparing for the exam and I read many of your articles. They are all good and useful!

  23. Richard Knudson Said,

    April 22, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

    Thanks again, Mohamed — let me know how you do on the exam, and good luck!

    Richard

  24. Richard Knudson Said,

    April 22, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the note, and good luck on the test! Let me know how you do.

    Richard

  25. Ahmed Said,

    April 27, 2012 @ 8:13 am

    very help full post for the exam , i will be taking this exam next month :)

Leave a Comment