Extending CRM 2011: Fellowship of the Plugin

Our story continues with our diminutive hero exploring the world of Plugins and their place in extending CRM 2011.  As mentioned in my previous post, I am not a developer…but am pursuing the Extending CRM 2011 (MB2-786) certification to improve my abilities to consult, write design documents and in general be a greater asset to my team.  In this post, I will discuss my review of concepts related to CRM Plugin development, the tools that I used and my thoughts on the topic. Continue reading “Extending CRM 2011: Fellowship of the Plugin”

Advertisements

Extending CRM 2011…the CRMHobbit attempts to get his first certification

I have been studying for the Extending CRM 2011 certification (MB2-876) on and off for the past 3 months.  Between work, home and other commitments…making time where I can to get ready.  Before I go any further, let me make a declarative statement.  I am NOT, nor do I pretend to be a developer.  Did I take C++ and C# in college?  Sure.  Did I pass the classes?  Sure…got an A and a B, respectively.  Was that 15 years ago?  You bet.  So why am I attempting Extending CRM 2011 as my first certification?  Great question…and I feel that I have a great answer.

I have been working with Dynamics CRM since version 3.0 and in various roles.  Currently, I am a CRM Architect and am sometimes finding my lack of development (slinging code) skills can be frustrating for me at times.  Not that it has affected my ability to execute during a project, just that I have to do some more homework than if I had that skill set.  Further, I think that having the knowledge that the Extending CRM certification would provide would benefit my development team in better design documents, my client in a higher level of consultation and my implementation team in a more knowledgeable team member.

So how does one who is admittedly NOT a developer tackle a certification which is mainly for those who are EXTENDING CRM through code development?  Well, there are many avenues to pursue.  However, personal history had automatically removed one of those options for me…the crash course.

Back in the Winter of 1998, I so desperately wanted to break into the IT field and my perceived path to do so was the Windows NT MSCE certification.  Not having much experience at the time, and now admittedly not doing much research on the topic, I thought that my only way to ensure success was through an in class certification program.  I got a student loan for a mere $8000 and enrolled at the University of Phoenix to take their 12 week MSCE program.  I thought things were going well and was about to start the TCP/IP portion of the program when it was announced that the Windows NT MSCE certification was being retired.  At the time, I didn’t realize that Windows 2000 would not be the standard within the Enterprise space for about two years.  I thought that it was all for naught.  I never sat for the exam, never got my certs…but will have that loan paid off middle of next year. 🙂

So, I was determined for this go around to use the training tools that were available to me on PartnerSource (e-learning and MOC documentation).  Side note, a short time after I began studying for the exam, Microsoft announced retirement of the CRM 2011 certifications as a result of the impending release of CRM 2013 later this year.  I know now that this is not a lost cause and the knowledge will still benefit me in the ways that I described earlier.

My appointment to sit for the exam is set…Friday, October 4th at 11:00 EST.  This week I will be doing my final review of the documentation and videos to prepare for the exam and cram as much knowledge into my little Hobbit head as possible.  I will be blogging every day this week with the topic that I covered, the media that I used and my thoughts on the topic.  I hope that for those of you that have considered pursuing certification will find my tale an inspiring one that motivates you to start your journey as I have done.

Shawn (CRMHobbit)

The “Process Whisperer”…you should buy his book.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has a very robust workflow capability, known as Processes within the system. There is a wealth of capability waiting to be harnessed, like that of an unbroken Thoroughbred. Horses and their owners have Monty Roberts, known as the “Horse Whisperer”. Well, believe it or not, Dynamics CRM has had our own “Process Whisperer” this whole time within the CRM MVP ranks…Richard Knudson.  Now you can get his vast knowledge of processes in a great reference title. I have mentioned Richard Knudson in past blog posts, namely “Using Dialogs to Create an Application for Services“, his knowledge on Processes and Dialogs within CRM 2011 is second to none. His multi-part series on Dialogs on the Dynamics CRM Trick Bag is fantastic. However, “Building Business with CRM” is one of those books that every CRM consultant or business user should not be without.

Buy Richard’s book at http://www.crmbizbook.com for your own reference, to help your practice or for your customer who is about to take over the day-to-day ownership and maintenance of their internal business processes enabled through Dynamics CRM.

Visit Richard’s blog at http://www.dynamicscrmtrickbag.com for a ton of great Dynamics CRM information, including this blog post on his “Top X Fave Business Process Tips & Tricks”. Included on this post are the following video recordings:

Part 1: Introduction; Bulk Edits v. Update Workflows; Limitations of BPs; working with closed records and read-only fields; different versions of long-running processes

Part 2: Advanced Find, dashboards, Sales Pipeline report and the Sales Pipeline funnel chart

Part 3: Working with Hyperlinks and Record URLs

Part 4: Business Process Security: who can run on-demand processes, who can create them, who triggers automatic workflows

Part 5: Dialog Process Tips

Special Thanks to Richard for helping me out personally in expanding my knowledge on Dialogs and Processes within CRM 2011!