Monday, April 13, 2015

Passing MB5-705: Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations

I just passed MB5-705: Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations. Lots of lessons learned so I thought I would write them down while they are still fresh.

Know the Ground You Are Fighting On

Firstly, understand what is ahead of you. In this case, the exam is 90 minutes long and has 45 questions. You need to score 700 to pass which, I assume, is equivalent to a 70% pass rate but this this not completely clear on the Microsoft site. If this is right though, it means you can get up to around eight questions wrong.

In the exam, you can mark questions for review. What I tend to do is answer the questions and, if I am not sure the answer is right, mark them as for review. Then, at the end, I go over these until I get under the eight question threshold then I cross my fingers and hit the finish button.

In terms of the topics covered, the details can be found here. Here are the high-level topics (the link goes down to a summary of the areas covered under each of these headings):

  • Explain projects and project management
  • Define Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step
  • Initiate a project and prepare for the diagnostic phase
  • Deliver Decision Accelerators
  • Generate a proposal and final licensing and services agreements
  • Describe project management disciplines
  • Use waterfall delivery
  • Use agile delivery
  • Manage the deployment and operations phases

In this exam, all topics are weighted equally.

Gather Intelligence From Allies

There is a blog out there which, if you heed its advice, will be really, really, useful. Kevin Crampton aka @kevtravel put out this blog post which is an excellent summary of resources and even includes his notes. The reason I only just passed the exam is because I did not give this blog the consideration it deserved. Learn from my mistake and do what Kevin tells you.

Gather Intelligence From Double Agents

Let us broach the dirty subject of ‘Brain Dumps’. It is a poorly kept secret that there are operators out there who, for a fee, will sell what they claim are ‘questions closely resembling the Microsoft exam questions’. Microsoft have made their position on brain dumps crystal clear. On their Exam Policies and FAQ page they state:

“If a candidate violates any testing rule, exam policy, or term within the exam agreement (NDA), or engages in any misconduct that diminishes the security and integrity of the Microsoft Certification Program in any way, the candidate may be permanently prohibited from taking any future Microsoft Certification exams. In addition, the candidate may be decertified from the Microsoft Certification Program, and test scores and certifications may be revoked.

Examples of such misconduct, misuse, and fraud include, but are not limited to, the following:

Using unauthorized material in attempting to satisfy certification requirements (this includes using "brain-dump" material and/or unauthorized publication of exam questions with or without answers)
…”

Using brain dumps is a bad idea for a number of reasons:

  • Microsoft can revoke your certification and ban you if you use them (as per above)
  • While I have no evidence for this, I hear that Microsoft periodically reword questions to trip up the brain dumpers
  • My understanding is the answers are randomized in their order in the exam so ‘A’ will not always be the answer

While I see value in the brain dumps as a test exam to identify areas which need study, to use them is a violation so do so at your own risk.

Gather Intelligence From Previous Battles

The pre-cursor to this exam was MB5-858. This is an exam I studied for in the dark past and still had my study notes for. This was useful to refresh my memory but it is fair to say, on its own, this information was insufficient to pass the exam.

Gather Your Weaponry

Kevin provides an excellent summary of tools to use to help pass the exam. There were two key resources which proved invaluable to me. The first one was the SureStep Client (make sure it is the 2012 version). While a lot of material in the SureStep 2010 client is the same as the 2012 client, the exam tests the 2012 client so it makes sense to be up to date.

The second was the client materials for the 80450 course. This material closely follows the topics in the exam and is very useful for revision.

For both of these you will need Internet Explorer (they use the File Manager tool to down load them) and a partner account on PartnerSource.

Once More Unto the Breach

If this is an exam you are studying for, I wish you the best of luck. If you prepare and follow my advice (and Kevin’s) you should be fine. Even if you do trip up, Microsoft are offering second chance exams at the moment (well, in Australia anyway) which takes the pressure off a little.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Forrester Trajectories for Enterprise CRM: 2008-2015

Every now and again, Forrester or Gartner release a report on the comparative strengths of the market leading CRM systems. Forrester has just put out their “The Forrester Wave™: CRM Suites For Large Organizations, Q1 2015”. If you Google around you will be able to obtain a free copy in exchange for giving your contact details to one of the major CRM vendors.

Forrester Trajectories

My most recent trajectory analysis was in July last year. Basically, I took the Gartner reports from 2012 to 2014 and plotted how the products moved over time. This time I have done it for the Forrester CRM Suites for Large Organization reports for 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2015.

Here is the result.

Yes, my Photoshop/GIMP skills have come a long way in six months.

The selection of products is based on those which have ended up in the leaders quadrant which are:

  • Microsoft
  • Oracle Siebel
  • Pegasystems
  • Salesforce
  • SAP Cloud for Customer
  • SAP CRM

SAP Cloud for Customer was not mentioned in the previous Forrester reports so it has no trajectory line. for the others, the white circle is where the product is in 2015 with the tail being its path over the previous reports.

Products Left Behind

In the previous reports, the Leaders quadrant also had:

  • CDC Software (2010)
  • Oracle CRM on Demand (2012)
  • RightNow (2012)

CDC Pivotal (now Aptean Pivotal CRM) is considered by Forrester to be suited to the midsize market (250-999 employees) and therefore does not appear in the chart. Oracle CRM on Demand no longer appears in any list so I am not sure what has happened to it, unless it has been bundled in with Oracle Siebel. RightNow was bought by Oracle in 2011 and is now known as Oracle Service Cloud with Forrester considering it a customer service solution and not an enterprise CRM solution.

Market Presence

Of the six players in the Leaders quadrant, four have a large market presence:

  • Microsoft
  • Oracle Siebel
  • Salesforce
  • SAP CRM

These have been the four main players for quite a while now with me highlighting them in my trajectory blog in 2012.

Challengers

The challenger of great interest to me is Pegasystems. Again I mentioned it as one to watch back in 2012 and here it is. Over the seven years it has emerged from the Strong Performers and is now a Leader. I wrote in 2012 that I had never heard of Pegasystems. These days, while the product does not feature on my radar often, I personally know three people in Australia working for them.

Other Trajectories of Interest

Of the four main players, all have moved back in their strategy score, presumably a normalisation relative to the wider market. Sadly, the only one of the four that has also moved down in its offering score in Microsoft. The Forrester report evaluated Dynamics CRM 2013 so, with the improvements in CRM 2015 and the additional capabilities available through Dynamics Marketing and Social Engagement, I expect this position will improve in the next report.

Industry Consolidation

In terms of the number of players featuring in the Forrester report we have:

  • 2008: 14 (6 in the Leaders quadrant)
  • 2010: 18 (7 in the Leaders quadrant)
  • 2012: 17 (7 in the Leaders quadrant)
  • 2015: 9 (6 in the Leaders quadrant)

While the number of leading players has stayed about the same, the total number of CRM solutions in the entire space has dropped significantly by about 1/3 since 2008. I observed a similar trend back in 2011 for sales force automation products.

Conclusions

While the industry continues to consolidate, the same four players still dominate the CRM market with Microsoft losing a little ground, in terms of their offering, relative to the other players. Pegasystems continues to move from strength to strength and it will be interesting to see if they become the fifth horse in the race in the near future.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

CRM: Corpse Relationship Management

A recent project highlighted some of the newer features of Dynamics CRM so I thought running through some of the key aspects of the project to show what can be done in CRM 2013/2015.

The Project

The British Research Academy Into Necrobiological Systems (BRAINS) asked me to put a CRM system together in case of a necrobiological disaster, as described in Kane and Selsis’ recent pioneering work. In short, as we explore the universe there is an ever-increasing risk of exposing ourselves to Spontaneous Necro-Animation Psychosis (SNAP). While many agree such an apocalypse is inevitable, there is no reason why we cannot maintain relations between the uninfected and the infected as seen in documentaries such as the BBC’s “In The Flesh”.

Here is the CRM system I put together for them.

Tracing Infection Lineage

Knowing the lineage of the infected will assist in a 360 degree view of the recently eaten. Who ate whom? Do they tend to kill or nibble? Do they have a preference in their cerebral comestibles?

Using the hierarchy settings, against the Contact entity in CRM, we can link Contacts to their ‘parent’ and visually display the hierarchy.

Jim Grim has been busy and obviously likes to sample his meals, more than gorge himself leading to the creation of four additional walkers.

Travelling up the hierarchy, we can also identify that all-so-important ‘patient zero’ where the outbreak began.

Collaboration (Bringing the Brains Together)

Using the often overlooked Posts, we can combine automated responses, such as from GPS tags on our upwardly mobile departed, with manual entries requesting assistance from the wider team. Jim’s speech therapy is not progressing well but the duct tape is working a treat.

Quick Create Forms

Often, when on the road, you do not have time to fill out a full CRM form. Whether you are behind the wheel or behind a makeshift barricade, getting the data into CRM as quickly and efficiently as possible is often the key to survival. The new Quick Create Forms are for quick data entry, capturing the essentials and getting to the guts of it.

Enhanced Mobility

Even when you do not have an internet connection because of a power cut or the shambling hordes breaking the transmitters, you can still enter data when on the road. The mobile client of CRM allows you to enter data, even when you are offline and will sync when a connection is re-established.

Other Features

Other new features such as roll-up and calculated fields, quick view forms and business process flows will also prove useful down the trail, and perhaps in your systems as well. Feel free to explore but, as with all adventures into new territory, it is always recommended you have a trusted guide to make sure you do not fall into any traps or find yourself in a dead end.

Have a great April Fool’s Day ;)

 
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