Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Ask the Hosk - What CRM 2013 Certification should I take?

I received a question about one of my favourite subjects, CRM Certification.  I always encourage people to get certified because I think it gives them an in depth and broad knowledge of CRM.   It gives the person something to take into their yearly review.  On with the question



I have been working in CRM about 3 to 4 years. (customization and development) Now I want to have certifications of CRM. 

Can you please let me know for which papers should I go first. MB2-703 or there is any other also..

Also can you please share what type of questions are most frequent in paper or in which pattern should a prepare for paper??




I would recommend you study the MB2-703 Customization and configuration certification.  If you have been working in this area for the last 3/4 years you should have a good knowledge of most of the content on the exam.

You will still need to study for the exam because it will require you to know exactly the right option because there are a lot of questions where the answers are all quite similar with only small differences, so you have to know how the functionality works precisely.

The best material to study for the exams is the Microsoft MOC's, these are free to people who work for Microsoft Partners.  You can get it here 

I would also recommend the resources I have made 

There are blog posts, videos and some test questions for you to practice.

I'm not sure what questions appear most frequently and this could change, so my advice would be study for the certification.


Thursday, 2 October 2014

CRM 2013 - Quick Guide to Business Rules

What is it
A new feature in CRM 2013 called Business Rules or Portable Logic

What can it do

Business rules allows you to write logic on CRM forms without writing Javascript.  It can hide fields, calculations, display error messages. 

Business can

Hide/show fields
Make a field businsess required
calculate a fields value based on values in other fields
validate a field, showing an error message if an invalid value is input
disable a field

Why do you need to know it

It's a way to do form validation and form manipulation that previously only people with Javascript knowledge could do, now end users and CRM consultants can do form manipulation.

Business rules also run on the Tablet and mobile apps

Why is it important

It allows non developers to add validation and functionality (hide/show/disable fields) to a CRM form.

Business rules will also work on the tablet application, hence why business rules are also known as portable business logic

Why's it good for customers

Reduces the dependancy on developers to add form validation, field calculations and hiding/showing/disabling fields.  This will allow customers to create business rules

Why's it good developers/consultants

Consultants can add functionality which was only available using Javascript in CRM 2011. 


one down side is it's another place validation can run, which means you can have conflicting validation from Javascript and business rules.

Business rules have to be created in pairs, e.g. one rule to hide a field and another rule to show the field.  Most first time users of business rules forget to add the second rule.

Business rules and Javascript can conflict.  Business rules are triggered before Javascript

Business rules and Javascript means there are two different areas to check, which can create some unexpected behaviour

Will it change in the future

Yes, its going to get even better with IF/Else conditional statements in CRM 2015.  

CRM 2015 will also add improved calculations and rollup fields

Where Can I find out more

Microsoft SDK

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Ask the Hosk - I have passed MB2-703 should I take the equivalent CRM 2011 certification

The Question

I have passed MB2-703 (CRM 2013 Customization and Configuration Certification), should I take the CRM 2011 certification

Hosk Answer

This conundrum is puzzled by many people and is a common question. Once you have passed one certification, you are buzzing and ready to pass another, it would seem logical to pass an exam which would be very similar in subject matter.

But personally I wouldn't bother taking the CRM 2011.  

CRM 2011 and CRM 2013 customization exams are very similar.  In CRM 2013 there are some different questions on the new CRM 2013 functionality but the core of the exam is the same.

I would say it would be more beneficial to study for another CRM 2013 exam - applications or extending (if you are a developer) rather than studying for the CRM 2011 customization certification.

Studying for other CRM 2013 certifications will be valuable to employers and will show you have knowledge of more areas in CRM 2013.

It might be beneficial to get more CRM 2013 experience, using the new features in CRM 201.  I would target the CRM 2013 functionality I had no/little experience using rather than focus on certifications.

Certifications and theoretical knowledge are extremely useful and recommend everyone obtain certifications relevant to your role, but practical experience is vital when you need to use the functionality on a customer project.

Do you have a question

If you have a question, please email me

Friday, 19 September 2014

Video from CRM MVP Mitch Milam - Becoming a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Technical Architect

This is a blog about careers in the Microsoft Dynamics so I feel I should definitely share this excellent video from CRM MVP Mitch Milam

Mitch is a CRM MVP (multi year)

Mitch has a great blog, which is his main technical blog

Mitch is running a course on Becoming a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Technical Artchitect, so this is a bit of a free sample for people who can then sign up for the course if they wish.

It's  52 minutes and gives you a good value

The video is hosted at msDynamicsWorld

or on youtube

It's a great video for people who are interested in becoming a CRM technical architect and it will let you know the road ahead is a long one.

His first rule is YOU SHOULD HAVE A BLOG, which is great advice.

The other advice the video and find out

Friday, 12 September 2014

CRM 2013 Interview Question - What things should you consider when choosing between CRM online or on Premise

An interesting question which can crop up in a CRM interview

Things to consider for choosing Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

The answer which pops into my head instantly is CRM online doesn't allow to use custom workflows or call other DLL's from your plugins.  I'm sure this the first thing which CRM developers will think of.

You cannot view the SQL database or do anything with it

great article on the limitations of CRM Online

One good point is CRM online rollups are automatically applied, so companies have to quickly regression test.

What hardware has the user currently got?

The big advantage of CRM Online is the customer doesn't need to buy any servers or software licenses.  An on premise installation will need at least one server (assuming the customer has active directory setup) with SQL Server installed.

Users (e.g. how many)

CRM On premise uses active directory for the security authentication (CRM doesn't do the authenticating itself, it lets other software do it, a bit like CRM doesn't have any email capabilities but gets Outlook to do it).

If the company has a lot of users, this will mean a big process to migrate all these users to have windows live accounts, which are needed to use CRM online.


If you choose CRM, online then all your data will be stored in the cloud, on Microsoft's servers somewhere.  Some companies do not want their data beyond their control like this which means CRM Online is not a viable option.

You also need to think about backups.  CRM On premise will allow you to back up databases whenever you want, but because you do not have any access to the CRM Database or anything in the SQL Server you cannot backup your DB.   If you needed to restore a database with CRM, online you need to liaise with Microsoft support and it's probably going to be a restore of a daily backup


There are some limitations to plugin development with online CRM because the plugins need to live in the sandbox (it breaks when the plugin tries to climb out of the sandbox).  The plugins have to be one dll and cannot call any other dll's.

There is a limit of the number of workflows and entities you can with CRM Online.  200 workflows and 300 entities.  As limits go this is pretty big and I have personally not seen a project which got near the limits.   This limitation was true in CRM 2011, I assume it hasn't changed in CRM 2013 but I could be wrong.

For detailed list of the differences between CRM online and CRM on premise, these blogs offer a detailed description of the differences

Quick Compare: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online vs. On Premise

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 – Limitations of Dynamics CRM Online Vs On Premises

Picture from

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Quick Guide - What are Rollups in CRM 2013

What is it
Rollups are updates to CRM 2013 which usually contain bugfixes, hotfixes and sometimes enhancements.  Here is a definition

RollupDefinition: An update rollup is a tested, cumulative set of hotfixes, security updates, critical updates, and updates that are packaged together for easy deployment. A rollup generally targets a specific area, such as security, or a component of a product, such as Internet Information Services (IIS).

Are they the same as service packs
Nope.  Service packs usually contain enhancements, rollups usually bugfixes.  To add to the confusion they can sometimes not both be installed

Check this article to understand how recently you could install a rollup if you had installed the latest service pack

definition of a Service Pack
Definition: A service pack is a tested, cumulative set of all hotfixes, security updates, critical updates, and updates. Service packs may also contain additional fixes for problems that are found internally since the release of the product and a limited number of customer-requested design changes or features.

What can it do
Rollup's usually contain lots of bugfixes and sometimes they contain enhancements/performance improvements but mostly you won't notice any difference

Should I install it straight away
No, sometimes the rollups contain worse bugs than the bugs they are fixing.  That's an exaggeration but rollups do sometimes contain bugs, so it's best to wait a while and let other people find those bugs rather than your CRM users

What if I installed a rollup with a bug in
Tricky, you should be able to uninstall a rollup by going to 
control panel->programs

but some rollups cannot be rolled back once you install them!

Why do you need to know it
Rollup's can often contain fixes to bugs which might be affecting your users

Why is it important
Rollups contain fixes and can contains bugs/break your customization's

Why's it good for customers
potential fixes for only the cost of installing a rollup

Why should developers/consultants care
It's good for developers because rollups can contains fixes to the core CRM functionality.

Rollups can also break developers code, so you will need to do some regression tests on all the core functionality to test your fixes still work and Microsoft hasn't put in a bug

Rollups can sometimes contain fundamental code changes (CRM 2011 rollup 11 - core Javascript changes)

CRM Online automatically install rollups! You cannot stop them.

Some rollups can contain bugs or break your customizations

Some rollups cannot be uninstalled

Rollup best Practise

As a general rule, stay one rollup behind

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Career Question - How to move from CRM administrator to technical consultant?

Today's question is about moving from CRM Administrator to a technical consultant


Dear Hosk, 

How are you mate? I actually follow your blog and I had a couple questions for you regarding the crm field. I am currently working for a healthcare firm where I have transitioned to a crm administrator position and have implemented CRM 2011 and 2013. 

I want to move into a technical implementation consultancy position. Yesterday I pass crm 2011 certification for implementation. I also have a SQL certification. What do you recommend as a good path to consultancy? Should I take other crm certs or do you think I would be good to apply for positions? 

Thank you for your assistance! 


btw...I am originally from Solihull, B'ham living in the states.



I will give you my opinion but take into account I am a technical consultant and not a infrastructure/administrator type role. 

Certifications are always good, you learn about CRM and employers really like them. Certified people on average earn more money. 

You can't beat experience. If I were you I would study for another certification and apply for crm jobs. Look to get more experience using crm. 

If you are really keen you should start a blog and wrote articles on things you would be doing in a tech consultant role, you will learn and showcase your skills to potential employers. 



Thanks for your input. I am thinking of following your videos on developing CRM.

How would you start a technical blog without much technical/dev experience. I can write about challenges and fixes that I have come across while installing CRM and IFD. 


There are lots of things you can blog about but 

New functionality in CRM 2013. It's a good way for you to learn and document it for yourself and others. 

You can start a CRM 2013 trial - free for 30 days.