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on January 15, 2013
I passed MB2-866 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization and Configuration exam one year ago along with other CRM 2011 exams. Reviewing this book gives me an opportunity to recap the knowledge after one full year of hands-on CRM 2011 solution design and development.

As the sub title says so, this book is a practical guide for you to pass the certification exam.

For reader who is preparing for CRM 2011 certification exam for the first time, the best is to start the book in the end, Appendix C: Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Training and Certification.

If you had some hands-on experience with CRM 2011 customization and configuration, or you had prepared the exam for some time, you might try Chapter 9 first: Sample Certification Exam Questions. Taking the sample exam is good to check where you are and it will enhance your reading when you have questions in mind, especially with those you are not sure of the correct answers. The sample certification exam questions come with answers in detailed explanation. You could check your answers but better read the explanation after you read the book.

After saying that, you might start reading the book from any chapter, depends on how much you already knew or your interest at that time.

Chapter 1, Overview of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, provides technical side of product overview. You'd better know the user interface of the product before you continue; Dynamics CRM 2011 Application is recommended before taking this exam.

Chapter 2: Configuring the System Settings. You may need come back to this chapter for the unfamiliar settings.

Chapter 3: Configuring the Organization Structure. Security model is a big deal for customizing CRM 2011.

Chapter 4: Entity and Attribute Customization; pay attention to the options cannot be changed after attribute is created. The author gives a clever handle for that.

Chapter 5: Data Modeling Using Entity Relationships. Entity Model is the core of CRM application, pay attention to relationship types, runtime dependencies, and applicable restrictions.

Chapter 6: User Interface Customization: Forms, Views, and Charts

Chapter 7: Auditing; multiple levels fine tuning for auditing, organization level, entity level, and field level.

Chapter 8: Solutions; know the difference between unmanaged and manged solution, and how the solutions are layered when exporting/importing them.

Chapter 9: Sample Certification Exam Questions

Dynamics CRM 2011 has been evolving continuously, you might notice differences between the book's description and the user interface you are using for practice, one example, as the author pointed out, is read-optimized forms in Update Rollup 7. I don't think the real exam questions could be reflecting the updates anyway, you are likely safe for that regard.

The author may not want to repeat the information from the Microsoft learning center, but one useful information from there is the percentage of the questions in the exam, as copied here:

Configuring a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Organizational Structure (15 percent)
Managing Users & Teams and Security (15 percent)
Customizing Attributes and Entities (16 percent)
Customizing Relationships and Mappings (15 percent)
Configuring Auditing (9 percent)
Managing Forms, Views, and Charts (17 percent)
Implementing a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Solution (13 percent)

The concise content covers all testing points of the exam and the information is clearly presented.

You may not see the same question appears in your real exam, but you should be confident if you can answer all the questions in the book comfortably.
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on December 2, 2013
This book provides information that is quite useful for the exam but it fails in the exam part. As others have pointed out, at least 5 questions have their answers either incorrect or not matching the question. For those interested these questions are: 19, 29, 30, 53 and 59.
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on March 13, 2013
"Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization & Configuration (MB2-866) Certification Guide" is a book meant for preparation to the MB2-866 exam. While the book covers the skills measured in the exam in great detail, it is not one of those books you can simply read and then expect to pass. As the title portrays, the book covers configuration and customization of a CRM system which means that in order to fully understand what is going on, you need to try it out for yourself.

If you don't have access to a CRM installation or you don't have System Administrator privileges, the preface of the book will give you the necessary information in order to obtain this. As large parts of the book require you to try out the customizations and configurations yourself, it's not your typical "read on a bus" book. A good example is the "How to create a user" section which outlines step by step where you need to click and what information is required in order to create a user. Because of these sections, I spent most parts of my time with the book next to a computer so I could click wherever the author wanted me to click.

After finishing the book I went through the list of skills measured by Microsoft to see if I thought all them were covered in the book. In my opinion the book covers these very well, but I found the order of the chapters in the book to be a bit confusing while reading it. A lot of the concepts that were explained at the end of the book were referred to in the earlier chapters, causing trouble for those who are not familiar with the concepts. This means that the book shouldn't necessarily be read from front to back, you might have to jump between chapters if a topic you are not familiar with is mentioned but not explained. That being said, flipping through the book is not as easy as it should be. There's something about the size of the headings that makes it difficult to see if a section is the child or the sibling of the previous section, making the table of contents the only logical way to navigate through the book.

The one thing I absolutely love about this book is that each chapter contains a "Test your knowledge" section with multiple choice questions similar to the questions you can expect to find on the exam. The answers to these questions can be found in Appendix B, but unfortunately the number of answers for a chapter does not always match the number of questions. This means that you might have to dig up the correct answer yourself in some cases. In addition to the "Test your knowledge" sections, the book ends with a "Sample Certification Exam Questions" chapter containing 75 sample questions with answers and explanations to these answers. Luckily, all the answers for this chapter are not only present, but they are also explained in case you chose the wrong answer.

There are some annoyances while reading this book, spelling mistakes for example. First edition books often contain spelling mistakes and we simply have to tolerate that, but this book contains too many of them. An example is a complete diagram explaining the components of a form, where `form' is spelled `from' a large number of times. This can create some confusion as parts on the form are marked "from header" and "from body". Another annoyance is the author supplying us with incredibly bad mnemonics in order to help us remember the concepts. I appreciate all help I can get in order to remember, but in this case the mnemonics were not helpful at all (at least not to me). In my opinion, a mnemonic is something you have to be able to relate to, and therefore should create for yourself.

Ok, I'm done complaining now. All in all, this book is great when it comes to explaining the concepts of customizing and configuring Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and I would recommend the book to anyone taking the MB2-866 exam. However, I do not think that only reading this book is enough to make you pass, at least not for me. You will need to have tried out the customizations and configurations in real-life scenarios in order to fully get the hang of it.
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on January 15, 2013
I following Neil Benson's participations in CRM community for long time in fórums, twittter, etc., and now with a book! He focused in Dynamics CRM and i think he has a lot of experience and knowledge.
This book is organized in two main blocks.
The first part of the book is a full description of all the configuration options, parameters and customizations that Dynamics CRM 2011 has. I think this is very usefull not only for CRM administrators, also to power end users that want's to understand all the CRM capabilities and options.
The book is focused to people that are thinking to take the MB2-866 certification exam, because it cover all the exam content, and with step by step explanations about how to modify options.
The last part of the book has information for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization & Configuration (MB2-866) Certification exam, with sample exams questions (very similar that the real ones) and more information about the exam and how to take it.
This book is perfect to give to someone that is thinking to certificate, just need to read it, understand the simple questions, and he will pass the exam with high score for sure.
It also very usefull to remind what are the functionalities behind each of one of the configuration/customization parameters in Dynamics CRM 2011.
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on November 12, 2013
The book itself does a decent job of preparing someone for the exam. It was pretty much a mirror of the book I received when I took the e-learning class. Be warned though that there are numerous grammar errors and self test errors. Some of the answers are for a 5 option question when there are only 3 options??? Also, some of the answers didn't match up to the question itself. If you want to pass the exam I think a better route would be to take the e-learning class for more hands on approach and you end up with an almost identical book.
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on June 25, 2013
Thanks to the authors for the focused book with excellent practice questions. I passed MB2-866 with a score in the 900s just using this book and the developer kit videos from Microsoft.
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on March 17, 2013
This book lines right up with what you need to know, what needs skipped and why. Impressed and certainly useful.
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on March 12, 2013
the content in this book covers the esential, but you need study more in order to pass the exam. OK
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