The Power Platform is a set of tools, including Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents, for building business solutions without the need to write code. Using the Power Platform, anyone can create an app. The Power Platform is not just for citizen developers; the capabilities of the Power Platform can be used by IT professionals and can be extended by developers.
In this chapter, you will be introduced to the exam contents, the purpose of the exam, the skills measured, and who the exam is aimed at. We will discuss role-based certifications and how the PL-200 exam fits in with the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform role-based certifications.
The topics covered in this chapter are as follows:
- Understanding role-based certifications
- Introducing Dynamics 365 and Power Platform roles
- Exploring the PL-200 exam and objectives
- Reviewing the skills measured
- Related exams
By the end of this chapter, you will understand the scope of the PL-200 exam and its structure. You will also have an idea about who the exam is aimed at and be familiar with the exam paper before you sit the exam.
Understanding role-based certifications
In response to customer expectations and feedback on certification, Microsoft has changed the way candidates for certifications are examined in order to provide candidates and employers with more relevant certifications for their jobs.
Certifications have evolved to focus on the core skills aligned to specific job roles, moving toward teaching you how to use the technology to help you develop the skills you need to fulfill a specific job role.
The value of certifications has been reevaluated at Microsoft, with many Microsoft staff now having to gain certifications themselves. This has led to a greater focus on certifications and an increase in the quality of courses and the relevance of certifications.
The PL-200 exam is a good example of the new type of certification testing for certain job roles. The following sections explain the roles and their impacts on the questions in the certification exams.
Previously, questions in Microsoft exams were about the features of the Microsoft product that a given exam covers. This often meant that you had to learn about functionalities or capabilities that you never used, and would never use, just to pass the exam.
Microsoft has changed to certifications that revolve around the day-to-day tasks of certain job roles. Microsoft consulted widely to define several job roles and the certifications around those roles across the following core solutions areas: Cloud, Modern Workplace, Data and AI, and Business Applications.
You can see the full list of job roles at http://aka.ms/TrainCertPoster.
There are certifications for each role, with each role certification requiring one or, sometimes, two exams.
Questions in the role-based exams are written to test your day-to-day skills instead of testing your memory.
The migration from product-based to role-based certifications has affected the way exam questions are written. The following diagram represents the levels of complexity in learning. These exams used to concentrate on remembering and understanding. They now focus on evaluating, analyzing, and applying knowledge:
An effective way to understand these changes is that questions are now about the why and the how, not the what; that is, a question may test you on how to implement a feature, and not on what needs to be implemented.
You'll find some tips and tricks to help you toward the end of the book, in the Tips and Tricks section. This will provide you with tips for taking the exam, as well as two sets of practice test questions to help you prepare.
Along with the change to role-based certification, the exams themselves have evolved; there are many new question types. If you have taken older Microsoft exams, you may have just experienced multiple-choice questions.
In role-based exams, you can expect to see question types that are more interactive, such as the following, for example:
- Active screen
- Build list
- Case study
- Drag and drop
- Graphic interpretation
- Multi-source reasoning
The introduction of these exam item types has made exams both easier and harder at the same time. Easier, because you no longer need to remember arcane facts, or learn about things you will never use. Harder, because you can't just read and remember; you must be familiar with the Power Platform and have performed the actions that the questions refer to.
Don't worry, we have relevant exercises to help you.
Performance-Based Testing (PBT) is being introduced to some exams. In this form of testing, you are presented with a system in a controlled browser lab-type environment and are given a set of tasks to perform.
PBT makes it even more important for you to be familiar with and comfortable using the Power Platform.
I have written more about PBT at https://community.dynamics.com/365/b/dynamicscrmukmct/posts/performance-based-testing. You can get some more information on PBT there.
Now that we have outlined the changes to role-based certification, we will now look at the roles relevant to the PL-200 exam.
Introducing Power Platform and Dynamics 365 roles
With the emergence of the Power Platform, Microsoft has sought to distinguish between the functionality of the Dynamics 365 apps and the underlying features of the Power Platform.
There are several roles covering both Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. The PL-200 exam contributes to several of the Dynamics 365 roles.
Dynamics 365 and Power Platform roles
This section will explore the roles for Dynamics 365 model-driven apps that are relevant to the PL-200 exam, and the impact of these roles on candidates.
The Dynamics 365 and Power Platform roles are as follows:
- Power Platform App Maker
- Power Platform Functional Consultant
- Power Platform Developer
- Data Analyst Associate
- Dynamics 365 Functional Consultant
- Dynamics 365 + Power Platform Solutions Architect
For each of these roles, one or more exams have been created.
The PL-200 exam is required for the Power Platform Functional Consultant role and is one of the two exams that is required for the Dynamics 365 Functional Consultant role. The PL-200 exam is required for the Solutions Architect role, but the true focus for the exam is the Functional Consultant role, which we will talk about next. We will cover more on the PL-200 exam later in this chapter, in the Exploring the PL-200 exam and its objectives section.
The Functional Consultant role
The Functional Consultant role covers many job titles including business analyst, application specialist, and applications consultant. The key denominator here is the gathering of requirements from users and turning those requirements into solutions based on Dynamics 365 or the Power Platform. A functional consultant leverages Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform to meet customer needs.
A functional consultant is not a developer; instead, they use the out-of-the-box tools and customization capabilities provided by Microsoft to deliver solutions. Microsoft refers to such capabilities as low code/no code.
Let's start with the definition of a functional consultant.
A Power Platform Functional Consultant is responsible for capturing and documenting user requirements and turning those requirements into a working system. The Functional Consultant role implements a solution using the out-of-the-box capabilities provided by Microsoft.
The key activities for the Functional Consultant role are listed next.
Key role activities
The role of a Dynamics 365/Power Platform Functional Consultant is to do the following:
- Gather and document requirements from users.
- Identify where and how Dynamics 365 and Power Platform can be used to meet those requirements.
- Design the solution, in collaboration with the solutions architect.
- Implement the design.
- Follow standards.
- Ensure that the solution meets both functional and non-functional requirements.
- Perform testing of any configured artifacts.
- Collaborate with the quality assurance team to ensure that the system operates correctly.
- Package artifacts for deployment.
- Provide training to Dynamics 365/Power Platform administrators.
A functional consultant will have experience in delivering systems based on Dynamics 365 and/or the Power Platform.
The experience expectations for a Dynamics 365/Power Platform Functional Consultant are as follows:
- Must have experience of the full life cycle of Dynamics 365/Power Platform systems from requirements, through design and implementation, to ongoing support and upgrades
- Must understand the features and capabilities of each of the Dynamics 365 apps
- Must have a broad knowledge of the Power Platform, understanding its capabilities, boundaries, and constraints
- Must be able to customize and configure Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform
- Must be able to apply their knowledge of customization and configuration to meet customer needs
- Should have a basic understanding of solutions architecture and quality assurance
- Should understand the extensibility capabilities of Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform
- Must have experience in configuring entities, fields, and relationships; customizing forms and views; customizing charts and dashboards; configuring the security model; configuring processes; managing solutions and instances; and configuring for mobile devices
- Must have experience of integrating with other applications and services
- Must effectively communicate with members of the delivery team, stakeholders, and customers
There is not a single functional consultant role, but separate roles for each of the main Dynamics 365 apps, and also for the Power Platform.
Functional Consultant roles
Microsoft has created Functional Consultant job roles for each of the main Dynamics 365 model-driven first-party apps. There are five functional consultant roles:
- Power Platform Functional Consultant Associate
- Dynamics 365 Sales Functional Consultant Associate
- Dynamics 365 Customer Service Functional Consultant Associate
- Dynamics 365 Field Service Functional Consultant Associate
- Dynamics 365 Marketing Functional Consultant Associate
The PL-200 exam is a prerequisite for each of these role certifications, and for other role-based certifications.
Exploring the PL-200 exam and its objectives
PL-200 is the base exam required for any functional consultant, and it demonstrates their ability to configure, customize, and deploy solutions to meet customer requirements. As such, PL-200 is at the core of a functional consultant's day-to-day job.
While PL-200 is aimed at functional consultants, others involved in Dynamics 365 and Power Platform systems, such as testers, support staff, developers, administrators, and solutions architects, should consider taking the PL-200 exam as it covers many of their core day-to-day skills.
For PL-200, although you need to be aware of the first-party apps (Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, and Marketing), you don't need to have detailed knowledge about the features and functionality of each of the apps. The exam is more about the underlying platform for Dynamics 365, that is, the Power Platform and the Common Data Service.
This exam covers the skills around configuring, customizing, and deploying the platform to meet user needs and completing design tasks that relate to implementing new features and functionalities.
The following sections explore these tasks and the skills required.
The exam tests a series of skills. These skills are referred to as the exam's objective domain.
The objective domain is broad, with a lot of separate topics listed. If you have taken older product-orientated exams, this might seem daunting. But for these role-based exams, you don't need to learn all the facts about each item as you had to do previously.
The way the questions are written for PL-200 provides a good test of your skills. If you use the Power Platform on a day-to-day basis, you should, by following this guide, be much better placed to pass the exam.
There are various skills measured in the objective domain for PL-200. We will discuss them in the following sections.
Configure the Common Data Service (25–30%)
This part of the exam is all about the Common Data Service, extending the data model, and moving data into and out of the database:
- Manage an existing data model: These are the core skills around data modeling, which is the starting point for any Power Platform app; that is, entities, fields, and relationships.
- Create and manage processes: Processes are a major part of any system based on model-driven apps and the skills in this section are about understanding, configuring, and applying each of these types of processes: business rules, business process flows, and classic workflows.
- Configure Common Data Service settings: Several items must be configured when creating environments, such as using audit and search. This section is about a set of administration topics and you need to know how to enable and configure these settings.
- Configure security settings: You must have an understanding of the security features in the Common Data Service and how to configure and apply them.
Create apps by using Power Apps (20–25%)
This part of the exam is all about creating Power Apps on the Common Data Service:
- Create model-driven apps: This section of the exam covers customizing the user interface in the Common Data Service and creating model-driven apps.
- Create canvas apps: This section of the exam is all about creating and managing canvas apps.
- Create portal apps: You need to know about portal apps; specifically, how to deploy and configure portal apps.
Create and manage Power Automate (15–20%)
This part of the exam is focused on the capabilities of Power Automate:
- Create flows: You will need to understand the components that make up a flow and how to create flows for the Common Data Service.
- Create and manage business process flows: This section of the exam is about creating and editing business process flows and using business process flows with other forms of automation.
- Build UI flows: This set of skills involves building web and desktop robotic process automation flows.
Implement Power Virtual Agents chatbots (10–15%)
This part of the exam is about creating chatbots with Power Virtual Agents:
- Create a chatbot: This covers the set of skills necessary for creating chatbots and deploying the chatbots to channels.
- Configure topics: You need to understand how topics are used in chatbots and how to add greetings and conversation triggers.
- Configure entities: You need to understand the built-in entities and how to create custom entities for use in chatbots.
Integrate Power Apps with other apps and services (15–20%)
This part of the exam is about using the apps you build with other components in the Power Platform and with Microsoft Teams:
- Integrate Power BI with Power Apps: This covers the skills required to create Power BI reports and dashboards, and then embed Power BI tiles in Power Apps and embed Power Apps in Power BI dashboards.
- Implement AI Builder: You need to understand the capabilities of AI Builder and be able to create an AI model that you can use with Power Apps and Power Automate flows.
- Integrate Power Apps with Microsoft 365: This set of skills requires understanding the different capabilities of Word, Excel, and Outlook templates, and how to create each of these templates. You need to be able to add a power app to Microsoft Teams.
This last set of skills brings us to the end of this objective domain.
Before we conclude the chapter, let's also have a look at other exams that might interest you.
There are several exams for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. Let's discuss them briefly:
- MB-901: Dynamics 365 Fundamentals: If you are new to Dynamics 365, you should take this exam before you attempt PL-200. This exam introduces you to some of the concepts in Dynamics 365. PL-200 assumes some familiarity with Dynamics 365 model-driven apps.
- PL-900: Power Platform Fundamentals: If you are new to the Power Platform, you should take this exam before you attempt PL-200. This is for many reasons—it introduces you to the components of the Power Platform; and PL-200 assumes a certain level of knowledge. This exam gives you vital exam experience so that when you come to take PL-200, you will know how the questions work.
- PL-100: Power Platform App Maker: This exam covers many of the same topics as PL-200 but is aimed more at the citizen developer, that is, a person who creates apps for themselves or their colleagues as part of their job. PL-200 is aimed more at the IT professional whose job is to build solutions with the Power Platform. If you have only built a couple of apps, the PL-100 exam is a more appropriate exam.
- MB-210: Dynamics 365 Sales: PL-200 and MB-210 complement each other, the former focusing on out-of-the-box application functionality and the other on customizing and deploying the apps.
- MB-220: Dynamics 365 Marketing: The Marketing exam focuses on using, configuring, and administering the Marketing application. Marketing is a complex application built for B2B marketing and is often implemented alongside the Sales app.
- MB-230: Dynamics 365 Customer Service: The Customer Service exam focuses on using, configuring, and administering the Customer Service application. PL-200 and MB-230 complement each other, with the former focusing on out-of-the-box application functionality and the other on customizing and deploying the app.
- MB-240: Dynamics 365 Field Service: The Field Service exam focuses on configuring and administering the Field Service application. Field Service is a complex application that requires significant domain-level knowledge. Field Service can be implemented on its own or along with the Sales or Customer Service apps.
- PL-400: Power Platform Developer: The PL-400 exam is aimed at the developer role and is for candidates who are extending the Power Platform. The PL-400 exam is not a prerequisite for the developer certification but there are many areas in PL-200 that a developer needs to know. There are overlaps in the topics covered by these two exams; for example, creating entities, fields, and relationships; security; and processes. I believe a good developer should have many of the skills tested in PL-200 and should attempt PL-200 before taking PL-400.
- MB-600: Power Apps + Dynamics 365 Solutions Architect: The MB-600 is aimed at the Solutions Architect role. A solutions architect is responsible for leading implementations, addressing the broader business and technical needs of the organization. The PL-200 exam is a prerequisite for the Solutions Architect Expert certification.
You can find more about each respective exam at the following URLs:
As you can see, each of these exams relates to the PL-200 exam.
In this chapter, we learned about role-based certifications, the Functional Consultant role, and the purpose and content of the PL-200 exam. The exam is aimed to cover the day-to-day tasks and skills of someone who creates systems based on the Power Platform from the start of a project to its completion.
You now understand the scope of the exam and the knowledge and skills that will be tested in the PL-200 exam.
The next chapter is a high-level overview of the Power Platform. This is a piece of important and fundamental knowledge for the remainder of this book and the exam.
After reading this chapter, test your knowledge with these questions. You will find the answers to these questions in the Assessments chapter at the end of the book:
- The role of a Dynamics 365 Functional Consultant is restricted to customizing Dynamics 365 apps. True or false?
- The role of a Power Platform Functional Consultant includes extending the Power Platform. True or false?
- The PL-200 exam contains only multiple-choice questions. True or false?
- The PL-200 exam is required for which of the following roles? (Choose two)
A) Dynamics 365 Functional Consultant
B) Power Platform Developer
C) Power Platform and Dynamics 365 Solutions Architect
D) Data Analyst
E) App Maker
- At what level of complexity are the questions in the MB-200 exam?
If you are new to the Power Platform, then you should review some of the learning content on Microsoft Learn:
- Dynamics 365 and Power Platform Consultant Pre-Reading Collection: https://docs.microsoft.com/users/julians/collections/w2ydudg50jg4j8
For more information on certifications and exams, see the following:
- PL-200 exam page: https://docs.microsoft.com/learn/certifications/exams/pl-200
- Role-based certifications: https://aka.ms/RoleBasedCerts