Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Office 365 Certification, Study Guide, and the Small Business Competency

Microsoft Office 365 Logo
So it's been a couple months since Microsoft announced the new Office 365 exams and it looks like they've added another one.  The first two are required for the MCP and MCTS certs.  The new one is a Microsoft Office Specialist exam and covers features and end-user support ans experience mostly.

Exam 70-321 Pro: Deploying Office 365
Exam 70-323 MCTS: Administering Office 365
Exam 77-891 MOS: Microsoft Office 365, and Features
70-321 has no prep materials from MeasureUp or SelfTest yet.

70-323 has an e-learning course listed, 10954AE, although there appears to be no way to access the materials.  When I search on the Microsoft Online Training page I receive links back to the tests, not to any course, and the site appears broken (maybe I should try again later) because every time I try to search the course catalog I get an error page instead.

There are also no classroom or Microsoft Press books yet for either one. For future updates on prep materials see 70-321 Prep Materials and 70-323 Prep Materials.  See my earlier article Office 365 Exams & Certifications in April! for more on the first two Office 365 exams, 70-321 and 70-323.

Microsoft Office Specialist Logo77-891 is listed as an "Exam in development." I found the MOS Study Guide for Microsoft Office 365, though I'm confused as to why they released a study guide for an exam that hasn't been released yet... especially when there are no resources for the other two exams yet.  Note that MOS stands for "Microsoft Office Specialist" and isn't one of the premium Microsoft certifications.  Taking this test shows you know the end-user experience for the product, but demonstrates little with regards to administration, migration, etc.  Maybe that is why the study guide came out first for 77-891... its more of an entry-level exam.

Small Business Competency
Microsoft did announce that 70-321 and 70-323 would count toward the Small Business Competency for Partners.

You can learn more about the requirements for Silver at Earn the Silver Small Business competency.

You can learn more about the upgrade to Gold at Earn the Gold Small Business competency.

Microsoft Certified Professional LogoEssentially though, you can obtain the competencies by having one person passing two exams (77-321 & 77-323 when they are released) plus meeting some business and/or revenue requirements and paying a fee.  To earn the Gold you have to have two people pass two exams instead and more of everything else.
Note that other competencies seem to require more MCPs to pass tests than does the Small Business Competency it seems.  That makes sense I guess because many partner organizations that serve Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) are themselves small.
How To Certify
Well, two of the tests are available but the study materials are scant.  There are some third-party books available for Office 365 but if you search for either 70-321 or 70-323 you get a list of O-rings.  The Amazon books I found on Office 365 are general books on the subject mostly and do not seem to prepare you specifically for an exam.

I guess if you're comfortable with the component products and have studied the materials that are available on the Office 365 Wiki and the Office 365 Deployment Guide you should be able to take the tests with hands-on experience.  I've heard some people say the tests were easy and some say they took multiple times to pass.  I haven't tried yet but am planning to soon.  I'll post an update when I do.
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  1. Here is a link to the 10954 online learning for the 70-323 exam.

    I am working on studying for this exam as the company that I work for would like to obtain the Silver Microsoft Small Business competency. However I would rather not pay the $430 to take the online courses.

  2. I appreciate the link. $430 is kind of steep for a SMB, but compare it to what you'd pay at a Centriq or New Horizons for instructor-led training and it looks a lot better I guess.


  3. Wow! At those prices, I'd rather play around more with Office 365, read the forums and risk having to take the exam twice before paying $430 for a cert that isn't exactly in mainstream demand.

  4. There is a free, excellent Jump Start video series:

    These cover 70-323 and more importantly 70-321. I've seen the 18 videos and can really recommend them. They are very thorough, "hands on" and focused on passing the exams.

    I haven't taken the tests myself but the videos are produced by Microsoft learning and seem to correlate well with the exam content.



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