The introduction of role-based exams by Microsoft a few years ago marked a significant change of direction for the certification landscape and also the promise of less disruption in the years ahead. A key challenge of the previous system was that we had to go through the effort and cost of re-certifying to new exams every few years; now, we need to complete a free online assessment to extend our certification before it expires. This new system is not only healthier on our wallets, but also ensures that professionals continually demonstrate their knowledge within their area of specialisation.
Despite the advantages role-based certification provides, it does mean that all exams need to go through regular changes/updates to reflect how products get introduced, changed, or removed entirely. We can see a great example of this in the PL-200: Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant exam, which very recently saw some critical updates. If you’re contemplating sitting or have had the exam booked for a while, I’d recommend looking at what’s changed and to prepare yourself accordingly. With this in mind, let’s dive in and take a look at what’s new…
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a massive area of investment by Microsoft at the moment, and one which Gartner has recognised the organisation for, so it’s unsurprising that this now features more heavily in this exam. Specifically, candidates must demonstrate knowledge of:
- identify use cases for desktop flows including differentiating between attended and unattended desktop flows
- build web and user interface automations by using Power Automate Desktop
- implement variables, loops, and conditionals in Power Automate Desktop flows
- trigger desktop flows from cloud flows
- monitor automation runs
- analyze processes by using Process Advisor
Previously, I felt you could get away with some basic, theoretical knowledge on this topic, but these changes make it much more essential for you to get “hands-on” with the product. With that in mind, it’s a good thing Microsoft now includes Power Automate Desktop as part of Windows. For additional help in getting to grips with this technology, check out the following Microsoft Learn learning paths below:
- Get started with Power Automate for desktop
- Automate processes with Robotic Process Automation and Power Automate Desktop
- Work with Power Automate Desktop
- Work with different technologies in Power Automate for desktop
Chatbots in Power Virtual Agent
Out of all the subjects on the exam, and the cause of me failing it in beta, was this topic. You need to have an excellent appreciation of all theoretical concepts relating to Power Virtual Agents, as well as the general steps you need to follow when setting up a chatbot for the first time. Power Virtual Agents, as part of October 2021’s changes, remains an important topic, with some notable tweaks as highlighted below:
- create a standalone chatbot
- add standalone chatbots to Teams and other channels
- create a chatbot within a Microsoft Teams channel
- authenticate end users for a chatbot
With these changes, we take into account the fact that Power Virtual Agent chatbots are embeddable within multiple locations, with candidates expected to demonstrate an appreciation and knowledge for this, including for more complex authentication scenarios that Power Virtual Agents now supports. To summarise, I think the bar has been raised on this topic. So, if you’ve previously sat the exam and struggled with this area, things may have just now got a lot worse. 😫 Check out the following learning paths to help you learn more about Power Virtual Agents:
- Create bots with Power Virtual Agents
- Create apps, chatbots, flows, and more with Microsoft Dataverse and Teams
Microsoft Teams Integration
We’ve talked about additions to this exam so far, but there is also a topic that has been noticeably culled. The following skills measured, all on integrating model-driven apps within Teams, have been removed:
- Add apps to Microsoft Teams
- Create a Teams app from a Power Apps app
- Create an app directly in Teams
- Configure app policies
- Create a Teams channel by using Power Automate
If you’ve been closely following the Power Platform for a while, the reason for this should be apparent. This capability is now covered as part of Microsoft Dataverse for Teams, which should typically be our first port of call when needing to address scenarios involving Microsoft Teams. As this topic is perhaps more “citizen developer” focused than being in the domain of a functional consultant, it’s understandable why this change has occurred. The only frustrating aspect of this is that none of the other exams, in particular the PL-100 App Maker exam, appear to have been updated to include this as a topic. 👎 Here’s hoping this is rectified in the future.
This is perhaps the most welcome and overdue change for this exam. 😁 Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is a vitally important topic, and the cornerstone of any successful solution deployed out to the Power Platform. So naturally, it’s essential that any Functional Consultant working with the Power Platform knows how to work with solutions, connection references, environment variables and more. Up to 20% of the exam now covers these topics, with the precise list of skills measured outlined below:
Create a solution in a development environment
- create solutions to contain solution assets
- create a publisher
- add assets to a solution
- build solution-aware components
- manage solution component dependencies
Transport solutions between environments
- resolve connection references
- set environment variables
- export solutions
- import solutions
- update solutions
- configure managed properties
- run Solution Checker and interpret results
- configure currencies
- enable language packs
- export and import translations
So if you’ve never even considered using solutions before in the Power Platform, you really will need to get adequately prepared to address any knowledge gaps. Take a look through the Manage solutions in Power Apps and Power Automate module on the Microsoft Learn website to learn more on this topic.
And the rest…
There are other minor changes that are too small to fit into their own heading. This includes:
- The addition of Microsoft Dataverse Views, which we now need to understand how to work with.
- Now needing to have familiarly with the data import wizard, exporting data via Excel and how to work with bulk deletion jobs in Microsoft Dataverse.
- The removal of Data Flows and how to create charts / dashboards in model-driven apps.
- Needing to understand how Azure AD group teams work in the context of the Power Platform.
This list summarises the most notable ones worth considering, from my perspective anyway. 😅 Be sure to check out the whole outline for the exam yourself, to familiarise yourself with the changes too.
Studying the list of skills measured for any Microsoft exam is important, particularly when changes occur on the exam itself. I hope this post has been useful in preparing you for what’s changed in PL-200. Leave a comment below if you have any questions!