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Atlassian Certified JIRA Administrator - Ravi Sagar

So yesterday I cleared the JIRA Administration Certification. Honestly I feel good about it but I don’t think we need a piece of paper to prove that you have expertise on a particular tool. JIRA is just a tool and I have been working on it for several years, implementing it for companies of different sizes. Having this certification might help in getting more business but I know that clients usually look for your experience in similar deployment. They will feel convinced if you have done something like that in a different company of similar domain. It makes them feel good and comfortable in hiring you. Atlassian started this certification because there was a request from the market and there is no harm in that.

Clearing Atlassian Certified JIRA Admininstration exam is not easy. I think only those people who have been working 100% on JIRA as part of their job for the last 2-3 years can clear it, of course there are exceptions but this is just my feeling. So if you are totally new to JIRA and just started learning it, so don’t bother about this certification. You won’t be able to clear it easily and waster money, it is a costly certificaiton. There are exceptions but still it is quite difficult. This test is meant to test your experience and how you would handle a situation in the best possible way. There could be more than one correct answer to some question but you need to select the one which is most efficient and requires least amount of configuration. There are questions on almost every aspect related to JIRA Administration and you can start reading the official documentation to get started or you can also read my boo - Mastering JIRA 7 (self promotion)

Lot of people contact me for trainings and they just want to clear the test. Well first of all they should not bother about the test but if you are confident that you have enough JIRA knowledge and you really want to get certified then I will start a separate blog post on that sharing the tips and topics that will help you for the test. I just cleared the test yesterday and I was anyways never planning to do it but since I have done it now so now I don’t mind sharing my experience. In fact for someone who is already working on JIRA for couple of years, it should be just 2 days of additional effort going through the exam topics and reading the official Atlassian JIRA documentation.

Atlassian Certified JIRA Administrator

This is my official badge with a link to my certificate.

What else, well lot of work these days, I don't like it really. Sometimes I like doing nothing for many days in a row. I miss those days when I did nothing for many weeks. It is good to just relax sometimes. Not sure when will I be able to do that again. I haven't cycle at all recently. I haven't ran at all and I have not worked out as well. Winters are almost over now. It is officially spring time and sun has been really considerate for the past two days.

Sunshine after many many days
Sunshine in London

I hope it stays sunny and clear like.

Holi 2017 - Lancaster University, JIRA Admin Certification (London) and Birmingham (ITSM, ITIL)

I like when things are busy, at least it is better than staying idle. Weekends are really not very fun unless you have a car here in UK and I miss my dear Swift which is probably missing me as well. I am looking to purchase a good car here but could not find a good one yet. I am kind of worried today as there is lot of work and travel coming up in the next few days, it is my nature to get worried when something needs to be done. I do make it a point to enjoy afterwords but I think it is not good way to live your life. After completing one task other tasks will come and it is same story again. Some people can really enjoy their life no matter what. People who know my really well know that I am really a lazy person. I don't like to work a lot as well. I don't like to work late. I prefer finishing my work on or before time and then enjoy rest of the time. Of course I like doing work with utmost quality but I could never spend long hours working. Not everything we do as part of your work is fun. You can not always love your work. Sometimes you just need to do work without thinking about enjoying it. I admit that out of 10 things I do. I probably enjoy doing 2 or 3. Rest is either mundane activities which are not fun but still when talking about work we have to measure it based on the value they bring not fun. There are certain tasks which are very boring and you hardly enjoy them but those tasks could be very important for your clients.

Next week I am travelling to Lancaster University in north for work, it will be good to travel to different place. It is good to get out of London sometimes. Looking forward to visit a campus after a long time. It is different feeling when you enter a university. Feeling of freshness. As part of my life plan, at one time I thought I will do PhD and become professor in university doing research and changing the world in real way.

The week following next week I will appear for JIRA Admin certification test. I hate such tests. They are useless and never judge person's intelligence and honestly I am scared that I might fail. If I pass it will be good to add in the profile :) but I am quite honest about it. You don't really need a piece of paper to prove that you are an expert. Lot of people ask me if I am Scrum certified, I am not and don't plan to do it as well.

In the last week of March I will be going to Birmingham to participate in SDI Conference: http://servicedeskinstitute.com/events/sdi17/ It will be good for me to attend such event and hopefully it will bring in more business. We would mainly talking about our company's competencies on JIRA Service Desk and how it can be used to implement ITSM and ITIL processes in JIRA. There will be JIRA Training sessions as well and it is great place to get more leads.

Holi will be played tomorrow in India. As a kid I always wanted to play it with friends. People used to play lot of Holi where we used to live but unfortunately during this time of the year in March it was always our final term exams and as a kid in school I hardly played Holi. I used to promise myself that after my school get over I will start playing it, but when you grow up, you tend to forget about your dreams and get busy in other stuff and start chasing things like others. After school I did not play Holi till I get married. After marriage as per Indian customs I went to my in laws first year to play it and after that I have been going there almost every year. It is fun. I am missing it really today because I am not in Delhi. I actually wanted to visit during this time but due to projects I could not but I am going next month.

Holi 2015

This is me in 2015 playing Holi.

I really like the month of March and April. Not because of the spring. Weather wise it is worst time of the year when it starts getting hotter and it is sad to let go your winter wear and you know there is another 9 months of cruel heat in front of you. As a kid post final term exams March is the only time of the year when you have nothing to do in those 10-15 days. At the start of every new session in April we used to get new books, new clothes and I used to promise myself that that year I will study properly, that never happened of course but I realised much later in life that making solid plans is enough to make you feel good. The month of April used to bring lot of hope and it was more than enough. That feeling of hope, optimism is something embedded in my mind and I always relate the month of March and April with similar feeling. In fact I picture the whole year as a calendar in my mind with a grid like the one below.

Jan, Feb, March: Tough days, study, exams, pressure

April, May June: Good days, new session, fun days

July, Aug, Sep: Okish days, exam starts but no pressure

Oct, Nov, Dec: Good days, festivals, better weather

I don't know why I picture the whole year as a group of three months. This is since my childhood and hard coded in my mind. Now I am not in school, it has been almost 20 years now but the feeling associated with each month is still the same in my brain.

I wish all my friends to have fun this Holi. Drink a lot and enjoy. See you soon.

Why you should bootstrap your startup

These days everyone is talking about startups and entrepreneurship. It is quite cool to start a company, build a product and get funded. I am writing this blog based on my own experiences that how I am able to run a company successfully for several years and why you too don't need a funding.

So you have decided that you want to start a company, it is a topic of another discussion and I will write more about it but you should always think twice, thrice and ten time before starting a company and you should have solid reasons for that. Now coming back to the topic why you should not take any funding and why you don't even need it in first place. One thing I feel is very important for all the wannabee entrepreneurs is to answer whether they are starting a company to gain something for themselves or to give back something to the community and society as a whole. In my case I had very strong reasons to start something on my own. I never got satisfaction (technical) in any company work wise. Except my last company my managers and colleagues in previous companies were not technically sound as I am and I never really enjoyed working in company of non intelligent/smart people. May be I am little harsh here but this is just the fact for me and I always wanted to do something cutting edge or at least do something were I have control over my work so eventually I know where my effort is going and the money that you earn working for someone is good and decent but there is always a saturation after few years. More than anything else I always wanted to do something on my own. May it is the way you are brought up. Money was never really the concern for me. I was earning decent salary and but I could never give my 101% on my job. For me starting a company was always about myself and personal gains. I never really wanted to do something for the world. I have always been quite selfish person. I do everything for myself. I could not imagine even now how people can spend 12 hours in traveling and working for years and they don't get much in return. They miss out time with their family and they sacrifice major part of their lives. I knew from the very beginning that I will eventually do everything for myself only.

So before you even think about getting funded you should have the reason to start a company very clear because getting funded depends on that reason.

Now why people seek funding. This is my opinion.

1. It is cool to get funded.
2. You will get respect from other after getting funded.
3. You need money to sustain your company.
4. You want to hire more people to work in your company.
5. You will get rich after getting funded.
6. You and your company will get famous

Technically all these seem like valid reason to seek funds but you should keep in mind that someone will give you money in return of control/stake of your company. You will not be free to do whatever you want. You will loose authority over your company.

For a moment lets go back to the reason why you want to start a company and for whom you want to do it and think again about these points above. Getting funded is sometimes really need because you may want to scale up your already running successful business but these days I see people think that will build something after getting funded. I think it is stupid to jump in the funding process with just an idea or prototype. Recently I also came across people who want to be like serial entrepreneurs, they want to start with an idea, develop prototype, launch and seek funding all within a span of few months and if that doesn't work, do everything again with a new idea. I think this is again very stupid. One should spent sometime in the market, at least few years. Nothing really happens in few months. When I met these people I ask them again the reason why they want to start the company in first place and they could not convince myself or even themselves. They just want to look cool.

I realised this a little late in my career that earning money is probably the easiest thing that one can do. If you have the skill then you will find a market for it. I think everyone who is working for someone as an employee and frustrated in life can do something outside their job to earn money and which is again starting a business only but you need a good reason to start a company. It is not like you wake up one day and start a business. Your reason to do something on your own should be very solid. In case you are not happy with your job then you probably need another job.

There is no shortcut
Do you know that I have worked in 10 companies in my career? I changed many jobs until I found the one that was somehow not bad for me and I stayed their for my last 6.5 years. I have been freelancing since my college days. I started taking small projects back in 2002, so when I started my company in 2010, I had already worked in the market for 8 years. I started with Visual Basic projects then Linux consultation and training and then I started doing Excel VBA work before moving to web development. I started working in 2003 and did job for almost 12 years. Starting from 2002 till 2015 for almost 13 years I was working almost 7 days a week, After my job hours, I would work on my projects and I got married, had kid and also managed to live a normal life but it required lot of discipline and extreme hard work. I had very strong reason to work hard continuously for 12 years. I sacrificed a lot, I hardly took family vacations and spent time with my friends but it was all worth it now. I did all this because I just wanted to reach a point where I can easily leave my job. May be in your case you need to give at least 5 years but I do not understand why people expect magic to happen in few months. There are no shortcuts. If you do not have the determination to work hard then you are probably better with your job. I did all this and gained a lot now. At this point of time I am of course generating more revenue, I have regular clients, big clients and we are the best in what we do. It took us 12+ years, so what. If I include my freelancing time then I am in the market for 14 years now. That is a lot of time.

Seeking funds in the very beginning is for losers who don't know what they want in life and they just want to follow others. You should first start a business, start generating revenues and seek funding only when you want to scale up. By the time you are running a company successfully you will probably not worry about getting funds. You will find ways to scale up yourself without external inflow of money. I am by no means highly successful business but being a 6 people company we are making quite an impact in the market, we are one of the most sought after Atlassian consultants in India and whole Asia pacific for that matter. We have been into Drupal development since the beginning and have developed expertise for Non Profit Organizations. All this is done by just 6 people. We do not have a fancy turnover to showcase to other but we are quite content and happy about our work. We are growing steadily revenue wise, client wise and we hire more people only when we really need to, not for the sake of it.

In the past I did have low time and thought of winding up everything and going back to comfortable job but I never could do that, not because I am emotionally attached to the company but because I am used to earning a lot more money in less time now. No job could pay me the money that I am earning now. I worked hard for it and I want to grow more from here now. I live a pretty humble life but I enjoy earning money. It gives me high and I feel good and happy. I may have become greedy but we have developed a skill set and people need us. So why not get the most out of it.

So coming back to the topic that you should think first about the reason to start a company and for whom you are doing it - yourself or for the society. One should take funds only after you are running a successful company but not in the beginning. You will loose the focus right in the very beginning. One should start with the ambition to learn something, one should focus on earning money from the very first year and stay in the market for few years then decide that do you really need more money or not. May be someone will give you money based on just an idea and a stupid prototype but it is like begging someone to support you. Why should you take money from someone when you don't exist anywhere in the market. I think one should stay in the market and run the company for at least 3-5 years before even thinking about getting funds. In Sparxsys we are primarily into services and we have had few successful products in the market, we will probably build more products this year too and based on my experience I don't think I will ever think about seeking funds. There is no fun in it for me. I find it shameful asking someone to give me money and finally one should learn about running a company. You run a company for 5 years and you will learn far more than any graduate from A grad business school.

If you want to get in touch with me to share your experiences then you can write to me at ravi [at] sparxsys [dot] com. May be we can learn from each other.

JIRA Training in India - Best Practices

Over the past few months I have seen a tremendous increase in demand for JIRA Trainers. I guess lot of companies are now moving to JIRA for their Issue Tracking. Already Atlassian has done a great job in create a world class product which is being used by so many companies like linkedin, twitter and even facebook. There are lot of other tools like Fisheye/Crucible, Bamboo, JIRA Agile, Hipchat and Confluence which integrates really well with JIRA.

I guess that is one of the reason why companies prefer to use JIRA as it is not just a product for issue tracking. One can customize it to act like a Helpdesk system, Test Management or even keeping tracking of HR processes.

Though it is really very simple to customize JIRA, it is usually a good idea to plan the customizations really well.

Things to take care before implementing JIRA in your organization.

1. Plan JIRA Installation

There are several questions that one should ask the teams before installing JIRA.

  • Number of Projects?
  • Number of Users?
  • Whether you need Email Notifications
  • Authentication method
  • JIRA will be used from multiple locations?
  • Concurrent Users
  • Number of issues/projects?
  • Total issues?
  • Support for attachments
  • Number of custom fields

2. Choice of server

It is very subjective. If your IT is more comfortable with Windows, SQL then use windows server. Linux has some advantages like ssh, and more suitable for open source tools like postgres or MySQL.

Generally for best performance most people prefer Linux - RedHat or CentOS being the first choice of distro.

3. Choice of Database

If you are planning to use linux then preferred database in Postgres

4. Amount of RAM

No fixed answer for this but here are some suggestions from the Atlassian website.

  • For upto 50 projects, upto 100 users,
  • For uptp 100 projects, upto 3000 users,

5. Monitor the Traffic

Use tools like Awstats and Google Analytics. This will help you immensely in understanding the peak of traffic.

6. Document your Configurations

If you plan to use JIRA for 3 difference Use Cases like Test Management, Software Development and Helpdesk System then create 3 separate documents to store all the configurations. You can also use excel sheet if that is more convenient, the idea is to finalize all the configurations before you implement them in JIRA and never modify the configurations in JIRA without storing them in the document. These configuration documents will help other JIRA administrators who will take over your work in your absence.

7. Setup a CCB - Change Control Board

If you are responsible for managing JIRA for your organizations then various teams and users using it will come up with various enhancements and new feature implementations in JIRA. Never directly modify the customizations in JIRA directly without going through a change control board, where you should analyse the impact of that change on the instance.

For example adding a new value in a select list might look like a simple customization but if other teams are also using the same custom field then they might be surprised with this new value and might get confused. If you had used contexts then this problem would not come but it is good that you you know the impact before implementing any change.

These things which I mentioned above are just few pointers that will help you and it comes with experience. I have worked with MNCs where I have implemented big JIRA instances. The JIRA Training that I provide covers all such good practices and help any new administrator before the actual implementation.

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