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How to study for JIRA Administrator Certification

I recently cleared my JIRA Administration Certification and share briefly about my experience about it. I have been working on JIRA for many years now and JIRA along with other Atlassian tools is my main competency these days. I feel quite privileged that I got the opportunity to work with many known and popular companies. Working for big companies as a full time employee is good but in your career you can never work with all of them, but for me I have been working with them on short term assignments and projects. I get to meet them in person, see their offices and fancy campuses. I also get to travel a lot. It is tiring but at the same time, I am making memories too. I get to travel a lot and I get paid for it as well. I get to stay in nice hotels and eat food from all over.

Atlassian Certified JIRA Administrator

Oh sorry I am talking too much about myself. Back to the original topic. How to study for the JIRA Administration Certification. I will be precise and will give you my thoughts about the test.

1. Atlassian Certification Page

Read everything about the JIRA Certification on this page: https://www.atlassian.com/university/certification

And read it again.

1.1 Exam preparation: https://www.atlassian.com/university/certification/certifications/exam-a...

Just get familiar with the process by reading everything on this page.

1.2 Take Sample test: http://atlassian.articulate-online.com/8679133671

This will probably give you some idea about the questions asked, but I will share below as well about some of the questions.

1.3 On the same page above (1.1) there will be a button that says "Exam Topics", just click on the Download button to check the topics that you need to focus on. Click on the link below for direct link to that PDF.

https://www.atlassian.com/dam/jcr:11b4e24c-f0eb-4b81-869d-3644c3797dbe/E...

One you get this PDF, just download it and take a print out of it. Now here is the important part. For topic mentioned in this PDF, just search for it on the official Atlassian documentation and read it briefly. Of course it might be boring but do go through it and look for anything you are not familiar with. I never really spent dedicated time reading the documentation thoroughly. I just read it as and when required but you need to pass the exam here and just make sure that when you read that documentation page, you know everything about it. Pay attention to any special note.

2. Read my book - Mastering JIRA 7, Second Edition

Doing self promotion here but in case you are new to JIRA Administration world and want to quickly learn about various aspects of JIRA 7 then this book will certainly help you a lot to learn a lot in less time. I have written this book based on my experience working for my clients. I have been also training many people to work on JIRA 7 and I know what kind of questions people ask and how to give them the answer that make them learn a specific topic.

https://www.packtpub.com/application-development/mastering-jira-7-second...

Do buy this book and read it. It should take 2-3 weeks maximum if you read it for 2-3 hours everyday. Finish it early if you want to but I would recommend installing JIRA environment and doing hands-on. For this JIRA Administration Certification you just need to focus on the "JIRA Administration" i.e. anything and everything that needs to be done from the UI only. It is good to know about "Server Administration" but you don't need to know everything about it. Also, in this book skip any part where you may need to do any scripting or coding.

3. Install JIRA 7 and play with it

If you are new to JIRA Administration then it will be difficult to clear this exam as it not only tests your JIRA skills but also your ability to solve a specific problem in the best and efficient way. Install JIRA and while you are going through Step 1.3 and Step 2 above make sure you have an environment to play with.

Get familiar with the terms and admin interface by heart. You can't memorize then and there is no need to remember them as well but you should know where a specific setting can be found.

4. Very important topics to study and kind of questions

UPDATE: I got an email from Atlassian asking me to remove the topics.

Final thoughts

JIRA Administration Certification is not easy but it is good way to evaluate yourself. I have been working on JIRA for many years but in an attempt to clear the exam I also learned many things about the tool which are hidden somewhere in the official documentation or may be I never really got the opportunity to work on those features or use cases. Nobody is expert on everything and same is true for JIRA.

If you have been continuously working on JIRA Administration for a medium to large scale organization for at least 2 or 3 years then you should easily be able to clear the exam. For me, it is my job to manage many JIRA instances and rolling out this tool in several companies. When I sit with the client to understand their requirements I of course write it down and make notes but back in my mind I am also customizing JIRA at the same time like how many configurations I need to create. If you have been supporting any active JIRA for multiple teams then you should be able to clear it.

Exam day and Time Management

Last tips for your exam day.

Attempt the short questions first and mark any question which is bigger than two paragraphs for review later. There will be a check box below the question to mark it. Even if you don't mark it, there is a Review all link that will show you an overview of all the questions that you have attempted, not attempted and marked for review.

So here is the flow that you should follow in the exam.

First cycle: Target time 1 hour
Attempt short questions -->
Leave questions that are bigger than two paragraphs -->
Mark short questions that you have attempted but want to review later

Second cycle: Target time 30 minutes
Attempt bigger questions -->
Mark big questions that you have attempted but want to review later

Third cycle: Target time 30 minutes
Review the marked questions one by one -->
Unmark a question after reviewing it

Just make sure you don't leave any question unanswered as there are no negative markings.

Exam format

XXX questions
XXX minutes, but it is not mentioned on the JIRA Administration Certification page
Multiple Choice Questions
You may be asked to select more than one options

So here you go. I hope you clear your exam. Let me know by clicking on the contact link about your exam :)

Best of luck!

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.

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.

My top 10 goals for 2016

Ravi JIRA Training in Pune
I am trying lot of different things recently both in personal and professional life. Since last one and a half year I am taking my work not quite seriously. I work only 5 days a week and don't even open my laptop on weekends. This is working quite well for me. I feel much better now as I have less to worry. Working less doesn't mean less business. We are doing pretty good, my company Sparxsys is doing great and I am happy about it. Just that I am not to ambitious these days and I make small achievable targets. My idea is to feel good about whatever little I achieve and not set very high goals.

Last year was not very good health wise, I didn't go to gym regularly and I gained few kilos. This year I have made lot of plans for myself that may require giving up some pleasures but I know in the end it will be all worth it.

My 2016 plans

These are plans for this year. People say you should not share your plans with everyone but I don't know how sharing it with other stop me from achieving them.

1. Read 24 books
I recently purchase a Kindle and that is good enough reason to indulge myself in reading. I have been reading actively for the past few months but I need to speed up and read more books. 2 books per months seems like not difficult to me. I have created a new page to list all the books that I have read.

2. Get 6 pack abs
In past I have managed to built few packs but never really complete 6 packs. This year I have decided that it is now or never. Get back in shape and get at least 6 packs.

3. Less beer
I really like beer, may be I am addicted to it but I don't know why I have it almost everyday. I know it is not good, it adds fat to waist. This year I have decided that I will have it not more than twice a week, less is of course better.

4. Cycle and running twice per week
I own a road bike and recently purchased MTB too. I am planning to get more active on cycling and ride at least twice per week. I haven't been doing any running recently but now thinking of starting running twice per week.

5. Improve my public speaking skills
I do lot of corporate trainings and speaking in front of 50+ people continuously for 2-4 days is quite normal for me. I feel I can improve a lot here, it will no only help me professionally but personally I also want to become better speaker. I feel good when on stage and it give me high. I am thinking of joining Toast Masters club, I went to their session in the recent past and really liked it. Most likely I will join them as a member too.

6. Continue learning French
I joined french classes last year and I really learned a lot, this year I will continue to learn this language and I wish to converse with someone entirely in French this year. I joined one institute called Just French and it is quite good.

7. Learn guitar
I recently dusted off my old guitar and started practicing simple tunes by watching youtube videos but this year I want to learn from some professional. May be I will join some classes.

8. Grow my company
This year I want to scale up a little bit and grow my company. I want to increase my business both money wise and also want to grow my team. We are doing quite good but there should be hunger and desire to do even more. I want to keep that desire alive.

9. Start building a product and launch it
I have always been into service industry and our major company comes from service only but I really wish to build a product this year and launch it.

10. Write another book in 2016
I have to admit that writing a book and getting it published was one of the most satisfying experience in my life. I was quite happy when my book "Mastering JIRA" was published. This year too I plan to write another book. Writing a book is a wonderful way to learn something and also to share it with the world plus it really establishes your credibility in the market.

This is probably not the complete list, I have other things in mind too but these ten items are my top priority goals. All the actions that I take and all my work would be focused to achieve these goals and as you can see most of these are personal goals and some of the goals will help me both personally and professionally. I believe everyone should plan their life with written goals.

Best time so far for Sparxsys

The first half of this year was not so good for our company, there was a tremendous drop in our company's revenue, we had some projects running but were not able to deliver the best quality work. There were no good projects coming in too. Also personally I made some wrong decisions in the company by hiring wrong people and choosing wrong clients, but most importantly I didn't work hard enough. Somewhere in the middle I knew that things are not going in the right direction but I didn't act promptly. It continued like this for 6 months, since we are a small company we often see results - either good or bad, too quickly. In July I decided to change all this. I know my capabilities really well and in the past I have able to come out of such situations so why not this time. For the past 3 months and now in Oct I have been working extra hard, with focus on minute details and not delaying anything at all. We all have tendency to procrastinate but there is no cure for it. Sometimes you don't like a particular work but you have to do it because it is important for your business. Since July I am working like that only, if something has to be done then I do it without thinking much about it.

You just need to start
I have realized that we delay things without any reason. Of course not everything is exciting to do I understand that but by just delaying tasks we make things worse. So now I just start those boring tasks and break it down so it doesn't look too difficult. The moment you start acting, things get into motion and you start liking your work.

Keeping reminding yourself
I have been working mostly from home these days, as I don't want to waste time in traveling, even though our office is quite near. I just stay at home. I have a big whiteboard where I write by major goals, I stick paper notes all over my iron almirah and I didn't even spare the door in my room. I have written my time table all over it.

So I have created an environment where I just can't forget what I really need to achieve. The moment I walk into my room, I am in the zone, you can say ;) Of course I was in trouble, I had a pressure from family to take up job. I could easily get good package in big MNCs but I don't want to get back to the job thing. It is not for me. Earning decent money is quite important and that was also one of my goal. so I had no option but to succeed again and to bring things back on track. For few days I did consider going back to job but I realized I would probably get salary one third of my current salary. So it was not worth it.

I plan not just my day but even my hours
When you have lot of things to finish in a day then you need to make sure you do things in right order and at right time. Everyone has a to-do list. I have it too, but I start my day spending some time on the to-do list and allocate them in the right hour of the day. So when my days starts I already know what I need to do that day.

Enough of gyan :)

I wanted to share that Sparxsys is back on track. We have recently won 3 great Drupal projects that we need to deliver by November and December. One of them is in fact a government project. We have 4 confirmed JIRA and Confluence trainings for the next 1 month and we recently delivered 2 projects successfully. I focused on sales aggressively in the past 3 months and that's why we have been able to win these new projects.

Things have never been better. This quarter our revenue is all time high, but by the end of this financial year, we will surpass this figure too and I am really very happy.

Now get back to work
We are totally booked for the next 3 months, we have couple of project leads that we will probably convert too but it is currently very difficult to manage all this work.

Take a look at our JIRA Dashboard, the burn down chart is no where ideal but I love new challenges, it will be fun to burn all those story points that we never burned in 15 days.

JIRA Dashboard, Oct 2014 Sprint

When one problem goes, another one comes, and that's the fun thing about entrepreneurship!

I always wonder why nobody complains about how difficult it is for any startup to survive. Especially those who are in service industry. I always try to be honest about my journey. I don't want to pretend that I am doing great. I would say I am doing just fine, there is no end.

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