3 min read

Atlassian Certification Program: Should I get an ACP Certification to be a Jira Admin?

By Luis Machado on May 26, 2021 10:07:00 AM

Blogpost-Display image-May_Atlassian Certification Program Should I get an ACP certification to be a Jira admin-To quickly answer the question: YES. At least that was the answer for me.  I’ve been an Atlasssian admin for nearly 7 years and I’ve only just this year received my first Atlasssian certification (ACP-600 in case you were curious).   It’s only recently that I’ve been able to really appreciate the value of getting certified, and I plan to go for as many certifications as I’m able to.  

Getting certified was something that I had thought about from time to time, but honestly I didn’t see how it would help me be better at my job.  I had put in a request with my employer to see if they would compensate me for the cost and never really heard anything back.  The cost was enough for me at the time that if my employer wasn’t going to worry about it, then I certainly wasn’t.

Fast forward several years and I find myself laid off, and in search of job. The layoff was budget related, the company was having some issues bringing products to market and so cuts were made all over. Even given that I found myself in a position and a state of mind that I hadn’t ever really considered I’d be in.  Those who have experienced being laid off know that it can actually be a pretty traumatic event, especially if it’s from somewhere you’ve worked for a long time.  I wanted to continue working in the Atlasssian ecosystem as it was something that I had become very familiar and very fond of.

After revamping and updating my resumé, I quickly realized that on paper I didn’t really seem to offer a whole lot to a prospective employer.  I had a decent amount of experience in my field but all I had to offer was my word.  Now, in an interview that could be enough.  If you can talk shop, and give enough context for the things you’ve done in a presentable and coherent manner, then an employer could potentially see the value in what you have to offer.

I was fortunate that eventually that actually happened for me and I landed a job with Praecipio Consulting, but before that, I had to fall back on other skills from previous jobs I had done.  Part of the requirements for companies that are Atlasssian Partners is maintaining a certain level of certification, being certified from the get go gives you a potential advantage. Looking back, I can see that me not having any certifications not only reduced my potential to even land that interview, but maybe also played a part in me being laid off in the first place. 

Certifications and similar credentials are there to prove to everyone else that you know what you’re doing and you’re continuing to grow, and learn, and become more proficient in your craft.  There is another aspect to this though that had not really occurred to me until now and that is, not only does it prove to others you have the skills to pay the bills, but also to yourself.  When you have something tangible that validates all the time and effort you’ve put into becoming the professional you are, it gives you the confidence to raise your own expectations.  This is something that is beneficial to the employer and employee alike. If I’m ever again in a position where I’m re-entering the job market looking for that next stage, I will be exponentially more confident that I’ll be able to find something, because I’m taking the time to ensure my resumé reflects my skills with official validation. 

So if you’re an Atlasssian professional, you like the toolset, you see yourself staying within the ecosystem and want to progress, do yourself a favor and start getting certified.  I recommend first going to your employer and seeing if they would be willing to cover the cost. Even if they’re not willing, it’s worth it for you to pursue it on your own.  It’s reassurance for the employer, but it’s an investment for the employee. One that will show dividends down the road, regardless of where it leads you.

If you have any questions regarding the Atlassian certification process: contact us, we'd love to talk you through your options.

Topics: jira atlassian blog training atlassian-certification-program
3 min read

Atlassian Certification Program: Tips for Studying for your ACP Exams

By Rebecca Schwartz on Oct 21, 2020 12:45:00 PM

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Atlassian Certification Program (ACP) exams are a great way to enhance your Atlassian skillset and better leverage the tools at your organization. Atlassian offers a few different exams, depending on what aspects of the tools you're focused on and your current skill level. If you pass, you get a nifty badge you can place on your LinkedIn profile or email signature! Here at Praecipio Consulting, all of our consultants have taken at least one of the available ACP exams, and we have some great tips and tidbits to share that will help you prep for the tests and understand what they entail.

A little bit about the exams

  • Atlassian offers 6 different ACP exams
  • Exams are typically between 70-80 questions
  • Exams can be taken remotely due to COVID-19, but are proctored
  • Depending on the exam, the passing score is between 60-70%
  • You have 180 minutes (3 hours) to complete your exam

Take it back to your college days with study guides and flashcards

When studying for any exam, it's important to figure out how you best learn the material. Is it taking notes by hand so you don't have the distractions of a laptop? Or, are you more like me, where you tend to lose loose leaf paper so you prefer to type out what you've learned? Either way, the best tip I used to prepare for my exams was to organize my notes into a comprehensive study guide. Atlassian requires the completion of specific courseware before you can take the exams, and they provide downloadable PDFs for each exam topic. All of this information is great for your study guide. You can use a good ol' fashioned notebook for this, or, if you have access to Confluence, create your study guide there. I took notes on the courseware in Confluence, then used macros and Tasks to organize my notes and remind myself of topics that I needed to focus on. Because the exams cover a lot of material, flashcards are another great way to memorize information. There are several online services that allow you to create flashcards for free, such as Quizlet. Repetition works wonders when studying for any exam, so be sure to review your study materials several times.

Practice in a test environment

If your way of learning is by doing, a great way to prep is by reviewing admin functionality in your Jira or Confluence instance, especially if you have a test or demo environment. Project schemes, permissions (project and global), and workflow functionality can provide helpful knowledge around exam items. Chances are, if you're taking an ACP exam, you already have access to a Jira and/or Confluence environment, but if not, Atlassian offers a free Cloud instance if you're maintaining 10 users or less. Keep in mind that some exams only focus on Server functionality, but it's still great to get a visual for the items you'll be tested on.

Collaborate with others prepping for the exam

At Praecipio Consulting, we are all about teamwork. As I was prepping for my exam, so were several other Praecipians. We collaborated on our notes, shared our study guides, and had study groups. Sharing our thoughts and notes allowed us to each figure out our strengths and weaknesses around the exam material so we could help each other be successful. If you're the only one at your organization taking the exam, or are just deciding to do it individually, no worries - there are folks all around the world looking to get certified! If you venture over to the Atlassian Community, there are often discussions that folks have started to create study groups with members of the community (check out this post around the ACP-100). 

Stay in tune with your physical and mental state 

Prepping for and taking any exam is physically and mentally exhausting. It's important when studying to allow yourself breaks to better absorb the material. As I studied, I'd create incentives and goals around my study material. Once I got through half of my flashcards, for example, I'd watch the next episode of my newest Netflix addiction or read a chapter of my favorite book. That way, I had something to look forward to when studying and allotted plenty of time for brain breaks. When it comes to taking the exam, try to find a quiet space in your home where you can remain undistracted. If you get stuck on a question, mark it and come back to it - you've got 3 hours to get through the questions, so take your time! Remember, your well-being is a key factor in being able to focus and perform your best, so it's important to keep it in check.

Good luck with your next exam, and let us know if your organization needs further support with how to best leverage your Atlassian applications. 

Topics: atlassian blog agents training atlassian-products atlassian-certification-program
6 min read

Distance Learning With Atlassian: Remote Training Your People

By Amanda Babb on Apr 2, 2020 5:01:46 PM

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When I was growing up, my parents taught me all kinds of useful skills. By age 12, I helped my dad build my lofted bed. Routers, saws, drills, clamps, hammers: you name it; we used it. At age 19, I rebuilt a 1968 El Camino from the ground up. Everything from tearing down an engine to rebuilding suspension to (somewhat terrible) electrical. Even today, if you've read some of my other blogs, I've installed floors, rebuilt our fence, and completed other small home improvement projects throughout our home. Since a young age, I have constantly been learning new skills and putting them into practice.

At Praecipio Consulting, we help organizations streamline their processes and drive business with the most powerful digital transformation tools, yet their end-users struggle day-to-day with how to use them the right way. After all, you can give the worst carpenter the best hammer, but it doesn't mean they can build a chair.

Employee Learning as a Business Pillar

We've worked with clients of all sizes to implement the Atlassian tools as part of their digital business transformation. Our clients are always pleased with the results (lifetime Net Promoter Score of 70), and the subject matter experts we work with daily walk away with a deep understanding of the processes that the Atlassian tools facilitate. We always recommend expanding that knowledge beyond our champions to end-users and managers alike via training and training programs. While there are a lot of statistics regarding Return on Investment (ROI) for training, instead, we should focus on the learning and development of our employees as a pillar of our business. 

According to this article in Training Magazine, measuring ROI is not enough. Instead, we need to look at five key areas when evaluating the effectiveness of your learning approach: 

  • Individual performance
  • Time to effectiveness/productivity
  • Employee engagement
  • Ability to respond to market conditions
  • Voluntary turnover

The authors go on to say that learning is not a static exercise. Employees should continuously learn throughout the digital transformation process. The article also mentions that learning and development should be strategically aligned with the business, yet only 40% of organizations surveyed stated that their learning strategy is well-defined. We see this with our clients as well: they take time to implement the Atlassian tools to facilitate industry best practices, however, they can't afford to take the time to teach their people how to properly use them. Implementing and using these tools are tied to overall business objectives, and there should be a clear learning strategy for educating your people about them. 

Learning outcomes and measuring success

As we move to remote work, we must first look at where we were. In-person courses were generally considered the most effective. Why? Because of the interaction with the instructor and the accountability of being in a room with your peers. I have served as an Atlassian instructor since 2015, so I have seen a breadth of engagement in my classrooms. Generally, I received high marks for the content and depth-of-subject knowledge. How do I know? Because we ask. At the end of each course delivery (whether it's at a conference, such as Summit, or a private course for an organization), we provide surveys as well as retrospectives to our clients. The surveys are for attendees to provide feedback, and the retrospective reviews the entire process of obtaining the training, from scheduling to logistics and delivery.  

If the organization releases an on-demand training, what is considered a success? First, the organization should ask what the intended outcome is. Learning outcomes depend on the "why" we've provided this training. For example:

  • Is it compliance/security regulated?
  • Is it mechanical (I can do) or do we explain why?
  • Is it tied to a strategic outcome? 
  • Is it tied to organizational change?

Each of these learning outcomes are measured differently. One client organization required every employee and contractor to complete annual compliance training. They revoked access to their systems if not completed within the expected timeframe. Success was measured at 100% completion within 30 days of your start date and every year thereafter by the end of January. This is a binary measurement, however. Did you complete it? Yes or no. 

When looking at other learning outcomes, success becomes less black-and-white. Many organizations are tying agile and agile-at-scale training to strategic outcomes and organizational change. The strategic outcome could be the number of departments or programs that have moved to agile. This is measured by the number and type of certifications held by employees. This is still binary: are you certified? Yes or no. Again, this metric does nothing to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the training or certification as it relates to the organization and general business strategy. 

The Kirkpatrick Model provides both the foundation as well as the "new world" evaluation for the effectiveness of training. While this methodology has been around since the 1950s, it is still relevant today. As with any model or framework, it's the application of these items that become an indicator of success. 

Organic versus formal learning

At Praecipio Consulting, we encourage our consultants to seek additional learning. Certifications are an option, but we also encourage Udemy courses, continuing education courses at colleges and universities, and networking or professional groups. We organize a monthly Skills Exchange for all members of the company, and we have weekly meetings to discuss what we learned the week before. But outside of these formal discussions and learning exchanges is the day-to-day interactions of our people that result in organic learning.

For internal communication, we use Slack. We have dedicated channels based on topics as well as client delivery efforts. No topic is off the table: everything from troubleshooting a problem to a specific function in the tools. If someone needs more dedicated help, we hop on a call to solve the problem. No one of us is as good as all of us together.

What is even more amazing (and I fully credit our people for this) is how much we learn from each other. Because we can teach one another, this reinforces what each of us has learned in the products. Moreover, when we consult and advise our clients, they learn best practices as well as tips and tricks to impart on their peers. Learning does not have to be formal: simply talking through a topic with a peer can teach both people. Providing a solid foundation, however, is where training courses can benefit everyone.

Distance learning and student engagement

While many of us may be working from home for the first time, many a company is scrambling for alternate ways to engage in training. Learning management systems are a great way to provide training content, but as stated before, are these systems delivering the right outcome based on the "why"? Are students actually engaging with the content or are they just checking off a box after completion?

If you can't bring an instructor to your people, bring the people to your instructor. Virtual Training is a great way to provide knowledge and guidance to your people. Praecipio Consulting instructors are live and on camera. They walk through the content and manage questions and discussions through virtual platforms. Hands-on exercises and guided demos provide students with a greater depth of understanding of the Atlassian tools and ecosystem. Other benefits include: 

  • Cloud and Data Center/Server options
  • Audience-specific courses
  • Options to license a recorded session for internal distribution
  • Custom training program development and delivery

Engaged employees equal business success

Overall, your organization must embrace employee training. While the Atlassian tools can facilitate your digital business transformation, your employees need guidance when it comes to working within them. Make the time to provide access to quality instruction and training content on the Atlassian products. And it doesn't have to be delivered in-person to be considered quality; virtual delivery is just as effective, and now is a great time to explore remote training opportunities. Reach out to us to discuss training options for virtual delivery. 

REACH OUT

 

Topics: atlassian blog training work-from-home atlassian-certification-program work-life-balance remote-work

Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian Platinum Partner

This means that we have the most experience working with Atlassian tools and have insight into new products, features, and beta testing. Through our profound knowledge of Atlassian environments and their intricacies, we can guide your organization as you navigate these important changes.

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