An interview with David Friedrich, Atlassian Certified Master at Meelogic
What is an Atlassian Consultant and why become an Atlassian Consultant?
Congratulations on your certification as Atlassian Certified Master, David! You have now received four certifications from the software manufacturer Atlassian and as an Atlassian Consultant and Delivery Manager you are highly qualified to advise customers – for example on JIRA for their project management or on CONFLUENCE for collaboration and knowledge sharing in their teams.
Let’s start at the beginning: Can you describe in short words what an Atlassian Consultant actually is? And what do you think makes a good Atlassian Consultant?
First of all, an Atlassian Consultant should have a good knowledge of Atlassian products and their extensions. He or she advises customers on the selection, licensing and implementation of Atlassian products. And the well-being of the customer is always in focus. I believe you can recognize a good consultant by the fact that the customer comes back (again and again).
What does the everyday work of an Atlassian consultant look like?
At Meelogic, Atlassian consultants are mainly involved in customer projects. In the current situation, this works 100% remotely. In normal times, you are also on site at the customer’s premises from time to time. We always provide our services together as a team. This is also our strength. No one can know everything, the inexperienced learns from the experienced – and that has nothing to do with age.
Among other things, I personally conduct initial talks with potential new customers, support the preparation of offers, provide licensing advice, moderate workshops, create solution designs and cost overviews. When things get really deeply technical, I can always rely on our team.
When and how exactly did you start your career as an Atlassian Consultant? Do I have to have studied for it?
In short: Atlassian Consultant cannot be studied. My educational background had only a marginal connection to computer science. That was in the early 2000s, when the Internet was still new territory. But everything can be learned later. The more convinced you are of something, the more likely you are to learn it later. In any case, years after graduating as a project manager, I was supposed to improve internal communication with “fancy tools” in my former job – quite literally, that was the project assignment of the managing director.
That’s how I came into contact with Confluence for the first time ever, as well as with Atlassian itself and its corporate culture, during this evaluation project. I was immediately enthusiastic. Half a year after the introduction of Confluence as an intranet solution, I also introduced Jira in a follow-up project.
Since then I knew that I wanted to work full-time with these tools. In 2016 I realized my wish by changing my employer and since then I have been working in the Atlassian context in a consulting and implementation capacity.
And why Atlassian? What inspires you as a consultant in the Atlassian world with its products and what makes it so attractive for customers?
When I think of Jira in particular, Atlassian’s flagship product, the customer gets a very flexible product that he can adapt to almost all areas and processes of his company without much effort – and at a comparatively very reasonable price. In addition, the products can be functionally extended almost indefinitely with third-party software (so-called apps or add-ons).
Unlike many other manufacturers in this segment, you don’t buy a bag full of functions for a lot of money, of which 80-90% are never used, but only exactly what is needed for the organization. From a user’s point of view, the tools (especially Confluence and Jira) are extremely intuitive and easy to understand. As a company, this makes it easier for me to implement and reduces training costs.
What is the best thing about working as an Atlassian Consultant?
I would say the best part of my job is that you don’t just introduce a new tool to a customer. Very often this is accompanied by a change in culture, a step towards more transparency and openness. This transition, to observe and accompany this rethinking at the customer’s site, is actually one of the most exciting things. And what can I say: At Meelogic in particular, you work together with the best colleagues in the team.
Mastering the Atlassian certifications
Through your recently successful fourth certification you are now Atlassian Certified Master (ACM). Do you actually need these qualifications? Is it not enough if I have acquired the knowledge?
As an Atlassian Consultant working for a Certified Solution Partner – two certifications are required to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the tools. It is not mandatory to have these certifications before anyone starts working. You should then prepare for the exams while supporting projects in a team and gaining initial practical experience.
The ACM, on the other hand, is more of a “by-product” for me. You get it automatically with the fourth certification. First I had completed the certification as “Confluence Administrator” in 2016 and second the certification as “Jira Administrator”.
Two more certifications I did voluntarily. Since I am responsible for the training and further education of our team and want to support my colleagues in the best possible way, the certificates for “Service Desk Admin” and “Agile Development with Jira Software” were meant to give me an idea of the requirements Atlassian has to meet.
How do you manage all this within a full working day?
As Atlassian partners we need appropriately qualified colleagues. Therefore, they are given the necessary time for preparation within their contractually agreed working hours.
Occasionally, at the customer’s request, we may work outside normal working hours or even on weekends. However, there is a corresponding compensation for this. Above all, we help each other as a team, which makes everything easier.
What was your recipe for success? How much effort does such an examination require? And is a lot of experience as a consultant necessary to obtain a certificate?
The amount of effort depends strongly on your experience with the respective tools. When I took the Confluence-Admin exam in 2016, I already had four years of experience with the tool. Two weeks of preparation were enough for me to barely pass in the first attempt.
Colleagues who do not have this experience as career starters or career changers will work in projects for half a year. At the same time, they prepare themselves for the exams, the contents of which are quite clearly defined. The exams are intended for anyone who works intensively with the tools. With the certification you prove your knowledge in handling the respective tool. And you can learn this, either specifically to pass the exam or on the job.
The exam itself is a multiple choice test for a limited time, where you have to answer at least two thirds of the questions correctly. You can take the test online or on site in a special test center.
“Don’t just survive. Thrive!” – David about the future at Meelogic
Where do you stand today as an Atlassian Consultant in contrast to your beginnings?
At my first participation in the Atlassian User Group Cologne I heard one of the speakers say: “Don’t just survive. Thrive!”. Since then I have made that my own and it just fits perfectly!
I had to leave my Comfort Zone and change my employer – not a very risky decision, but I have grown quite a bit, both professionally and personally. Looking back, I would say that this decision made me more independent, more self-confident, but above all more self-determined.
Today, I would describe myself in our team more as an all-rounder or as a kind of architect who knows his way around the entire Atlassian microcosm from A for Agile to Z for Zero-Downtime.
And what happens now?
Currently, the merger with GlobalLogic means that a lot of things are in flux with regard to our Atlassian business. I think there is a huge potential for us. Our partner status already allows us to sell licenses worldwide.
Supported by the resources and possibilities within GlobalLogic, it would be conceivable to offer our services in other European countries and North America very soon. Especially the market in UK and Canada would be very interesting for us: strong demand, few partners. My task now is to bring our topic into GlobalLogic and establish it here in the long term.
By the way, we could still use support for this. So if you are thinking of making a career change in this direction, you are always welcome to take a look at our company.
Thanks for the interview, David!