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Disclaimer: This article is a translation of my original blog article intended for Vietnamese IT professionals. As a result, certain content may not be applicable to your specific country. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that a portion of this article will still prove beneficial to readers from other regions.
Greetings, fellow Atlassian enthusiasts! I'm Kiet Ngo, Founder of AgileOps. I'm thrilled to share my real-life professional experiences with the vibrant IT community in Vietnam through this captivating series of articles. In this journey, we'll dive into two topics close to my heart: Atlassian and IT Freelancing. I believe these insights will be valuable to all IT professionals, especially aspiring talents in Vietnam, providing them with a multitude of choices and exciting career opportunities in the future.
In our country, if you've worked on software projects before, chances are you're familiar with Atlassian and its remarkable product, Jira. Whether you've been logging bugs as a QA engineer, burning the midnight oil coding as a Developer, crafting user stories as a BA/Product Manager, or running Sprint Planning and Backlog Grooming as a Scrum Master/Product Owner, Atlassian, and Jira have been your steadfast companions.
Atlassian was founded in 2002, this pioneering software company has made a lasting impact on the industry, with Jira being one of its most renowned products. Originally designed for software development teams, Jira quickly expanded its reach to empower other business teams within enterprises.
Jira can be compared with Honda / motobikes metaphor — a name that effortlessly springs to mind when you think of a vehicle. Similarly, when you mention project management software, Jira instantly comes to the forefront.
As Atlassian and Jira continue to become more popular in various industries, an increasing number of administrators are becoming familiar with Jira's installation and configuration — a complex software with numerous open features. However, in Vietnam, most of these administrators are considered Atlassian Power Users, not true experts or Atlassian Consultants. Surprisingly, many companies delegate the responsibility of configuring and managing the Jira system to positions like CTOs, Development Managers, and Tech Leads. Balancing these additional tasks with their primary roles becomes challenging, leaving little room to develop their skills to the fullest extent.
In contrast, Western markets like North America, Europe, and Australia have long embraced the concept of dedicated Atlassian consultants. These experts provide invaluable consulting services, designing and implementing technical solutions on the Jira platform and other products within Atlassian's ecosystem. They hold positions such as Jira Administrators or Atlassian Solutions Consultants within host companies or work as professional consultants at Atlassian Solution Partner companies.
Let's compare Atlassian Power Users and Atlassian Consultants side by side to grasp the differences:
Now, let's talk numbers. Atlassian experts can earn enticing salaries, ranging from over $100,000 per year for beginners to a staggering $150,000 per year for experienced professionals.
Furthermore, 83% of Fortune 500 companies, including renowned names like Tesla, Facebook, Netflix, and Twitter, rely on Atlassian products for their operations. Imagine the allure of applying for positions within these prestigious organizations!
Interestingly, when I searched for Jira positions on Vietnam's largest IT job portal, ITViec, using the keyword "Jira," I found no job postings. The untapped potential is waiting to be unleashed.
Here's a specific scope of work for an Atlassian expert:
Consulting businesses or organizations in selecting suitable Atlassian products and add-ons from the Atlassian Marketplace based on the company's needs, budget, and other criteria.
Providing solution consulting to digitize business processes on the Jira platform. Configuring and developing integrations between Jira and other business software systems such as CRM, ERP, HRM, using scripting and automation tools like Jira Automation, ScriptRunner, webhooks, or low-code platforms like Zapier or Make.
Conducting in-depth training and guidance on optimizing the use of Jira and other Atlassian products such as Jira Service Management, Confluence, Trello, as well as best practices and customized solutions that have been implemented.
Migration: Planning and executing the migration of Atlassian systems from on-premises environments to the cloud or migrating from other systems like ServiceNow, BMC to Jira. Typically, these systems have large amounts of data (hundreds of terabytes or more) and complex configuration integrations.
Deploying Data Center: Providing consultancy for designing infrastructure deployment solutions, followed by installation and operation of the Atlassian Data Center products on cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, Google, or on-premises data centers.
Developing add-on products and publishing them on the Atlassian Marketplace for commercialization.
Typically, experts with over 3 years of experience with Atlassian and Jira can perform tasks 1, 2, and 3. Only experts who possess additional diverse skills in DevSecOps can handle tasks such as migration and Data Center deployment. It's important to note that not many individuals can handle all the mentioned tasks.
Now that your interest is piqued, you might be wondering about the skills you need to develop to embark on this thrilling career path. As I mentioned earlier, this trajectory suits professionals in various positions like Project Managers, Scrum Masters, QA engineers, Developers, or DevOps specialists. Those with prior experience working with Jira as a Power User have a head start. Developers and DevOps professionals possess additional advantages, such as programming skills, cloud expertise, and networking know-how. However, two non-technical aspects are equally vital:
Business Mindset: A broad vision, an understanding of business needs, concepts, targets, and daily processes are essential to provide accurate advice.
Consulting Skills: These encompass customer interviews, requirements elicitation, active listening, persuasive presentation, visualization, and documentation.
Drawing from my international experience in the Atlassian profession, I propose a comprehensive roadmap for aspiring professionals:
Learn and Obtain Atlassian Certifications: Deepen your understanding of the subject matter through formal training programs provided by Atlassian. Excelling in this field necessitates a strong foundation of knowledge.
Practice and Apply What You've Learned: "Learning goes hand in hand with doing." Activate a free trial Atlassian site to put your knowledge into action, practicing installation and configuration based on your newfound expertise.
Pursue Additional Relevant Certifications: Expand your horizons by acquiring certifications such as Scrum and ITIL, as Atlassian's product ecosystem revolves around these common frameworks. These additional certifications provide a comprehensive view and offer proper methodologies for team performance and workflow.
Build a Roadmap to Become an Atlassian Certified Expert: Distinguish yourself by creating a specific roadmap to become an Atlassian Certified Expert. These experts are renowned for their diverse skills and the value they bring to businesses.
Join an Atlassian Solution Partner in your country: Consider joining these esteemed companies to actively participate in real projects, gain invaluable professional experience, and build an impressive portfolio.
In addition to the theoretical knowledge gained from books, learning from industry experts is crucial. Even with many years of experience, I continue to learn from renowned professionals in this field. Let's take a moment to acknowledge a few notable figures:
Rachel Wright, a celebrated trainer and prominent Atlassian expert, has spent a decade imparting her wisdom on effective Jira usage. She frequently speaks at Atlassian industry events and has published numerous articles on Jira's best practices.
Ravi Sagar, a renowned writer on topics surrounding Jira software, is also a developer of several plugins for the platform. With his diverse programming experience, his articles serve as highly useful reference material within the Jira community.
Matt Doar, an author, consultant, and Atlassian expert, possesses over 20 years of experience in the field. His writings span research, analysis, evaluations, and solutions for businesses, offering unparalleled insights.
Nic Brough's contributions to the Atlassian community are immense. With over 10,000 replies on the official Atlassian forum, he focuses on sharing knowledge and skills to help people understand and master the use of Atlassian products.
When young professionals join AgileOps, I always emphasize that choosing a career path should not solely be based on safety, ambition, career advancement, or salary, but also on passion and confidence in one's own abilities. Excelling in your chosen field is the key to success.
Remember, the Atlassian profession, like any other, demands practice and perseverance to enhance your skills. Every effort, no matter how small, is recognized. I encourage you to embark on this exciting journey and wish you success in choosing a career path that aligns with your passion and aspirations.