Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TOGAF 9 certification - preparation tips

I completed my TOGAF 9 certification yesterday. It was definitely tougher than I expected based on all the mock tests that I had given. The questions were tougher, with multiple choice answers in Level 2 similar enough to trip you up.

I was already TOGAF 8 certified, so just took the Bridge exam, which is a single exam of Level 1 (20 simple multiple choice questions) and Level 2 (8 complex multiple choice questions). Both levels are open book in the Bridge, but you still need to know your stuff, and can use the book for verifying/correcting 30-40% of your answers. Else, there won't be enough time to do the rest.

What worked for me

1. Preparing for a period of two months – 1 hour a day was sufficient. In fact, I lost momentum towards the end, as I just didn't have enough motivation to revise.

2. Documenting all inputs /outputs for ADM phases,

a. which phase new deliverables are created

b. which phase deliverables are signed-off

3. Taking all available mock tests

a. Those sent out by through my firm

b. From Books 24 X 7 books – Foundation Part 1 and Part 2 (can be used even for Bridge) by William Manning

c. Previous TOGAF 8 material

d. Chris Eaton's blog - check out the right window pane

4. Watching Knotion TOGAF videos to get a different/more palatable flavour of TOGAF

5. Other material on the net for general browsing– e.g. slideshare, training sites etc.

For the Bridge exam, focus on

1. Differences between TOGAF 8 and TOGAF 9

2. Study Guide 2

3. Remember where in the book the index and the main sections are (quite important as both parts are open book for the Bridge)

4. ADM

5. ADM Techniques

During the test

I took the test in the QA Ltd, Holborn centre.

1. Scrolling through the pdf is clunky, so go to the index first, find the page number and then use page number search (note that pdf page numbers and book page numbers are 34 pages out).

2. Word/phrase search works (definitely use it), but the word is highlighted only for a flash, so pay attention. Sometimes (especially for checking best description of a particular item, summary section may provide answers more easily than the main section)

3. 2 rewritable scratch pads are given (at Holborn test centre), take tissues with you so can rub the notes and reuse again, if needed.

4. For the bridge exam, both the levels are in a single test, so you can start with Level 2 if you want (as it involves a lot of reading).

5. Definitely use the mark feature, but also use the comments feature. You can put comments that you want to specifically consider while going back to the question and referring to the TOGAF book.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

10 years as a professional

On the 4th of March, I completed 10 years of my professional career. There were certainly some high points and low points during that time, and some useful lessons.
1. Having a fun time at Infosys during the 3.5 months induction. Realising that I am not a hacker once again, and also realising that IT is not about coding at all. In fact, guys who progress quickly are good at the softer things rather than at ‘hard’ coding.

2. Being fortunate enough in not being transferred to Hyderabad like the rest of the batch purely because had got a project. Was a BI project. Pretty much have stayed in the same domain since.

3. Understanding the importance of diplomacy and patience at work. Work gets completed only when it wants to complete (especially if it involves more than one person).

4. Fortunate enough to travel to the UK. My family has found a very nice Bed and Breakfast. Lunch and dinner may be elsewhere.

5. Swiftly deducing that working in Mumbai is not for me. Probably, the long term move there will only be of my ashes.

6. Moving from IT delivery to IT consulting to Business consulting. Landing in the Big 4. Realising why they are called the Big 4. And all the hard work that needs to be done inside of me.

7. Giving up on the MBA dream, and sacrificing a million bucks (INR anyway!) for reserving the seat and then not taking it. But ultimately making one of the best financial decisions of my life.

8. Realising that I am a fairly decent decision maker (not just based on 7), just that I need to put myself out there and make decisions that have bigger impact in the organisations that I work in/for.

In the 10 years, haven't done too bad. But there is a lot more that I could have achieved. I could have been more driven, focused, and generally a better professional.

On the personal front,

1. Getting to live near London, one of the best cities in the world

2. Discovering some of the things I am – cyclist, runner, but always a dilettante in everything (and don't mean that as a compliment!)

3. Finding love and losing it.

4. Getting married and having a daughter who makes me feel special.