I took (and failed) the GCP Professional Collaboration Engineer certification earlier this week. I want to share my experience so that others can avoid the same mistakes. I have been administering over G Suite domains for two years and have obtained several Google certifications, most recently the GCP Professional Cloud Architect. I am sharing my past experiences to give context to the mistakes when preparing for the exam.
Mistake #1: Hyper focused on G Suite
While it’s true that the Collaboration Engineer is a Google certification directed towards G Suite, your studying needs to include topics that are not specific to G Suite. The Collaboration Engineer follows in the same spirit as other Professional Google certifications. Having detailed knowledge of G Suite features is necessary but does not cover the complete scope of the exam. In my opinion, if you have been a G Suite admin most of the Groups, OU and App questions will be relatively easy. The more challenging part is the overarching email concepts. Google expects you to have a deep knowledge of industry best practices for integrating email systems and routing email. Below are a few topics worth studying in depth prior to sitting for the exam.
Non-G Suite specific topics:
- Mail Routing - The exam overview mentioned email routing in two separate sections. Focus on how email should be routed from G Suite to another email provider like O365.
- My exam had multiple questions regarding Dual and Split delivery. Understand when and how to use each.
- Understand the flow of email between systems.
- Be ready to interpret email headers, this is not particularly difficult but I had 4 questions related to the topic.
- Migration Strategies - Learn the different phases of G Suite Migrations. While it is not explicitly listed on the exam overview I found my background knowledge extremely helpful.
- Read the first couple of sections of the linked guide for help.
- Understand how the GSMME tool facilitates G Suite Migrations from Exchange and other email services. Ask yourself the following questions while studying. Where are connections happening and how is the data being transferred?
Mistake #2: Narrow study plan
I found the Coursera and QwikLabs study path for the Cloud Architect exam extremely useful and robust. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the recommended Collaboration Engineer study path. The majority of the courses where generic recaps of Admin features that are regularly use in G Suite. Worse than the generic nature of the study path was the limited scope. The focus of the study path was on G Suite features but the exam required deep knowledge of industry concepts mixed with G Suite feature navigation. For my next exam attempt, I will be reading/watching videos from sources other than Google for a deeper understanding of Mail Routing, DNS Settings and API connections.
Mistake #3: Understanding the nature of Professional Certificates
The few online posts I found suggested that the Collaboration Engineer was the easiest of the Professional level certs from Google. That may be true, but it doesn't mean the exam is easy. The other exams have seemingly endless resources to help aspiring Google Professionals reach their goals. The Collaboration Engineer is a relatively new certification that hasn't been fully backed by the industry. In another 6 months training programs may be up to par with the remaining exams. For now, anyone planning on sitting for the Collaboration Engineer should expect to read white-papers followed by more white-papers.
As with any Google exam, you never see your results so it's hard to know where I landed. This post was written to share my thoughts and mistakes. It is worth mentioning that this certification has very little overlap with other Professional Google certifications. My exam didn't have any mention of BigQuery and most of the API questions related to sharing contacts. In my opinion this exam should be categorized separately from the other Professional certifications. For the superhuman amongst us planning on obtaining every Professional Google certification, take the Collaboration Engineer last to benefit from the symbiotic nature of the other exams. If you have taken the exam, please share your experiences below.