You have worked many hours, spent time away from the family, lived the journey and made it into the defense. You are even ok after the torturous 10 day wait time.
Then you get the dreaded result of “ Unsuccessful”
Most VCDX certified professionals will have failed at least once. There is no shame in it ( Like that helps when you have just spent 6 months + on it).
Once the emotions have subsided, it’s time to regroup.
Thoughts to consider.
Documentation – Was this your best work?
Personally, when I was unsuccessful I tried to keep my full time work going, upskilling on new courses for my teaching and keep the kids happy. So, on reflection it wasn’t my best work prior to the defence.
I thought, once accepted, I could make it using my defense.
That just adds pressure. I needed to focus my efforts for making the defence a validation rather than making it a busy time to score points.
Did you get multiple reviews of your documentation – technical and non technical?
When you are spending hours and hours on the same document set, you can become blind to the specifics. Simple, mutual exclusive settings may slip through that can be picked up easily by people with a fresh set of eyes.
Non-technical people should be able to understand your project use case and give you an understanding if your design makes sense from a business point of view.
Having a single review from a VCDX or Non-VCDX is just one opinion. It is still your documentation. Get multiple reviews for your next submission.
Was all the feedback incorporated?
Sometimes you can push through and think you have answered all the questions.
Ask you mentor or reviewers to check that you actually answered their feedback in the revised documentation.
Did you get any surprises?
From your defence, did you find yourself struggling with one of the silos (i.e. Security or Networking).
Use this as a training plan for next time. Discuss this with the VCDX community on Slack or your mentor. We all have useful references that may help.
Did you mock with VCDX and non VCDX people?
I wasn’t successful until I focussed and mocked. I really didn’t like this kind of practice, but in hindsight it was required and helpful. Some of the best feedback I had was from candidates at the time. Do at least a day of rehearsals with time factored in to amend presentations and recover/review for upskill.
For the defense did you study the surrounding subject not just your design.
This is more of a soft skill aspect. By studying around the subject, listening to podcasts and “living in the IT community” you will find yourself being able to weave information, references, understanding of various areas while communicating. This helps with getting your message across to the panelists and validating your role as a lead architect.
Could you whiteboard your whole design from conceptual, logical, physical perspectives?
In my opinion, if you can’t whiteboard it. You are not ready for the defence. Any area should be able to be summed up in a number of diagrams.
Practice the diagrams on whiteboards so on the next defence you just flow.
Powerpoint slides take too much time to navigate and just looking at your documentation is not really active learning.
A flowing whiteboard diagram, building up while explaining questions on content is much more impressive for validation of an architect.
Did you practice white boarding and questioning techniques for design scenario?
Depending on the track there are always reusable options and starting blocks you can use.
For the next defence, ensure you study and deep dive on the main deployment strategies for your track and develop your own diagrams based upon this.
Practice and practice. In the defence you can use one of these as a starting point in your head.
Plan a whiteboard strategy which gives you structure and illustrates a methodical way of working to show the panelists.
Have at least 5-6 key questions in your head to ask for any design scenario. Write down the conceptual attributes from these questions.
Armed with a process, some starting example diagrams for different situations and some probing questions will make you feel much more confident here. You know how to start!
What next, when to re-submit ?
Get a mentor, regroup and review.
You may want to go straight back in, because you you feel you know what your mistake were.
You also may feel your documents are ready.
Consider spending a few weeks re-writing and weaving the feedback areas into the documentation.
Get it validated and get ready to perform the next time.
Jumping on the the next submission date is again pressure, the submission date is normally a week or so after a result date.
Rushing to meet this you may lose an opportunity to increase documentation score.