Kevin Brennan breaks down the ‘What? Who? Where? When, Why? and How?’ to give you the five W’s and one H of business analyst certification programmes.
Kevin Brennan has been a world leader in the business analysis community for over a decade, as a member of the IIBA® board and executive team, and led the development of the BABOK Guide through three major releases.
A business transformation architect who helps clients achieve their business goals through business strategy, business process management / architecture and business analysis, Kevin was a member of the PMBOK 5th Edition content development team, has worked with the Agile Alliance to develop a framework and guidelines for agile business analysis, and served on the board of the Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Associations (FEAPO).
What is professional certification?
There are lots of different types of professional ‘certification’ programmes out there, of varying quality. Business Analyst certification, specifically the IIBA® programmes, are
… aimed at business analysts with demonstrated and significant experience actually performing business analysis, and recognising that they have reached a particular milestone in their career.
The Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP), Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA), et al, explicitly require a combination of education and experience, in contrast to certificates, which are based solely on class time and an exam.
Who benefits from business analyst certification?
The certifications help to standardise expectations and skills in the business analyst role.
Certification provides a baseline companies can use in hiring that demonstrates a candidate understands what the job entails, has done it for a certain period of time, and has received some education and training.
One of the major reasons that a lot of companies helped sponsor IIBA® in its early years was that they had no idea what to expect when someone had “business analyst” on their resume.
Where does certification keep pace with industry?
Business analyst certification demonstrates an on-going commitment to the profession. The reason that most
… professional certifications require ongoing training and professional development is to ensure that people stay current with new trends.
I achieved my PMP 15 years ago and my CBAP 9 years ago – so without a recertification process, how does an employer know I’ve been paying attention to developments since then?
When can certification help professional development?
Professional certifications helps set a path for people to follow towards reaching a career goal. As a business analyst, you can look at the CBAP and ask yourself
“What experience do I need to qualify for this?” “Am I spending my time really doing business analysis, and do I need to look for new opportunities?” “What education do I need to get there and what should I be learning?”
The exam is valuable because it forces you to look beyond what the role may look like at your company and get a sense of how the job looks elsewhere – something that also helps your career.
Why might certification be relevant to non-business analysts?
Professional certification may be especially valuable if you are seeking to demonstrate that you have a skill that doesn’t necessarily align with a job title you’ve had in the past.
There are a lot of people who do business analysis work as part of their jobs, and that CBAP can convince someone in HR to actually look at your real experience …
rather than just ruling you out of a BA position based on your job title.
How should employers gauge certified professionals?
Certifications aren’t a perfect solution, and we’re all aware of people who manage to get certified under false pretences or who can’t really perform the job.
It’s important for companies to put in the effort to ensure that candidates really are a fit for a position when hiring.
Of course, a well-run certification program will aim to eliminate exceptions like that.