ISEB Diploma in Business Analysis

Featured
26424 Views
8 Comments
14 Likes

This diploma, certainly the most widely accepted professional accreditation within the UK and BCS (British Computer Society), is in the process of making it even more applicable outside of the that market (details below).

The basic process that candidates must follow in order to be awarded the diploma is

  • pass four certificates in different subject areas taken with commercial exam providers who normally provide the course that must be taken as well.

  • pass an oral exam taken with BCS.

ISEB DiplomaThe ISEB Diploma is currently in a period of transition to new curriculum. The reasons given for this are to make it relevant internationally whereas before it has been perceived as a UK accreditation.

This is not a straightforward transition as some people will be part way through the old diploma programme. The old and new curriculums are described below together with the provisions being made for the transition. The source of the following text is http://www.bcs.org/upload/pdf/international-bsd-scheme-overview.pdf

How does this affect existing ISEB candidates?
There will be a greater choice of modules which can be taken and recognised within the BSD Scheme. The existing qualification will remain relevant and, as more overseas candidates obtain the qualification, will have increased international recognition..
Candidates will be able to attend oral examinations under the existing scheme until 28th February 2011. Any candidate who is in the process of taking modules following the existing scheme will be required to complete their oral examination by the end of February 2011. Please note that 28th February 2011 will be the final date for the existing oral examination.

When will the new scheme be introduced?
The revised BSD scheme is available immediately with the new oral examinations being available from 1st February 2010. There is a transition period of 12 months, giving Exam Providers and their candidates sufficient time to adjust their programmes at their own convenience.. Candidates will be able to attend an oral examination using the existing format until 1st February 2011.

Existing Diploma in Business Analysis (BA)

The Original Diploma in Business Analysis Core Modules

Specialist Modules

Business Analysis Essentials

Benefits Management and Business Acceptance

Organisational Context

Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis

Requirements Engineering

Modelling Business Processes Systems Development Essentials Systems Modelling Techniques

3 of the above

1 of the above

The existing ISEB Diploma in Business Analysis is awarded following the successful completion of three core modules, one specialist module and an oral examination.

The New International Diploma in Business Analysis (BA)

Core modules

Knowledge-based specialism

Practitioner specialism

Requirements Engineering

Organisational Context

Modelling Business Processes

Requirements Engineering

Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis

Systems Modelling Techniques

 

Foundation Certificate in IT-enabled Business Change

Benefits Management & Business Acceptance

 

Foundation Certificate in Project Management

Systems Development Essentials

2 of the above

1 of the above

1 of the above

The ISEB International Diploma in Business Analysis is awarded following the successful completion of two core modules, one knowledge based specialist module, one practitioner based specialist module and an oral examination.

The modules.
The following is a list of the courses in the above tables with descriptions and notes about the courses together with exam details. The “course descriptions” are extracts of the course descriptions on the BCS website at
www.bcs.org.

Module

Course description

Notes

Benefits Management and Business Acceptance

This certificate is concerned with the delivery of successful software solutions. This includes the acceptance and implementation of a software solution, plus a rigorous approach to benefits management.
There are three key elements to the syllabus:

  • Benefits management

  • Acceptance testing

  • Solution implementation

Arguably not core information for a Business Analyst and not much in the way of the application of formal analysis techniques in terms or functional, process or data requirements.

Exam: The format for the examination is a one hour written (open book) examination based on a business scenario with 15 minutes reading time.

Business Analysis Essentials

There are two key elements to the syllabus: the development of a business strategy and the exploration of a business issue, whether a problem or opportunity. For the first element, candidates are required to understand a range of strategic analysis and performance management techniques. For the second element, they are required to be able to apply business analysis techniques within a defined framework.

Often mistaken as a the basics of business analysis, this certificate is more about the application of strategic thinking to business analysis.

Exam: The format for the examination is a one hour written (open book) examination based on a business scenario with 15 minutes reading time.

Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis

This certificate covers the broad range of principles and techniques within the sphere of Business Analysis

Based on the book “Business Analysis” published by BCS. General overview of the subject area, no depth on anything in particular.

Exam: The examination will last one hour and will consist of multiple-choice questions. The examination will be 'closed book', i.e. no notes or books will be allowed in to the examination room

Foundation Certificate in IT-enabled Business Change

This certificate is designed for anyone involved in or affected by the exploitation of IT for business benefit. It considers the underlying concepts in the areas of business and requirements analysis, change management and the consultancy skills necessary to ensure maximum value is achieved from the implementation of IT-enabled solutions.

The subject areas are useful for a Business Analyst focused on why a project is being done, not just how.

Exam: The examination will last one hour and will consist of multiple-choice questions. The examination will be 'closed book', i.e. no notes or books will be allowed in to the examination room.

Foundation Certificate in Project Management

The Foundation Certificate is designed for anyone involved in or affected by IT projects; this extends to users, buyers and directors. Candidates will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the principles of project management, including planning, monitoring and control, change management, risk management and communication between all involved

The clue is in the name: Project Management! Arguably not a core skill set for Business Analysts, although they will need to be familiar with the concepts they should not require any in depth skills in this area unless they are hybrid BA/PM.

Exam: The examination will last one hour and will consist of multiple-choice questions. The examination will be 'closed book', i.e. no notes or books will be allowed in to the examination room.

Modelling Business Processes

This certificate focuses on the investigation, modelling, analysis and improvement of business processes. Candidates are required to apply business process modelling and analysis techniques and understand a framework for business process improvement within which these techniques may be applied

A set of core skills for a Business Analyst.

Exam: The format for the examination is a one hour written (open book) examination based on a business scenario with 15 minutes reading time

Organisational Context

This certificate is concerned with the business environment within which organisations have to operate. There are three key elements to the syllabus:

  • the nature of organisations, their legal basis, management and structures

  • legislation of concern to the IS professional

  • business finance.

Arguably not core information for a Business Analyst and not much in the way of the application of formal analysis techniques in terms or functional, process or data requirements.

Exam: The format for the examination is a one hour written (open book) examination based on a business scenario with 15 minutes reading time.

Requirements Engineering

This certificate is concerned with the Requirements Engineering approach to requirements definition. Its focus is on using a systematic approach to eliciting, analysing, validating, documenting and managing requirements.

A set of core skills for a Business Analyst.

Exam: The format for the examination is a one hour written (open book) examination based on a business scenario with 15 minutes reading time.

Systems Development Essentials

This certificate is concerned with the fundamental skills of systems development. Its focus is on systems investigation and quality assurance as it is perceived that these underpin all systems development. The certificate also introduces the candidate to how the systems development effort could be organised. The syllabus distinguishes between generic lifecycle types, methods and approaches.

Arguably not core information for a Business Analyst and not much in the way of the application of formal analysis techniques in terms or functional, process or data requirements

Exam: The format for the examination is a one hour written (open book) examination based on a business scenario with 15 minutes reading time

There are no details on the oral exam content and structure on the BCS website but www.BusinessAnalystSolutions.com provides the following information:

Once candidates have obtained the appropriate number of modules for a Diploma, they will be eligible to sit an oral examination. The Oral will test the communication abilities of the candidate, their ability to apply knowledge to their own, or simulated, work environment.

The oral exam last for approximately 1 hour and will involve two examiners. It is recommended that a candidate take the oral examination within six months of completing the set of written examinations but no more than twelve months after the result notification date of the final examination. Candidates who do not take the oral examination within twelve months will not be able to attend the oral examination.

Which certification is best?

The question cannot be answered until we know what “best” means. Best for what? How would we know it was “best” – i.e. what measures would we monitor in order to be able to say that one certification is better than another?

If Business Analysis was a legally recognised profession this would be relatively easy to answer. A doctor – for example – cannot practice without holding a set of recognised qualifications and can be prosecuted if they practice without them. There are no such legal restrictions on Business Analysts. Anyone at all can claim to be a Business Analyst and practice as one and have no formal qualifications of any sort at all – and indeed they do!

Without the legal restrictions to fall back on, how can “best” be measured?

Do employers have notion of what “best” is? A brief survey of the job market will tell you they do not: a minority of jobs will ask for “relevant professional qualifications”, though rather more will ask for a “relevant university degree”. Almost none will demand that any candidate must hold a certain professional qualification – it will be ‘desirable’.

So, finally, the answer comes back to the Business Analyst themselves: how are they going to define “best” and use it to select the “best” course? Uncannily like Business Analysis itself, in order to answer this the Business Analyst needs to analyse what their objectives for have certification are, and use that to define the requirements they have for certification, and so select the certification that best satisfies their requirements.

For example: suppose the Business Analysts determines that they want certification in order to boost their chances of landing Business Analyst positions. They should then survey the job market to find roles they would like to be able to apply for and see which certification is most commonly asked for. In the UK this is likely to be the ISEB Diploma in Business Analysis if any at all are specified. The most sought after ‘qualification’ is relevant experience, followed by a relevant university degree and thirdly (and usually optionally) a “relevant professional qualification”.

Another example: suppose the Business Analyst determines that they want certification in order to know more about Business Analysis. They need to find out which courses cover what material to the depth they want to go to: so they need to research the courses on the internet, canvass colleagues, look on www.ModernAnalyst.com, and contact the certification providers.

The Principles of Certification

If the objective of the Business Analyst for gaining the certification is to improve their education and ability to do Business Analysis, the question has to be asked about why bother with certification at all? Why not just read the books that are of interest and take relevant courses if it helps? Certification per se does not demonstrate mastery of a subject – the author of this article passed high school exams in maths that if he sat today would defeat him! All certification states is that on a certain day a certain person was able to answer enough of a certain set of questions in a particular way to allow exam markers to award a pass. Not really conclusive evidence of anything at all.

Another thought – what is the motivation of the certification providers? Perhaps they just want to improve the standards of Business Analysis? If that was the case why would they charge for the certification? Ok, so maybe it’s not that they just want to improve the standards of Business Analysis, perhaps they want to make money too. Nothing wrong with that – except who gave them the mandate to set up these certifications? It turns out no-one, they just decided to. And they are not inspected or audited by any independent authority. So they can make money out of something they have no mandate to do and are unchecked.

And a final thought: remember that Business Analysis is not a recognised profession like being a doctor. In fact, because of this there is no agreed and accepted definition of what a Business Analyst actually is. Lots of different people and organisations have lots of different ideas and suggestions, but there are none that allow anyone to challenge a Business Analyst and say “if you are a Business Analyst, how come you don’t do x, y and z” or “how come you haven’t got such and such a qualification?”. Even the BCS has some of its Certificates for Business Analysts under different subject areas (e.g. all the details of the ISEB Certificate in Systems Modelling Techniques is not in the ISEB Business Analysis area of the website but the ISEB Systems Development area).

Take all of the above and we are left in a situation where several groups of people (certification providers in all their shapes and forms) have taken it upon themselves to offer arbitrary certificates and qualifications to accredit Business Analysts for which they have no recognised mandate to do so, are not audited by an independent regulatory body and charge the Business Analysts money for a certification in a “profession” (Business Analysis) which has no formally recognised and agreed definition!

Conclusions.
If you want certification to get a job, find out what you need before you apply for the job. Do the minimum to satisfy the job requirements.
If you want it to get educated, save yourself time and money and just do the education without the certification.

References

  1. www.BCS.org for all the details of the ISEB Diploma in Business Analysis and all the other accreditation they offer. There are syllabi and sample exam papers on the site for each BA course.

  2. www.BusinessAnalystSolutions.com for details on the oral exam that is required to finally get the ISEB Diploma in Business Analysis.

Author: Guy Beauchamp is a business analyst (whatever that is!) with a mission: to debunk the jargonised illogical drivel in Business Analysis and practice what is - in essence - the simple process of analysis. The difficult part is in applying analysis to the real (frequently illogical and irrational) world - but if Business Analysts don't do it, who will?  For more details on visit: www.smart-BA.com

Like this article:
  14 members liked this article
Featured
26424 Views
8 Comments
14 Likes

COMMENTS

kbrennan posted on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 8:50 AM
Thanks for the article. However, there are some implications made that I think need to be addressed.

"Another thought – what is the motivation of the certification providers? Perhaps they just want to improve the standards of Business Analysis? If that was the case why would they charge for the certification? Ok, so maybe it’s not that they just want to improve the standards of Business Analysis, perhaps they want to make money too. Nothing wrong with that – except who gave them the mandate to set up these certifications? It turns out no-one, they just decided to. And they are not inspected or audited by any independent authority. So they can make money out of something they have no mandate to do and are unchecked."

We (and the BCS) charge for our certification programs because those programs cost money to run. This is not a secret--if you check out IIBA's audited financial statements, published every year at our AGM, you will see that our certification program is operating at break-even. IIBA is a non-profit and any surplus revenues are directed into programs to benefit our members. I can't speak for BCS on this point--their program may be more profitable than ours--but I do know that they have quite a few costs to cover as well.

As for our mandates, both IIBA and BCS are accountable to boards elected by their memberships. In fact, when IIBA's certification program was launched, the membership directly elected the people who set it up. We now run that program with hired staff, but the Board still oversees the program to ensure that it is accountable to the community. IIBA also complies with the ISO 17024 standard for certifying bodies to ensure that the program is operated in conformance with internationally recognized standards. In the case of BCS, they also hold a Royal Charter in the UK.

Finally, IIBA's certification program is not arbitrary. It is based on the BABOK Guide, which was developed using the same process as required by ISO for standards development. That process included publication of four separate drafts of the document for public feedback, two expert reviews, multiple surveys to assess the accuracy of the content, and two role delineation studies to verify that the tasks described are in fact what business analysts do. The exam itself was built using a psychometrically valid process to ensure that every question underwent multiple reviews and that the exam itself is capable of distinguishing which BAs meet the certification requirements.

Now, there are other things in this article which I disagree with, but everyone'e entitled to their own opinion. People will have to determine if certification is right for them based on their own career objectives. However, I believe that it's important for people to understand the actual facts regarding how certification programs are run.
tlgalenson posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 1:02 AM
This article is interesting for both its information and its analysis.

It appears to say that the new (more internationally oriented) version could in fact be taken/passed by a student business analyst? That might be over stating it because the oral exam might require work experience to be passed. In any case it appears to combine both courses and exams in one grouping so that it is somewhat easier to see how to acquire the "International Diploma in Business Analysis" than the CBAP.

So my question is, would this Diploma be a reasonable substitute for a Jr. CBAP? or is it supposed to be the equivalent of a CBAP?

kbrennan posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 8:30 AM
The ISEB Diploma and the CBAP are aimed at different groups. The ISEB Diploma is most useful to people looking to become business analysts (or who have recently taken on the role) while the CBAP is aimed at recognizing business analysts who have achieved a high level of skill and can be expected to take on more of a leadership role in a project or team.

The ISEB Diploma in Business Analysis is purely education-based. I'm sure some actual experience is helpful in understanding the material, but it's not required--you can get it with no actual experience. That's actually quite reasonable as programs that require a specific course of education are generally going to be most useful to people who are still early in their career.

I've reviewed their program and it covers the core skills that a business analyst should know quite well. The value of the ISEB is that it shows you've been trained in those core skills, and so shouldn't run into many situations as a BA where you don't know what is supposed to be done, even if it's a problem that may be beyond your skills to actually solve.

As you grow in experience, a general course covering the basics should become less useful to you (because you already know that material) and your training will need to focus more on advanced topics and be chosen to meet your specific needs. That's why the CBAP doesn't require any specific courses--we're looking to see that you have an ongoing commitment to learning. At a senior level, your actual experience becomes a better predictor of what you can do rather than the training you may have received, and that's what the CBAP focuses on assessing. That's why we look at references and work hours and not just run you through an exam.

In short, the ISEB Diploma shows that you have been trained as a business analyst, the CBAP shows that you have worked successfully as a business analyst (for long enough to be proficient in the skills required).

(Since the comment doesn't link back to my profile, full disclosure: I am IIBA's VP, Professional Development and obviously do have a stake in this discussion).
tlgalenson posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 8:35 AM
Thank you for the clear exposition. I appreciate both the original article and the responses.

Tom
Guy Beauchamp posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 7:50 AM
Kbrennan,
thanks for your comments and the corrections regarding ISO standards conformance that IIBA and BCS maintain and Royal Charter of the BCS.

The thrust of the section of the article on "Principles of Certification" is to express a point of view that given no drivers for mandatory certification, the market is open to all comers to provide certification in various forms.

This issue is compounded by the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of what a BA is.

It is worth stating that the comments in the article are directed at certification course providers in general and not any particular organisation. There are a great many certification schemes run by a great many providers and it is not the intention to single out any one or group of certification providers.


Tom,
thanks also for your comments.

With regard to your question about "would this Diploma be a reasonable substitute for a Jr. CBAP?" the answer is "reasonable to whom?".
- Reasonable to employers? Well, look at the job adverts that you would like to apply for and see what they ask for - they will probably ask for relevant industry experience, relevant university degree and maybe sometimes a relevant professional qualification.
- Reasonable to you? Well, that depends on what you are trying to achieve...

Guy
david.hughes posted on Friday, December 23, 2011 11:04 AM
What about the IIBA CCBA? Isn't that the Jr. CBAP?

Is it just that the CCBA was launched after this topic was posted?
tlgalenson@yahoo.com posted on Saturday, December 24, 2011 12:01 PM
There is still a difference between a certificate and/or diploma which are educational in nature and a "certification" which means a body certifies you pass a certain standard.

The CCBA is a certification that requires less total hours experience than the CBAP. So it certainly could be called a Jr CBAP. I am not sure but I think you have to pass the exam at the same level as a CBAP candidate. In any case the CCBA is not an entry-level certification. You have to have X amount of experience to sit for the exam. The CAPM (www.pmi.org) can be sat for after sufficient educational hours.

Tom M.
adrian posted on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 10:51 PM
@David
This article was published before CCBA was rolled out.
Only registered users may post comments.




Latest Articles

Business jargon….in a nutshell
Jul 15, 2018
2 Comments
With this article, I’ve done the heavy lifting for you, by mentioning some of these jargon-based pearls of wisdom here. You ...

Featured Digital Library Resources 
Copyright 2006-2018 by Modern Analyst Media LLC