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New Post 9/30/2008 4:38 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
www.smart-ba.com
5th Level Poster




BA certification - why bother? 
Modified By Adrian M.  on 9/30/2008 10:51:08 AM)

BA certification - what are the benefits?

As a Business Analyst I have wondered what are the benefits of BA certification and who is benefiting? To try and work that out I thought about the reasons why BAs should be certified.

Is it to measure the ability of the BA to do the job? Is it to try and get some consistency in the quality of analysis that is being done? Is to to increase the status of the profession?

Then I look at 2 certification schemes available to BAs: the ISEB Diploma in Business Analysis from BCS and CBAP from IIBA and here is the thing: I have yet to see a job that has a mandatory requirement to hold either of these and yet if certification was proving the ability of the holder to do the job and ensuring consistency in quality of deliverables surely the employers would be demanding their employees have the certification?

Now I look at various functional requirements that exist for these certificates and I find (amongst others):
1. both require passing exams
2. both require money to be paid to the accreditation organisations for the exams.

Let's take the subject of exams first. I have a mathematics 'O' level I got 30 years ago that I am pretty sure I could not pass now. What does that mean? It means that 30 years ago I knew enough to be able to pass a mathematics 'O' level and not much more. Worse still: suppose I had an accident and became brain dead on a ventilator: I would still be more eligible academically than the mathematically brightest but unqualified candidate for a job that demands a mathematics 'O' level. This illustrates the absurdity of exams.

Now exam fees. I can see why exam fees are needed: someone has to pay for the provision of the administration of these exams.

But no jobs demand these particular exams and anyway exams (agruably) prove very little and may rule out otherwise excellent candidates!

So to summarise: someone has to pay for the provision of something no jobs demand and which seem to prove very little anyway.

As a Business Analyst if this was a project I was analysing requirements for I would raise the issue that there does not appear to be any inherent benefit for the expense - unless I was working on the project for BCS or IIBA!!! :-)

I would be extremely interested to learn about a justification for exams and the current certification programmes - has anyone any views on that?

Guy
.

 
New Post 10/1/2008 10:31 AM
User is offline slurpeeking
1 posts
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Re: BA certification - why bother? 

I am considering obtaining certification.   While it may be true that certification may not be listed as a requirment in job postings, that does not necessairly mean it will not help you get a job, or at least an interview.  Being certified is something that can be added to a resume and sold in a cover letter.   

It would be interesting to send out two similar resume/cover letters, difference being one lists certification and one does not.  

 
New Post 10/1/2008 12:43 PM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
www.smart-ba.com
5th Level Poster




Re: BA certification - why bother? 
Modified By Guy Beauchamp  on 10/1/2008 2:44:06 PM)

Slurpeeking,

Great point well made: certificates probably do help in selection of candidates for interviews, and I have seen that in action myself.

Of course, the question arises about whether they should help in the selection of candidates for interviews and I tried to illustrate the problems I see with that using my brain dead but qualified mathematics candidate vs mathematically bright but unqualified candidate.

So from a practical "how do I get an interview" perspective I totally agree with you: certification does not ever harm in my experience and it almost certainly helps.

But is that the best way to select candidates for interview? Even employers don't seem to think so as it is only ever a desireable attribute whereas relevant industry experience is most often mandatory: if certificates were so good at identifying great BAs wouldn't employers insist on them?

Guy

 
New Post 10/1/2008 8:04 PM
User is offline Jarett Hailes
155 posts
6th Level Poster




Re: BA certification - why bother? 

Hi Guy,

Interesting points - I'm not on either side of the fence on this one, but I'll throw out a couple of counter-points:

  1. The IIBA certification requires ongoing education in the form of Proffessional Development Units.  This means that you need to attend workshops, go to courses, check out symposiums, etc. in order to maintin your certification after you pass the test.  While this by no means proves that you're actually absorbing the materials, it demonstrates that you at least are attempting to remain current on the trends and practices in the profession.
  2. I also have not seen a job with a mandatory CBAP, although I am starting to see more and more 'CBAP preferred' job postings (much like PM postings and the PMP).  Given the IIBA is a relatively young organization, it's not surprising that there are few jobs making this a must-have requirement.  I think at some point they will catch up to the PMI and have roughly the same mandatory/preferred CBAP ratios in job postings that I currently see for the PMP.

I think a certifiction is like any other piece of paper you acquire in life (degree, diplomas, etc.) - they're worth about as much as the tree was that was killed for it.  Certifictions are a starting point, not a gateway, and when applied by a governing body correctly can be used to demonstrate minimum competency is a broad range of skills that may be applicable to a particular position.  They demonstrate that at a recent point in time you are aware of a certain type of methodology, but that doesn't mean that this is what you would practice in real life.

I myself am considering the CBAP, but only if I believe it will assist me in getting international contracts abroad.  Otherwise I will rely on my performance and variety of experiences to get me the job, which is really how it should be.

 
New Post 10/2/2008 1:26 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
www.smart-ba.com
5th Level Poster




Re: BA certification - why bother? 

Hi Larimar,

Thanks for your comments and I agree with all your points and would like to add a couple to them:

1. IIBA certification requires renewal (as I understand it please correct me if I am wrong) which also requires ongoing payment to renew...in whose interest is that?

2. Preferences are as you say preferences and so I am expecting any certification to only influence outcomes when a CV is borderline - i.e. a minority of cases because most of the time a CV is a clear "accept" or "reject".

3. The principle of what is - in essence - arbitary certification (i.e. it has been designed by parties with no other authority than what they have taken on themselves and so have no more 'right' to define certification standards than I do).

4. There is no driver for certification: no country has laws that say BAs must be qualified, employers don't demand it, given two random BAs to assess I could not predict which has a certification and which doesn't and don't know of any way that would predict (so there is no material significant difference between a BA who has certification and one who does not).

So just as a BA, I wonder what the objectives are for certification and whose objectives they are.

Having said all that and as I said before, certification will not harm and it might help in getting interview - I just wonder about the principles of it all...

BTW: I have not made up my mind on this either, I am curious and wanted to get some other views to progress my thinking on this...

Guy

 
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