In today’s competitive job market how can you stand out to employers? Investing in your ongoing professional development is important in today’s technology and data driven, hyper-competitive marketplace. Meet Cole and Angela, business analysis (BA) professionals working as IT Business Consultants. For them, certification was an important career milestone. Recently, Cole and Angela earned their Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®) designation from IIBA®.
Within the organization where Cole and Angela work, they both found there was a lack of consistent understanding of what a typical BA does. They saw this as an opportunity to propose to management the benefit of investing in business analysis skills development to ensure a common understanding of the role and ability to leverage the BA professional’s role more effectively. Cole and Angela presented two scenarios, each showing the project outcomes with and without a BA professional engaged in the initiatives. The business outcomes that occurred with the guidance and expertise of a BA engaging with the project team, at the beginning, during and post-project found consistent requirements were gathered and prioritized, all stakeholders were identified and confirmed, and the projects met their deliverables. The same projects without a BA professional resulted in unclear and incomplete requirements, gaps in stakeholder identification, lack of a capability gap assessment, missed deliverable dates and a weak business relationship because of the dismal outcomes.
For management, the writing was on the wall. Recognizing the importance of business analysis and supporting ongoing training and development was a smart business decision. By investing in their BA professionals and better leveraging their skillsets on projects and programs they could improve overall communication and collaboration between teams, enhance client relationships, and boost productivity and performance.
Cole and Angela’s employer, like many other organizations, are recognizing the value business analysis plays in achieving better business outcomes. The importance of certification distinguishing the standards of the profession is also becoming more critical. This was an important factor considered in designing IIBA’s competency-based certification framework. “The competence exams provide a valid measure of a designation holder’s capability and proficiency to perform at a required level,” said Suzanne Bertschi, Director, Certifications and Programs at IIBA. This creates a level of certainty for employers they can trust when hiring an IIBA certified candidate.
Within the Certification Framework, IIBA offers the opportunity for BA competency recognition at each level of the business analysis career. For those who are entering or new to the business analysis field, there is the Entry Certificate in Business Analysis™ (ECBA™). This certificate acknowledges the recipient has a fundamental understanding of globally recognized business analysis practices. Practitioners who have 2-3 years’ experience working in business analysis may consider the Certification of Capability in Business Analysis™ (CCBA®) as the right move for them. And, those practitioners with over 5 years’ experience in business analysis may look to the Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®) designation to demonstrate their business analysis mastery level.
The competency-based certifications (CCBA and CBAP) each require the candidate meets the program’s prerequisites, including having a minimum of 3,750 hours (CCBA) or 7,500 hours (CBAP) of BA work experience, professional development hours, and two professional references to apply for the CCBA and CBAP exams. Once certified, continuous learning is required to recertify every 3 years.
Certification is not an easy feat; but of course, we wouldn’t expect it to be. “I was nervous”, recalled Cole about sitting for his CBAP exam, awhile back. Getting certified was important to him and he had put in nearly 60 hours of studying to prepare.
“The exams are designed to be challenging,” said Bertschi. IIBA developed its multi-level, competency-based certification framework with input from senior business analysis professionals in the global community. “Candidates have to draw upon their real-world BA experience and knowledge to be able to correctly answer the scenario-based questions.”
Today, Cole and Angela have received management approval to move forward with implementing a certification study program for BA professionals and to begin work on establishing a Business Analysis Centre of Excellence. Like anything new, there is excitement, lightly mixed with trepidation; but, as savvy, CBAP designation holders, Cole and Angela are well equipped to take on their new challenge.