Why-CBAP-Certification

Why Should You Get the CBAP Certification?

by Jonathan Nituch34

If you are a practicing business analyst, you will eventually be asking yourself this question.  The truth is, you already know a number of reasons why you should be certified.  There are also some things that you might not know.  We’ll touch on both of these later, but first let’s talk about the about some certification myths.

CBAP® Myths

Guaranteed Superiority

We have all heard this one before.  “I met Frank, who is a CBAP, and I was not impressed.  I already know more about Use Cases that he does, so clearly this certification is meaningless.”  Many people love to use similar experiences as a reason not to pursue the certification.  Unfortunately, they are missing the point.  Certification is NOT a guarantee of superiority.  Get that idea out of your head.  Some non-certified BAs who have stronger talents or work experience will outperform some certified individuals.  That is just a fact and really has no bearing on your decision.

Guaranteed Job

The only purpose of the CBAP is to secure an employment position that requires CBAP.  I don’t see that many job postings requiring  CBAP, so it’s not worth getting.”  In the same family as this statement is “Once I get the CBAP, I am guaranteed a good position.”  These ideas have the wrong focus. With this, I want to give out the core focus of CBAP®:

The CBAP® is not about employment, it is about development:  your personal development and the development of business analysis as a profession.

What You Already Know

Love of Your Work

There is one thing that you know for sure.  You know yourself.  If you are reading this blog, then I know a bit about you too.  You are a very fortunate person.  You have the special blend of talents it takes to be a BA.  You combine communication, analytical thinking, business knowledge, technical knowledge, and interaction skills to produce results that most people simply cannot achieve.  You already know this about yourself.  I will guarantee something: you love what you do!  Who wouldn’t?  Being a BA is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers. If you haven’t found what other passionate BAs are talking about being a BA, you should listen to Yamo interviewing business analysts.

You Will Never Stop

You might as well face it that you are going to be a BA for life.  Whether you move on to management or other career options, you will still be a BA.  You will still use your BA skills wherever you go.  You aren’t going to stop.  This work is simply too rewarding and valuable to ever let it go.

What You Might Not Know

What Is Business Analysis To You?

It’s time for another guarantee: you don’t know what business analysis is, at least not completely.  I remember taking my first BA course with a number of other professional BAs.  As we went through the BABOK®, each week a different person was saying “I’m a BA, but I don’t do this work we are learning about”.   Pursuing the CBAP® forces you into the broader world of BA than what you have been exposed to so far.  That’s true development of your own awareness of your role.  You will learn new things.  How about that, you have this great career that you love, and there is more to it than you have enjoyed so far?  Yes there is, sadly the chances are that your boss doesn’t know this either.

What is Business Analysis To The World?

*shrug*  will be the most common answer.  Those closer to the profession may be able to give a partial answer.  Very few will be able to give a complete and correct answer.  At first, this seems almost comical.  “My friends and family don’t know what I do”.  HA-HA.  If you are saying “No one in the organization understands what I do”,  then it isn’t so funny anymore.  It is difficult for people to value things they cannot identify or understand.  That means you are undervalued.  It means you cannot easily move from one organization to another, because BA means something different everywhere.  It also means that executives cannot easily communicate with one another about BA.  All of this is bad news.  It’s bad news that you should do something about.

What Can We Do?

Every BA is in the same situation.  We are all fortunate and talented and love what we do.  We all know only parts of what this great role actually entails.  We all suffer from the lack of recognition that business analysis has.  From this position, there is only one thing we can do: collaborate:

Collaborate to develop our understanding of our role from each other.  Collaborate to develop our skills, competencies and effectiveness.  Most importantly, we must collaborate to develop our identity.  We need to reduce the *shrugs*, increase the partially corrects answers and ultimately increase the number of completely correct answers.

My business card says CBAP on it.  Every time I explain to someone what that means, I am helping you!  I need your help too.  Get certified.  Identify yourself as a professional in business analysis.  You owe it to yourself, your role, and the rest of us who love that role as much as you do.  We are all in the same boat and it’s time for you to pick up a paddle.

Would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Please use the space below to leave a comment.

 

 

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  • Published: November 21, 2011
  • Filed in: CBAP

Article by

Jonathan is a bilingual Senior IT Manager with 17 years of technical experience and 12 years of management experience. He is the VP of Operations at Fortress Technology Planners, an IT consulting firm in Canada. His career is focused on using strategic planning to align systems with business needs and thereby create structural capital. A Project Management Professional and Certified Business Analysis Professional, he uses several tools and techniques to develop a clear and formal understanding of how businesses work and what they need from technology to be most effective and profitable. Jonathan has managed several large implementation projects of both IT infrastructure and ERP applications. Jonathan also teaches business analysis and project management at Sheridan and Conestoga Colleges. He enjoys travel, international food, and is an avid music fan.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Doug Goldberg November 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Jonathan,

Great article here to motivate the masses. You bring up some significant thoughts and successfully squash some of the pervasive myths (some of which I must also take ownership of). Thanks for this post and your efforts!

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Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo November 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Thanks, Jonathan, for such a motivational post. You have very eloquently debunked two biggest myths associated with the CBAP. I think gaining a strong perspective on the “why” is a crucial first step in anyone’s CBAP journey; and I am glad you shared your experience. My favorite part of the post is:

“… We need to reduce the *shrugs*, increase the partially corrects answers and ultimately increase the number of completely correct answers.” I couldn’t have said it better.

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Michael Gladstone November 22, 2011 at 12:40 am

Thanks, Jonathan, for a great post! I’d just like to add a few comments about CCBA:

All of the information above applies equally to the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA). Both CBAP and CCBA are professional certifications, and they both require significant amounts of work experience.

CCBA was designed with three types of people in mind:
1) full-time BAs who have gained about 3 years of professional experience. Individuals in this group spend virtually their entire time performing business analysis work. CCBA represents a milestone in that progress. They may apply for CBAP after they’ve racked up another 2-3 years of BA experience.
2) “hybrid” BAs – these are individuals who spend part of their time doing BA and part doing something else. Because of this, it may take 5+ years to rack up 3 years worth of BA experience. CCBA recognizes the BA knowledge experience that they’ve gained, and these individuals are likely to maintain their CCBA indefinitely.
3) experienced individuals new to BA – these are individuals who have worked in other roles, and are now moving in to a formal BA role. If they look back at their experience, though, they see that a lot of what they did was actually BA, they just didn’t think of it that way. CCBA provides support in that transition to formal BA.

CCBA is not “less” than CBAP. It’s for a different group of people. But, it’s a full professional certification in all the ways CBAP is.

I strongly encourage anyone who falls in to one of the above categories to seriously consider CCBA.

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Marcia August 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Is there a defined path from CCBA to CBAP? Do you have to take the test again?

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Alexandra Cordes November 22, 2011 at 12:54 am

Great post Jonathon. Two things that particularly resonated with me was:
1. You Will Never Stop. Recently I had a little hiatus in the mining industry. I was not employed as business analyst but it did not stop me from doing BA things such asking “what”, “why” and “how” questions, and modelling the domain and the business processes just so I could understand the business better. In fact, this work made realise how much being a BA is ingrained in my thinking and doing, and as a result I now identify so much stronger as a BA. I really value and appreciate the role I can play in an organisation.
2. Collaboration. I quite often find us BA’s working in “silos”. Even though we may be working with the business and liaising with technical specialists we are often too busy (or for other reasons) to get together. In my current role we (BA’s) are having regular coffee meetings to talk about our projects and share ideas. Our group is also looking at how we can develop a standardised framework/methodology for business analysis within the organisation. It is very exciting to be a part of a group like this and it is one way that we, as BA’s, are thinking about what we do and how we can deliver our message to the business.

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David Morris November 22, 2011 at 7:16 am

@Jonathan, A great article that resoundly makes the case for certification — in any discipline in my humble opinion — passion, discipline, and continued learning are what do it for me too … and thank you to @Michael for being the flag waver for CCBA too.

I and a group of current CBAP holders in Auckland, NZ, have just brought a group of CBAP/CCBA aspirants to the end of their 12-week odyssey through the accelerated programme — it has been an honour to see them grow over the last three months — and now we break for the summer (southern hemisphere) they will be sitting their exams in February. We cannot wait to see our numbers grow further — exciting times for them.

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David Smith November 22, 2011 at 10:51 am

Great article Jonathan. I was thinking ‘what about CCBA’ as I was reading it and so am very thankful to Michael for his comments. I’ve spent the last 10 years working as a ‘hybrid’ BA/PM and I’m in the middle of logging my hours. It doesn’t look I’m going to hit the total and by KA hours required for the CBAP, so it looks like CCBA for me (unless I hold off for a couple of years).

Now there’s a thread, CCBA now or CBAP later….

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Ravi Pardesi November 22, 2011 at 11:50 am

Thanks @Jonathan for this great post. I have myself encountered the same misconceptions by fellow BA’s in my circle. Certainly your post clears them and hopefully we all collaborate further to fetch more complete answers that brings all of us on same page.

In full agreement here to:
“… We need to reduce the *shrugs*, increase the partially corrects answers and ultimately increase the number of completely correct answers.”

Suggestion: Instead of creating our JD, all BA’s should be defining our role by exploring and performing it to the fullest. As you mentioned that the definition of BA changes from org to org, we can not force a definition or JD upfront.

Looking forward for your further inputs.

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Adrian Reed November 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Jonathan, this is an excellent article and you have raised some extremely valid points. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

I work in the UK, and the CBAP isn’t universally recognised yet. I’m often asked “Why did you bother studying for CBAP – employers don’t look for it yet”. My answer is always the same:

1. I believe it shows a commitment to professional development. I never want to stop learning, and CBAP helps me demonstrate that on my CV.
2. I am passionate about the BA profession, and being a CBAP is a way of demonstrating that, and a way of gaining a fresh perspective on techniques and processes. I agree with your comment that we need to collaborate as a community to define our role. Bottom line is that we need to make sure every CEO knows the value of Business Analysis, and the value of employing Business Change Professionals!
3. Although employers might not be looking for CBAP, it can still be a differentiator. It might well mean that one candidate gets the job over another
4. The links between CBAP and IIBA mean that I have an international network of fellow IIBA members and CBAPs to exchange knowledge and “war stories” with, helping me to learn more and add more value in my project engagements.

Thanks again for a thought provoking article!

Adrian

Twitter : @UKAdrianReed

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Jonathan Nituch November 22, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Thanks Everyone for the complementary comments. I am happy and encourage to see that some of you share my point of view.

@Michael, I agree that all of this applies to the CCBA. I would also encourage anyone who does not qualify for the CBAP to pursue the CCBA. I will also make the point that it can be difficult to predict if you will qualify for the CBAP before you reach a certain point in your preparation/application. You have to study the BABOK before you apply to see if your work experience aligns. If you discover that you don’t have the hours for the CBAP, you should use the time you have invested to purse the CCBA. The CCBA is a great option for any of the three groups you mentioned. As an employer, I would value an individual who pursued the CCBA over someone who is “waiting a few years to qualify for CBAP”.

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Aaron Whittenberger November 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Jonathan, I agree with all above that this was an excellent post that puts the purpose of a certification, whether CBAP, CCBA or other, in perspective. Certification should be used for personal professional development. Adrian put it nicely as to how the CBAP can affect your professional development. I couldn’t have said it any better.

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Ricardo Csordas November 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Great article.
Always good to hear motivated people point of view.
We are really fortunate because we have so many tools to understand business processes, this is a role that fell people have in a company.
And what I think is best, Business Analysts represent those team members who make things happen different from the management roles.

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Dave Schrenk November 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Great article! I agree wholeheartedly with you and all comments.

I think it is a shame that we sometimes need to defend pursuit / attainment of the CBAP and the use of the designation to naysayers on various LinkedIn discussion boards. I can now link directly to this article.

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Desiree Purvis November 22, 2011 at 10:00 pm

@Jonathan – Great article – you have articulated exactly the reasons why I chose to go for CBAP certification, and why I continue to pursue re-certification. I didn’t do it because I wanted to be more marketable or to stick four letters at the end of my name – I used it as a yardstick to measure my competency in my chosen profession. It has motivated me to stay current, helped me to recognise my strengths and weaknesses, and kept the fire in the belly going to improve. It has also inspired me to get more involved in our BA community at work and at large.
For the naysayers, you have to work pretty hard to get certified – the whole process is initially daunting and deliberately so. I know that not everyone who claims they have the requisite 5 years experience will be accepted to go for CBAP, so it’s great that there is another stepping stone available in the CCBA.
Equally, I understand that there are people out there for whom the IIBA certifications aren’t for them and that’s fine too. For those of you dithering – don’t be put off by the process, horrible as it may seem. Use it as a motivator – think of it as a series of milestones to achieve the end goal.

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Katie Metcalfe November 24, 2011 at 2:24 am

Excellent article Jonathan. Thanks for the contribution!
I really agree with your comments and concepts about myths.
It is about development not employment. This is such an important point you raise. Further development of knowledge is always a positive in our careers as BA’s.

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Linda Miller, CBAP, PMP, CSM November 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Jonathan:

Very inspiring and you hit the nail on the head. Being a CBAP doesn’t make you an expert in every technique there is but gives you the opportunity to learn about new things and best practices. I am the President of the IIBA Phoenix Chapter. I was the 2nd CBAP in AZ. We have sponsored 5 study groups so far and now have 13 CBAPs in AZ with 5 of those having come out of the study group efforts and many others preparing for the exam. Joining a study group is an inexpensive way to prepare for the exam and also exposes participants to other people’s experience and view points.

Being a CBAP is becoming more recognized, and as professionals, it is important to stay on top of the list as far as jobs go. And promotions! I have found that having the CBAP certification has brought me to the top of the pile when looking for a job. I am a PMP also, so certifications and combination skill sets have to give you an edge on the competition.

I encourage all the readers of this blog to look into the CBAP or even the newer CCBA certification in order to pursue career development. I have ran into more and more BAs who have put this achievement on their career development plan and more companies are recognizing the value of the profession and certification.

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Harriet Laurin January 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm

This article raised many good points. I’m currently in the IIBA Philadelphia chapter’s study group. Yes, certainly the study of the BABOK gives one the opportunity to be exposed to techniques and concepts that one might not have already encountered in their career. It’s also useful to share real life experiences to see how similar situations may have been handled differently and what impact the differences in handling have on the outcome. Of course, every BA I’ve ever met has an inquisitive mind and generally enjoys learning (aka professional development).

The IIBA and BABOK provides a structure for that development, beyond what one might gain from simply reading blogs and various books on business analysis. Still, I have to say that personally, I see a potential value eventually in having either the CBAP or CCBA designation should I ever need to seek new employment. As the article indicated, having a professional designation does not imply superiority (or it shouldn’t), but it should be useful for an employer simply as an indicator that the holder of a professional designation is generally someone who is committed to continuing professional development.

I’m dating myself here, but I graduated with a B.A. in English in 1984 and then found myself working as a Junior Programmer in a software development firm. Over the course of nearly two decades and several employers, I progressed from junior to Senior Systems Analyst. In 2002, despite having 18 years of experience, I began to find myself excluded from consideration for some potential positions because my degree did not match my profession. So I went back to school and earned a B.S. in Information Technology in 2004. I was caught in a corporate downsizing in 2010; many of the open positions required a degree in I.T. I was fortunate that I was literally unemployed for just one week before starting a contract position. That might have been very different if I had NOT gone back to school for the B.S. in I.T. I suspect a time will come where more employers will either require or give more weight to applicants with the CCBA or CBAP designation, just as the PMP designation. I must admit that this belief was at least a small factor in my decision to join the CBAP study-group at this time. Not that I wouldn’t be pursuing professional development anyway; but it might not have been quite as formalized without the goal of the certification.

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Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo January 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Harriet, thanks for sharing your story with us. Sharing and learning through project experiences is indeed a great way to enhances one’s viewpoint. I wish you luck with the study group and eventually with the exam. I had a very rewarding learning experience when I was part of a virtual study group.

Unlike other domain certifications, CBAP/CCBA has a real alignment with the standard practice of business analysis. I have been actively advocating the pursuit of certification to be a positive step forward in a business analyst’s career.

Going beyond the blogs and books, TheBACoach is focussing on creating unprecedented podcasts to bring out valuable content and information to help out the BA community. We recently started the “BOK Talk” with an intent to bring the BABOK® to life with real world examples, and also serve as a free learning tool to help business analysts learn and apply what is in the BOK.

Thanks again for sharing your story, Harriet. Best of luck!

~ Yamo

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Ola Dare February 16, 2012 at 10:55 am

Thanks for this Post Jonathan.
Have actually been looking for what i can do to improve myself to get BA job as that is my interest. Stumbling across this post already made my day.
Thank you all for your contribution.

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Matt Fraser April 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Great article – and I’ve heard the myths more than once. Another comment I hear a lot is that “It’s pointless because it won’t get you a job.” I am a firm believer that it’s all about what you do with what you have that will prove your value. I want to get my CBAP because I want to show that I have met requirements to be a professional business analyst; after that I need to show how having the CBAP designation has helped improve my organizations and me. The CBAP is another tool to put in your tool belt; it’s up to you on how you use it.

A concern I would have with organizations that are not looking for some type of professional business analyst training or certification would be the value they place on business analysts. I’m starting to see more “preferred qualifications” for BA positions have a CBAP designation, so I think the impact IIBA has in the business analyst community is growing.

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Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo May 2, 2012 at 3:16 am

Thanks for the comment, Matt. I couldn’t agree more on utilization of one’s credential in the right way. CBAP is indeed a valuable tool and based on an individuals experience and strengths, it could be used in unique ways.

I have seen a lot of job postings that are starting to show CBAP as a :nice to have” and “preferred qualification”. The traction has been pretty good here in Canada; I am sure it will follow suit in the south soon!

Thanks again for the comments and earlier retweet!

Cheers!
Yamo

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Chris Hansford June 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I passed the CBAP exam a couple of weeks ago (phew!), and I had a slightly different reason. Having been a BA and then a Senior BA in England for nearly 10 years I emigrated to Australia. Despite all my experience (and having my skills assessed by the Australian Computer Society for the visa), it was still really tough to convince potential employers to consider me for a senior position. I was crying out for some kind of certification and in the end I had to start back at grass-roots level. Its my belief that the CBAP provides independent, international validation of one’s experience. And it proves an ability to continuously learn and develop, so I think its been well worth the effort.
Only time will tell if it gets me a leading role on the next big project but I know one thing for sure – my Mum’s proud of me being professionally certified!

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Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo June 29, 2012 at 1:24 am

Hi Chris, thanks for stopping by and sharing your story with us; it is quite a unique one.

Congratulations on becoming a CBAP! The certification has decent respect and recognition in the North American market (growing as it matures and more experienced BAs get certified).

CBAP can potentially help you gain the first level of credibility and when you couple this with the right background, soft skills and experience, no one can stop you from leading the next big project. :)

Best of luck!
Yamo

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R Kumar November 8, 2013 at 8:13 am

Hi Chris,
I am almost in a similar situation like you. Having formally immigrated to Australia but haven’t relocated from the UK yet. I was also concerned about the recognition of my experience by potential employers in Australia and was considering getting a formal attestation for my experience, with the CCBA certification. I would be very interested to know as to where you made that breakthrough that you were looking in Australia. I am just wanting to get that one extra stroke of inspiration before I plunge. In fact, I will plunge in any case :) thanks to this very inspirational article and some of the brilliant feedback comments. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Lee October 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Very inspiring … I almost felt like this message was intended specifically for me ! Well I guess it is…

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Jonathan January 13, 2014 at 6:40 am

Hi Yamo!

I’ve read somewhere in linkedIn that IIBA webinars can be used to meet the 21 hours of Professional Development for CBAP certification. Is this true?

Since I’m constantly traveling (South East Asia and Australia), I do not have the time to sit down to attend the Prep class offered by BAcoach or any local IIBA rep.

Would you please advise me on this?

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