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Is it worthwhile getting Business Analysis certification? In this post, I highlight some key comments made on this subject in a LinkedIn discussion.
Is Business Certification worthwhile?
There is a perennial discussion about the value of certification.
In the realm of Business Analysis, you can get certified by the IIBA, the BCS, the PMI, the IREB. All certifications have their own flavour and value.
For me, the value of a certification is in showing me what I could be, and not what I was. (Here are some more of my thoughts on it).
With regards to the value of certification, Paul Loney, an interesting chap with a beard, an incredible breadth of experience in Business Analysis, and a call-it-as-he-sees-it attitude made an excellent comment in a LinkedIn discussion.
Setting the Scene
To set the scene – Esta Lessing had written a post titled “What every Business Analyst should know about certification paths, Business Analysis training courses and ultimately your career.”
She published it, and also posted a link to the article in a Business Analysis group on LinkedIn.
And then the discussion started…
If you are in the world of Business Analysis, you might be aware that recently there has been a bit of a shake-up with regard Business Analysis certification. (You can read more about it here, here, & here)
So now it looks like Business Analysis certification is becoming diluted. There is a certain confusion about what is what. And what was interesting in the discussion was there was hardly a mention about which certification was the best. It was more about whether certification itself was necessary.
James Shield made a few pertinent remarks:
I hope certification doesn’t become a ‘tax’ on the profession in that it must be obtained
… undertaking a BA certification is by no means the only path to self-development …
And he makes a good point.
This was amplified by Paul (who I mentioned above)
As I’ve coached, mentored, and supervised entry-level and junior BAs over the years I have always concentrated on their THINKING capability as being a preeminent professional asset to develop. And following on from that their people AWARENESS in every way.
My goal was that they should have the resilience and adaptability to virtually be dropped into any BA scenario and hit the ground running. No panicking. Quick assessment of what they did and did not know. Ability to establish trust and rapport. Reach out to SMEs. Ability to abstract and normalise information from real-world scenarios. Hold high-level viewpoints in-hand with detailed dives, and juggle these granularities. Attention to detail. Ability to question (Why, why, why?). Get into the mind of others. Seek effective communication through visualisation. Be pragmatic. Sense of humour!
This is what you want to work with. This is who you’ll gladly have a pint with after work!
As you read, James and Paul’s opinion is that being a good BA is actually more than just having a piece of paper with your name on it, along with the name of a particular certification body.
And – is Business Analysis certification worth it?
There are those who are certified that feel that it is definitely worthwhile. Currently, I hold CBAB certification from the IIBA, and I found the process of getting it valuable.
However, when I read Paul and James comments I found myself nodding. They make some valid points.
SECRET! – Leo Hitchcock has written a very interesting book in which he discusses the value of industry certification. I will be blogging about this soon.
The best idea is to explore, yourself, what the true value of certification will offer.
A lot of people fall victim to the “if you don’t have the certification, then you can’t get a job” syndrome. However, the same is also true for the other extreme. There are those who are certification
However, the same is also true for the other extreme. There are those who are certification junkies and feel the need to just get the certification so that they can add letters to the end of their name. Which one are you?
What are your thoughts? Is certification valuable? Do you agree with Paul, or James (or me)?
Let me know in the comments
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My view is that a certification will not necessarily make you a “good” BA. It will provide some confirmation that you have a certain amount of knowledge within the BA space and in some cases that you also have a certain number of years of experience. This can give your peers and potential employers some confidence in what you know and what you have experienced.
I do however often go back to the analogy of a dentist – would you even consider visiting a dentist who doesn’t have a formal qualification? Probably not for the simple reason that you have no confidence that this person knows what dentistry is all about. You would however prefer to go to a qualified dentist WITH a good reputation before going to a dentist with the qualifications but NO good reputation. The “good reputation of being a good dentist” is not something you can sit an exam for…
Business Analysis is however a newer profession than Dentistry of which the academic pathway has been settled for. Everyone knows what they need to study and achieve in order to register as a Dentist to start practicing.
However, in the case of Business Analysis this academic pathway (certification pathway) has not quite hit the same level of maturity….hence the multiple BA certifications that seem to be competing against each other in the market. The IIBA, IREB, BCS and PMI ideally need to come together to standardise the certification pathways for Business Analysts…I believe this will come in time.
I do believe a formal qualification such as a CBAP or a CPRE or a PBA is a good thing to achieve as a Business Analyst because it shows dedication, knowledge and a will to better yourself professionally BUT it doesn’t mean you automatically become a “good” BA just because you have the paperwork…
I see quite often this comparison with the medical job branch. And as much as I can follow the idea, I’m still embarrased when I see this. Because “Would you trust a doctor without diploma” the answer is obviously and definitely a no. While when it comes to an advisor, I may give the person some credits if she still had some references or if she proves me she sees wisely my problem. In a case, you can bet by judging. In the other case… just no way.
I’m in my early sixties, have a string of qualifications – Law Degree, MBA, postgrad Teaching qualification and other postgrad quals – and haven’t worked for just over three years since leaving my lecturing post. Guess what, jobs are hard to come by!
As a persistent amateur Business Analyst (I could never stop myself analysing my employer’s business and any other on which I can gather relevant information) who has also developed a business from concept to pre-establishment (that’s a story in itself), I realised that I could probably be quite good as a BA. So after chasing a variety of jobs in Marketing, where I had worked for several years, I thought that business analysis might be a good career move for someone in their autumn career years with a lot of business and life experience. Ha!
Many BA jobs are IT industry concentrated and require a wealth of IT experience – Barrier
To acquire a BA position you need to prove you have specific BA experience – fairly obvious
How does a sixty-odd year-old acquire BA experience when there are rafts of younger people coming out of university with qualifications and current experience? A point made to me recently by a recruitment consultant.
Which qualifications and courses might give me the edge and open some doors – prepare to do battle with the salespeople who have an agenda of their own!
I have viewed many wbesites on this subject and some are quite useful (including this one!), but the amount of time and effort required is considerable and only reinfoces my long-held opinion that job searching is in itself a full-time occupation. What a pity I can’t have it legitimately recognised on my CV (Yes, I know you can make reference to it, but, as with transferable skills, it is usually ignored when the 10 second rule is applied) . I could run a course on that!
Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate it.
I feel your pain, and understand entirely what you are saying. The value you can offer is overlooked, or downplayed.
I maintain that a good Business Analyst does not have to have specific knowledge, they should be able to ask the “dumb questions” (the ones that no-one wants to ask.) I also feel that it is people skills that are most important. The ability to communicate, as well as listen to what others say, that ability to draw out, or elicit, what the true messages are, is what is truly of value.
Unfortunately, a lot of companies just want someone to fit into a predefined hole…