Is Business Analysis Certification worthwhile?

Photo by Martin Fisch

Is it worth while getting certified in Business Analysis? 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 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. 

Best Approach

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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What’s the point of an online Community?


There is an discussion going on in one of the BA LinkedIn groups. The person who started the discussion was that when she joined the group, it was “to understand how others BA see their role and how they overcome the issues they face.” However she’s only finding discussions and articles like “5 Tips to apply to blablabla”, or “10 Things you should know on blablabla”.

One of people who responded stated that “forums (or groups or whatever) are best when they are about exchanging or sharing ideas. That means that the person who starts the discussion needs to participate other than just at the start.” Often what will happen is someone will post a link (often to their own material), in a group/forum, and then never be heard from again. The group/forum is, effectively, just being used as a noticeboard.

So what is an online community? And what makes it different from a social network?

Michael Wu, a smart man who is one of those people who earns a living staring at tea leaves in the bottom of a cup, said that…

the single most important feature that distinguishes a social network from a community is how people are held together on these sites.”

In a social network, Michael says,  people are held together by pre-established interpersonal relationships, such as friendship, classmates, colleagues, and business partners. The primary reason that people join a social networking site is to maintain old relationships and establish new ones to expand their network. on to state that social networks

Carrying on, Michael explains how Communities, on the other hand, are held together by a common interest (it can be a common project, goal, location, etc.). People join the community because they care about this common interest that glues the community members together. Some stay because they felt the urge to contribute to the cause; others come because they can benefit from being part of the community.

So keeping in mind what Michael said, and looking at these people who post “10 Things you should know on blablabla” links in discussion forums. The area where they are posting, is a community, and there are, most likely, some people who benefit from reading the posts. But are these posters really helping “contribute to the cause”? Or are they just generating noise? I know what I think…


  • Community vs. Social Network
  • Social Media and what it’s about
  • online communication
  • Online Communities
  • What You Get From Signing Up To A Social Network
  • The Implications of Social Media

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Social Media and Profile Photos


There’s a lot of research about the way our brains process faces and how they have a unique way of making us happy. A smiling face, even in the form of a small profile picture, tells us someone else is there. The web is a social environment, and at the heart of it all is people.”

The above snippet comes from Box’s “Introducing Box Notes” page…

The three sentences, highlighted above, say a lot. The web is a social environment.

And it doesn’t just apply to the “web”. Social is being adopted by companies, inside the facelessfirewall, also and having people’s photos available make a big difference. I have often heard from clients that they “want to get to know who their fellow staff members are”. And having a photo turns a person from a faceless work colleague (often in a separate building/town/country), into a real person.  

What about people outside the enterprise?

Something that I have been using for a few months now is Microsoft’s Social Connector for Outlook 2010. This allows Outlook to display the profile photo, and info, from one of the social networks that that person is a member of.  In my case, I have set up the connector so that it connects to LinkedIn. What difference does this make? A lot! When I get emails from clients I know, having their photo on display, makes it more personal, and for people I haven’t yet met, it makes that first face-to-face meeting so much more enjoyable.

So, here’s a push to stop hiding. Come out into the open. Let us see who you are. (Naturally, there are limits…)

  • 10 useful tips for better use of social networks (part 1) (
  • Office 2013 Tips: Outlook Social Connector – LinkedIn
  • Add a Facebook or LinkedIn Connection to Outlook 2013
  • Announcing the Outlook Social Connector
  • Outlook Social Connector and Providers 
  • The Outlook Social Connector – a hidden jewel


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In SharePoint, where the heck do I fit in? ECM specialists in SharePoint

I’ve been very aware of something for awhile now…and that is “I don’t know where I fit in”. However, it wasn’t until recently when I read Nick Inglis’ blog post that I really came to realise that my “problem” is actually not an uncommon one.

In his post Nick comments that when he’s speaking at a SharePoint event, he often gets categorized under “Other“.

This is because (as he states) the SharePoint world doesn’t quite have a place for those who do work with SharePoint but in an ECM/ERM/Governance capacity.

The Salem Consulting Group have made a list of “plausible” SharePoint roles. I have listed them below, and have added a quick description in between parentheses. These include:

  • SharePoint Strategist (Complete business, and application knowledge. Has vision)
  • SharePoint Practice Lead (Subject Matter Expert with technical, consulting & strategic skills)
  • SharePoint Solutions Architect (Can translate Business requests into technical SharePoint solution)
  • SharePoint Technical Architect (senior) (Deepest technical understanding of SharePoint)
  • SharePoint Architect (Focused on the design, build, and configuration of the SharePoint platform and solution from a purely technical viewpoint)
  • SharePoint Infrastructure Architect (Responsible for designing and building multi-farm enterprise SharePoint architectures.)
  • SharePoint Search Architect (Familiar with taxonomies, folksonomies, etc. Can design & configure federated search solutions.)
  • SharePoint Information Architect (Has the knowledge/experience to design and build logical information frameworks)
  • SharePoint Farm Administrator (Manages the day to day administration of SharePoint.)
  • SharePoint Administrator (Looks after site collections, etc)
  • SharePoint Developer (A range of developer skills including .NET, C#, C++, Jquery and a wide range of other languages.)
  • Infopath and Workflow Designer/Administrator (Customer facing, and familiar with Infopath & Designer)
  • SharePoint User Interface Designer (Graphic designer for SharePoint who can create the user interface designs.)
  • SharePoint Business Analyst (Can interpret business requirements and offer a solution using the standard SharePoint services and features.)
  • SharePoint Programme/Project Manager (Project Management skills as well as fundamental technical understanding of SharePoint.)
  • SharePoint DBA (SQL) (Know how to manage the SharePoint SQL databases.)
  • Active Directory Administrator (Can set up the overarching security architecture).
  • SharePoint Workflow Specialist (For when using 3rd party tools for workflow.)
  • SharePoint BI Analyst/Architect/Administrator (Someone with specialist SharePoint BI skills include cube analysis etc etc)
  • SharePoint Integrator (Able to integrate SharePoint with other systems -SAP, Documentum, etc.)
  • SharePoint Mobile Specialist (Deep knowledge of Groove (2007) and SharePoint workspaces (2010) including the management and relay servers.)
  • SharePoint Trainer/Instructor
  • SharePoint User Adoption Specialist (Involved with the strategies of how to get the users to use the SharePoint solutions).

(Note – The original post (authored by Ian McNeice) from Salem offers a more detailed description of these roles. The link is at the end of this post.

In Nick’s post, he describes an “Information Professional“.

These are the people that have been busy developing models of governance … and have been driving forward the conversation about how SharePoint can be used as a “proper” ECM (and yes, maybe even ERM) system.

Looking at Ian’s list, I think the closest role that matches this is the “Information Architect”. This is the person who insists on maintaining a correct classifications, taxonomies, etc while has expertise in document management, version control techniques, data retention polices, publication and archiving practices.

Being prompted by Nick’s post, and then looking through Ian’s post has certainly help me better “label” myself.

Prior to this, even though I have worked in the Document Management field for over 10 years, I could never find a way of describing my skill set to a “SharePointy” (is that what you call a SharePoint fan?). I can set up, and administer SharePoint sites. I can design user interfaces. I can set up farms, as well as write kick-ass documentation. But I could do more than that.

Thanks to Nick and Ian, I’m going to go and update my LinkedIn profile.

Excellent References

  • Nick’s Post “Excluding the Information Professional in SharePoint“
  • Ian’s Post “The Key Skill Roles of SharePoint“

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(Social) Networking

Recently I read a post that resonated with me.

It was written by Charles Blakeman, and he questioned what was so special about social networking.

With his permission I have included his blog post below…

When we use the phrase Social Networking, do we really get it?

I’m not at all opposed to online networking – I use it all the time to build relationships, but no matter what medium you use to connect with people, it’s not about CONTACTS, but meaningful and lasting CONNECTIONS. It’s ALWAYS about being social. So maybe I don’t get it.

“Social networking” is the apparent standard description of online networking. But how is it that “social networking” is somehow just an online thing? I get business from my neighbors, my family, my bicycling friends, my golf friends, my business friends, my clients, and from people I meet in a restaurant, as well as from people on Twitter and Facebook.

“SOCIAL” networking is a great idea, in fact it’s the only way to network, by being social, not salesy – making friends and meeting needs. But most people who do offline or online networking aren’t social about it at all. Most networking opportunities are simply a place to collect business cards and try to sell things to people, which is why most serious business people with a true network and lasting connections don’t show up at networking events.

They’re too business doing real social networking – playing golf with a friend, hosting a small and intimate wine tasting at their house, having a cup of coffee with a few business associates, riding a bike with a half dozen others, or meeting with their very committed referral network. And in all this, their objective is to serve people and meet THEIR needs, which is the opposite of most classic networking strategies.

When truly social business people move online, they have no interest in networking, but in building a network, and they don’t focus on contacts, but on lasting connections. Twitter and Facebook look the same to them as a cup of coffee with a few friends – they’re focused on trying to serve others and see how they can push them forward, not on selling things to everyone that says hello.

So I’m confused. If “social networking” is something you do online, then what is connecting a friend with a potential employee for her, or meeting someone over a cup of coffee – is that “unsocial networking”?

The communications medium is not the magic. The willingness to serve other people where they are at, not where I want them to be, and to get them to their goals are the keys to the business kingdom. No matter what the medium, I will get farther by serving people than selling to them.

I can’t bring myself to call either online or offline networking “social networking” because it implies there are types of good networking that aren’t social. If people don’t like me, they won’t buy from me. What part of building a network SHOULDN’T be social? Maybe I just don’t get it.

More of Charles excellent posts can be read on the businessblogs site here

  • Social Networking: Why?

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Learning about Klout

One of the people I follow on twitter is Shadeed Eleazer (@mrshadeed). He’s a cool guy and blogs about the digital world. He also creates video blogs.

One of the ones I watched recently was about Klout. He talks about what it is and how it works.

Definitely worth 3 minutes and 48 seconds of your time to view/listen to it.

[dailymotion id=xk605d]

  • Klout? (
  • Klout Now Measures Social Influence On Google+ (
  • An Interview with Klout. Do You Love It or Hate It? | Kyle Lacy – Social Media and Digital Marketing (

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Social Media in Business

Life is social.” …  “Business is social.  People buy from people they like and they like people who know them.  When we meet someone in their office we look at pictures on their wall so we can share something in common.  We want to build intimacy and trust.  Social media is just an electronic way to listen and engage…extending the old school way of going to someone’s office.

The above is a quote from a Forbes article (by Gene Marks) that I recently read. The article was discussing the adoption of social media in business.

While it seems that there is certainly a lot of interest in using social media in a business sense, there just hasn’t been that “compelling reason” to adopt it without question.

However there are still those that seem to see a real benefit (as seen in the quote above”, there are still a lot of people who don’t.

From what I’ve seen, business is still being run by a generation that hasn’t grown up with the web2.0 “idea”. And…there still isn’t a real business use that makes “C” level staff decide to implement it, without trying to work out first what they are going to use it for. (For some ideas on this, check out one of my earlier posts “ESS (Enterprise Social Software) – user adoption“)

Here’s the link to Gene’s post: Am I Wasting My Time On Social Media?

  • My Social Media posts
  • 3 Critical Twitter Tools for Your Social Media Strategy
  • Social Media: Making it Work for You
  • Wanted: A social media expert?!
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Klout me!

Klout social media

I checked out my Klout score today.

Even though, I’ve been aware of Klout through my use of Hootsuite, I’ve never been to the actual site.

Upon arriving on the Klout site, I was prompted to enter the name of a tweeter. So I entered mine. Within seconds I got my Klout score. It was 11. And I am classified as an Explorer. As well as this there was a further explanation:

Mark Owen is an Explorer

You actively engage in the social web, constantly trying out new ways to interact and network. You’re exploring the ecosystem and making it work for you. Your level of activity and engagement shows that you “get it”, we predict you’ll be moving up.”

Ok – I knew that I was not really a big fish in the Twitter pond yet. So I wanted to learn more. I clicked on the Score Analysis tab and was presented with information about my score. Suddenly felt like I was a socially awkward 14 year old again, and reading my school report:

“Mark Owen needs to engage more with others or be more active to gain influence.”

“Mark Owen has the ability to generate actions and discussions”

“Mark Owen does not engage with very many influencers”

Here’s my score when this blog was written:

And here’s the link to the Klout site where you can read all the gory details over my score.

Now – what struck me as a bit annoying is that the Klout site states:

“The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence.”

This seems to be based only on Twitter activity.

At least, if you read all the “Learn More” sections on the Klout site, there is no mention of anything else.

It is possible to include your Facebook activity into the mix, and Klout have raised $8.5 million to “take Klout to the next level” where they want to include more streams (LinkedIn etc), but until that happens, they should tell it like it is.

That is, the Klout score measures the influence someone has on Twitter! Even if they do include LinkedIn and Facebook, what about the influence that arises from blog posts, or comments on other people’s site. What about other social media avenues?

At the same time, not all influencers tweet regularly (in fact, I read a 2009 report by Baracuda Labs indicates that 73% of users have less than 10 tweets).

In fact, Matt Owen (no relation) did a very interesting “experiment” to test whether Klout was returning meaningful results. I definitely reccommend checking it out (link listed below).

Have a look at the links I have listed below, and let me know what you think – Is Klout a useful tool?

Relevant Links:

  • Why Klout doesn’t count: putting social media influence in context
  • Can Klout Really Measure Influence?
  • Lurking is Learning
  • Barracuda Labs – Annual Report
  • Is Klout Score the New Page Rank for Humans?
  • What If You Were Paid Based on Your Klout Score?

Mark Owen needs to engage more with others or be more active to gain influence.Mark Owen needs to engage more with others or be more active to gain influence.

  • What’s The Meaning of a Klout Score? The Pros and Cons of How Social Influence is Measured
  • Cracking the #Klout Code? I think not. ~ How Not To Be A Social Media #Wanker
  • Klout for lawyers : What is it? Does it matter?
  • Klout is getting better – Like the new direction – though the analytics are still a work in progress
  • Social Reward Vacations – The Palms Las Vegas Klout Klub Gives Influential Tweeters Free Amenities (
  • Your Klout Score Now Factors in Foursquare Data
  • Foursquare and YouTube power users rejoice: Your Klout is now recognized
  • LinkedIn Users: You’ve Got Klout
  • Does Klout Have Clout?

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Where in the World have I worked?

I’ve worked in three different countries, in both the Northern, and Southern Hemispheres. I have worked in quite a few different places, with many different customers.

Below you can see a Google map in which I have pinpointed the companies that I have worked for, and the customers that I have worked with. Feel free to zoom in, and have a look around.




Alternatively, click on this link to my “Working Map” – something I created for my LinkedIn profile. This takes you directly to the map, and is somewhat easier to read.

My Working Map

My Linkedin profile

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