IIBA PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION
Following is a description of the application process, along with useful links to supporting templates and spreadsheets. This is based on the author's application process in December 2014. Chapter member comments, tips and suggestions are always welcome - please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Certification with the IIBA provides a number of benefits, and assures employers that you are proficient in BA practice. Increasingly, recruiters and employers in our area are looking for CBAP or CCBA certification in their hires and promotion to BA leadership positions.
Paula Maychruk, our past VP of Professional Certification and Development, presented an excellent overview of the certification process at our November 2014 Chapter Event: IIBA Certification: The Path To, Through, and Beyond.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Certification takes time -- in terms of courses, study groups, Business Analysis Hours earned, the application process, and studying for the certification exam. Most people find it's a year-long project.
There are time constraints which can catch you up if you're not careful in how you sequence your activities along the path to certification. For example, once your application is accepted, you have one year window to write your exam. Ideally, you'll want to schedule your exam early enough within that window to allow enough time for a rewrite if necessary. So while joining a 3-month Study Group is an excellent way to cover the BABOK material, you'll probably want to complete this before submitting your application, so it doesn't take up your time window available to write the exam.Read all IIBA Certification Handbook materials carefully.
Determining your qualifying BA hours is the most difficult part of the application process, and the basis of most rejections. See Step 4 below for tips.
IIBA will contact your references, and also audits random applications. You should have backup on your projects and project hours, in case you are audited.
The baseline reference for BA practice is "A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK Guide)." Start your certification journey here: as a member of the IIBA, you can download this publication free from the IIBA website. It can also be ordered in print or as PDF. You'll probably want it in print for studying for your Certification. IIBA also has a BABOK Learning Guide.
Read through the IIBA certification information on their website. Decide which certification you're going for (CCBA or CBAP), then read thoroughly either the CCBA Handbook or the CBAP Handbook, as appropriate.
Professional Development Units must be completed at an Endorsed Education Provider (EEP). A PDU is approximately equal to an hour of instruction at an EEP, so an approved 3-day or 4-day course will provide the required PDUs. You'll need your transcript for your application.
Most application rejections are due to how the BA hours are reported. Some tasks that BAs often do (eg. testing) do not qualify as BA tasks per BABOK, and time on these tasks does not qualify as BA hours for purposes of the application; while these tasks ARE listed on the online application, the IIBA will estimate and discount time reported against these tasks in your application. The safer route (also permissible) is to report ONLY those hours that were spent in the qualifying tasks (see 4A and 4B below on how to do this). It is also recommended to include at least 750 more hours than required in your application, to allow a safety margin.
4A. When Did I Do Which Project?
This spreadsheet can help you chart this. (Link under construction) If you have supporting artifacts from working on your projects, make a note of the filename and date, for your reference, in case your application gets audited. You'll come back to update this template in step 3B below.
4B. How Do I Break Out the Hours to Tasks?
It's important to use the same vocabulary as the IIBA. Watermark, publisher of a Study Guide for IIBA Certification, has produced a free spreadsheet template for calculating BA Hours, broken out across ONLY the tasks that IIBA recognizes as "BA Tasks" for purposes of this application. The language in the task descriptions listed in this spreadsheet aligns to the wording used on the application website. Complete all marked sections of the spreadsheet, including a project reference for each project included. Link under construction
Select your two references and contact them ahead of completing your online application. The IIBA provides a suggested letter on their website, but it's good to contact your references by phone or in person so you can answer questions. Your references may not be familiar with the terminology used in the application process, especially if they are not BAs themselves, so send them your spreadsheet files and explain the vocabulary.
Complete your contact information, and education information, and save. Then start filling out the project hours breakout.
Upload your PDU information, and fill in the contact information for your two references. CHECK YOUR CONTACTS' EMAIL ADDRESSES CAREFULLY. You'll also need to agree to comply with IIBA ethical terms and conditions. The website will show you when all the sections of the application are complete, and will show references as "Pending Review."
Processing times vary - chapter members report up to 6 weeks in past years, and at the end of 2014 we were expecting a longer-than-usual wait time due to anticipated higher application volume because of the impending BABOK Version 3 in April 2015. However, the author submitted an application in December 2014, paid on credit card, and was approved in a week. IIBA emails you the approval.
9. BOOK YOUR EXAM
You have a year from the application acceptance to write your exam. You select your Computer-Based Testing (CBT) exam location and book and pay for your exam session online. You probably want to have most of your studying completed before you book your exam session, but don't leave it till the end of the year. If you fail the exam, you can retake it within the year (there's a re-write fee), but you can't rewrite immediately.
STUDY TIPS AND RESOURCES