Certification Process

IIBA PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION


 

RESOURCES

and LINKS

Overview

Application Process
--Download BABOK
--Review IIBA Info
--Take EEP Course
--Determine BA Hours
--Contact References
--Online Application
--PDUs, References, Terms
--Timelines

IIBA Website:
--BABOK Version 2.0
--Certification
--CCBA Certification
--CBAP Certification
--CBT Locations
--CDUs for Webinars
--Webinars
--Endorsed Education Providers

OVERVIEW

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 communications@waterloo-wellington.iiba.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. 


APPLICATION PROCESS

1. DOWNLOAD or PURCHASE THE BABOK

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.

2. REVIEW THE IIBA WEBSITE CERTIFICATION INFORMATION

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.
The IIBA has also created a set of videos to help you through completing the application - view these as well.

3. TAKE AN EEP COURSE FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT UNITS (PDUs)

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. 

4. DETERMINE YOUR BA HOURS

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.
The following process was recently used successfully by a chapter member in December 2014.

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 
-- When done, check that you meet the required minimum number of hours summarized in the knowledge areas. You'll probably find that not all of your project time qualifies (eg. the three weeks you spent testing), so mark that down on the project timeline chart in 3A above and reduce the total hours for that project accordingly. When you're done, the hours on both spreadsheets should match. 
-- Watermark's spreadsheet has more breakout detail than is used in the online application, but helps you document the basis for the hours reported, in a format that aligns with the online application.

5. CONTACT YOUR REFERENCES

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.

6. FILL OUT THE ONLINE APPLICATION

Complete your contact information, and education information, and save. Then start filling out the project hours breakout. 
-- On the online form, use [TAB] to advance through the online form, not [ENTER] (else it bounces you out of the online form). 
-- SAVE OFTEN (at least after each project you fill in). You can return to your in-progress online application as many times as you wish. 
-- For each project, you'll need to provide contact information for the project reference, fill out the total number of hours for the project, and for each knowledge area (not for specific tasks), and check off the tasks included in those hours. 
-- The online form lists some tasks that aren't qualifying BA tasks according to BABOK, so stick to the qualifying tasks that were listed on the Watermark spreadsheet, else IIBA will discount some of your reported hours. 
-- If the Knowledge Areas don't sum to 100% of the project, or you haven't checked off any tasks in the Knowledge Area, the form will give you an error, and you'll have to fix the problem and re-save, before proceeding. 

7. REFERENCES, TERMS, AND APPLICATION PAYMENT

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." 
-- As soon as you hit "APPLY" your two references will be emailed a link to an online form for them to fill in. It's best to contact them by phone to let them know to watch out for the form, and in case they have questions. Note that your application at this point still hasn't officially been submitted. 
-- You have to monitor the status of your application sections on the IIBA website. (This also means that if you have an error in the email for a reference, you won't Know - it will just look like your reference never filled in the online form.) Once both references have completed their online forms, the "References" section will show "Complete." At that point you make your application payment.Your application has only been officially "submitted" once the application payment is processed. Payment online by credit card will be faster than sending a cheque.

8. APPLICATION PROCESSING TIMES

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. 
-- REMINDER: BABOK version 3 comes out in April 2015 and is a significant change from Version 2.0. 
-- Check the IIBA website and Handbooks for details and fees for applications, booking exams, and writing/rewriting exams.


 

STUDY TIPS AND RESOURCES
Do you have a tip to contribute? We're always looking for more! Also looking for volunteer to fill in the items below --- Send your tips to communications@waterloo-wellington.iiba.org.

  • TAKE A STUDY GROUP
  • TAKE AN EXAM PREPARATION COURSE
  • GET A STUDY GUIDE ... or 2 or 3 - publications vary in their mnemonics
  • STUDY YOUR LISTS. A popular question format is a "List of Lists," where the multiple choice options presented have subtle errors in the items listed.
  • READ THE BABOK AND THE EXAM QUESTIONS CAREFULLY. Wording is complex in the exam, so read each question carefully, to avoid errors from subtle differences in exam wording.