Nowadays the Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge™ or ÂÀÂÎÊ™ for short is very well known by many professionals across a variety of industries. As well as the three levels of certification available to business analysts: Entry Certificate in Business Analysis™ (ECBA™), Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP™), and Certification of Competency in Business Analysis™ (CCBA™).
In this article we will discuss the differences between them, the steps you need to take to get certified, and what are some of the challenges you will encounter.
IIBA and BABOK
First, a few words about ÂÀÂÎÊ™ and its authors. The developer and owner of the body of knowledge as well as the certification provider is the International Institute of Business Analysis® (IIBA®). This is a professional community that brings together business analysts from many countries. There are now around 120 local branches of IIBA® scattered all over the world.
In 2004, the IIBA undertook the complex task of creating a professional standard for business analysts and fulfilled it successfully – we know it today as the ÂÀÂÎÊ guide (currently version 3) and it provides a comprehensive description of this standard.
ÂÀÂÎÊ™ is a structured reference guide containing a full list of principles, rules, and actions required by business analysts for their work. In ÂÀÂÎÊ, there are no purely academic, bookish truths – it’s entirely based on practical data collected by the business analyst community all over the world. It tells nothing about the methodology of such work, but it by no means restricts the analysts in applying any methodology which will be adequate for their project goals and objectives. Therefore, it can be considered as a toolkit suitable for conducting business analysis in any subject domain.
This guide is also very important for the process of certification – all certification exam questions are based on it. You don’t have to learn the BABOK Guide by heart, yet if you want to pass the certification exams successfully, you must know its terminology and understand the essence of its rules.
IIBA and Certification
Currently, the IIBA offers three additional certifications, apart from those mentioned above:
- IIBA®-CCA – Certificate in Cybersecurity Analysis
IIBA®-AAC – Agile Analysis Certification
IIBA®-CBDA – Certification in Business Data Analytics
These certifications are not directly based on the BABOK guide, but they do not contradict it. To prepare for a certification, there are separate materials (for example, the Agile Extension to the BABOK™ for IIBA®-AAC). In order to be admitted to the certification exams, applicants must meet requirements similar to those for the Entry Certificate in Business Analysis™ (ECBA™). There are no restrictions regarding work experience such as you have for CBAP™ and CCBA™.
However, the most important certifications are CCBA™ and CBAP™, which do require considerable practical work experience. The requirements for them are more stringent, and exams are longer and more difficult. Yet they are rated much higher. These two certification levels are based fully on the BABOK guide, but you need to realize that the BABOK content is designed to structure your relevant experience. Without work experience, BABOK would seem empty and practically useless.
All certification types are independent – there’s no need to get them one after another, from lower to higher levels. They differ only by their requirements with regard to the applicant’s experience in business analysis. Both the total business analyst experience and acquired skill/competencies are counted for the certification. Actually, BABOK is a reference guide for classifying and analyzing such competencies and skills.
All certification exams can be done online on the PSI platform. Although you can take an exam from home, the requirements and examination process are rather stringent. For example, the camera and microphone must be turned on, and during the entire examination the proctor will watch you, monitoring any unauthorized sounds or actions on your side. Before the start of examination, you will have to show the proctor the room where you are going to take the exam, to ensure that there are no prohibited items (books, electronic devices, food, etc.) and other people. Stringent? Yes. Yet this is the cost of the status of the certificate you receive – such stringency is one of the reasons why IIBA certificates are recognized around the world.
Before one could take CCBA™ and CBAP™ exams only in person at Prometric testing centers. Now it is optional because of self-isolation, yet this option remains available.
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