Business Analysis: To CBAP or not to CBAP?
So, you’ve been a part of the business analysis practice for 10+ years and with so many people being appointed as business analysts it is important to distinguish yourself and make sure your skills improve and adhere to international standards, right?
Hopefully, at this point in your career, you have started to think about completing your Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) designation, in order to endorse your years of experience as a business analyst by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).
But is it worth it and should you do it?
Before we go into the benefits of earning the certification as a senior business analyst you need to be clear and certain why you want to pursue this. You will be investing a lot of time and energy, so you need to be sure.
While studying for my CBAP designation I sometimes struggled to see the benefit of the certification because it’s not easy and takes a lot of focus and time. So allow me to share my approach and learnings in order to shed some light on the effort of earning your CBAP designation.
What do you need?
It is important to have support from your partner in crime, friends and family because you will need to sacrifice a lot of time and energy to study.
Something that helped me greatly was picking the brain of a colleague that already earned his CBAP designation. I was able to discuss my planned approach with him and see where I needed to adjust based on his learnings.
You can also sign up for any of the available study courses that help you prepare for your CBAP exam. These courses put you in touch with study groups which will, in turn, help you to keep your focus.
I decided to invest in a CBAP study guide that also provided access to online exams to help me structure my studies. The online exams helped me prepare for the types of questions asked and to focus on specific areas based on the feedback I got after each exam.
The application process
The IIBA website makes capturing your experience and professional development information easy. It forms part of your online profile with them. Spend the time to get the information before you focus on anything else.
After submitting your application try and plan your study approach in order to set your exam date. I used the template provided by the same company from whom I purchased my study guide to plan my approach and set my exam date.
Using the structure of the study guide I decided to first understand the business analysis core concept model (BACCM) as defined in the BABOK because this is applied across the different knowledge areas.
Once I had that covered, I focused on the BABOK structure on a high level which entails understanding each knowledge area definition, studying the different tasks for each area including their inputs and outputs and how these tasks flow across the different knowledge areas.
Once I had the BACCM and the BABOK structure to memory I wrote my first online exam. Based on the feedback I adjusted my studies to focus on the detailed areas within each knowledge area.
Having completed the detailed structure of the BABOK I focused on the different techniques listed in the BABOK. This included understanding each technique, their elements as well as the strengths and limitations for each technique.
After I was satisfied that I knew the theory I focused on doing more online exams and deep dive tests on each knowledge area and the different techniques. I decided to complete 5 online exams before I committed to my final exam date, which moved on about two weeks from my original planned date.
I started my studies on 27 October 2018 and wrote my exam on 15 January 2019 having committed to a total of 185 hours of study time.
Things I should have done differently
After I completed my first online exam I studied for another month before I did my next exam. Rather try and complete more exams regularly, in order to adjust your study approach quicker and cut out more study time.
In closing let me answer the burning question asked, is it worth it, should you do it? Industry reports predict that business analysis is among the fastest growing IT occupations and business analysis is among the top desired skills, so you need to distinguish yourself.
It’s a globally recognised certification that helps demonstrate one’s senior knowledge and professional competence. It helps with success in your career and paves the way to leadership roles teaching a broader perspective of the BA techniques and approaches.
Preparing for your CBAP exam will be a humbling experience. It brings one back to the basics of our practice and more importantly, completing the certification shows dedication and commitment.