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The Case for Establishing an Internal Business Analysis Certification

With the growing importance being placed on professional certification like the Project Management Professional (PMP) and the Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP), setting up an internal business analysis training program, in partnership with an Endorsed Education Provider (EEP) of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) might make sense for many companies.

The result would be a designation that would combine the best practices of the business analysis profession with the specific organization’s corporate strategy, business domain model and project management lifecycle. This is possible through a single certification process established internally in an organization.

An internal certification program for business analysis should be a joint effort between a company’s training department and its established BA Center of Excellence.

Objectives of an Internal BA Certification Program

There are many goals to be achieved by establishing an internal BA certification program:

  • Raise the performance standards for business analysts within the company. 
  • Educate BA staff about proven best practices amongst the company’s various departments. 
  • Align industry standards with the company’s standard project management lifecycle and system development lifecycle methodologies. Thus, management doesn’t have to worry about their company’s BA staff utilizing analysis techniques and methodology standards that their company may not recognize. 
  • Additionally, such a BA certification would align IIBA best practices and methodology standards with the company-wide BA procedures and audit practices. 
  • Provide a training outlet within the company for BAs to gain PDUs (professional development units) with the IIBA (or other professional organizations) as well as CECs (continuing education credits) with academic institutions. This is accomplished by partnering with a vendor approved by the IIBA, which will ensure that the majority, if not all of a company’s BA staff, will receive the same quality training.

Training Vendor Partnership

Partnering with a training vendor is critical to the overall success of an internal certification program for the following reasons: 

  • BA staff from different departments will receive the same quality training and tools. 
  • BA staff will be seeking external training opportunities as a last resort. 
  • Most training vendors provide a discount for a group of class registrations from the same company. As an added measure of ROI (Return On Investment), partnering with a training vendor will save the company training costs.

Internal Certification Structure

An internal certification program should be structured with key educational design factors in mind: 

  • To be certified, candidates would be required to pass an examination with questions based on the core knowledge areas of business analysis as well as experience/scenario based short essays. This would be a single examination encompassing all the core knowledge areas that make up the BA profession, in addition to the company’s standard project management lifecycle and system development lifecycle methodologies. 
  • Candidates would be required to complete a minimum number of annual volunteering/activity hours with the company’s BA Center of Excellence and/or their local IIBA Chapter (in case only one exists.) 
  • Candidates would be required to complete a set number of courses (or be waived by passing knowledge/skills assessment for each course). An ideal outline of BA courses would include the following:
    Course Outline Mandatory for BA Career Levels
    1) Corporate Strategy and Business Domain  BA-1, BA-II
    2) Advanced Knowledge of the Business  BA-II, BA-III, Senior BA
    3) Introduction to Business Analysis  BA-I
    4) Overview of the Organizational  SDLC BA-I, BA-II (optional)
    5) System Design Concepts  BA-I, BA-II
    6) Essentials of Risk Management and Validation  BA-I, BA-II, BA-III
    7) Business Process Modeling  BA-I, BA-II, BA-III, Senior BA
    8) Business Requirements Elicitation and Management BA-I, BA-II, BA-III, Senior BA
    9) Advanced Business Analysis BA-III, Senior BA (optional)

  • Provide an outline of optional courses in business analysis for non-BA staff interested in business analysis or who perform occasional BA roles, such as project managers, developers and testers.

So you can see, establishing an internal BA certification would be of great benefit to many corporations and forward-thinking organizations, regardless of size. This would ensure that the organization has the near perfect talent pool of BA skills and knowledge from both industry-wide and internal corporate points of view. Thus, an organization’s BA staff can more realistically balance internal project weaknesses and strengths with external market threats and opportunities.

Youssif Ansara is an IT Business Consultant who has worked with various industries including oil and petrochemicals and health care insurance, as well as entrepreneurship in the education sector. He gained his expertise from his involvement with technical business analysis and human resource management, both in the United States and abroad. He is an avid advocate of usability testing in both the public and private sectors to ensure that their systems are widely accessible. He does this by conducting accessibility assessments and public speaking about Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as amended by the U.S. Congress in 1998 to ensure that electronic and information technology can be accessible to people with disabilities. Youssif Ansara, can be contacted at [email protected]

© Youssif Ansara, 2007