The Power of a Deadline
History has proven that there is nothing as powerful as a steadfast deadline to get people to accomplish a goal.
The most famous steadfast deadline in recent history was Y2K (year 2000). Midnight, January 1, 2000 was coming on time whether you wanted it to or not, whether world-wide systems were ready for it or not. No matter what role you played in the software development life cycle (SDLC); business analysts, project managers, testers, but especially developers knew that systems would not work in the new millennia due to the six-digit date embedded in most systems. SDLC professionals also knew Y2K was on the horizon and it was up to them to get systems Y2K compliant. The fear was that people would get stuck in elevators, hospital systems would stop working correctly, and government services would discontinue to be delivered. However, if you remember January 1, 2000, the stock market did not come crashing down; and businesses around the world continued to bill customers, order material, manufacture their products and pay their employees. SDLC professionals got systems ready in time.
Take this life lesson to your goal of obtaining your IIBA® certification. As soon as you are approved to sit for the exam, schedule your exam date; translated to mean set your deadline. Now you know when you have to be ready to take that exam, so make a plan to be ready.
How much time you need to get ready depends on how much of a priority in your life you will make this goal. If you are single and have no other life commitments, then you can devote a lot of time daily to studying. If you are married and a parent, then can your spouse take some of your family commitments for a short time to give you more time to study? This helps you determine whether you need three months, twelve months or some time in between to prepare for the exam.
Another element of your plan should be what method of study will you use to prepare for the exam. IIBA chapter study groups and Endorsed Education Provider (EEP®) courses are popular ways to prepare for the exam; however, some prefer self-study. Whichever study method you plan to use, put it and the time needed in your plan.
I speak from experience, back in 2008 I was fortunate to be with a consulting firm that sent me to an EEP Business Analysis Boot Camp class. Upon research, I knew this was the direction I wanted to drive my career, so I made obtaining my CBAP® certification a priority. I prepared my CBAP application and had our administrative assistant mail it to IIBA as I was sitting in the final day of the boot camp class (yes, this was back in the day before online application). When I was approved to sit for the exam, I immediately set my date. This was also back in the day before computer-based testing; my options were to go to Louisville, KY to take the paper test, or wait until computer-based testing became available in six months. I opted for computer-based testing and set my date for September 8, 2008. I had study material, from class and other material I found, to keep myself immersed in the material for that six months.
As you can see from the letters following my name, this was an effective plan for me. I highly recommend to everyone who wishes to obtain IIBA certification: 1) make a plan to achieve this goal, and 2) set your date as soon as your application is approved.