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Author: Elizabeth Larson

Elizabeth Larson, has been the CEO for Watermark Learning as well as a consultant and advisor for Educate 360. She has over 35 years of experience in project management and business analysis. Elizabeth has co-authored five books and chapters published in four additional books, as well as articles that appear regularly in BA Times and Project Times. Elizabeth was a lead author/expert reviewer on all editions of the BABOK® Guide, as well as the several of the PMI standards. Elizabeth enjoys traveling, hiking, reading, and spending time with her 6 grandsons and 1 granddaughter.

Lessons Learned from Bhutan and Nepal: Part 2 – Process Thoughts about Digital Transformation

In this age of digital transformations and the digital BA, data matters.

Without data there would be no big data, no data mining, no machine learning or predictive analytics. No AI. Nothing digital to transform. So yes, we have to focus on data. But what about poor process, once the king of projects, now often relegated to an afterthought? We commonly use to data improve processes. With better data, many cumbersome processes can be automated and improved beyond recognition. But process in and of itself still matters. 
The importance of good processes was highlighted for us on a recent trip to Nepal and Bhutan. Getting into Nepal was beyond difficult and frustrating. To enter Nepal from the US you need a visa. Many countries require visas, and the processes to obtain those visas vary in the degree of difficulty. But Nepal was unique. We applied for the visa online, so they had our data. But there was no process for doing anything with that data. When we arrived, the fact that we had applied was irrelevant. We waited for nearly 2 hours in the same lines as everyone else. Once we got in, we really enjoyed our visit to Nepal. But the entry process was pretty awful. Bhutan, on the other hand, was a breeze. So here are 5 process lessons learned from this trip that apply universally.

Lesson #1: Before we can improve a process, we need to understand how it works today.

As much as we’d like to jump in and make a process better, we need to understand the current way things are done. It sure would be tempting to send some business analysts to “fix” Nepal’s visa problem, but there’s way too much we don’t know about why things are done the way they are. We need to understand how process works, as well as workarounds, exceptions, and little tidbits that make the process better for the people doing the process, if not for the customers and the entire organization. We also need to be aware of the personal, practical, and political reasons things are done as they are. We suspect the immigration officers in Nepal were as tired of the long lines as we were. We suspect that they would have loved to double the number of agents and to have better automation. We have no idea of the constraints and pressures they felt, and without that understanding, the process cannot be improved.

Lesson #2: A process map helps.

The second part of the trip was Bhutan, and one of the Bhutan activities was a hike to a monastery called the Tiger’s Nest. We posted a photo in Part 1 of this article. It sits perched on a ledge in the middle of a mountain and requires a 3,000 ft fairly vertical climb to 10,000 ft. Given the altitude and the age of everyone in our group (over 50), it caused a certain amount of anxiety, even though we were all physically fit. Some of us watched YouTube videos of the hike, but those hikers were all much younger than everyone in our group. 
The night before the hike, our Bhutanese guide called a meeting to prep us for the next day’s hike. To our delight, he brought out a flip chart and drew a graphical depiction of our hike—a kind of process map! Palee explained the different levels, where we could get tea, where we could take the most scenic photos, where there was a dirt path and where there were steps, and importantly, where the few restrooms were located. We still had some trepidation but felt much better prepared. 

Lesson #3: Process maps are usually incomplete.

But even the best of process maps doesn’t prepare us for all the exceptions. There are often unexpected forks in the path and choices that have to be made. It would be great to learn a process by reading existing documentation, but it may not be up-to-date. It probably won’t have all the exception paths. It certainly won’t have the workarounds that experienced staff know and love. If we rely on documentation alone, we might go astray. As helpful as our guide’s process map was, it did not prepare us for how we would react to altitude, for the numerous forks in the path, for how to share the path with horses, nor the hordes of hikers on the same hike.


Lesson #4: A guide makes a process easier.

The first decision point was whether to hike or to ride a horse to the first level. Since one person chose the horse, our guide was unavailable to steer the rest of us through the other exception paths. As we wrote in Part 1, three of us in our group of eight were ahead of the others when we came to our first fork in the road. Which way to go? Go with the flow of course and the flow of hikers in front of us chose the right-hand path. It turns out it was a big mistake. It was a terribly steep and difficult path. We were about a quarter of the way up when one of the hikers shouted down to a friend—“take the right-hand path. It’s shorter. Much steeper, but shorter.” The path was so steep that we didn’t want to turn around, hike back down, and take the other path. We came across many other forks in the road, but our guide was always there to show us the way, which made our hike far easier.
Process Map Tigers Nest 1

Lesson #5: The shortest path is not necessarily the fastest.

When we finally joined the other path, the rest of our group was actually ahead of us. They had taken the longer, less difficult path and they were farther along. And were far less out of breath. There are times when shortcuts make sense. When we blindly follow processes just because “we have always done it this way,” we take a giant step towards bureaucracy. However, our shortcuts need to be well-conceived, and we need to understand the consequences of taking a shorter, less-known path. If that shortcut is tested and well-understood, we need to recommend that it replace the existing process. 
By the way, everyone in our group made it to the top—and it took us about two hours less than our guide originally estimated. We have our wonderful guide Palee to thank–he was a great PM, BA, knowledgeable SME, and overall great guy.

Tyrion the Trusted Advisor: What Game of Thrones Teaches Us about Influencing Without Authority

I have always loved the Game of Thrones TV series.

And what has fascinated me the most is the treatment of the Trusted Advisor, beautifully portrayed by Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion embodies important ingredients of a trusted advisor who influences decision-makers as we’ll see below (warning – some plot spoilers ahead)

To influence without authority, we need to establish trust, be prepared, and have courage

Simply put, it’s impossible to influence anyone who doesn’t trust us. In the Game of Thrones (GOT) trusted advisors are called Hands, probably because they are really the right-hand of the king or queen and it is a highly powerful position. Hands have the ear of the ruler, but if the ruler doesn’t trust the hand—watch out! In Season 1, for example, the Hand to King Robert Baratheon is Ned Stark, who reluctantly accepts the position. Although King Robert trusts him and accepts his advice, his queen does not. When the king dies, the queen and her ruthless son, behead him in a shocking warning of what happens to advisors who are not trusted.

Tyrion, on the other hand, is not initially trusted by anyone. However, throughout the series he works to establish trust by being prepared before giving any advice to his queen, Daenerys Targaryen, and by having an overabundance of courage. Early in the show Tyrion is an exhaustive reader, doing his homework and his advice, as Daenerys slowly realizes, is usually sound. When she follows his advice, it almost always works (I know fans, there are instances when Tyrion gets fooled). When she doesn’t listen to him, things don’t go well for her. For example, in the penultimate episode, Tyrion advises sparing the lives of innocents, but Daenerys rejects that advice, leading to her ultimate destruction. And as Hand, Tyrion shows unimaginable courage when he provides advice knowing that it’s unwanted, but also knowing it is absolutely the right course of action.

One more example of Tyrion’s courage. In the last episode of Season 8, Tyrion understands that he can no longer support a Queen who wants power so much that she is willing to do just about anything to get it. Although he knows that he will be arrested for “treason,” Tyrion cannot support such actions. In an act of defiance that he knows will condemn him to death by dragon fire, he deliberately resigns his post, taking off his Hand badge and throwing it away.

Our projects require us to build trust, to be prepared before giving advice to decision-makers, and to be courageous. In some organizations it takes a great deal of courage to be the bearer of bad news as when we need to provide accurate project status or when we point out risks. Although not as dire as in the GOT, it still takes courage to recommend the right thing for the organization. Not all decision-makers want to hear from us about why the organization should move in a new direction, or develop a new process, or build a long-term solution when the organization wants short-term fixes. What gives us courage, of course, is knowing what we’re talking about. It’s having the facts and the statistics to back up our recommendations. It’s being prepared. It’s also the ability to articulate and sell our recommendations. When our recommendations turn out to help our organizations, we, like Tyrion, gain credibility and build trust.


To influence without authority, we need to provide advice to the decision-makers, but not own the decisions.

In an episode a few seasons ago Tyrion gave Daenerys a piece of advice that she refused. Tyrion then says to another advisor, Lord Varys, that he, Tyrion, can give the queen his advice, but he can’t force her to take it. In Season 7 Tyrion advises against killing traitors with dragon fire. When she kills them anyway, Tyrion agonizes over what he could have done to stop her.

This is what we call the trusted advisor’s dilemma. We need to provide advice—good, sound advice backed up with facts, but we are not the decision-maker. We can point out risks and consequences, but we cannot make the decisions ourselves. We want to make our advice so sound that if we know the decision-makers are off course we can convince them of another course of action, but that is not always possible. The only thing we can do is to ensure that our recommendations are in the best interest of the organization and not promoting our own personal goals, even when our goals seem in conflict with the organization’s.

The trusted advisor’s dilemma: “We need to provide advice—good, sound advice backed up with facts, but we are not the decision-maker.”

Years ago I was a manager in the unenviable position of having to eliminate an entire department. The department supervisor remained positive throughout, recommending shut-down and transfer processes. Somehow, he communicated the business need for the shut-down and his own optimism to the staff. In the end he was promoted and none of the staff lost their jobs.

Respect, authenticity, and empathy help us to influence without authority.

Throughout the 8 seasons of Game of Thrones, Tyrion experiences tremendous growth. He goes from being not much more than a selfish, heavy-drinking womanizer to a Hand who agonizes over the consequences of his advice, his conflicting loyalties, and giving advice that truly benefits the realm, rather than what’s best for him. He becomes a true friend, caring brother, and overall good guy. He shows respect for the would-be Queen, even when she makes terrible decisions. He demonstrates authenticity (we can see his pain), and empathy for his friends. By the end of the series Tyrion becomes perhaps the most influential character.

In our organizations we have a greater influence when our approach is respectful, authentic, and empathetic. Expertise alone does not create competency. Most people do not relate well to “know-it-alls,” and trying to showcase our expertise rarely builds credibility. We are most successful when we use our expertise to support the organization, rather than for personal gain or visibility.

To summarize, as trusted advisors we provide our advice, but we do not make decisions. We build trust in many ways, including establishing credibility by being prepared when we make recommendations, being respectful and empathetic when giving our advice, and by showing courage.

5 Killer Questions Types For Digital Transformation

A recent article concludes that for an organization to get the desired results from their digital initiatives,

such as data analytics, predictive analytics, machine learning, AI, etc., data scientists have to ask the right questions.[i] The article was written as a guide for data scientists to help them ask questions to get at the business decisions needed to be made when developing predictive models for these applications.

However, the article’s questions are stated in a way that might cause even the most informed business stakeholders to scratch their heads. If most decision-makers can’t answer them knowledgably, what can the organization do? Get BAs involved, of course! Having a BA participate in the question and answer sessions can alleviate a great deal of misunderstanding and help ensure success with digital projects.

This article imagines that for each of the 5 question types, there is a three-way conversation with a data scientist, a business decision-maker, and a BA. The questions the data scientist asks are from the article, which the BA rephrases to be more easily answered.

Type 1 – Alignment with the organization’s goals and strategic direction

Data scientist to business stakeholder – First things first. What exactly do you want to find out with this digital effort?

Business stakeholder to data scientist – I’m trying to predict sales of a new product we’re thinking of launching.

Business analyst to business stakeholder:

I’m sure this project can help with that effort. But before we talk about specifics of the types of information you’re looking for, what is the business need for this effort? That is, what problems are you trying to solve? Let’s make sure this initiative, which is not going to be an easy undertaking, will address your need. Perhaps there is a quicker, less costly way to achieve your goals. And I have some related questions that will give us more context:

  • How does this effort align with the strategic direction of the organization?
  • What are does the organization do well that will help ensure the project’s success and minimize risks?
  • How will this project help overcome some of the things we don’t do so well?
  • What opportunities are out there and how can the organization take advantage of them?
  • What should we be worried about? How are competitors, for example, doing with their digital initiatives?

Type 2 – Scope of input needed to create and train models

Data scientist to business stakeholder – Where will your data come from?

Business stakeholder to data scientist – I’m sorry, I don’t know the names of the specific databases. I thought I was here to make business decisions, not answer questions best answered by the IT folks.

Business analyst to business stakeholder – At this point we don’t need to know the names of the specific databases. What we mean by where the information will come from are things like:

  • Which business areas will be involved in this project?
  • Which stakeholders will have input into the decisions affecting the creation of the models?
  • Given that this effort will affect divisions in different parts of the world, who will establish the business rules?
  • What types of information will come from other sources, like social media and Google analytics?


Type 3 – Data presentation

Data scientist to business stakeholder – What data visualizations do you want us to choose?

Business stakeholder to data scientist – I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean. Do you mean like how I want to see the data? If so, I don’t know. What are the possibilities?

Business analyst to business stakeholder – There are a lot of tools that will take the data and interpret the results for you. They help you make sense of the tons of data you’ll be presented with. They can help you analyze data, point out anomalies, and send out alerts that you specify. They can be in the form of charts, dashboards, or whatever, but keep in mind that if they are hard to read, they will be meaningless to you. I can show you some examples and the pros and cons of such things as animation and use of images, but first let’s talk about the information itself.

  • What results are you hoping to get?
  • What type of predictions about your customers would be helpful? Your products?
  • What types of trends would be helpful to you in making business decisions?
  • What types of exceptions do you want to be alerted about?
  • What information do you want that’s actionable vs. historical?

Type 4 – Statistical analysis leading to the desired outcomes

Data scientist to business stakeholder – Which statistical analysis techniques do you want to apply?

Business stakeholder to data scientist – Well, statistics is not my strong suit. What are my choices?

Data scientist to business stakeholder – Regression, predictive, prescriptive, and cohort, and there are others, like descriptive, cluster.

Business stakeholder to data scientist – blank stare

Business analyst to business stakeholder – Maybe I can help here. These types of statistical analyses have a number of similarities. They include use of historical data, algorithms, models to train the machines, and business rules. Not to oversimplify and at a very high level, all predictive models make use of historical data and algorithms to predict future outcomes.

Here are questions based on examples of different outcomes using different statistical analysis:

  • What groups of customers do you want to target? Cluster analysis classifies data into different groups and can help you target certain customer groups.
  • What types of trends do you want to track? Cohort analysis allows you to compare how groups of customers behave over time.
  • What kinds of recommendations might you want as a result of the analysis? Prescriptive analysis not only predicts future outcomes, but it will “prescribe” or recommend the best course of action.

So to answer the question we need to understand what you’re trying to accomplish. We’ll let her (nodding to the data scientist) figure out the most appropriate analysis method and tool.

Type 5 – Creating a data-driven culture

Data scientist to business stakeholder – How can you create a data-driven culture?

Business stakeholder to data scientist – We already have a data-driven culture. Everyone in this organization understands how important data is to our ability to survive as an organization.

Business analyst to business stakeholder – This might be more complex than it first appears. In order to use historical data, which we need to do regardless of the chosen algorithms, it needs to be cleansed. Cleansing is needed to make the data predictive, and cleansing data takes lots of time and money. And it’s the last thing anyone wants to do. So I have some questions for you:

  • What’s the organizational commitment to cleansing dirty data?
  • Who will decide how clean the data needs to be? How clean is clean enough?
  • Who will decide who owns the data when the same data exists in multiple databases? In order to get the outcomes we want, there needs to be one single source. If the same data exists in multiple databases, someone needs to be its sole owner.

In sum, we’ve provided questions within 5 question types. However, to be effective, we BAs need to learn as much as we can about the digital world—about the world of digital transformation and what it means for the organization. We need to immerse ourselves in research and journal articles and think of how to make sense of it for our organizations. We need to think of digital projects from both the data scientist and business perspectives. And we can do that. After all, we’re BAs and that’s what we do best.

[i] Your Data Won’t Speak Unless You Ask It The Right Data Analysis Questions, By Sandra Durcevic in Data Analysis, Jan 8th 2019,

You Gotta Have Heart! 4 Steps to Asking Great Questions

This past July I (Susan) was hospitalized for a heart condition. Looking back at this event, I found that my BA skills were useful in understanding the overall situation.

I was visiting my parents in my home town of Perham, MN when I was admitted to the hospital with chest pains. After a few tests at that hospital, I was transported to Fargo’s cardiac center for additional testing. I arrived late in the evening, but I had sufficient time to become “armed and dangerous.” I had been told I probably had a condition known as cardiomyopathy, but I had no idea what that was, despite having studied Latin for three years. Yes, I knew that cardio meant “heart,” but myopathy—what in the world was that?! As I waited for more tests, I logged on to my computer and looked up cardiomyopathy. I wanted to know what it was, why I had it, what the symptoms were, what my prognosis was, and what the options were for moving forward. By the time the cardiologists came back, I was armed with all my questions as well as multiple options for moving forward. Of course, my husband was shaking his head as I am going on the computer from my hospital bed to find the answers and preparing my questions instead of just waiting for the doctor. What can I say – once a BA, always a BA. So here is my challenge to you – are you a consummate BA? Do you have heart?

1. Do you fully understand the problem and are you inquisitive enough to want to know?

Given my situation, I wanted to know what I had, why I had it, what the symptoms where, how I had I contributed to its occurrence (because there is no history in my family of heart issues), what my prognosis was, the options for moving forward, and what the impact would be on my life going forward. So, I asked the nurses and cardiologists a ton of questions, such as how do you know it is cardiomyopathy? Could it be something else? What symptoms indicated that diagnosis? What test are you running? Why do I need those tests? And all the blood–why are you still drawing blood? Why are there multiple people drawing my blood for different tests and will there be any blood left for me?! Surely there could be an improved process somewhere where they could share the blood and not drain me dry ?!. I am sure I drove everyone crazy, but they were all wonderful about answering all my questions and I got the answers I needed so I could understand the situation.

As a BA, do you fully understand the problem the stakeholder is trying to solve? Do you want to know everything you can about a situation from both strategically and at detailed level? Do you know what the impact of the situation is on the organization and its employees? Do you ask enough questions to gain a thorough understanding of the situation, enough to be able to determine if the proposed solution will actually solve the problem? Do you ask the tough questions, the challenging questions, the probing questions, and do you have the courage to push hard when you don’t get the answers you need?


2. Do you understand the root causes of the problem?

During my stint in the hospital, I not only researched my symptoms to see if it was an accurate diagnosis, but to get a better understanding of how I got this disease, which contributing factors led to my getting cardiomyopathy. I figured if I could identify the contributing factors, I could address those factors and figure out how to overcome them. Working with my cardiologists, we decided there were a combination of issues that caused the heart condition: stress, being overweight, not exercising enough, and not eating a healthy diet. Once I found out what some of the root causes of my condition were, I could plan to overcome those contributing factors.

As a BA do you know what caused the problem the organization wants to address? And importantly, do you understand why had it occurred? Do you identify the root cause of the issues? Unless you know what caused the problem, you have little chance of solving it.

3. Do you provide options to your stakeholders?

I am always looking for options. Just like Captain Kirk (for all you Star Trek fans), “I don’t believe in the no win scenario”. I believe there are variety ways to solve problems. However, I also know it is sometimes difficult to do. There was a time when we went to a doctor, gave them our symptoms and waited for the prognosis and prescription. Now we partner with our healthcare providers. In my case, I worked with the cardiologists on the best, most practical options for moving forward. I did my research, asked my questions, and let them know my preferences. We explored such alternatives as losing weight, healthy eating, and more exercise.

Just like working with physicians on our health care, we need to be partners with our business stakeholders to help solve their problems. In the past, we would often wait to be assigned to a project which already had a solution. We would then take that solution and run with it, getting requirements for a solution that might or might not help the organization. It is our job as BAs to thoroughly understand the problem, and create viable solution options, and recommend the option that we think will best serve the organization.

4. Do you confirm your understanding of the requirements to ensure you’ve been successful?

The cardiologists said I needed to change my lifestyle by eating healthier foods, losing weight, and exercising more. I knew what losing weight looked like and could “test” that requirement by stepping on the scale, but what did they really mean when they said, “eat a healthy diet” and “exercise”. How would I know if I fulfilled those two requirements? How much exercise was needed? Beyond reducing my caloric intake, what did “healthy eating” mean? What did success look like? “Healthy eating” and “exercise” are examples of “ambiguous” requirements – words that mean different things to different people. I asked the cardiologists, what does eating healthy look like to you? They provided specific examples, like eliminating processed foods, eating lean meats, and eating 5 cups of vegetables per day. They also provided specifics for exercising– at least 30 minutes of a cardio exercise three times a week. With these types of specific goals, I was able to determine when I achieved them.

What does this mean for us? We need to have clear acceptance criteria for the requirements of our solution. Once we understand the problem to be addressed, develop options, and recommend a solution, we need to have stakeholders articulate requirements of the solution. We need to ensure that these requirements 1) are aligned with the problem, 2) will contribute to solving the problem, and 3) have acceptance criteria associated with them, so we know when we have achieved our goal. If not, there is a good chance the problem will not be solved.

Best wishes for a healthy and heart filled life. ?



Elizabeth Larson, PMP, CBAP, CSM, PMI-PBA is Co-Principal and CEO of Watermark Learning and has over 30 years of experience in project management and business analysis. Elizabeth’s speaking history includes repeat presentations for national and international conferences on five continents.
Elizabeth has co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation. She has also co-authored chapters published in four separate books. Elizabeth was a lead author on several standards including the PMBOK® Guide, BABOK® Guide, and PMI’s Business Analysis for Practitioners – A Practice Guide.


Dr. Susan Heidorn, BRMP, CBAP, PMP, CSM is the Director of Business Solutions for Watermark Learning in Minneapolis. Susan is an experienced consultant, facilitator, speaker, and trainer, with over 25 years of business experience. Susan directs programs in business analysis, business relationship management, and leadership, including developing and delivering courses and providing consulting. She has been a speaker at a number of IIBA® and PMI® conferences as well as local and regional organizations, boards, and private clients. She is a lifelong learner whose passion it is to guide people into achieving excellence in their personal and professional lives and works on creating positive impacts to the organization.

How to Pass the CBAP Exam: Study Tips from Recent Credential Holders

Are you ready to pass the CBAP® and earn your CBAP certification?

Here are 7 tips to help you prepare for and pass the exam, based on conversations with people who recently took the CBAP exam and passed. Needless to say they do not include specifics about the exam itself, but will help you focus on what you need to know and do to pass the exam.


  1. Most of the CBAP recipients said they dedicated over 150 – 200 hours of time studying for the exam.
  2. They read the BABOK Guide v3 at least 2, if not 3, times before the exam.
  3. They took lots of practice tests and 1-2 mock simulation exams. There are several vendors that have developed online exam simulators. Make sure the one you buy has been upgraded to 3.0 and includes several case studies (see below for more on case studies).
  4. Many found it helpful to take a CBAP certification preparation class or to read a study guide to help better understand the concepts found in the BABOK. As above, there are several prep classes and study guides on the market that can help you.

Seven Study Tips for Passing the Exam

  1. Do not rely on memorization. The CBAP exam is based testing the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which classifies learning into 6 levels, ranging from recall (relies on memorization) to creating(reorganizing information into new patterns.). You will need to analyze and evaluate concepts, rather than just recall facts.
  2. Know your techniques. We have heard that there were many questions around techniques, such as how to read them and when to use them. Although IIBA’s exam blueprint states “NA” on the techniques, the exam incorporates the technique questions into specific Knowledge Area (KA) questions. It is important to really understand the core techniques and models for the exam.
  3.  Review the estimating and financial calculations in detail and practice how to do them. There are numerous calculation questions in the exam, which are basically math word problems. There are some ROI calculations, as well as broader, more general calculations.

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  5. Know all the tasks and related information in each KA.
    1. Layer your learning. Start with understanding the recurring themes. Then memorize the KAs and the tasks within each KA. (Note: you may want to pick the KAs that have fewer tasks to start!) Learn the sequencing of the various tasks within and between knowledge areas. Although for the most part you will not be asked to recall sequence, it will help you answer questions related to “what would you do next…”
    2. Study related information. Make sure you review which stakeholders are involved in each task, the inputs and outputs of each task, and have a high-level understanding of perspectives. You may want to develop study aids like mnemonics or study tables which consolidate this information.
  6. Use BABOK terms even when you think they’re wrong! When you study for the exam, be sure to learn the terms used in BABOK even when they differ from those used in your organization. Although you may find yourself thinking something like, “hey that’s not the right term,” or “that’s not term we use at work,” it is necessary to understand the concepts and the terminology used by use the IIBA.
    What we’ve learned over the years is that the concepts are probably the same, regardless of what you call them, so if you have the knowledge and experience, you can easily translate your experience into the BABOK terms. We have found that one of the prime reasons people fail the CBAP or CCBA® exam is they rely too much on their own “real life” experience.
  7. Figure out the essence of the question. Instead of just answering questions, look at the four possible answers to find the one closest to being the right answer. See if you can rule out two of the answers. Then choose the one that applies most universally. That is, if it would apply to one organization or in one situation, but not in others, don’t choose it.
  8. Be prepared for case studies. Reading case studies with multiple questions is different from reading a scenario with one question. Case studies are long (at least a page) and have several questions attached to them. Here are some tips:
    1. Skim the case study for initial understanding. Then read the question that pertains to that case study thoroughly to find out what question it is asking.
    2. Read all the answers to the questions. Avoid the impulse to select the first answer you come to that seems correct. Then, go back to the case study and reread the case study focusing on the information needed to answer the question under view, given the selection of answers to choose form.

Good luck on your CBAP journey. And if you’ve taken the CBAP exam and have some additional advice, we’d love to hear it in the comments below!


Elizabeth Larson, PMP, CBAP, CSM, PMI-PBA is Co-Principal and CEO of Watermark Learning and has over 30 years of experience in project management and business analysis. Elizabeth’s speaking history includes repeat presentations for national and international conferences on five continents.
Elizabeth has co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation. She has also co-authored chapters published in four separate books. Elizabeth was a lead author on several standards including the PMBOK® Guide, BABOK® Guide, and PMI’s Business Analysis for Practitioners – A Practice Guide.

Dr. Susan Heidorn, BRMP, CBAP, PMP, CSM is the Director of Business Solutions for Watermark Learning in Minneapolis. Susan is an experienced consultant, facilitator, speaker, and trainer, with over 25 years of business experience. Susan directs programs in business analysis, business relationship management, and leadership, including developing and delivering courses and providing consulting. She has been a speaker at a number of IIBA® and PMI® conferences as well as local and regional organizations, boards, and private clients. She is a lifelong learner whose passion it is to guide people into achieving excellence in their personal and professional lives and works on creating positive impacts to the organization.