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Moving Competency Forward – An Interview with the IIBA Certification Team 

With the recent announcement by International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) regarding the launch of a new certification program in 2016, many BA practitioners have been asking questions about what it means to them and how the new certification program will change. We recently sat down with Jas Phul, Product Manager – BA Practice Development and Suzanne Bertschi, Head of Certification & Recognition Services, Education Standards & Research, IIBA® for an update, and here is what they shared. 
 
Q: In November, IIBA announced that it will be launching a new certification program in 2016? Why did IIBA decide to change its successful certification program? 
JP: The market for business analysis continues to grow and gain global recognition, and as a leader in BA certification, our IIBA team is committed to ensuring the certification program maintains its world-class recognition. Demand from HR and hiring managers for candidates with demonstrated business analysis capabilities and competencies is growing globally. This is a natural and needed evolution for our certification program.  The community is helping to drive the need for this enhancement, and they have provided feedback on how the certification program can evolve to support the needs of both BA professionals and their companies.   
 
Q:  What is the value of the 4-Level Certification Framework?
JP:  The 4-Level Certification Framework was developed working with key stakeholders representing our global community. The essence of it is to provide comprehensive support for BA professionals at all levels - from those entering the profession all the way to retirement. In many ways it helps to solidify the thought leaders in organizations and helps hiring managers understand the role BA professionals play in delivering greater business value as they develop and progress through their careers. It will also emphasize that not only is business analysis a strong foundation for a successful career but there’s many options and additional opportunities for BA professionals. 
 
Q: The IIBA enhanced certification program is being launched in Q3 2016.  Will all levels be rolled out at the same time?
SB: The official launch date is in Q3.  Currently, we are continuing to engage our various stakeholder groups on finalizing the framework and the specifics for each level.  We will be in a position to communicate deliverables per level and timing once we have finalized these details. 
 
Q: What is the value of adding Level 1?
SB: The launch of Level 1 is a big step forward to engage recent graduates and those new to the BA profession. This is great for those individuals looking to grow their professional network and get an edge on their career development. The enhanced certification program will fill the gaps in the market. Learning best practices from the industry recognized BABOK® Guide, earning CDUs towards certification and connecting with fellow BA professionals will help them grow professionally. We are very excited about this new level.  
 
Q: Is a professional with a CBAP® designation still recognized as the global standard for BA professionals? 
JP:  We are committed to ensuring the CBAP® designation remains the global standard for our profession. We will continue to build organizational awareness and drive home the benefits of our certification program. Our goal is that organizations around the globe understand exactly what they’re getting when they hire IIBA certified BA Professionals. Our comprehensive certification framework goes much further than we have before. Earlier we spoke about the benefits of Level 1 and not only does it provide the entry level for new graduates, but also, provides guidance for mature professionals contemplating a career transition to the BA profession. Current CCBA® and CBAP® holders will map to Levels 2 and 3 and will continue to represent the global standard of certification. Level 4 will be for those professionals looking for the next challenge and additional recognition in their career. Level 4 will recognize senior BA professionals who are industry thought leaders, give back to the community and contribute to the evolution of the BA practice. As a CBAP® myself, I am proud of my certification and I look forward to the new opportunities that striving for Level 4 will provide. 
 
Q: There has been discussion recently about the alignment of  IIBA certification to other BA certifications around the world. Can you please discuss what this means and what certifications will be included? 
JP: The new certification program is being built in a flexible manner, so that we can align our certifications to others in complementary roles. By aligning certification, we are offering professionals the opportunity to gain greater recognition and acknowledgement of their role, their competencies and their skills. I would love to share more, but you have to stay tuned. We will be making an announcement soon! 
 
Q: How will this program enhance what is already offered through CCBA® and CBAP®?   
JP: The strength of the new certification program is a clearer focus on the BA career path. This is something the industry has been asking IIBA for to help create more value for the BA profession and elevate global awareness. Currently IIBA offers Certification of Competency in Business Analysis™ (CCBA®) designation, the industry standard for business analysts and Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®) designation for senior business analysts. Under the newly designed program, IIBA will offer four distinct levels targeting the different stages of a BA professional’s career path from entry level to retirement. We will align the current CCBA® and CBAP® designation holders within the new framework. What it means is that BA professionals will now have an opportunity to grow and to be recognized for that growth from the start of their career through to retirement. 
 
Q: Feedback from the BA community shows applicants are frustrated with the application process. What are you doing to fix this?
SB: Many applicants have provided insightful feedback on how to make the process more effective and easier and we have been listening. Starting in Q1 2016, IIBA will be making changes to the application process, which will provide significant benefits to those applying to achieve their certification. These changes will include moving to a streamlined and user-friendly online application, the move to self-assessment, increased payment options, immediate results and the ability to track your work and professional development. Our team will be sending out more information by email in the coming days to provide additional information on these new benefits.  
 
Q: How are you developing the new certification program?  Are you collecting community feedback? 
JP: We have to remember that we are here to serve our global community and we need to ensure the certification program reflects the needs of our entire community. So yes, community input and feedback into the program is critical. As an example, currently we are facilitating focus group meetings to finalize the details of the enhanced certification framework.  These focus group meetings include representation from key stakeholder groups including: EEPs, Chapters, Corporate Members, current certification holders and BA professionals. But there’s lots more planned! Community input and feedback will be leveraged for all aspects of the new certification program. This will require a small army of community volunteers and although the administrative aspect of this can be challenging, it is a vital component of developing a program that best meets the needs of our global community. Stay tuned as we continue to reach out to and engage our community in this work. 
 
Q: Thanks for answering our questions. What if individuals have additional questions? 
SB: If you have questions about the new certification program please refer to the FAQ or email IIBA at certification@iiba.org
 
Thank you to Jas and Suzanne for sharing your perspectives and insight. I know the community is anxiously awaiting the new program, and we look forward to sitting with you again once more details are available. 
 
JAS PHUL 
Jas Phul is Product Manager – BA Practice Development at IIBA.  Jas brings his extensive experience and knowledge to the global community through the development of innovative products and services that can be leveraged to drive better business outcomes. As a proud Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®), he is committed to enhancing the world-class recognition of the profession and the professional certification. Jas can be reached at Jas.Phul@iiba.org.
 
SUZANNE BERTSCHI
Suzanne Bertschi is Head of Certification & Recognition Services with the Education Standards & Research group at IIBA. Suzanne was one of the first employees to join IIBA in 2003 and is passionate about certification and professional development in Business Analysis. Suzanne can be reached at Suzanne.Bertschi@iiba.org