Deciding to pursue CBAP is certainly the right decision. It is becoming more popular among the Business Analysis (BA) practice and more and more companies are getting increasingly aware of this certification as they align their BA disciplines with industry best practices. The certification is offered by the Canada-headquartered International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and is based on the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK). There are a few things you need to know before you take the plunge, which we outlined below.
Application Process: The application process is very detailed and extensive to say the least. You must have 7500 hours of BA experience at a minimum and you need to categorize the work you have done so far into the different Knowledge Areas (KA) as specified by the IIBA. After you apply for the test, IIBA may still (and in most of the cases, they will!) take away hours they do not feel fit a certain KA. There is also a minimum number of hours required for each KA (more details can be found in the CBAP handbook. BABOK versions are available for download from IIBA for paid members and also available for purchase as mentioned below.
Preparation and Test: The preparation involves having a deep understanding of the BABOK V2, which is a 262 page book (available from Amazon). There are not many pretty pictures or charts and it is extremely verbose. Exam questions could literally be based out of any sentence in the book, so a thorough understanding of the book is required. In addition to the BABOK, the test can have questions based on accepted best practices like CMMI. The test itself consists of 150 questions with varying degrees of complexity to be completed in a span of 3.5 hours.
Changes Coming: But it’s all changing. IIBA introduced BABOK V3 on April 15, 2015 and it has an additional 240 pages (available from Amazon)! Throw in the ‘Agile Extension’ and you know you have a lot more preparation.(It is unclear if the ‘Agile Extension’ will be a part of the new test.) On its website, IIBA mentions that they will announce the revised test 4-6 months in advance of being implemented and it is widely expected to go live in the April – July 2016 timeframe. If you do not pass in the first attempt, you have to wait an additional 3 months for the next attempt. Hence, even if you plan to take the exam towards the end of the year, you would still give yourself reasonable time for a second attempt before the changes kick in.
Do-it-now: With the updates coming, we are unsure how the test and other aspects will be affected. In addition to the extra material (in Version 3) the KAs as described in V2 have been rearranged. This may have an impact on the application process if IIBA decides to revisit the minimum hours for each of the redesigned KAs. Moreover, we do not know if the weightage of the questions for each KA will change. (It is fairly well established now.) With all of these unknowns, it is unlikely that companies that create study aids or mock tests would have fully developed products at the launch of the new test.
Study Group: SDLC Partners is partnering with the IIBA – Pittsburgh Chapter to sponsor a Study Group to enable Business Analysts in the Greater Pittsburgh region to take the CBAP/CCBA Certifications. The study group consists of 11 sessions and will provide a sound foundation of the BABOK content. It will also provide a basis for individuals to develop their own personal study program outside of the sessions to take the exam. For more information or to register, visit the IIBA Pittsburgh Chapter site.
Again, it may take a while for all the changes to be properly assimilated and there is always some nervousness associated with a big change like this. So my advice is to register for the test this year, enroll in a study group to review the established guidelines, and leverage books, study aids and mock tests with questions fairly close to the real test questions. Good Luck!!!