Adrian Reed's blog

Articles, thoughts & blogs from a UK based Business Analyst

Adrian Reed's blog - Articles, thoughts & blogs from a UK based Business Analyst

BA Certification – ISEB or CCBA/CBAP?

 

A recent study showed that 80% of UK BAs surveyed hold at least one BCS (ISEB) module.  What are you doing to differentiate yourself?

 

A regular topic of conversation within the BA community is one of certification, and specifically which certification route is best.  Within the UK the two qualifications that are often compared are:

 

Man holding stack of books 2

ISEB or CBAP/CCBA? There’s benefit in both!

  • BCS (previously ISEB) diploma in Business Analysis
  • IIBA CCBA or CBAP

 

There are keen advocates of both qualifications, and the debate is often framed around which qualification is best.  I take a different view and believe there is benefit in an experienced Business Analyst holding both.

 

 

The two qualifications have different structures, and they have their own strengths. Certainly the BCS (previously ISEB) diploma is most widely recognised in the UK as of 2012, with CBAP currently gaining recognition and traction.  CBAP has an advantage that the holder must demonstrate experience in a BA role, which acts as some level of assurance to any potential employer.

 

Here’s a quick comparison of the two:

ISEB CBAP/CCBA BCS Diploma
Experience requirement Both CBAP and CCBA require evidence of the applicant having carried out a BA role.(7,500 hours for CBAP3,750 hours for CCBA) No direct requirement for the applicant to have experience.
Flexibility in material No flexibility: The BABOK is the mandatory text book. Flexible structure: There are core modules, but an applicant can choose which optional modules they want to take. Therefore study pathway can be tailored.
Self-study vs Classroom Available as both – self study is not for the feint hearted and there are real benefits from structured learning.
Examination One multiple choice exam. Modular approach.written exam per module, then a final oral exam
Recognition Up-and-coming.Gaining momentum. Well established.Well recognised.Employers ask for it.
Suitable for CBAP : Experienced BAs (5 yrs +)CCBA: BAs building their experience (2.5 -3 yrs +) Aspiring BAs.New BAs.Experienced BAs looking to formalise their knowledge.

The BCS (previously ISEB) diploma covers some useful ground. It provides a common baseline of knowledge that all BAs should have.

 

The CBAP and CCBA require that attendees prove their experience. As an applicant, this can seem like a painful process, but it demonstrates that the holder has hands-on experience within the BA role.

 

CBAP and CCBA are based on the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), which is split into different ‘knowledge areas’.  This provides usable framework that is supported and developed by the IIBA. It also provides a common language – it sets out the scope of areas like Enterprise Analysis, Requirements Elicitation.  This helps to ensure that BAs speak in precisely the same language from organisation to organisation. The BABOK is a dry read – I won’t lie.  BUT, having studied for CBAP, I do find myself referring back to the BABOK.

 

So.. the million dollar question… which should you choose?

 

Well, here’s my view:

 

If you’ve recently become a BA:

If I was a BA starting out today, I would take my BCS diploma first. However, I would also study the BABOK and understand the framework, and I’d consider taking a course to help me achieve that.

 

If you’re wanting to make the transition to a BA role

Aspiring BAs should be aware that employers look for experience as well as the diploma.  Holding the diploma alone is unlikely to get a foot-in-the door.  If you are looking to make a transition to the BA role, then perhaps consider how you can gain experience alongside structured learning.  Look for the course that covers the right learning objectives, that will allow you to “hit the ground running” when you get your first job. Look for a course that offers practical material and make sure you leave the course with a practical, hands-on understanding of how to select and use BA tools and techniques.  Ask the training company “how will this course help me to get a BA job?”.

 

If you already hold the ISEB BCS diploma

But to those of you experience BAs out there who have the ISEB BCS diploma, my message is “don’t stop developing!”  I would highly recommend considering CBAP as your next qualification – I believe it’s a great way of future-proofing your career.  It’s also a way of differentiating yourself from your peers.  The recent UK IIBA survey showed that 80% of respondents held at least one BCS (ISEB) Diploma module.  By holding both qualifications, you might just give yourself the edge.

 

The job market can be hard, and in my view CBAP is a great investment.

So… the choice shouldn’t be ISEB or CBAP.   There is benefit in holding both!

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts and views.  Please feel free to add a comment below.  And if you like my blogplease subscribe.

 

 


About the author:

Adrian Reed is Principal Consultant at Blackmetric Business Solutions, an organisation that offers Business Analysis consulting and training solutions (including a CBAP/CCBA Accelerator Course). Adrian is a keen advocate of the analysis profession, and is constantly looking for ways of promoting the value that good analsis can bring.

To find out more about the training and consulting services offered at Blackmetric, please visit www.blackmetric.com

  • David Smith says:

    Great article Adrian. I obtained my ISEB Diploma 12 months ago in order to ‘formalise my knowledge’. I’m just about to start a CBT CBAP course at work and hope to apply this year. Although I’ve been a BA for 8 of last 10 years, it’s been a hybrid role so documenting my hours is no easy task. Even if I don’t apply, I think taking BABOK-aligned traIning is great for my development.

    March 5, 2012 at 7:55 am
    • Adrian Reed says:

      Thanks Dave, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I agree that documenting hours is a tricky task… in retrospect I would have kept a log as I went along! I’d be interested to know how effective the CBT training is — would you mind letting me know your thoughts on it?

      March 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm
  • Bindu Channaveerappa says:

    Hi Adrian,

    Its Bindu (from IIBA UK), hope you remember!!!
    Good article, I like the way you have articulated and it is very similar journey I had taken from being a developer to a CBAP professional now.

    March 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm
    • Adrian Reed says:

      Hi Bindu — of course I remember you :)

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. In the UK, I get the sense that the CBAP is still gaining momentum, but I certainly see a need for it.

      Take care, hope to catch up with you soon, Adrian.

      March 18, 2012 at 8:36 pm
  • Beatrice Kilcommon says:

    Adrian,
    Great article. Thanks for the comparison. I hold my ISEB Diploma and do agree with you that there is a benefit in holding both. I’m a great fan of the Babok, taking the CBAP exam is something that I would definitely consider.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:16 am
    • Adrian Reed says:

      Fantastic – thanks Beatrice. I agree with you that the BABOK is a great resource — I find myself referring to it at work (which is something that surprised me actually). I also have a copy of the BCS “Business Analysis” book (that is the ‘set text’ for ISEB) and also a copy of “Business Analysis Techniques” by James Cadle, Paul Turner & Debbie Paul. I refer to them when needed too. All of these are great for a “refresher”!

      March 18, 2012 at 8:39 pm
  • Anna says:

    Hi Adrian, Thanks for the article very helpful. Just some extra advice…..I am looking into being a BA but so much is out there and don’t really know where to start between the Certificate or the Diploma. Being that I want ot home study I have been advised to prep for the Certificate but from you article you seem to suggest the Dipoma is a better bet for a complete novice. I am not and have not been a BA so abit concern with the hours experience required as well.

    January 8, 2013 at 12:24 am
    • Adrian Reed says:

      Hi Anna, I’m glad you found the article helpful. If you are not currently a BA, then you wouldn’t be able to consider CBAP/CCBA at this time (as both require demonstrable BA experience). You could consider progression towards the BCS diploma — perhaps starting with an individual certificate. Each module has a separate exam, so you can study for them separately. In order to pass the diploma, you require a total of four modules and you are required to sit an oral exam.

      For more information about the structure of the BCS diploma, take a look here: http://certifications.bcs.org/content/ConCertification/51

      For more information about CCBA/CBAP (in case it is of interest in future), take a look here:
      http://www.iiba.org/IIBA/Certification/IIBA_Website/Certification/Certification.aspx

      I understand from your comment that you’re not currently a BA (and haven’t been a BA in the past). One additional consideration, as well as considering which certification/qualifications are most appropriate, is how to gain BA experience. If you are currently in a non-BA role, you might want to consider whether you could take up a side-project or a secondment to gain additional hands-on experience. A key factor in any case is that whilst certification is extremely useful, it is the hands-on experience that complements, completes and cements the learning cycle.

      I hope this is useful. Kind regards,

      Adrian.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:13 pm
  • Rainer says:

    Hi Adrian, Thanks for this article, great. I have written a White paper http://www.masventa.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/media/pdf_en/Business_Analysis_Certificates_2014.pdf dealing with two BA/RE-Certificates which are most popular in Germany, the CBAP and the CPRE. I share your opinion that the CBAP certificate could be the second step, once you have taken the ISEB or the CPRE. On the other hand, I recommend to young BAs to go for the CCBA which is the smaller certificate offered by the IIBA. The CCBA has some advantages, it ensures that certificate holders have proven experience (3750 hours which is half of CBAP’s 7500 hours) and it is halfway to a later CBAP certificate, which can be considered to be the top one. I think that the BABOK is similar to the PMBOK something which will become the world-wide industry-standard for Business Analysis. The development of the No. 1 PM certificate “PMP” shows us how a global standard develops compared with more local certificates like ISEB (UK) or CPRE (Germany) in Business Analysis or Prince2 (UK)and GPM (Germany) in Project Management. My recommendation therefore is: Think globally, go for CCBA and CBAP, depending on your experience.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:44 am
  • yusuf alsayeh says:

    useful article , i was looking for such article to describe the benefits for each certification and this one is very helpful , i’m new in this field and i think i will proceed with the ISEB .

    February 10, 2014 at 12:22 pm

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