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Industries have models. For the most part those models are good. They become a brand in and of themselves. Sure there is always the opportunity to break a model in an industry and forge a new model (aka be a disruption and gain considerable market share), but that happens very rarely. The normal product development process is to gain an understanding of the industry, follow the industry model, and make your new product fit the model. You differentiate your product by providing something that is needed and not currently available, or by providing something already in existence but offering it better and cheaper.
In the business-to-business for profit training industry, certifications are still very much the rage. They provide employers with a tool to help in recruiting efforts and to help in retention efforts. Employees love them because they help classify their skill set, making it easier to get an interview, and command a higher salary. The certification portion of the business-to-business training industry has been around for over 15 years. It started on the product training side with Novell; Microsoft learned it for Novell, and Cisco took it from Microsoft. These three product vendors learned quickly that training and certification sold product.
Why? Employees feel a bond to the vendor that gave them a “leg up” and help them become a “stickier” user of the technology. Employers see the certification market and give the product higher credibility because of the size and structure of the certification food chain.
The Scrum Alliance has done for Scrum what Red Hat did for Linux. It productized an “open” solution. It gave something that could be difficult to understand and grasp, meaning and understanding. The Scrum Alliance took Scrum, and for that matter Agile, and put them into an understandable “box.” A potential user of Agile can now find “certified” people to employ, they can find expert consultants to hire, and they can find “tons” of information on the process quickly and easily.
This was a powerful first step for the growth of Agile, both in users and legitimacy. The Linux market had a similar incubation phase to what Agile is having now. Linux was a hot concept, was powerful, but also a bit of an enigma. A lot of fear and uncertainly surrounded it. Linux was like black magic to some people in IT. Agile is the same way, there is a TON of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) surrounding it right now, and a large majority of the SDLC community still sees it as heresy or black magic. This makes Agile cool for the people in the cult, but for the mainstream it makes Agile look risky and illegitimate.
Moving the Scrum Master certification from a class participation certification to both class participation and examination is a strong next step in legitimacy. In the business-to-business training industry, exam-based certifications are the standard. Certificates without at least an exam associated with them are seen as lower quality and much less legitimate. The Scrum Alliance wants to focus on the class participation portion because it ties back to one of the basic premise of Scrum, people and interactions over processes and tools. That is very understandable to the “cult,” but not to the greater market of certification buyers and takers.
A much healthier way for the Scrum Alliance to get the people/interactions portion into the certification would be to make part of the certification a practicum and part of it an exam. Do it on the back end instead of the front end, but that is a topic for another discussion.
Just like in Agile, you need to take small and steady steps towards a goal. It is very good for the legitimacy of the Scrum certification that the exam is coming. It fits the industry model and reduces the skepticism that the certification is only in place to drive training revenue. I amvery hopeful that just like in an Agile project, more iterations are on the way. I would love to see the burn down chart for the Scrum Master Certification.
The roll out of the BABOK 2.0 has been a Herculean project for the IIBA. 2.0 is a major change from 1.6 and is the commutations of a lot of leg work by the IIBA to wrangle in the ideas of requirements “gurus” into the framework of the 1.6 to come out with something the professional side of the industry can embrace. They did a fantastic job. Though the effort left a huge void for the IIBA. It is really a question that has been dealt with throughout business. Does a great product sell itself or must you sell something?
It has been difficult for me to find business leaders and IT leaders who know about either the IIBA or the CBAP certification. I hope the IIBA sees this as a concern and I that this is a major focus for them for the rest of 2009.
Marketing a certification to employers is tricky. You don’t want the employers to think you are certifying their staff so that those staff members ultimately ask for more money or they move on to “greener” pastures. At the same time you want employers to think about what they are missing if they don’t hire CBAP certified professionals, and how less effective their system will be if they don’t use consultants with CBAP credentials.
The first step in this process is the professionals should educate their leaders. The IIBA President is doing a great job of being available to any organization interested in hearing more about the IIBA and the Certification. Recently, she was in Raleigh-Durham speaking with executives at BCBS of NC. Professionals can take their manager to a local IIBA chapter meeting, have the Chapter President come speak at a lunch, or even learn at the office. Nothing in the world beats grass roots and internal marketing.
On the flip side the IIBA needs to hit the conference circuit and begin keynote and session presentations discussing why CBAPs provide value to a business. A good start at this would be for the IIBA to develop metrics that measure the impact of BA work on an organization.
No matter how great your product is, if no one knows about it or doesn’t understand its value, it is worthless. I am very hopeful a great product like the CBAP certification and the BABOK doesn’t become worthless.
For many, the decision to outsource has resulted in resource reductions, infrastructure reformulation, and a new operating model being deployed. Today’s events have prompted many to reconsider their offshore/nearshore ventures and have seen subtle reductions in return on investment (ROI) benefits.
In one of our current White Papers, Mr. Durant discusses what he calls “retrosourcing”. Retrosourcing is the process of reversion control for outsource engagements. Jerry compares retrosourcing to the ejection seat on a plane flying at full speed. According to Mr. Durant, Retrosourcing is comprised of 6 stages including: Pre-Ejection, Ejection Alert, Ejection Sequence, Eject-Eject-Eject, Engage Recovery, Root-Cause-Analysis, and Return-to-Operations. These stages are discussed in detail and followed up with a section on how to apply retrosourcing. It is important for any size company to consider their position in the global market because social and economic factors are constantly changing and the decision to outsource may not always be the most efficient means of doing business. Retrosourcing is simply one measure to always leave the door-open to ever changing conditions in the outsourcing arena.
Jerry E. Durant is Chairman Emeritus/Founder of The International Institute for Outsource Management and Managing Director of Certellus Corporation. He has been actively involved in outsourcing since 1988 and serves as Sr. Technical Advisor to the Outsourcing Institute and The Beijing Association of Sourcing Services (BASS).
To learn more about Mr. Durant and to view the complete White Paper, visit www.aspe-sdlc.com/offers
- Take a pre-assessment exam and score to determine your starting point.
- Proceed through the Knowledge Areas and Underlying Competencies of the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK® v2.0) introductions and practice questions specific to each area.
- Simulate the CBAP® Exam with 150 questions provided using the CBAP® blueprint (Knowledge Areas question weighting).