You will have a clear plan allowing you to easily answer the dreaded interview question “what’s your mid-to-long term plan?”
It’s not just about the BA certifications.
Practical experience in the real world will kill qualifications on any day.
Studying will ensure you are continuously improving your output day-by-day.
Taking the right certifications will guide you towards the job of YOUR choice.
So today I’m giving you the ultimate step-by-step guide to completing your BA certifications.
I’ll also tell you how you can take your first steps to becoming a Business Analyst trainer.
That way, you can be giving back to the BA community, while earning a decent whack £££.
But first, here’s a top tip on how to make your first move.
Where do I start with BA Certifications?
Funding your cert is the most important decision you need to make.
Because it will save you BAGS of money and the funding options available might surprise you.
Ask yourself, how am I going to pay for my certifications? AND what’s my budget?
Don’t shell out any money until you’ve done this:
- Check with your employer if they are willing to fund you. Tell them you can tailor the course towards the role you are in. For example, if you’re in Finance, you can choose to take Commercial Awareness.
- Check with your local authorities to see what funding options there are. This will depend on your age but is a great way to get financial help.
- Check out Money Saving Expert. They provide a great number of options that might be available . http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/grants-education
- Are you self-employed? If so, are there any business start-up funds you can get?
But trust me:
You can’t put a price on education so don’t be afraid of investing in yourself.
I know someone who invested in their exams and got a rebate from his company after passing them. How cool is that?
However, you do need to make sure you’re not starving yourself just to learn what stakeholder engagement is.
SO now ask yourself this:
Do I need to spread the cost over a few months?
Or do I have a lump sum to invest now?
Then decide whether you want to pay for a full diploma (I’ll explain) up front or just work your way towards the full diploma by taking one certification at a time.
Don’t know what I mean by a Business Analyst DIPLOMA? Read on…
The certification outline below is based on the British Computer Society’s BCS certification options. Remember, you can take them anywhere in the world
The Introductory Certificate: Business Analysis
So here’s my advice:
Only take the Business Analysis exam seperately if you’re NOT going to take the full international diploma.
Because it’s very basic and you will learn the content as part of the modules that make up the international diploma anyway.
It’s a good qualification for mangers if they are managing Business Analysts with no prior experience themselves.
Now for the meat.
Step 1 – BCS International Diploma in Business Analysis Formerly ISEB
Your very first step to becoming a qualified Business Analyst is to take the International Diploma as accredited by the BCS
This diploma is made up of optional and mandatory modules, which I outline below. AThere are ZERO prerequisites to any of the modules forming the International diploma, which is great, because it means they can be taken in any order.
Also, if you don’t want to work towards the full diploma you can take ANY of the modules that appeal to you individually.
Which modules are the best for you? Here’s my recommendations
1. Mandatory Core Modules
The below 2 modules are mandatory, meaning you need to pass the exam in order for you to receive the full diploma. So don’t delay, get them booked in asap.
Business Analysis Practice (BAP) Certification
A GREAT introductory to Business Analysis.
This certification will most definitely help you be aware what you’re doing every day and how you can make it better in terms of your approach to analysing businesses.
Requirements Engineering Certification
Managing stakeholder requirements are a fundamental aspect to improving systems and processes.
That’s why it’s mandatory.
Here’s a great taster in requirements gathering.
NOTE: If you work Agile, think about how these techniques will be adapted to your environment.
2. Knowledge Based Certifications (Optional Modules)
Not all the below are mandatory, but you must choose 1 of them, which is great because it means you can tailor your learning towards your role. Giving you a better opportunity to obtain funding from your company.
From another perspective, if you want to build your knowledge in an area where you may not get an opportunity in your day job – go with that module, it can broaden your horizons significantly.
A Business Analysis role can sit anywhere within the business.
For example, you may be focused towards Finance or even Human Resources. If so, this module may be perfect for you. It’s heavily focussed on Finance and organisational structure.
Foundation Certification in BA
This is another general certification. If you enjoyed learning the BAP module discussed above, or even if you struggled to grasp the concpets in BAP. This is the module for you.
Foundation Certification in Business Change
As a Business Analyst you work very closely with project managers. They should be the masters of managing change.
However you are also KEY in recommedning changes to people’s processes.
So having a clear grasp of the change process will benefit you hugely. And allow you to succeed in seeing your improvements through to completion with less resistance from end users.
Foundation Certification in IS Project Management
I took this and it gave me fantastic insight into the world of Project Management and BOSCARD when I was early on in my career.
If you’re role involves project management, such as cost benefits, planning, holding work group meetings or even managing the full SDLC (System Development Lifecycle), then this module is perfect for you.
2. Practitioner Specialism Certifications (Optional Modules)
You need to choose 1 of the below modules:
Modelling Business Processes
I’ve created a step-by-step article to mapping a process. This will give you a great insight into what you’ll learn.
TAKE THIS MODULE.
Because mapping processes is the most under-rated technique used when building a system around work flows and processes. This is true in Agile AND Waterfall methodologies.
You’ll learn how to use simple rules that you can take with you wherever you go.
Systems Modelling Techniques
If you’re working in a software innovation centre, this is the module for you.
You are key to identifying the actors of your system and ensuring all stakeholders are engaged.
You construct various models of systems perspectives and interactions.
It also counts towards a diploma in the BCS Systems Development
Benefits Management & Business Acceptance
Again, benefits management is a core skill for project managers. So if you’re currently in a BA role wanting to become a project manager.
If you’re working closely with a project manager
If you’re keen to make sure everything you do ultimately ends up as a benefit to the business
Study this certificate.
Systems Development Essentials
Techie, techie, techie! I hear you say?
I often hear that BA’s shouldn’t be interested in the technical aspect of systems development.
My view is this.
If you work with software and want to manage your requirements effectively, learn the technical side.
Because you will have much better knowledge of the optimum solution when it’s being rolled out to clients.
And you will work much more effectively with your developers “from another planet”.
Other Certification modules
This module is not part of the international diploma but is a great way of opening up new doors.
Data Management Essentials
Big Data is a bit of a buzz word at the moment.
Because large companies such as Google use all their products to collect data on everything we do, every minute of every day.
And that’s just one example. There are companies all over the world doing exactly the same.
If you’re keen to move with the modern era and get into big data, you should do this module.
However, there are other data certifications you could complete in order to suit your needs better, if you really want to be a data specialist.
Step 2 – Advanced International Diploma Certification in Business Analysis
Again, the Advanced International Diploma is made up of various optional and mandatory modules.
What are the pre-requisites? – You must complete the BCS International Diploma BEFORE you can claim the Advanced International Diploma
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t work towards the Advanced certifications while advancing toward the international diploma – if you have the funding of course.
For example if you’re working in an Agile environment, why not take the Agile Business Analysis Certification
Why would you do the advanced certificates? There’s various reasons depending if you want to:
1. Go into Consulting
2. Train business analysts in a class room environment
3. Simply improve your knowledge
1. Analytical Certification Options
Choose ONE of these:
Advanced Requirements Engineering
Agile Business Analysis
2. Business Certifciation Options
Choose ONE of these:
Benefits Realisation Planning
People Certfication Options
Choose ONE of these:
Mandatory Additional Certification Module
Complete ONE from either Analytical Option set 1 or Business Option Set 2
You need a total of 4 certifications
Expert BA Award