The process for preparing certification was simply a series of repetitive steps building on my knowledge and testing this a little at a time. The BABOK v3 is broken into a number of elements. The introduction and Key Business Analysis Concepts, 6 Knowledge Areas, Underlying Competencies, Techniques, then 4 perspectives. My focus for study would be on everything bar the perspectives. Whilst these are important to understand, I researched and was also advised that these areas are not core to the CBAP.
The most important thing is to have a detailed plan which breaks down each week, month, quarter & six months. By constantly monitoring this plan it will help you work harder some weeks when necessary.
Each week on my train rides into the office, or at a dedicated time scheduled on non-office days, I would sit and read a small section of the BABOK. The Study Plan mentioned previously breaks this down into 15-20 minute slots. This enabled you to focus on the content and absorb it, without overloading yourself or simply reading for the sake of making page numbers. The content, whilst vitally important to all that we do as Business Analysts, well it’s not exactly Charles Dicken’s.
The next component to my preparation was also to watch the BAPL video recordings on each of the sections in focus. These too run from 15 – 30 minutes and provide another overview of the key concepts, task inputs, outputs etc. for each section. In addition BAPL has created MNEMONICS to assist in memorizing some of the 4 risk management approaches or ‘Whats taM.A.T.A’ (Mitigate, Avoid, Transfer, Accept). Finally, for the Knowledge Areas, BAPL has developed summaries. Print outs covering each the core bits of information for each task in each knowledge area. These were reviewed throughout the week.
At the end of each week, myself and a group of other BAPL members focusing on CBAP would complete a practice quiz on the topics in focus. This would assist us in quantifying how well the knowledge was being retained.
As the exam date crept closer, and the study plan had been completed, I found myself doing other memory recall activities. One that I found useful, was to try and write down as much of the KA summary from memory as possible. I would focus on 1 knowledge area, the tasks, the inputs, and then the outputs at least. Then do this for the next knowledge area. Eventually I could do this for all 6.
3 Days out from the exam, I received my email from IIBA. On the day I made sure I had a quiet place without distractions. I logged on 30 minutes prior to make sure I could complete the compatibility test and upload the required software. The test commenced, and off I went.
Once completed and I reviewed each question I had flagged, I submitted and was instantly informed of my success. After a sigh of relief, I went out and hugged my wife, then called my CEO Tim to thank him for his support, then kissed a photo of my grandma and told her I finally did it.
Certification may be a daunting prospect, but by breaking this down little by little it is an achievable one. How do you eat an elephant after all?….one piece at a time.
All of my learnings have also been captured in our CBAP Online course. This can be purchased individually or is included as part of your BACoE subscription. Today, I continue to assist others in their CBAP journey. If you want to join BAPLs study sessions, that’s included in the subscription too.