Vicki James, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, CSM

formerly of Professional Project Services, LCC

Tag Archives: iiba

Where Did the Blog Posts Go?

I realize that it seems as if I have given up writing by the looks of my blog page. I assure you this is not the case. I have written extensively for Watermark Learning about things such as the new PMI-PBA credential from the Project Management Institute and the public review draft of the BABOK© Guide v3 from International Institute of Business Analysis. I even have a guest spot up on Business Analysis Times with a re-print of my popular The Project Manager vs. The Business Analyst post.

Here are a few titles for you to check out. Follow the link at the top of the page to “Become a member of our learning community” to get Watermark Learning news first hand.

More about the BABOK Guide v3

It has now been a month since the International Public Review of A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK®) Guide v3 began. I have had a chance to do a bit of review firsthand and wanted to share some findings. BABOK … Continue reading 

PMI-PBA Pilot Begins!

The Project Management Institute (PMI) launched the pilot of the PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) certification last week. The pilot continues through August 4, 2014. The PMI has provided a couple of incentives for participating in the pilot. Education hours … Continue reading 

A Sneak Peek at the BABOK Guide v3

The IIBA has announced “the International Public Review of A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) v3” begins May 12th. I had an opportunity to get more news on the release at the Minneapolis-St Paul IIBA … Continue reading 

PMI-PBA and CBAP/CCBA Side by Side

Last week the Project Management Institute (PMI) ® announced their PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) certification. They cite a statistic by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics that “business analysis jobs are predicted to increase by 22 percent by 2020.” The …Continue reading 

Three Reasons to Achieve Your IIBA Certification in 2014

Is achieving IIBA® Certification on your bucket list? The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) announced at the Building Business Capability conference in Las Vegas last November that the current version of the Guide to the Business Analysis Body of … Continue reading 

I will be posting more on this blog as I have thoughts and contents that do not directly align with the Watermark Learning business…oh, and time!  So stay tuned!!!

So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third and final installment of the So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are series. Part One discusses the role of a business analyst with Part Two focusing on a better understanding of when you play both roles and determining where you may lean given your capacity and skills.  In this third part will explore how to pursue your career as a business analyst.

Step 1 – Call yourself a business analyst

You are what you do and not your job title. If you do business analysis then you are a business analyst. Maybe your job title is project manager, technical writer, program manager, product consultant. It does not matter. My first six-years in the project world I held the working title of “product manager” and job classification of “state financial consultant”. You will find this work listed as “business analyst/product manager” on my résumé and LinkedIn profile. “Business analyst” is industry standard for the work done and provides a commonality across organizations.

Repeat after me. “I am a business analyst, I am a business analyst…”

Step 2 – Update your résumé

What does your résumé say about you and the jobs you have held? Give your résumé a hard look and find those tasks and deliverables that you have listed that fit under the category of list‘analysis’. Try this – type the word “analysis” in Word and then right-click to view synonyms. Let me help you out with a picture of the results I get. Use these words as a guide in reviewing your résumé.

Take this a step further. What missing from your résumé? Think about the work you have done and what you can add that lends weight to this aspect of your experience. I have provided further guidance on documenting your experience in my article, Document Your Project History.

Remember to update your LinkedIn profile as well. Use the Skills section of the profile to highlight this experience and ask connections to “endorse” these skills.

Step 3 – Get involved in the International Association of Business Analyst (IIBA®)

Nothing speaks more to your professional aspirations and commitment then involvement in a professional organization. Not only does it look good for you, but you gain the benefit of a network of peers in comparable roles to learn from and share experiences with. There are varying levels of involvement and added benefits come from each.

Level 1 – Join the IIBA® and your local chapter

At this level you will have access to an electronic copy of A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®), a subscription to The Connection newsletter, and a wealth of resources online including articles, discussion groups, webinars, and tools.

Level 2 – Attend meetings and workshops

Meetings and workshop will increase your exposure to best practices and make sure continued education in business analysis topics. This further demonstrates your commitment to the profession as well as your own professional development. You will also build your local network of business analysts that can help you through struggles you have on the job in your next career move.

Level 3 – Volunteer

Volunteering is hugely fulfilling and beneficial to your career. It takes you from to the next level as far as demonstrating your passion for business analysis as a profession. It provides opportunity to show your work to other business analysts and build a reputation as a professional. Those who volunteer for my Chapter will find a ready referral and reference from me as they pursue future opportunities. This may be volunteering on a committee, with a specific task, for a project, or as a board member. Volunteer positions tend to be what you make of them and a lot can be accomplished in a few short hours a month.

Don’t forget to put your volunteer activities on your résumé and LinkedIn profile.

Step 4 – Get certified!

The time, effort, and money you put into the certification process exhibits your commitment to being a business analyst professional. You must prove earlier experience to sit for the exams. You must learn, keep, and prove you have a significant amount of knowledge on business analysis best practices from Enterprise Analysis to Solution Verification to pass the exam.  Apply what you know in the real world and this step will take you far.

I hope this series has provided some helpful information as you pursue your career in business analysis. Please feel free to contact me ( for more information or guidance. Follow this blog to get receive alerts of future posts that will be of interest to you.


So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are

IIBA® Links

The Care and Feeding of Business Analysts (Guerilla PM Interview)

I had the great honor of being interviewed by Samad Aidane for Guerilla Project Manager. Catch the interview on-line at

BA Beyond Requirements (comment to EA Tips to Get Started)

Below is a copy of a rather lengthy comment I made in response to, Getting Started with Enterprise Analysis. Please check out that great article by Jonathon Nituch post on

What a great article on Enterprise Analysis that hits the nail on the head for why I have chosen the route I have for my independent consulting business. In addition to speaking and writing, I seek projects close to home that I can be involved in to help the community (and my ability to keep food on the table). I have focused my local marketing on small business instead of pursuing government or big business contacts. This angle will not be lucrative, but I will get more job satisfaction. I want to help small business find and implement solutions that will bring greater value to their business. Seeing even small changes with big benefits is what I call a great day at work.

In regards to pursing opportunities for Enterprise Analysis, I would add make your own. You need a good business case with compelling data and an advocate with influence over the right people. Look for opportunities to start small and build up to farther reaching success. Find a quick win in your work unit, promote the success as yours (don’t be shy), and then look for opportunities with more impact throughout the organization. Eventually executives will come asking for your help in finding solutions to specific areas of concern.

One skill that a great EA needs is the ability to market and sell a solution. It is often not enough to offer that a solution is correct. The decision makers need to feel passion to take the effort to carry out changes. Think about the advertising pitches you have seen in movies or on TV where a team works day and night coming up with creative ways to sell their advertising idea. They give a powerful presentation doing whatever it takes to land the sale (even singing poorly). We need this energy and dedication with our improvement solutions. Storyboard the “to be”, arrange a demo, anything to go beyond words and invoke emotion.

The story of John Stegner’s Glove Shrine in Switch (Heath and Heath) is an excellent example of this.  “What they say was a large expensive table, normally clean or with a few papers, now stacked high with gloves. Each of our executives stared at this display for a minutes. Then each said something like ‘we really buy all these different kinds of gloves?’ …They looked at two gloves that seemed exactly alike, yet one was marked $3.22 and the other $10.55.”

Heath, Chip, and Dan Heath. Switch: how to change things when change is hard. 1st. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2010.

How I passed the CBAP

I recently took and passed the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) certification test offered by the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA®). Since my employer, CodeSmart, paid I was doubly anxious to pass on the first attempt. Yay! I did.

A couple of things helped give me an advantage. The first was a lot of experience in business analysis. Not just the title of Business Analyst, but the activities I did within this role were in alignment with the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®). While the specific terms or context of knowledge areas and processes were new, they concepts themselves were very familiar. The second advantage was previously achieving certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP). Many of the tools and terms crossovers the professions including estimation, work breakdown structure, and the underlying competencies required.

CodeSmart also paid for me to take online training through ESI. I received a 20% discount for having visited their booth at the PMI North American Global Congress in October. The eTraining was available for 42 days from registration. It provided some introduction to the course, to the BABOK, and pre-assessment test and then units by knowledge area. It concluded with test tips, drills, two more practice exams, and a course evaluation. I felt the course gave good exposure to what to expect on the test and some guidance on study but was rather high level. It was by no means a waste of time, but I couldn’t solely rely on the course and be sure of passing.

As test day got closer I began to read the BABOK® through. I didn’t do anything too special at this time. I had previous experience with a large number of the tools and techniques covered. But the more technical diagrams I felt I could use some review on. I spent one evening reading the BABOK and searching online for examples to study until I was sure I understood each better. I am glad I did this. It helped me get at least a few questions correct on the test.

I knew I wanted to commit the map of knowledge areas and processes to memory. I am a visual and kinetic learning, so simply reading the BABOK or practicing the drills of the course were not going to be much help. In the end (the day prior to the exam) I used a big pedestalled white board in my living room. The idea was to map the knowledge areas with processes plus underlying competencies. I took one pass without additional study or reference and got 53% percent of the mapping correct. I then drilled myself by drawing the mappings and practiced, waiting a couple of hours and tried the mapping again. This time I got 98%. I slept with the white board in my bedroom that night knowing that if I woke up panicked about the material, it would come in handy. In the morning I wiped the slate clean and tried the mapping again and again got 98%, getting a different section wrong then previously. I felt that I had retained enough to be comfortable taking the test. In the end, having this down pat didn’t provide that many additional correct answers.

CBAP KA - Task Study

That sums up my study:
• Online course
• Read the BABOK
• Ensure understanding of tools and techniques
• Commit to memory knowledge areas and processes including underlying competencies.

The test itself was an online computerized test proctored at a local community college. The test is 150 questions and they allow three and a half hours. You have the ability to flag questions either answered or unanswered. The test navigation allows you to move from previous or next question or previous or next flagged questions. In taking the test I went through each question and answered if I was relatively sure of the answer, flagging those that I skipped, or wasn’t sure enough. Once I got to the end I took a break and then went back to review the flagged questions. I did feel more confident the second time looking at the flagged questions. I struggled with the decision to review the questions a final time or to submit the test. I had plenty of time either way. In the end I submitted the test reasoning that the number of questions I would change on a review would not make an impact on my overall score unless I was one or two away from passing and any changes I made were in my favor rather than against it. I hit submit, was presented with a survey regarding the test experience, and the second I submitted the survey received a “congratulations on passing” message. I don’t yet know my actual score, but I know the important thing.

I would recommend doing some research or asking around before picking a study service. Price, hours to complete, and depth of material will vary. You want to make sure any service you buy, if any, meets your style of study. Some people may be comfortable without purchasing a study service at all. I would have been disappointed if I had paid the full amount for the ESI program myself. The 20% discount helped. Good luck in your own search for certification. I hope this blog has helped, and please let me know if you have any questions.

Also see this PRESENTATION I gave to CBAP/CCBA Study Group members from the Seattle IIBA Chapter in January 2012.

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