With the PMI’s recent release of the new Professional in Business Analysis (PBA) certification, business analysts (BAs) in the community are asking what is the difference between this new PMI-PBA and the IIBA’s existing Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)? Also, if we’re looking into getting certified, which one should we go after?
In their announcement to offer the new certification, the PMI quoted a statistic by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics that “business analysis jobs are predicted to increase 19 percent by 2022.” We agree that this is a good reason for more people to get certified in the field of business analysis. We’re looking at this new certification from the PMI as great news; business analysis as a profession needs to break through the lack of recognition and demand more respect from the global community so that we can all be more successful in our jobs. This certification is definitely a step in that direction.
But before you go and sign up for the PMI-PBA pilot program, we recommend making sure it’s the right certification for you. After looking at the available literature, including the PMI-PBA Examination Content Outline (ECO), it is apparent that this particular certification is focused on a very specific area of business analysis, and is developed for a very specific subset of business analysts.
According to the PMI’s literature on the new certification, “business analysis is a critical function that helps define business requirements in order to shape the output of projects and drive successful business outcomes. In order to ensure the quality of requirements and projects, it is crucial that individuals be skilled and knowledgeable in industry standards and best practices.” While at Enfocus Solutions we agree this is true, we’re also aware that there is a broader usage of business analysis than the PMI-PBA’s project- and program-focused definition.
There’s more to business analysis than just requirements. We’ve always preached that at Enfocus Solutions. While the PMI has acknowledged there are broader applications for business analysis, they do not focus on those topics as a part of the PMI-PBA certification. Their website is very clear that the focus of the PMI-PBA is business analysis in the context of project and program management.
The scope of the PMI-PBA is much narrower when compared to the CBAP offered by IIBA. The PMI makes it clear their BA certification significantly emphasizes requirements management, especially with the recent release of the Requirements Management Knowledge Center of Excellence. On the other hand, the IIBA’s Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), a well-established resource for BAs, incorporates enterprise and strategic business analysis, as well as requirements management. Comparing BABOK’s Knowledge Areas to the PMI-PBA ECO’s Domains, you can see the PMI-PBA is centered around requirements development and management activities, whereas BABOK has much broader applications.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just something to keep in mind when looking for the right certification for yourself. In what ways will you need to use business analysis? Are you performing it on an enterprise-scale, or a project-scale?
When we compare the qualification requirements for the two certifications, it becomes apparent that the PMI-PBA leans toward a certain type of audience—that of project and program management. For applicants with a relevant bachelor’s degree, the PMI-PBA requires less hours of BA experience. The PMI-PBA requires 4500 hours over 8 years, versus the CBAP’s requirement of 7500 hours over 10 years. The PMI-PBA is actually more similar to the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA) offered by IIBA, which only requires 3750 hours of BA experience over 7 years. What does this tell us? That people going after the PMI-PBA probably don’t spend all of their time on business analysis, and most likely have other project-related responsibilities.
Also, to renew the PMI-PBA every 3 years, you must complete 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs). These courses are created by education providers registered with the PMI, meaning the content is generally focused on project and program management. This is also something to keep in mind if trying to decide between one certification or the other. Are you planning on following a project management-focused path? Or, will you need to learn broader applications of business analysis?
While both certifications have their merits, the PMI-PBA is very obviously geared toward someone with an existing project management background. The IIBA’s CBAP is geared toward a broader audience by including enterprise and strategic business analysis activities. There is an existing, well-established body of knowledge developed by the IIBA, covering all areas of business analysis. However, some people don’t need all of that information. Business analysis is often only a part of what someone does. So, depending on your goals, either certification could be the right one for you. Generally, we suggest people who work in more of a project management capacity to apply for the PMI-PBA as a natural continuation of your project management skills development.