Why a Business Analysis Certification Is Worth your Time

Are you interested in earning your CBAP® but not sure where to get started? CBAP® stands for Certified Business Analysis Professional™ and is the International Institute of Business Analysis™ (IIBA®) Level 3 certification.

While there is no one path to becoming a CBAP® and the path you take depends heavily on the time you wish to invest, your budget, and your timeline for becoming certified, there are some general phases of preparation that each individual seems to pass through. For some, all of this happens in a week or two with a Boot Camp type class. For others, this process is spread out over a year or two as they use their CBAP® preparation time to become a better business analyst.

Myself? Well, I sat on step 1 for a long, long time before making the commitment to go for it. And, on I have trained over 20 people in which 3 has successfully passed the exam, putting a “C” to their “BAP”, so to speak.

Step 1: Become Intimately Familiar with the BABOK® Guide 3.0

First things first. Becoming a CBAP® represents that you are a senior business analyst professional, as IIBA® defines it through A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide). That means preparing for the CBAP® starts with understanding the content of the BABOK® Guide. The BABOK® Guide is a dense text. It’s likely that several readings will be required to fully appreciate the information contained within it.

Many business analysts report enhanced experience at this stage from joining a BABOK® Guide study group. Study groups can be informal, and focused mostly on reading and discussing the BABOK® Guide contents, or more formal, and focused on exam preparation. Study groups can be hosted by an employer, an IIBA® chapter, or anyone who wishes to coordinate one.

Step 2: Do You Meet the Business Analysis Experience Requirements?

Applying for the CBAP® requires 5 years (7,500 hours) of business analysis experience, as defined by the BABOK® Guide. You must also demonstrate 900 hours of experience across at least 4 of the 6 knowledge areas.

Many professionals that have been working in a business analyst capacity for a long time, but have not been aware of the BA profession are surprised to learn that they can apply to sit for the CBAP®. Others find their previous roles have such a mix of non-BA responsibilities or are limited in some fashion, that even though they have held the BA title for years, they have not accumulated the appropriate experience.

My experience was similar – through the process of finishing the dreaded work history section, you become more self-aware of yourself as a business analyst professional. I was surprised to find I could document 8,000 BA hours. And, once I got started recounting projects, it was difficult to stop.

Documenting your experience, in and of itself, builds confidence. Many professionals exploring the profession start by researching the CBAP® only to get this step and realize they don’t meet the experience requirements. Instead, you may want to consider the IIBA® Certification of Competency in Business Analysis™ (CCBA®) (Level 2 certification) or Entry Level Certificate in Business Analysis™ (ECBA™) (Level 1 Certificate). Another option is the Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)℠ certification offered by Project Management Institute (PMI)®.

If you are looking to start a business analyst career, there are alternative paths you can follow that do not involve certification. 

Step 3: Decide If the CBAP® is Right for You

While all business analysts will benefit from a deep understanding of the BABOK® Guide, not all will necessarily benefit from certification. This might seem like an extra, maybe even unnecessary step. But let me tell you that as you get knee-deep into the preparation process, it’s extremely important to have clear internal motivations to keep you going.

Step 4: Earn Appropriate Professional Development Hours (PDs)

To submit your CBAP® application, you must have 35 documented professional development hours. Our business analysis training course  qualify you for professional development credits.

Step 5: Submit Your CBAP® Application

Applications are submitted to IIBA® and they have a full page on their website listing the entire CBAP® certification process. In addition to work experience and professional development hours, you must provide meet the minimum education requirement (high school or equivalent) and have two references.

Step 6: Schedule your CBAP® exam

Once your application is approved, schedule an exam for 2-3 months out. You can always reschedule the exam or, if you take the exam and do not pass, you can schedule to take it again within one calendar year of your application approval. Scheduling an exam promptly helps keep you motivated through the home stretch.

Step 7: Prepare for the CBAP® Exam

As you prepare to sit for the exam, you need to ensure your knowledge of the BABOK® Guide can be recalled effectively. There are a variety of ways to assimilate the information, from study guides to prep courses.

  • If you study best independently, then a study guide or workbook might be a useful part of your prep process.
  • Exam simulations and flash cards can help confirm your assimilation of the knowledge.
  • CBAP® prep courses can walk you through the BABOK® Guide and provide a forum for addressing any doubts and concerns you have.

Step 8: Pass the CBAP® Exam

Sit for the exam and do your best. If you do not pass the exam the first time,

Take a few days and celebrate your success. You have earned it! Stay involved in the profession and in your own professional development. Recertification is necessary every 3 years to stay a CBAP®.

 

REQUIREMENT GATHERING FOR BUSINESSES AND PROJECTS

Everyone has an idea, but not every idea is a profitable idea. If the idea is profitable the not all profitable ideas are business ideas. When you have that business idea, how sure are you that it is scalable or sustainable? Understanding the nitty gritty of the business will ensure sustainability of a business and project.  To start with,  you will agree with me that the factors listed below are the fundamentals needed to achieve the goal of a business or project. They are:

  • Business or project requirements
  • Stakeholders requirements and expectations
  • Business or project constraints

Today we will be looking at the requirements needed for a project or business to achieve its goals and objectives.

What are requirements?

In a sentence, requirements are constraints, demands, necessities, needs, or parameters that must be met or satisfied, usually within a certain time frame. In other words, requirement is a usable representation of needs.

Classification of requirements

  • Business or project requirement
  • Stakeholders (People involved, interested, impacted or affected by the operation of the business or project) requirements
  • Solution requirements
  • Transition requirements

Requirements gathering is an essential part of any business and project management. Understanding fully what a business or  project will deliver is critical to its success. Requirements gathering sounds like common sense, but surprisingly, it's an area that is given far too little attention. Many projects start with the barest headline list of requirements, only to find later the customer's needs have not been adequately understood.

One way to avoid this problem is by producing a statement of requirements. This document is a guide to the main requirements of the business or project. It provides:

  • A succinct requirement specification for management purposes.
  • A statement of key objectives - a "cardinal points" specification.
  • A description of the environment in which the system will work.
  • Background information and references to other relevant material.
  • Information on the primary design (a usable representation of the solution) constraints.

The contents of the statement of requirements should be stable or change relatively slowly. Once you have created your statement of requirements, ensure the customer and all other stakeholders sign-up to it and understand that this, and only this, is being delivered. Finally, ensure you have cross-referenced the requirements in the statement of requirements with those in the project definition report to ensure there is no mismatch (here, you are ensuring uniformity).

10 Rules for Successful Requirements Gathering

To be successful in requirements gathering and to give your project an increased likelihood of success, follow these rules:

  • Don't assume you know what the customer wants - always ask.
  • Involve the users from the start.
  • Define and agree on the scope of the project.
  • Make sure requirements are SMART - specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based.
  • Gain clarity if there is any doubt.
  • Create a clear, concise and thorough requirements document and share it with the customer.
  • Confirm your understanding of the requirements alongside the customer (play them back).
  • Avoid talking technology or solutions until the requirements are fully understood.
  • Get the requirements agreed with the stakeholders before the business or project starts.
  • Create a prototype (Designs), if necessary, to confirm or refine the customer's requirements.

Common Mistakes during requirements gathering

Be careful to avoid making these mistakes:

  • Basing a solution on complex or cutting-edge technology and then discovering that it cannot easily be rolled out in the 'real world'.
  • Not prioritizing the requirements, for example, 'must have', 'should have', 'could have' and 'would have' - known as the MoSCoW principle.
  • Insufficient consultation with real users and practitioners.
  • Solving the 'problem' before you know what the problem is.
  • Lacking a clear understanding and making assumptions rather than asking.

Requirements gathering is about creating a clear, concise and agreed set of stakeholders requirements that allow you to provide what they wants. The video below shows some details about process of gathering requirements. Kindly watch and enjoy the bits of information. 

What is the difference between PMBOK 6 and PMBOK 5

After every four to five years, the Project Management Institute (PMI®) updates the PMBOK® Guide. On September 6th, 2017, PMI published their sixth Edition which is in ten translations. Different from the previous editions, the PMBOK® Guide –Sixth Edition contains numerous references to adaptive and iterative practices, including agile, a decision that was made in response to the requests of PMIs stakeholders. 

The following are some of the notable changes that have been made in the 6th Edition:

CHAPTER RE-ALIGNMENT

The information in Chapter 1 to 3 has been completely rewritten to highlight importance of project management’s role in the business value creation and any organizational change. In the new edition, the role of the project manager has been expanded as a leader, business expert and strategic thinker.

AGILE ADDITION

The Agile concept is incorporated in all 10 knowledge areas. Each knowledge area will contain a section entitled Approaches for Agile, Iterative and Adaptive Environments, describing how these practices integrate in project settings.

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PMBOK 6TH EDITION (WHAT NEXT?)

Anyone with a giant project management career dream needs a track route that leads to the gate on how to be PMP certified. It is our pleasure to upgrade you from potential to certified Professional. 

Every journey to be PMP certified begins with a step “Conceive the Idea” but congratulation you have passed the second step which is to locate a Professional and PMP consulting Firm for advice, guides and Training.

I am happy you found us. Follow the instruction and get started with step 3.
Visit our website after you are done reading and Contact us via email and remember to add your phone number for effective Communication.

The Long awaiting moment is here since PMI announced the date on which the PMBOK-6 based NEW PMP exam will start off which is slated for 26 March 2018.  The peculiarity of the circumstances that revolves around the announced date is obviously a clear signal that this is absolutely the best opportunity to pass PMP exam.

Read More

New PMP exam date based on PMBOK 6 edition is announced.

The new pmp exam is scheduled to commence soon. But how soon? 

However, one thing is clear. It is better to get PMP certified before the new exms set in.

While the change is imminenet and a great opportunity, it also come with its own challenges. Just ike everything new. There could changes in scoring, as well as the grading system.

are you aware that PMI changed the scoring scale from 3-point scale to 4-point scale recently? Find out more here.

With the new exam means that candidates may require more effort to be able to pass.

Exam preparatory materials, may not prove to be very useful with the new exam, until a few months after the exam.

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WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE A PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING

If you’re looking for a career where you can have a measurable, positive impact on almost any business, project management fits the bill. A good project manager can easily make the difference between a project coming in on time and under budget—or it failing.

Today, more and more employers are recognizing the need for skilled project managers to drive their profits. By the year 2020, 15.7 million new project management roles will be created worldwide across seven project-intensive industries, particularly in technology and finance. However, as the demand grows, the need for highly-skilled project managers will also expand. Earning a Project Management Professional (PMP)®certification verifies that a project manager holds the necessary knowledge and skill to successfully lead varied and agile teams that increase an organization’s profitability.  

PMP Certification Increases Earning Potential

The growing demand for skilled project-based professionals is reflected in the salaries they command. According to the PMI® Project Management Salary Survey, the global median salary reached $90,260 in 2015. In the United States, median salaries now exceed $100,000.

Project managers with relevant certification earn even more than their noncertified peers. PMP certification can provide a significant advantage when it comes to salary and earning potential. Among respondents to PMI’s Earning Power Salary Survey, those with a PMP certification reported a 20 percent higher salary on average than those without one. In 2016, PMP was the fifth highest-paying professional certification and the No. 1 business-related certification on the market.

The Benefits of a PMP® Certification

PMP certification is the most universal and industry-recognized certification for project managers. Unlike others that focus on specific industries or geographic regions, the PMP certification applies to all of them. On a resume, PMP training indicates the individual’s highly professional abilities and strong drive for self-improvement as well as organizational quality.

Companies benefit from PMP training as well. When more than one-third of a company’s project managers are PMP certified, more projects come in on time and on budget and meet their original goals. Here are a few reasons why a Project Manager should become PMP certified.

PMP is a universal language that connects project managers to a global network of professionals and organizations. Having such a network is beneficial when it comes to future career opportunities. For employers, the benefits of hiring skilled project professionals is clear. According to a Price waterhouse Coopers (PwC) survey, 80 percent of high-performing projects use PMP credentialed project managers. Organizations with more than 35 percent PMP certified project managers demonstrated even higher project performance.

How to better manage passing PMP certification

Enrolling in a PMP training course through an online blended learning program is a project manager’s best bet for passing the exam. Geared toward certification, these education providers deliver virtual classrooms and lectures from working industry experts, self-paced online learning and applied learning projects based on real-world scenarios. The instructional material is also updated on a regular basis, which is vital in an industry that experiences constant rapid-fire changes. The flexibility that online training resources have is a huge advantage when it comes to targeted and ultra-relevant professional development.

In Conclusion

In today’s competitive business environment, the need for skilled project managers to lead agile and flexible teams is constantly growing. In the United States alone, new project management-related jobs are expected to exceed 6.1 million by 2020. This constitutes a faster growth rate than average across all occupations at a rate of 19 percent. To help meet the need for highly-skilled project managers, online training programs are an excellent option for upskilling yourself and/or your staff. Flexible online courses designed to optimize PMP test preparation make an ideal option for working professionals. One such program is Ciel Consulting's PMP training. After this approximately 90-day course, most students pass the PMP exam on the first try. Whatever PMP training method you choose, earning a PMP certification makes a positive investment for your own career or your company.

PMP and PMI are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Understanding Business Models: The Business Model Canvas

When you think in an abstract way businesses can appear very complex, after all, all businesses above a certain size contain multiple departments with often competing activities, internal processes, multiple partners, suppliers, and customers etc.

If we try and think about all of this at once it can become very confusing and especially difficult to understand the core of what a particular business is about. This is where a Business Model Canvas can come in very handy. It shows you on a single page the big picture of how a business operates. Because it shows everything on a single page it makes it easy to understand the business model, and easy to share and communicate the business model.

Below you will find a very quick introduction to the Business Model Canvas, giving you enough knowledge to make you productive with it.

Building Blocks

There are nine building blocks which comprise the Business Model Canvas. Let’s briefly describe each in turn:

Customer Segments

Every business needs to serve one or more customer segments. Businesses can define their own customer segments, but standard ones include mass market, niche customer segments, and customer problem based customer segments.

Value Proposition

This defines what customer problem is being solved and what need is being filled. Typical characteristics to base a value proposition on include performance, cost savings, reduction of risk, and price.

Channels

Channels are the routes by which a business’ products and services are delivered to market. Channels fall into two broad categories. Direct, such as engaging a sales force or selling direct to the consumer through the Internet, and Indirect, such as being a wholesaler or selling through affiliates.

Customer Relationships

A relationship is established with each customer segment that a business serves. Examples of customer relationships include personal assistance, communities, and self-service.

Revenue Streams

Products and services (value proposition) which are successfully sold to customers will result in revenue streams. There are many different types of revenue stream including subscription fees, licensing, renting, and brokerage fees.

Key Resources

These are the key assets and organization needs in order to deliver the value proposition. They could be physical resources or human resources, for example.

Key Activities

An organizations key resources will perform a number of key activities. This could be anything from factories producing goods through to problem solving.

Key Partnerships

Are any key partnerships in place to make the business model work? It is for example a common occurrence to outsource the non-core activities of an organization. It is also common to offshore and outsource manufacturing to save money.

Cost Structures

Running an organization results in costs, and we refer to these as the cost structure.

The Business Model Canvas

If the description of the building blocks have left you very confused, then the canvas makes a lot more sense when you see one. I’ve copied and uploaded a Business Model Canvas Template so you can use it to model existing business models or experiment with new ones.

One thing to notice about the Business Model Canvas is that those elements to the left of the value proposition essentially represent costs to the business, whereas those elements to the right of the value proposition generate revenue for the business.

 

 

What Is Digital Project Management?

Digital project management must have something to do with digital technology and project management. But is it really "something", and what does it mean to you? Digital technology has been around for a long time. However, it first came into the mainstream with the internet, probably around the mid-1990.

Digital Technology Has Brought Sweeping Change
With digital technologies, many fields have been turned upside down. Here are a five examples of fields that have changed tremendously as a result of the introduction and development of digital technologies:

  • Newspapers - Movement from paper-based, hand-delivered content to content delivered to and consumed on electronic devices.
  • Photography - Movement from processing pictures using physical processes that produce hard copy pictures, to digital processes that produce store-able and shareable images with no need for physical processes.
  • Mail - A great deal of mail items have been replaced by email, a digital technology.
  • Warfare - Wars in the past were primarily fought and won based on physical strength, but increasingly are based on digital strength - the ability to leverage digital technologies for military advantage.
  • Marketing - The principles of marketing are virtually the same, but digital technologies have allowed marketers to segment market in and extremely fine-grained way.

In all cases, the fundamentals of each profession are really the same - but the introduction of digital technology has increased capabilities in such a profound way that it has upset the entire structure of how these things are done - and how industries around them are structured.

Digital Project Management
So how have digital technologies increased what is possible in project management...and in the process rendered some prior practices - and some assumptions - moot? I believe that the foundations of project management - the fundamental concepts, and the fundamental responsibilities and processes - remain unchanged. However, I think there are two areas where digital technology has created change within the field of project management:

  • Nature of the Projects - Projects have changed! So many more projects today are digital in nature. For example, any project touching those five areas I listed above is probably a digital project - projects to convert content to digital; enable communications through new digital means; leverage digital capabilities in marketing, manufacturing, distribution, finance, science; and more.
  • Digital Tools to Manage Projects - Whether it's the latest technologies for managing issues on an agile project, or project management in the cloud for increased collaboration, project document management, chat, or virtual meetings - all of these have changed the way we can manage projects - but of course still applying the same fundamentals.

Conclusion
A "digital project manager", if there really is such a thing, is simply someone who possesses some combination of skills in digital - ability to grasp and manage technologies based on digital technologies - and mastery of new digital tools for managing projects. As a corollary, a digital project manager is probably also very good with numbers (digits), and therefore excellent at applying metrics to project management challenges.

CBT - Now Available In Nigeria

After several years of waiting, we are glad to inform you that Computer-Based Testing (CBT) option for the Project Management Professional Exam has resumed in Nigeria. At the moment, the CBT exam will be available in Lagos.

Testing will commence from 31st July, 2017.

You can register and book your seat for any of the available dates. Click to register 

Ciel Consulting is a Registered Education Provider with Simplilearn USA. With several years of experience in training and coaching hundreds of professionals towards gaining the Project Management credential, we will like to work with you to reach this global designation.

We have both classroom and online training options, packed with premium resources and mock exams to give you the right platform to scale your PMP exam at first try. Register Here

How to Become Eligible for CBT
You must have registered for your examination with the Project Management Institute (PMI) and received your Authorization to Test (ATT) letter prior to scheduling yeverour testing appointment at a Prometric Testing Center. Ciel Consulting registers candidates for the exam to ease them of the stress.

What to Bring to the Testing Center
You must present one form of non-expired, government-issued, photo- and signature-bearing ID in order to test.
Note: If the primary ID presented does not bear a signature or photo, you must present one form of secondary ID containing a photo and/or signature whichever is missing from the primary ID.
Acceptable forms of primary ID are limited to:
• driver’s license
• passport
• military ID

What Time to arrive at the Testing Center
Plan to arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled appointment to allow time for check-in procedures.Candidates who are late in arriving will not be allowed to test and will incur a penalty fee for lost computer time in order to reestablish their eligibility.

Reschedule/Cancel Policy
If you need to reschedule or cancel your exam, you must call the registration center, or visit www.prometric.com/pmi click the “Get Started” corresponding to the appropriate exam and follow the directions on the site necessary to reschedule or cancel your exam. Rescheduling or canceling submissions thru the online Contact Us form available at www.prometric.com is not a valid method to request an appointment reschedule or cancellation.

You can reschedule or cancel your exam at any time, as long as you do so more than two full calendar days(EST) before your scheduled exam appointment. However, a $70 fee will be charged to you if you reschedule or cancel your exam within 30 days of the scheduled appointment. If you wait until you are within two calendar days of your exam appointment you will forfeit the entire exam fee.

We do hope this bit of information is helpful.

 

User Stories and Mapping

User Stories and User Story Mapping are must have techniques for a Business Analyst.

You can do business analysis without SCRUM, but you can’t do good SCRUM without Business Analysis. Story Mapping enables clarity of user stories.

Agile Alliance talks about the benefits of User Stories, “One intent of this practice is to avoid a failure mode of incremental delivery, where a product could be released composed of features that in principle are of high business value but are unusable because they are functionally dependent on features which are of lower value and were therefore deferred to future releases.”

That’s a pretty in-depth explanation, but in general User Stories help create a higher quality product for the customer. “Story Mapping is an engaging activity where all participants are involved in the process of building the product backlog on a wall, versus writing a dull 100-page requirement document.”

User stories are seen as more visual. It allows you to see the big picture in your backlog.

User Story Components

According to Mountain Goat Software, “User stories are short, simple descriptions of a feature told from the perspective of the person who desires the new capability, usually a user or customer of the system.” A typical User Story consists of:

As a < type of user >, I want < some goal > so that < some reason >.

Know Your Stakeholders

Having knowledge of the process enables bringing the identification of stakeholders into the picture. The additional identified stakeholders help validate whether user stories are accurate and will allow the project team to introduce change management activities early. One change management strategy which User Story Mapping encourages is to facilitate stakeholder buy-in. Stakeholder buy-in is vital and benefits the project team as these stakeholders can help develop additional user stories that the project team potentially have missed, elicit business impacts and helps validate design and prioritization discussions.

Requirements Are User Stories

User stories capture requirements and can be used to model a meaningful sequence of user activities, perpendicularly across a prioritized ranking of user stories. The benefit of which encourages richer discussion in planning and prioritizing user stories, further engages stakeholder participation, is a mechanism to help understand business impacts and can allow a team to see how user stories affect the customer journey visually.

 

Story Mapping

Story Mapping is about taking a series of User Stories and putting them together in a meaningful and visual way.

J Patton Associates says, “Story Mapping is the process of arranging user stories into a useful model to help understand the functionality of the system.” This technique allows for the planning and prioritizing of requirements in order of importance and value. The Agile Alliance elaborates story telling a little further, “Story Mapping orders user stories along two independent dimensions. The horizontal axis is depicting the user activities in order of priority or the sequence of process activities and the vertical axis depicting the release or project milestones.”

 

Once used, story Mapping can enable the project team to dice stories (often at Epic level) horizontally into the main functionality. This horizontal view is important as it visually represents the value stream of the designed solution. This analysis allows the project team to understand the dependencies and highlights gaps for how the created User Story functionality will work. This end to end perspective enhances understanding the customer journey of a person using the solution.

 

The vertical axis is important as it represents the project teams User Story release plans. Project team centers discussions on which user stories are high value and easy to develop. Leave complex user stories to later releases. This focuses the project team on creating a minimum viable product (MVP) for the customer. Sprint reviews can help fine tune the product and allow the project team to assess User Story release patterns regularly. The vertical positioning of user stories enables the project team to discuss whether user stories are prioritized in terms of need, value, and complexity.

 

Story Prioritization

Prioritization of User Stories can help build the User Story Map. User Stories seldom keep their same priority throughout the cycle so be prepared to re-prioritize often. High-Medium-Low prioritization sounds easy, but everything winds up as high priority. Use the hot air balloon technique for prioritization. Is this User Story more or less important than this User Story? Comparison of user stories to each other brings out additional discussion on risk and why a User Story is more important to the overall customer experience.

 

Greater Detail

User Stories are high-level by nature. System Requirement Specifications (SRS) are more detailed and lower level in nature. Depending on the project you might need to use both User Stories and System Requirement Specifications together to create a User Story Map. Thinking about how the User Stories relate to each other in a logical flow for the developer, release to the customer, and other technical, environmental issues will drive putting together a Story Map.

Complex User Stories are typically a good candidate for more technical details. Get details when trying to fit a User Story on the Story Map isn’t making sense. More technical details might help you place the User Story in a better position in the Story Map.

We hope this information has been insightful. In our next series, we will discuss on how to create Personas.