Project Management

PMI's Newest BA Standard and the PMI-PBA Credential

From the Building the Foundation: The BOK on BA Blog
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A new collaborative blog featuring the contributions from the core team members of PMI's Foundational Standard in Business Analysis. This blog will provide the community with insight into PMI's development of the standard to generate professional discussions about the content in advance of the scheduled reviews.

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PMI-PBA Credential? by Laura Paton

In my last blog, I shared with you that The PMI Guide to Business Analysis (Includes The Standard for Business Analysis) will be published later this year. Many business analysis professionals are eager to have a full consensus based business analysis standard they can use when preparing for PMI’s Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)® certification.

A common question I am asked these days is ‘How will the PMI-PBA exam change once this new standard is released?’. The quick answer is that PBA exam questions are always evolving to ensure the exam is relevant and reflective of the latest practices. Next year will be no different, as PMI will embark on another exam writing initiative; and a team of business analysis professionals will come together to write and refresh exam questions.  The reference list will be revised to include PMI’s newest standard as a resource that certification prospects can use to prepare themselves for the PBA exam. Don’t expect a specified ‘cut over’ date to be announced, because the PBA is an ‘experienced based’ exam and not based on any one source. That is all I will say on this subject, because the point of this blog is to highlight the value the PBA certification has in the market along with PMI’s newest business analysis standard.

Here is my take on the value proposition for the PBA upon the release of PMI’s newest business analysis standard:

PMI’s newest business analysis standard provides ‘equal’ guidance for performing business analysis regardless of the project life cycle chosen. This means, that in preparing for the exam your experience performing business analysis on agile projects and waterfall projects will be equally important!

How is this different? Well, PBA credential holders will be business analysis professionals who demonstrate a firm understanding about business analysis regardless of the delivery method being used to deliver the solution.

What does this look like? PBA credential holders will demonstrate knowledge and experience in the following ways:

  • Performing business analysis on projects regardless of delivery method used
  • Demonstrating experience with a variety of business analysis techniques  
  • Understanding how to ‘adapt’ business analysis performance to adjust to the methodology their organization or team chooses to use
  • Fully aware of how business analysis supports portfolio, program, and project management
  • Cognizant of a wealth of skills and competencies that can be mastered to help them perform better business analysis
  • Knowledgeable about a host of terms and the ability to understand the business analysis language regardless of delivery method. The vocabulary of a PBA consists of terms used by those who work on waterfall projects as well as those who perform business analysis on projects using agile.

What I am trying to demonstrate with this list, is that a PBA is a business analysis professional that has advanced, relevant, and dynamic skills that are applicable to organizations and project teams regardless of whether the individual is working on waterfall projects, transitioning from waterfall to agile, delivering following a hybrid approach, or has switched back and forth between delivery methods over the course of their career! PBAs may have experience on IT projects, but PBAs can also be professionals who have performed business analysis on BI projects, construction projects, process improvement initiatives, or a host of other initiatives where business analysis is performed.

As someone who has personally hired ‘a lot’ of business analysts over my years – I am going to look for the credential holder who can demonstrate a breadth of skills and understanding aligned to the most current trends in the industry. Let’s face it, if we only understand business analysis in the waterfall world today, we just aren’t going to have the skills organizations are looking for in the 21st century!

I am excited about  PMI’s newest business analysis standard and what the PBA is accomplishing for our profession. I believe PBA’s will demonstrate a breadth of experience and knowledge to their employers. Organizations require business analysis professionals that possess current and relevant experience and that demonstrate the ability to adapt their skills to projects of varying size, complexity, and delivery methods. I believed PMI has nailed it by getting ahead of the curve and credentialing professionals who can demonstrate the adaptability and flexibility in business analysis that organizations require. What are your thoughts?

Note: PMI’s Professional in Business Analysis Certification hit the market in 2014. Today there are over 1,500 PBA credential holders residing in over 80 countries and the certification is maintaining double-digit growth each year.

Posted by Laura Paton on: August 09, 2017 07:34 AM | Permalink

Comments (52)

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Passed PMI-PBA on Aug 2, 2017, and totally agree what you mentioned "the PBA is an ‘experienced based’ exam and not based on any one source." Anyway, eager to have BA Standard.!! Thanks Laura.

Congrats Yoon on passing the PBA exam!

Thanks Laura.

Nice one.
Thanks for sharing

only 1500? interesting.. so now the question is will this put the other 750k PMP's into a lesser category? are they less effective? because they do not have this certification?

Laura, thank you for your insights and this information. I'll be pointing the students in my chapter (PMI Metro St. Louis) PMI-PBA prep class to this.

Omar, there are not 750K PMPs. The number you state I believe is a rolled up total for all PMI credential holders. Also, the number (checking today) is 1600 PBAs. The point of the post is to show that the PBA certification is increasing rapidly. The first year of the certification was a pilot, so not sure how much weight to put into year one. For comparison, you might wish to look at similar certifications and their growth rate in years 1-5. The PBA could be used to supplement a PMP especially if a professional is interested in BA or responsible for BA. This would be no different than the thought process one works through to determine which 'other' certifications may help them in their career along with the PMP. Hope this helps!

Peggy - thanks so much for helping to share this information.

Thank you for taking the time to explain it.

Congrats Yoon!!

Thank you Laura for sharing!! I want to joint a prep class. Is that possible?

For anyone interested in a prep class, contact me and I can see what I can do about hooking you up with one of the PMI chapters who is offering such training.

Thank you for providing insight

I am trying to understand why would this benefit a PM? Business Analysis becomes a specialized activity - am I missing the value of this for a PM?

Jyoti, thanks for asking such a great question! There are several reasons to care. 1st – if you review PMIs Pulse of the Profession Reports from 2014 forward you will see that a number of the top reasons for project failure are attributed to areas that business analysis addresses. Therefore, PM’s need to be aware of ‘what business analysis is’, ensure proper business analysis resources are assigned to projects, and sufficient time is being allocated to perform this important work. 2nd – although PM/BA hybrid positions are seldom recommended, many companies use this model. What often happens is that the business analysis work is under-performed due to a lack of understanding it. Educating PMs and organizations about business analysis is critical, especially when hybrid roles are used. 3rd – as more organizations move toward agile delivery methods, we find traditional job titles of project manager and business analyst being replaced with names like Scrum Master or Product Owner. As a member of an agile team, you need to understand the importance of business analysis. These are just ‘some’ of the reasons why PMI has invested so heavily in business analysis – and continues to do so. If you wonder about the value of the PBA credential, check out the rankings. The list is in descending order by value.

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