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January 31, 2013

What Is The CBAP And Why Is It Important?

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""International Institute of Business Analysis"

Many people have been asking me about how I earned the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) designation and what it’s all about, so I thought I’d write a blog entry about my experience and share my opinions with those who may be interested in pursuing the credential.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m wary of giving too much credence to certifications or using them as a determining factor to make snap judgments about a person.  How many times have we all been bewildered by a Project Management Professional’s (PMP) lack of project management skills? However, I needed a way to quantify these skills and drew a line around this somewhat amebic thing I do called business analysis.


For better or worse, certifications provide evaluators (e.g. clients, potential employers, proposal reviewers, industry peers, etc.) with an assumed baseline of a person’s experience and expertise. Anyone noting my CBAP credential knows that I have, at a minimum, logged 7500 hours of business analysis work (aligning with A Guide to the Business Analysis Book of Knowledge, or BABOK).  They know that I have a firm grasp of the 6 business analysis knowledge areas and 34 BA techniques, as defined in the BABOK.  And they expect me to possess the knowledge and skills necessary to solve business problems. Skills like requirements elicitation, structuring requirements, enterprise analysis, and solution assessment and validation, and techniques such as creating an RACI Matrix, conducting a feasibility analysis, or baselining requirements.

Is it Worth It? 

Here’s where I give some credibility to the CBAP credential: Based on my experience, evaluators would be correct to assume that a CBAP possesses these skills.  The experience required for the application to sit for the exam, and the preparation needed to pass the exam make it impossible to “fake” your way to the CBAP.  The IIBA (what the Project Management Institute is to the PMP) started certifying CBAPs in November of 2006.As of December 2018, there were 9,427 CBAPs.  If nothing else, you become part of an exclusive, professional group when you earn the credential.

How Do I Get Started?

My CBAP preparation consisted of a 4-day exam prep course through Learning Tree International, preparation of the exam application (note:  my Learning Tree instructor really helped with this), a few days of paging through the BABOK, and many hours with online practice questions purchased through Watermark Learning.  A quick search shows that there are a number of CBAP exam prep courses out there (,, etc.), but Learning Tree is the only one I can recommend.

If I have one regret about my exam prep, it’s not taking the exam 3-4 weeks after the prep course as the instructor recommended.  Confession:  I waited an entire year – not recommended.

I encourage those looking to validate and quantify their BA experience to pursue the CBAP credential.  Many of the concepts and techniques will be familiar, but I know I learned things along the way that I was able to immediately weave into my client work.  I hope the CBAP moniker begins to carry more cache as the IIBA gains notoriety and interest in the credential gains momentum.

What are your thoughts, experiences, and questions regarding the CBAP? I’d be happy to answer any questions from anyone considering a CBAP journey.

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