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CBAP® vs PMI-PBA®, Which One is Right for You?

The other day I received a letter from Chris. Chris holds the CBAP® certification and he was interested in my opinion of the CBAP® vs. the PMI-PBA®.  Also, he was interested in learning how much time it might take him to prepare for the PMI-PBA® exam.

What follows is my response to Chris.  Perhaps these thoughts will help you make your decision about which certification is right for you..

Dear Chris,

Both certifications are worthwhile. The choice of which certification you pursue depends on your interests and career aspirations.

The CBAP® is a general/broad certification. It considers many aspects and applications of business analysis, including all functional domains within the organization and all organizational levels. As you are aware, the knowledge areas defined in the BABOK®v3 are:

1. Business Analysis Planning & Monitoring
2. Requirements Life Cycle Management
3. Strategy Analysis
4. Requirements Analysis and Design
5. Solution Evaluation

I particularly appreciate a new chapter that was introduced with BABOK®v3. Chapter 11 introduces the concept of BA perspectives and describes how business analysis can be applied in different organizational and industrial contexts. To me, this chapter contains many valuable insights and references.

The PMI-PBA® certification is targeted towards business analysis within the scope of a project. The 5 domains referenced in the PMI-PBA® Content Outline are:

1. Needs Assessment
2. Planning
3. Analysis
4. Traceability and Monitoring
5. Evaluation

There is little reference to enterprise analysis, organizational strategy or organizational context in the PMI-PBA®.

So, which one is more valuable? Meaningful? Of course, it depends.

If you consider the scope of business analysis to be defined by a project, then the PMI-PBA® will suite your needs, but if you are interested in more abstract concepts and evolving your career towards enterprise and business architecture, the CBAP® is a good investment.

Given that you already have a CBAP®, your preparation time for the PMI-PBA® exam will be significantly reduced. There is a lot of overlap between the two certifications. The application process is similar and many of the tools and techniques are similar. It’s just a matter of getting your head around the terminology applied in the two methodologies. I spent about a month preparing for my PMI-PBA® certification. I spent a portion of that reviewing my study notes for the CBAP®. I supplemented by previous study notes with details of the tools and techniques identified in the PMI-PBA® references that were not covered by the CBAP®.  Also I constructed a table that compared the 3 different perspectives:

1. PMI-PBA® domains and tasks
2. PMP® knowledge areas, tasks and tools & techniques
3. CBAP® knowledge areas, tasks and tools & techniques

Other than the scope of the exam, the other thing to consider is the recognition of the certification. While IIBA and BABOK® have been around for several years. The PMI-PBA® is a newcomer, but it does have the support of the PMI world-wide reach and well-established infrastructure.

I do see both certifications referenced in job descriptions, with increasing frequency, so either certification is a good investment in your career.

I hope that these thoughts answer your questions. If there is anything else I can do to help, please let me know.

Kind regards,