Is the PMI-PBA ® Certification for You? Probably!
Are you one of the 1,000,000+ Project Management Professionals (PMP)® who are thinking about your next career development move to stay fresh, keep current, reinvent yourself, or just refine your knowledge in a professional area of interest? That’s good. Because this is not the time to let your skills stagnate and there are so many opportunities for enhancing your value proposition in the project economy!
I’d suggest that the best thing for a good number of PMPs to think about is the PMI Professional in Business Analysis, or PMI-PBA ®. This certification from PMI has shown extraordinary growth since it was introduced in 2014. It has consistently been one of PMI’s fastest-growing certifications, and that trajectory continues into 2020 with the PBA outpacing all other PMI certifications with the exception of the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, or PMI-ACP.
The PMI-PBA addresses the domain of business analysis within the context of projects and programs, which is the primary, and often the only context in which PMs do business analysis. Specifically, the exam pertains to tasks related to everything from building a business case to evaluating solutions once implemented.
Below are three commonly heard reasons why PMPs write off the idea of pursuing their PMI-PBA, and three counterpoints to those reasons.
Point #1: I Don’t Really Do Business Analysis.
Counterpoint: Yeah, you probably really do.
Remember what your project management practice was like before you pursued your PMP? I will bet it was not as rigorous or disciplined as it was after you got your PMP. The fact is, when you start refining your understanding of what BA work is all about, you are going to recognize activities that you have been doing all along. It is hard to recognize the boundaries of the PM and BA activities when you have not spent time with materials to help with that understanding. And titles are typically of little help discerning who is doing what.
The bonus of spending time prepping for your PMI-PBA is that by learning good BA practices, you come out of PMI-PBA certification preparation with a certification, but also a more refined understanding of what those BA practices are and how to use them. Take a look at the PMI-PBA Examination Content Outline, and see if you don’t recognize things you do in your project work.
The additional bonus is that you come out with a refined understanding of what PM practices are, as well. The delineation of PM and BA work comes into sharper focus, creating a certainty about which role you are filling and when. This holistic view makes you more effective when filling both roles, and it makes you a better professional partner when working with other BAs and PMs.
Point #2: I don’t have time to prepare for another certification and suffer another test.
Counterpoint: What you don’t have time for is sub-optimized professional development. You will need to earn 60 PDUs to keep that PMP current, and good news: PMI-PBA prep time will count toward PMP PDUs. It is actually a very economical approach to professional development.
Plus, if you have endured the PMP, it may be inspiring to know that test takers who have both a PMP and PMI-PBA consistently report that the PMI-PBA is a less intensive exam in terms of difficulty. It is still four hours and covers a lot of material, so I am not suggesting it is easy or that you don’t need to take it seriously. But the PMP experience prepares you very well for the PMI-PBA effort, and if you have been through the PMP and all that entails, the PMI-PBA is likely going to be an easier certification journey.
Point #3: Agile is the big deal these days and I need to focus on developing my Agile skills.
Counterpoint: That is true – and the PMI-PBA will help you do that!
No need to explain the importance of Agile being a part of everyone’s professional development. But the PMI-PBA actually is a great way to broaden your perspective on how to apply your project-related skills in an Agile environment.
These days, both BAs and PMs from more traditional backgrounds are having to translate their skills into an Agile environment. Most Agile environments specifically seek BA skills on the team in order to work with the team and product owner on backlog refinement and management. In fact, the PMI-PBA exam was updated in 2018 to reflect the criticality of BA work on Agile initiatives and now includes more Agile-related questions
PMs often have a tougher time finding a place on Agile teams. To be sure, both PM and BA skills are needed and have a place in Agile, and an understanding of where those disciplines intersect and diverge is enormously helpful when considering how to apply them in an Agile environment.
I’d encourage any PMP to think about the PMI-PBA. It is a best value professional skills investment. You will emerge from the experience with an enhanced appreciation for the PM and BA roles that you almost certainly have been filling. You will add to the value proposition you offer to organizations whether they are working in traditional, Agile or hybrid environments. And you owe it to yourself to economize your development efforts by earning high-value PDUs to maintain the certification you already have and a new certification from an organization you know and trust.
All the best to you on your PMI-PBA journey!