Professional Certifications and the Benefits of a New Vocabulary
I was one of those people that believed getting a PMI or IIBA certification had little or no value; how was a certification going to make me a better project manager or business analyst on a Dynamics NAV project? But, things do change over time; my thinking in recent years has been altered regarding the value of professional certifications.
Years ago our family rented a house boat from the Guinness company, and set off on the River Shannon in Ireland for a two week family vacation. I was 17 years old, with long brown hair, blue jeans, a red and blue plaid wool shirt I had picked up in Scotland, and Clarks Wallabees shoes, when they were still made in Ireland.
We were stopped at one of the many locks that one encounters on the Shannon, and I took the opportunity to jump off the boat and stretch my legs. There was another boat docked behind us that was being rented by a French family. One of the guys on the French boat had just caught a large fish on the river and was showing it off before taking it below deck for preparation. I thought that the fish celebration was a great time for me to go and introduce myself to one of the French girls on the boat.
Things did not go so swell when I introduced myself, I had not yet taken French and therefore had no ability to speak French, the girl apparently did not speak English, and my attempts to jabber in primal Spanish returned no results. After a few minutes of standing in the big void, I attempted to use my hands to mimic a fish in an effort to turn the lackluster conversation over to the fish in preparation. Waving my hands around and making fish noises yielded negative results; the girl’s eyes grew large with a frightened look. Ultimately, I accepted defeat and retreated back to the sanctuary of the bow of my boat, never to ever again see the French girl or her family; we failed to communicate.
The other day, while I was talking to another Microsoft Dynamics professional about what the team needed to do regarding business analysis, I felt that I was once again attempting to communicate with the French girl on the river Shannon. We were talking, but we were not communicating, and as a result we were getting nowhere fast because we did not share the same business analysis vocabulary and therefore did not speak the same language.
The vocabulary, as is provided by IIBA or PMI helps me speak the same language with other professionals that share the same vocabulary. Where it might take me five minutes to have a quick discussion with a CBAP, it might take me much longer to have the same conversation with a non-CBAP professional.
For me, the primary benefit in obtaining a professional certification is sharing a common vocabulary with other professionals regarding concepts, tasks, techniques, and elements. In essence, I really am a better business analyst and project manager, because I can now communicate better.