Ahh certifications… One of my least favorite aspects of the business analyst and agile communities.
My view on certifications has evolved over the years from an absolute loathing to what you could call a pragmatic acceptance.
The key thing is when you’re getting a certification, understand what they really certify, and understand why you’re getting one.
You can think of it as another case where you should understand the problem you’re trying to solve.
Here are a collection of my views, and things that have influenced my views, on certifications, including what may strike some as a rather shocking inclusion.
Agile Alliance View on Certifications
In 2010, the Board of Directors for Agile Alliance released a policy statement expressing the organization’s view on agile certifications in particular. In brief:
- Agile Alliance does not endorse any certification programs
- employers should have confidence only in certifications that are skill-based and difficult to achieve.
- employers should not require certification of employees.
That’s a policy statement I can get behind, and not just because I do some work for Agile Alliance.
Do we need (another) certification?
In January 2014, I experienced one of the rare occasions where my industry predictions came true. In this case, I’d predicted that PMI was going to announce a new business analyst certification, and sure enough they did. I took that opportunity to express my views on certification and raise questions as to the motivations behind the new certification. The post was specifically whether we needed a new business analyst certification, but the question extends to any new certification targeted towards product people, or certain styles of acting in the product space.
You don’t need a certification to be effective
I’m not naive enough to think that certifications are going away anytime soon. Rather their number appears to be increasing. That didn’t stop me from taking a look at the reasons commonly offered for getting certifications, and providing a different perspective. The pragmatic view is that there are times where getting a certification may make sense. Just make sure you’re honest with yourself as to what those reasons are.
If you think you need a certification to learn product ownership
There are a variety of ways to learn about product ownership. I took a look at those various ways and included a short discussion on certification. While not the most effective way to learn about product ownership, it is a way.
If you really want a product ownership certification, give this one a look
When I mentioned the common product owner certifications in the how to learn about product ownership post, I left one certification out.
To be sure, the ICAgile professional certifications are classroom based. But in order to get the Expert certification, such as ICAgile Certified Expert in Product Ownership (ICE-PO), you have to demonstrate your ability to actually do product ownership to a review committee.
That certainly strikes me as skill based and difficult to achieve…
(Full disclosure: I’m currently a member of the review committee that evaluates ICE-PO candidates)