Certifying Experience: The New Frontier1 | 2 |
The three most relevant areas with which IT architects and specialists share skills are project and program management, business and consulting.
Skills borrowed from project and program management include planning, sizing and estimation, risk management, leadership and team building. Business skills include basic competence in areas such as management, finance, legal and regulatory concerns, organizational structures and dynamics, governance and portfolio management. Finally, consulting skills include oral and written communication, conflict resolution, various kinds of assessments, political savvy and negotiating.
The diversity of knowledge and skills expected of successful IT architects and specialists confirmed that a certification based on experience rather than on individual skills was the correct strategy. The certification process seeks to validate successful application of the combined knowledge and skills necessary to achieve business results.
Board review of demonstrated skills and experience by certified peers was chosen as the evaluation method for this certification program. Because of the decision to use board review rather than a test, particular attention was paid to creating a demonstrably objective process. This was especially challenging because of the additional requirement of process scale to a high number of candidates.
Because many member companies already had large architectural practices and internal certification programs, an obvious strategy was to leverage these existing programs. This led to the idea of “indirect” certification by an Accredited Certification Program (ACP), by which a company could certify its own architects and specialist using an internal process that had been accredited to conform to The Open Group standard and that was periodically audited by The Open Group for continued conformance and quality control.
In addition, The Open Group would directly certify IT architects and specialists whose employers, for whatever reason, chose not to set up an ACP.
Candidates for certification prepare a submission package consisting of a document of no more than 50 pages, based on a template provided by The Open Group and letters of reference. If the package is judged complete and the references are confirmed, it is passed on to a three-member review board, and a board interview with the candidate is scheduled.
The board members are themselves certified architects. The review board examines the package in detail to confirm that the evidence the candidate provided adequately demonstrates the skills and experience specified in the certification conformance requirements. The candidate then interviews with each of the three board members for one hour.
While the goal is for a board to reach a unanimous agreement to approve or reject a candidate, a 2:3 vote is required. Each board member’s conclusion is captured and preserved by an online candidate assessment tool. When a board member judges that a candidate does not satisfy some certification requirement, that board member must provide a specific explanation as to how the evidence fails to demonstrate the skill or experience required. This feedback is provided to the candidate. Candidates approved for certification also are provided with career development suggestions from board members.
Both the ITAC and ITSC have met all their goals and continue to grow rapidly in adoption. More information on both programs can be found at The Open Group Web site at http://www.opengroup.org.
Leonard Fehskens is vice president of skills and capabilities at The Open Group. He is responsible for all activities relating to enterprise architecture. He can be reached at email@example.com | 2 |