I recall how much effort it took to study for my Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) exam two years ago, so when I went to the Building Business Capability Conference in October 2012, I was very interested in attending Kevin Brennan’s session about the upcoming BABOK v3. Plenty of questions had crossed my mind, including:

  • When will the new version of the BABOK be released?
  • Will the IIBA require people with existing CBAP or CCBA certifications to recertify?
  • How much has actually changed?
  • How will this affect my career in the future?

Kevin’s presentation answered many of my questions and I was fascinated by some of the changes that have been made so far. This is still a work-in-progress, so the final product may still be quite different from what was presented, but I really liked what I saw so far. I’ll give you a glimpse into some of the changes here and I hope that it will help answer some questions for you.

The biggest change in version 3 is the new Business Analyst Core Concept Model (BACCM). The IIBA has identified six core concepts related to business analysis:

  • Changes
  • Needs
  • Stakeholders
  • Solutions
  • Contexts
  • Value

The inclusion of “change” is a great addition to the BABOK. Version 2 had very little content related to change management – an area that has seen significant growth over the past ten years. Version 3 discusses the roles of BAs to prepare organizations and stakeholders for change, to provoke changes to meet business needs, and to prevent change when it is not desired. Change is defined as a “controlled transformation of an organization.”

The concept of a “need” includes any problems, opportunities, and constraints that have a potential value for a stakeholder. When looking at needs, you might consider goals and objectives, risks, benefits, acceptance criteria, transition requirements, and more. It’s interesting that when contemplating all of the core concepts, business analysts seem to relate the most to “needs” and “solutions.” It is a common problem for business analysts to focus so much on these two concepts, to the point that other core concepts tend to be neglected.

“Context” is an interesting addition to the group of core concepts. The IIBA defines a context as “the part of the environment that encompasses a change.” It essentially includes anything that is relevant to the change, not including the change itself. Examples of context deliverables include context models, PESTLE analysis (political, economic, sociological, technological legal, and environmental), and CATWOE analysis (customers, actors, transformation process, world view, owner, environmental constraints). Context can also include things such as culture, infrastructure, attitudes, or anything else relevant to a business change.

When looking at the concept of “value,” a business analyst considers how important something is to a stakeholder, within a particular context. Notice that the term “value” is part of the definition of a “need” – needs must provide potential value. That value can be measured in many different ways: increased sales, decreased risk, increased opportunity, improved performance, etc.

Not much explanation is required around the concept of stakeholders. Of all the core concepts, this is the one that will likely see the least change from version 2 to 3. Similarly, the concept of a solution is also fairly well established already. Where you’ll notice the most change with these concepts is in their relationship to the other concepts. These aren’t really new relationships – they are just being formally identified in the BABOK.

The relationships between the six core concepts are nearly as important as the actual concepts themselves. The IIBA is stressing the importance of the interdependencies between these concepts. No one concept should be considered in isolation. When looking at “needs,” one must consider those needs that provide value to stakeholders. When looking at a solution, one must consider how it satisfies needs within a context. The BACCM model has identified 54 important relationships between the core concepts and those relationships are key to understanding the concepts themselves.

Relationships between concepts

Another very noticeable change in the BABOK is a realignment of the knowledge areas. In the table below, I’ve listed the knowledge areas from both version 2 and version 3 of the BABOK.

Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
Elicitation Requirements and Design Analysis
Requirements Management and Communication Situation Analysis
Enterprise Analysis Elicitation and Collaboration
Requirements Analysis Solution Assessment and Validation
Solution Assessment and Validation Requirements and Design Management
Underlying Competencies Underlying Competencies

As you can see, some knowledge areas remain essentially unchanged, while others have been significantly restructured. The introduction of contexts in the list of core concepts necessitated the creation of a “situation analysis” knowledge area.

Another interesting change is the addition of “design” in two knowledge areas. The BABOK v2 didn’t even have a formal definition for design, so its sudden prominence is a bit surprising. The IIBA will define design as “a usable representation of a solution.” This mirrors the new definition for a requirement as “a usable representation of a need” – a much simpler and cleaner definition when compared to version 2.

So, when will all this change take place and how will it affect your job as a business analyst? Well, the IIBA is planning to incorporate practitioner, expert, and public feedback into the BABOK during 2013, with plans for the first publication sometime in 2014. Updates to the certification exams will likely also happen in 2014, and the new and updated extensions to the BABOK will be produced.

If you have not yet achieved your CBAP or CCBA, you can continue with version 2 until those new certification exams have been produced. In fact, I’d recommend that you make it your goal to certify under version 2 while you can – not because it is easier or better, but because there are many resources available to help you prepare for the version 2 exam. When version 3 is released, it may be difficult to find so many high quality sample exams and study materials.

If you have already achieved your CBAP or CCBA, the new version of the BABOK will not have any significant impact on your three-year renewal. You will not be required to write new certification exams. That being said, it will eventually have a noticeable impact on your career as the IIBA and the BABOK are significant contributors to the direction of the business analysis career path.

Either way, there are plenty of reasons to become familiar with the changes that are coming. The IIBA plans to revise and refresh the BABOK every three to five years to make sure that it stays fresh and relevant to our industry.


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