Laura’s CBAP Journey – Deciding to Go For It (Week 1)

You may have seen some LinkedIn updates or Tweets from me indicating that I’ve made a big decision. I’ve decided to go for the CBAP. While we already have some amazingly great posts on becoming a CBAP here I can’t let go of this opportunity to share my journey…as it happens. For personal reasons, I believe you all deserve to hear my story.

What are these personal reasons you ask? Well, let’s be honest. I’m not super-excited about preparing for the CBAP. I’ve put this cumbersome task off as long as possible. Now I’m looking at a quickly-shrinking 4-month window until I become a mother. And a not-quite-as-quickly-shrinking 2-year window before my “5 years” of BA experience recedes into BA history unless I change my career direction yet again (since I am spending more time now helping BAs than doing BA). I can do it now, do it while insanely tired, or lose the option to become a CBAP. I’m choosing do it now.

But how does writing about the journey help? Well, writing is fun. I love to write about business analysis. Heck, that’s why I started this blog! And sharing real-world stories is just what we do here. I figure a weekly update about what’s really happening on my journey would make this process more fun. If I can pull out the pieces of becoming a CBAP that I find valuable and make light of the more tedious aspects of my journey, perhaps I’ll find more meaning in this experience. Because right now it feels a whole lot like a combination of doing my taxes and preparing for my freshmen biology exams. Both activities I hope never to do again. (My husband does the taxes and, well, I chose degrees in philosophy and English so I could write papers instead of study for exams….here we are back to writing again.) Jeesh, maybe if there was a written exam for the CBAP, I’d have been all over this about 3 years ago. Memorizing the BABOK? OMG–please kill me now.

No, don’t really. I love life too much and I’m carrying a child. Don’t kill me. I’m already having more fun, I promise.

OK. So, let’s see. What HAS been fun about this process this week?

First, I had the chance to reconnect with my prior boss. The one I followed to three different states. Yea, he’s going to be one of my references. Thank goodness ’cause he thinks I’m a great BA. I hope that’s a good thing. Who knows. This app seems crazy.

Second, I spent 1 1/2 hours reading and taking notes on 2 tasks in the Requirements Management and Communication Knowledge area. That’s about 10 pages of the BABOK. Why did I start there? Well, out of all the knowledge areas, it’s this one and Business Analysis Planning that I feel least comfortable with, and somehow I lost the first 20 pages of my BABOK print out, so until I rectify that situation I jumped into Requirements Management and Communication instead. How was this fun? Well, I got to sit outside on our deck on a beautiful day and distract myself by watching the deer roam around our new backyard. I also learned that per the BABOK it’s OK to gain approval for requirements verbally or via an informal email. Woo hoo! Because I’ve been doing that for a few years at least. The risk, of course, is that your stakeholder doesn’t actually understand the requirements they are approving. (So the BABOK does not give you the license to distract your sponsor at the water cooler with a shot of Jagermeister and get them to nod while taking the shot and count that as approval. Right. Remember that, just in case you are tempted.)

Third, I reached out to Linda Erzah of BAMentor to ask about the references because it wasn’t exactly clear to me if these people needed to understand the BABOK knowledge areas themselves. Luckily the answer is no, or my trusted boss would not have qualified. Linda also offered up a chance to sit in on her application workshop, something I’ll be doing later today.

Fourth, I filled in all the minor little details in my application. Everything from changing my address to adding the addresses of my prior companies to starting the guts of my work history and adding Roadmap to Success in as my evidence of professional development credits. Like I said, I hate taxes (er, forms) but the great part about this is now the boring stuff is done. I need to vet my work history and ensure I don’t fall into any pitfalls (something Linda’s going to teach me about later today) but all the little stuff is done.

I suppose that’s about it for now. What can you expect to hear from me between now and (knock on wood) passing the exam? Not wanting to overly control this journey, I’m not going to make any big promises. But given my current state of mind, here are some ideas:

  • How the process is going and what value I am getting from it as a BA who cares about their career.
  • Things that frustrate me along the way.
  • New-to-me concepts I find in the BABOK as well as little tidbits I find interesting or mind-boggling for whatever reason whatsoever.
  • Anything I find useful along the way.
  • Anything I don’t find useful along the way.
  • Random quips about the baby kicking, the dog chasing deer, and the other fun things I focus on to distract me from my studying.

That’s all for now. Wish me luck on this journey and, actually enjoying a few pieces of it. Really, I’m feeling better already. Thank you.

>>Learn More About Becoming a CBAP or CCBA

Interested in becoming a CBAP or CCBA? We cover 8 steps to the CBAP certification, that will take you to just learning about the certification to successfully sitting for the exam.

Click here to read the article

50 thoughts on “Laura’s CBAP Journey – Deciding to Go For It (Week 1)”

  1. I just happened on your blog, you tube channel and all today and I have to say thank you for putting it all out there [and I am reading this 7 years later]! I am just realizing that all the work I have loved to do in the past have been a lot of business analysis work and I am transitioning now into making this a full career. Will you advise that i begin with the ECBA – just because of course, I am second guessing my knowledge and checking if I have adequate knowledge and experience to go full blown into the CBAP. I’d love your thoughts on this. Is there really any advantage to starting with ECBA? Thank you so much!

  2. Disha Trivedi


    We have full confidence that you will pass with flying colors! Your commitment is truly commendable. Best of lucky with CBAP and the baby! So many good news to look forward to!

  3. Absolutely awesome Laura…

    You definitely inspire many here (me included) to be all that we can be. I look forward to reading about your journey, the birth of your baby, and all the wonderful things you encounter along the way. You are trully and inspiration to us all.

    Good Luck,

    1. Thanks so much Joe. While I appreciate your wonderful words, I’m really just someone who loves what they do and chooses to share my professional stories, blood, guts and all. 🙂

  4. While working on my Masters (many years ago), a classmate told me her secret to studying…study (or take in the information) as if you will have to teach it to someone else. Hope this helps and much luck on your journey!
    p.s. I am very envious of your determination and commitment.

  5. Thanks for sharing your journey Laura. I too recently decided to go for it. I am taking exam prep through BA Mentor thanks to your links. This is a way to get my required CDU’s as well – my courses for my BA Master’s Certificate are now too old to count!

    1. Hi Karen, Good luck on your journey. I am glad to hear you are working with BA Mentor and thank you for purchasing through are links – they are very passionate about helping BAs become CBAPs.

  6. Good luck on your endeavor! Yes, you will spend many hours studying, but you’ll do wonderfully well!

    BTW, I absolutely love this comment:

    “I love life too much and I’m carrying a child. Don’t kill me. ” 🙂

  7. Best of luck Laura! I’m sure you’ll do well with both your endeavors! 🙂

    I initially submitted my application for the CBAP, but didn’t have enough hours to qualify. It was disappointing, but when the CCBA was offerred I decided to give it a try. I just found out today that I passed. Hopefully I’ll find a new position that allows me to rack up enough hours to sit for the CBAP next.


  8. Michelle Swoboda

    Laura – good for you! I found when I started to prepare that the project heated up to twelve hour days and I could not find time to study with the pre course so I was very frustrated and have put it aside. However, with this current role – they are in the infancy of business analysis – so timing is everything and we are setting their structure up. This is great because I am using BABOK much more than usual. Perhaps I should go for it after this contract!
    You will be amazing and pass with flying colors!
    What’s next after this and the baby? Lean six sigma?

    1. Yes, we do have to make the most of the opportunities when they come along, don’t we! I don’t see myself pursuing additional BA-related certifications in the near-future – this one might test my patience enough! Regardless I now want to stay focused on improving my skills in helping other BAs and building a business (which of course is BA-like, as Jake mentioned). I have been (and will continue to do) loads of professional development in this area. Recently I’ve taken courses in building online learning environments, instructional design, increasing engagement, etc.

      Thanks for your support Michelle. And let me know if I can help you along your journey too!

    1. Linda,
      Thank you for this link. Your article describes my situation perfectly. Your framework will be a good one for me to follow since I’m the only BA in the environment and there isn’t any internal structure or careerpath development for this position. I’m utilizing every resource I can to create a roadmap I can follow toward certification.
      Thank you very much for your help.

  9. Thank you for posting this. I am a junior BA, and I want to work my way toward the CBAP and reading about your journey will be very helpful.
    Thank you!

  10. Just some advice. A small group of us went through this process last fall … we came up with the mantra “Be the BOK” … the message being to absorb and understand what is there, not to challenge it.

    1. Yes, I have absorbed this advice from Linda as well. Which unfortunately means there will be less real learning and more memorizing. It is what it is…this is the part that pains me about the prep process and has caused me to avoid it. Even right now my stomach just did a big turn. But, we’ll save that litany for another day!

      1. There is still a lot to be learned from the BABOK. My first reaction to seeing it many moons ago (I think I first saw version 1.6) was … wow, somebody really gets what I have been doing for the past twenty or so years. A lot of good stuff … Understanding how the outputs from one knowledge area/task flow into another knowledge area/task is really helpful. The diagrams in the BOK show inputs to and outputs from a single knowledge area only – not across multiple knowledge areas. So I made my own diagrams … if you think they could be helpful to you, I’ll gladly send them your way. Good luck …

      2. Deb,
        What a great and positive way to look at it. I’ve been challenged by wanting to be a critical learner/doer instead of a passive knowledge absorber. Perhaps that is a bit of a false dichotomy. Your answer has helped me think about how to frame my prep work in a more positive way. Thank you.

  11. Your blog is sure to inspire me when I get ready to take the test. I like your approach and sharing the journey, hey you may end up cutting a percentage of the tedious stuff for me too. I can’t wait for more and congratulations on you new addition to your family.

  12. Laura, I know we just spoke… but a few things everyone should consider when applying and studying.

    1. Remember that much of the work related to developing strategy for a business is enterprise analysis. This is ongoing work to continue to look at the business goals and assess capability gaps, define solution approaches, define solution scope, etc… This is all EA applicable work! Also, in some ways, in coaching you are working on helping people with EA for their person brand (Me Inc.).
    2. Many BAs do not have portfolios and have forgotten many good ideas, concepts and work they have done. Now is a great time for anyone applying or studying to start a log of those items! They can be helpful in updating a resume/vita or selling yourself for a position.

    PS. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Jake. Yes, I do think I could wait it out and probably still account for much of my work here at Bridging the Gap in some way as CBAP-work experience. But it seems a bit risky and would be even more difficult to document than projects I did years ago because my efforts are all over the map.

      1. You may be surprised… remember that many early adopters of certifications are trainers. If they are trainers and consultants they have multiple buckets to pull from. For folks who are only trainers, they would need to draw from experience with their companies. Much of that would be EA.

        And-I am not recommending you wait!

      2. Laura,
        Your efforts and inspiration at that job board company only a few years back should certainly count. I might be able to help you remember details if you need help. You certainly inspired me and several others there, demonstrating more leadership than I often see. (I learned more than a little from Jake too.) I am anxiously awaiting to hear about the rest of your journey, professional and otherwise.

        All the best, Jim.

      3. Hi Jim,
        Thanks for stopping by and for your wonderful comments. You made me smile this morning!

        Yes, I am definitely counting a portion of the time we worked together. In general, the time I spent on the business architecture type work (even though I didn’t call it that at the time) and the as is analysis definitely counts. As does a small part of the work building the BA team, as it fits under mentoring or BA planning. But the time building the QA and PM teams does not appear to.

        Thanks again for your well wishes and for sharing your inspiration. It’s always great to hear things like that. As I’m reviewing the BABOK, I often remember things that you taught me as we developed the BA process together — as your understanding was so much more formal than mine and I learned a lot from you. Thank you Jim.

      4. Jake – I always did wonder about those trainers. I perhaps wrongly assumed that they got the certification just in time, sort of like I’m trying to do, and were able to leverage work experience further back in their work history. Interesting take on capturing training experience (such as building a curriculum or internal BA projects) as EA.

  13. Curtis Michelson

    P.S. – I concur with @Kent. Parenting is all of the things he said, and more. As the father to a 3 1/2 year old Buzz Lightyear, and a step-Dad to a 12 year old (going on 19) girl, life is richer for all of it. Best of luck to you.

    And just think of the head start you’re providing your little new budding baby BA in utero. All that studying each night… You know, some parents put Bheethoven on and set the speaker near the tummy. You’ll be holding the BABOK right there! Wow, BABOK almost sounds like BABY. huh.. whole new twist on one of my least favorite acronyms in the world. LOL

  14. Adriana and Anup,
    Thanks you for the well wishes and encouragement. Perhaps the worst part is over…but I am not so much looking forward to studying either. 🙂 However, after finishing the Requirements Management and Communication chapter, I did look back through my notes and realize I’d learned a few things (or at least formalized a few pieces of knowledge I had about BA), so I’m hoping this continues to be valuable.

    Kent, thanks for the congrats. This is indeed the start of an exciting time. I am sure I will experience all the emotions you mention and then some!

  15. Congrats on your impending parenthood! Having been a father going on seven years now, I know from experience that you will find it joyous, confusing, wonderful, frustrating, exciting, humbling, and one of the best things that could happen in your life.

  16. Anup Mahansaria

    Congratulations and best of luck, Laura!!!
    I have been putting my CBAP certification on back burner due to the very same reasons you mentioned.
    Hopefully, your journey will inspire me to get started on mine too!


  17. Wishing you the best of luck in both endeavors — completing the CBAP and bringing the little one to the world :-).

    Some people at the Austin IIBA were saying today that the “doing your taxes” part is the worst. The most boring part is done — good for you!

  18. Tina Underhill

    You are not alone Laura. Minus your new little arrival, my situation is very similar to yours. Faced with some HUGE opportunities in the Greater Boston area, competition is a bit fierce, I too know its time to sit for the CBAP. Kill me as well…

    Remember our application just needs to be approved. We will have a year after that…so time is a little on our side.

    Let me know if you want me to add my journey as well.

    Good luck to ya!

  19. This is awesome Laura! I can’t wait to hear great things about welcoming your daughter to this world. Our babies would be almost a year a part. And on the certification, I guess the pressure is on us at BAMentor to make sure you pass that thing 🙂 (just joking).
    Jokes aside, we are here for to help you on this journey! As Kym said, breaking things down into manageable pieces helps. Most of our students start with setting goals and we have a terrific goal setting exercise a part of our course.

    1. Thanks, Linda! Ha ha…yes let me pass my buck on over to your company. Just kidding of course, no one is responsible for this but me! I am very much looking forward to your support on this journey and thank you so much for all the help you provided so far. Even the interview we did a couple of years ago where I could hear the passion in your voice is still an inspiration to me today. It got me thinking…what am I missing by avoiding this like the plague? And it’s a bug that I just can’t seem to shake so need to do something about.

  20. Good luck on your decision (and on becoming a mother). Thank you for inviting us on your journey, and I look forward to walking alongside you and celebrating when you get there. I have reviewed a number of CBAP applications in New Zealand to help before submission, so I hear echoes of many of the same concerns and aspirations. You are sure to pass the CBAP, and it is hard work nonetheless. As they say in these parts “kia kaha”

  21. Congrats! Yes it is daunting, but there are a lot more resources for you now than for those of us who started our own journey a few years back.

    I think you’ll inspire many others, too!

    1. Thanks for the congrats, Kym. I don’t mind big challenges…I just like to have fun and find value with all I do. That’s the challenge for me, how do I make this fun and keep the process valuable? Any tips?

      1. I set very small daily goals for myself (reading, quizzes) and rewarded myself at the end of every week. I also broke the monotony of tasks, techniques, elements and stakeholders by making up mnemonics and “pictures” and flashcards….hope that helps!

  22. So we are on this journey together Curtis! Yea! We had a similar meeting in Denver early this year and it was very helpful (though made the exam seem even more overwhelming). Good luck with your prep and I look forward to hearing about your journey as well.

  23. Curtis Michelson

    Right there with ya Laura. I’ve made the commitment to go for it this summer, too. Our local Central Florida chapter meeting next week, is all about the credentialing process, and navigating it. One of our group’s CBAP’s will be our tour guide. I look forward to hearing about your journey, and sharing a few of my experiences along the way as well. Good luck, to us both!

  24. Barbara,
    Thanks so much for your well wishes. The immensity of the self-study has definitely caused me to delay this as long as I have. I just look at my print out and think “jeesh!”… another day. 🙂 This is the benefit I think of making it more of a short-term goal so I don’t over-study or over-think the process. Just keep taking forward steps until exam day!

    Congratulations on being accepted into the MSIT program. I am sure that will be no cake-walk either! I look forward to hearing how the program helps you take forwards steps in your BA career. There are many paths to Rome, so to speak.

  25. I wish you immense success in your BABOK journey. The self-study required to work through the BABOK and prepare for the test was too overwhelming for me, and have just been accepted into a MSIT program that will deliver an advanced degree, but is is tailored around the BABOK and IIBA standards.

    Appreciate all your enthusiasm you exude in your writings simply because of your passion and love of your (our) career choice and the path you continue to lay out for yourself.

    Look forward to your experiences and your ultimate successful CBAP recognition.

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