Why I chose NOT to renew my IIBA membership

Published: 27 January 2016


I had a call this morning from the IIBA to confirm whether I had received their emails reminding me that my membership had expired (yes) and whether I had deliberately not renewed (also yes).  I was at work and didn't really have time to chat, so when they asked why I was choosing not to renew I gave a few quick responses and had to end the call. But I wanted to explain my logic in more detail here so that:

  1. I could see if anyone else out there has the same issues I do or can provide good reasons why I am wrong
  2. I could provide a fuller explanation in case anyone from the IIBA actually cares and is willing to consider changes
  3. In hopes of changing the minds of some people so that they too stop being IIBA members

This isn't going to be short, but I'm going to try and keep my discussion of each issue relatively brief if I can. Please read on if you are interested.

So here are my major concerns with the IIBA:


The IIBA is Too Member-Focused

The first, and by far the most important issue to me is that I think the IIBA is too focused on its members. Even more importantly, I think the IIBA is way too focused on trying to make sure that it adds more members. Indeed, the first of the IIBA Guiding Principles is Members first.

I'm sure that seems strange to a lot of people, but let me explain why this is a problem for me. Quite simply, I want to support an organization whose primary focus is on the Business Analysis profession at large, not just members. I want to support an organization that engages with, shares knowledge with, and collaborates with anyone interested in improving the field of Business Analysis; whether they are members or not. I want to support an organization focused on education at large, not just education of those willing to pay.

But what does that mean in concrete terms? Well, as a few examples I would support an IIBA where:

Instead, all of those things are only accessible to members, or as published materials you have to buy from a retailer. Indeed, nearly everything the IIBA offers is only available to members, to corporations willing to pay, or those willing to purchase retail. It's a philosophy I don't agree with.

Also, in the production of critical materials such as the BABOK Guide, the IIBA doesn't even serve most of its members.  While the BABOK is accessible to members, the process that the IIBA undertook with BABOK 3 showed me that members at large have almost no input into the contents of it.  Sure, there was an opportunity to provide feedback on a draft that was 85-95% complete, but the amount of changes that resulted from that feedback that I could see were minimal. Rather, the vast majority of BABOK 3, including all of the critical decisions on its structure and content seem to have been written and decided upon by a team of 12 people.


The IIBA is Too Money-Focused

Building off the theme above, I believe the IIBA is too focused on revenue generation. I realize the organization needs money to operate, but far too many of its decisions seem to prioritize making money over serving the broader community (see the section above).

The following decisions seem to me to be more oriented to earning revenue than to serving the business analysis community:

Also on the issue of expenses, I have to wonder if the IIBA's expenses aren't much higher than they need to be. According to the IIBA's Statement of Operations:

I'm left with the question of whether the IIBA really needs 35 full-time, part-time and contract staff and whether it could achieve more with less by following more of an open-source route for much of its content while focusing its administrative work purely on membership and certification development / management.


The Re-Certification Process is Focused on Consultants, not Professionals

The re-certification process for the CBAP and CCBA seems really geared to consultants and very biased against practicing professionals. And just generally full of bad choices.

That means if you do any user training, user acceptance testing, quality assessments, project management work, or any other activity that does not align to the BABOK for 50% or more of your work day that it is impossible to get the 1000 hours per year you need (assuming an 8 hour day, 3 weeks' vacation per year, 1 week of total holidays in a year).

This seems really like a really odd weighting against actual BA work.

Then add in that the IIBA does not even classify their Endorsed Education Providers as being eligible to provide Academic Education CDU credits and it gives the impression that the IIBA really thinks that CBAP is more equivalent to an academic or consulting career where teaching (either giving or receiving) is far more important than doing.

From my perspective the CDU breakdown should be something like this if you truly want to encourage continuing development among certification holders:

20 CDU's max of Self-Directed Learning, including:


20 CDU's max of Professional Education, including:


40 CDU's max of Professional Experience, including:


The IIBA is Opaque

A more minor complaint on my part is that the IIBA is very opaque, and very poor at communicating what has happened or the rationale behind various decisions. Examples include:

As I said, I don't see these last few items as critical. But to me they are indicative of an organization that is opaque and very poor at communication. And as an organization that is supposed to represent business analysts as practitioners and as a profession, this is a problem for me. Especially when added to the issues described above.


So What Do You Want?

I'm sure some people will dismiss these concerns as unimportant. Or certainly not worth foregoing membership over. And indeed, I've stayed a member for the past few years despite having them. But I've come to the point where for me membership seems counterproductive because I believe the IIBA is truly continuing in the wrong direction. Add in the recent attention the PMI is giving to the BA space (and in all the wrong ways IMO); having the IIBA acting as a PMI-lite focused on money, memberships, and a lack of openness just seems like a situation ripe for setting back the BA profession.

So what are some concrete changes the IIBA could make that would make me want to support them again? Here are a few:

  1. Move the BABOK content and its evolution to a wiki structure similar to the SEBOK. Preferably in cooperation with the IREB and BCS in the same way the BKCASE Governance and Editorial Board that manages the SEBOK is overseen by representatives of INCOSE, the IEEE, and SERC. They could use the same concept of Editors and an Editor in Chief that the SEBOK uses.
  2. Make the Business Analysis Competency Model freely available on the web at a minimum. It would be nice if its content could be managed in a similar way as the BABOK in the suggestion above.
  3. Make the Quick Tips for Better Business Analysis a freely available resource to everyone, just as IREB does with Requirements Engineering magazine.
  4. Significantly overhaul the recertification process to something that is more oriented towards working BA professionals, and less oriented to consultants. The current criteria are just ridiculous IMO.
  5. Make a significant effort to improve communications:
    1. Expand the Strategic Plan significantly so that members and potential members have a much better idea of how the IIBA sees the business analysis environment, what the IIBA hopes to accomplish during the time period of the strategic plan, and what specific factors in the environment guided the goals that were chosen.
    2. Provide better information on what employees the IIBA has and what their roles are. This way at least members (and potential members) have some way of partially evaluating whether their membership dues are being well spent.

Since I don't expect any of those to happen, my current decision is to not be an IIBA member. If someone wants to start up an organization that is more in line with the goals above, I would be happy to support them. In the meantime if you want to agree, provide information that clarifies or contradicts my statements above, or just want to present an alternative perspective, feel free to add comments below.

NOTE: Minor edits for spelling made on 1/29.  That's what happens when I don't have an editor and write a post after a long days work.

© 2016 by David Olson