Business,IT Management,Solutions,Technology

CBAP Certification13 Jun

On June 9, I passed the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) exam. The certification is established and managed by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and is designed to recognize “senior business analysts who have the skill and expertise to perform BA work on projects of various sizes and complexities.” If you’re unfamiliar with business analysis it is basically the practice of soliciting, defining and managing requirements for business solutions. Of course, you can always refer to Wikipedia for a more detailed description.

Since I also achieved the PMP certification several years ago, the CBAP process was quite enlightening. IIBA seems to be where PMI was 20 years ago. They’re just getting their methodology fully defined, just getting the kinks worked out of the exam and application process, and just breaking through as a “required” certification for professionals in the field.

To me, the certifications are not terribly valuable by themselves. Sure, they get added to the resume, the website, LinkedIn, etc., and they might one day help get my name through the initial HR screeners for some positions. But I’ve been doing BA and PM work for long enough to know that the real world does not generally operate as the academic structures of the two methodologies suggest.

So why did I bother subjecting myself to the ridiculous application and testing process required to get the CBAP certification?

When people want to know what I do, I most often tell them I’m a project manager / business analyst with some technical skills in database development and business intelligence.  Simply put, when you are an IT practitioner working for small to mid-size businesses in Montana, project management and business analysis are very complementary skills. In this market, companies don’t usually hire distinct project managers or business analysts. In my experience, if a company is big enough to start hiring an IT staff, they go first for networking and desktop support and then they hire will programming skills. They’ll usually hire several people with technical skills well before they ever hire someone who thinks about the business side of IT. By then, they’ve had a number of problematic experiences where their IT staff (however talented they may be) has failed to deliver in a number of key areas.

I work with these companies. They need people who can understand their business, translate their business requirements into technical terminology, and then procure (if necessary) and manage the technical resources to get the job done.

That’s my niche.

The PMP and CBAP certifications designate me as someone who designs, builds and delivers high quality IT solutions. They don’t prove I can do it, but the successes I’ve had with my clients and employers over the years do.


Outstanding Remote Support Tool13 Jan

I know this isn’t my normal domain, but I’ve recently started using a tool that I just have to recommend. Copilot is a remote support tool built by Fog Creek Software. It makes reaching out to work on someone’s desktop as painless as it really can be.

To start a remote support session, you simply login to your account on the Copilot website and enter the person’s email address. Then you click a button to install a little application and the other person clicks the link in their email. Within seconds you are viewing their desktop and able to work on their machine just like you were there.

I don’t generally do desktop support so I’ve signed up for the pay-as-you-go plan. This only costs me $0.25 per minute. There are also unlimited use plans starting at $19.95/month. Those plans allow you to setup computers you might regularly access with one-click access so you don’t have to get a new access code every time.If you ever need to access remote computer, I’d highly recommend giving Copilot a try.


Scared of Windows Vista?26 Nov

Following my disaster last weekend, I decided to upgrade to Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows Vista. There was not a huge reason for me to do this upgrade. I had mostly been operating ok under Windows XP Pro. But since I was down anyway I figured I might as well get the upgrade done.



Running Your Business on Free Software20 Nov

There’s a great blog post on Found|Read about free or nearly free software offered as web based services.  I love #3 – Don’t do that custom development!


Lotus Symphony Test Ends With a Resounding Thud31 Oct

I posted that I’d be trying out the new Lotus Symphony suite of office productivity tools.  Well that didn’t take.  I probably should have changed over the file properties for xls, doc, and ppt files to open with Symphony.  Since I didn’t, I hardly used the tools at all.

Here’s the rub with Symphony and the other MS Office alternatives.  Microsoft Office reached dominance not because of the functions that your average user cares about and that every basic office suite does well.  The tools were widely adopted because introductory level developers (like me) were able to quickly build department level applications that helped improve staff productivity.  In the absence of any real developer tools, I don’t believe Lotus Symphony or any other MS Office alternative has a shot at being anything more than a niche product.

I hate that I didn’t do a decent evaluation of the Lotus tools.  But the reality is that I spend my time working with tools that fit the environments my clients have in place.  As long as organizations have one person who has gone past the basic data entry functions of Excel, I will never convince them that an Office alternative will work for them.  And if they’re so small that they don’t have a serious investment in MS Office, why would I ever recommend they start out using tools that can’t be extended as their needs grow?

Contact Me

Granite Peak Systems, LLC
PO Box 80892
Billings, MT 59108
Tel: 406-672-8292


Since 2007, I have funded a Kiva account in recognition of my clients. Whenever I get a new client, or find a microloan that relates to the industries my clients serve, I contribute to the account. You can see my lender profile here: