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Industry Certifications for Governance – Do They Really Matter?


So, here we are (again.) If you’ve been following along, you know we’ve spent some time defining our terms with regard to Governance and establishing it as a Business Capability. We’ve also taken a look at some available support for a Governance Program in the form of Frameworks and actual vendor products specifically aimed at Governance Programs. Now I thought we’d take a little time to explore the actual people side of the equation and what type of education, training or certifications may be available.

To my mind, this area is in its infancy, but there are good resources available. I equate the situation somewhat to the beginnings of Project Management certification. Today you will see just about every job posting looking for a Project Manager has a “PMI Certification preferred” requirement, but 10-20 years ago that was a rarity. I believe we are at the same initial point for Governance. There is training and certifications available, but they haven’t yet reached mainstream in that they are listed as requirements in job postings (heck, Governance positions themselves are rarely stand-alone but more like added responsibilities to existing positionsJ.)

That being said, a number of organizations do offer paths to being able to put letters at the end of your name. I will highlight a few.

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ARMA International offers the “Information Governance Professional” certification with information that can be found here. This is a “reading list” approach wherein they offer a suggested set of readings and a study guide where you are on your own as far as timing and deciding whether you are ready to take their test. They do recommend that the individual has people management experience in their background to qualify for taking the exam. To obtain their credential requires completing an application for taking the test then successfully passing the exam which is made up of 140 questions across 6 “information domains” as they call them. The certification is good for three years.

DAMA International offers what they call the Certified Data Management Professional and uses Dataversity to provide a series of Data Governance courses. Their certification is based upon their DMBoK (Data Management Body of Knowledge) which includes a section on Governance. So, although not strictly a Governance certification, achieving CDMP certification provides an excellent grounding in the practice. DAMA is a very mature organization and the DMBoK has been around for years and is well-respected. The CDMP also is mature and provides a maturity track from Associate to Fellow, so achieving and maintaining this certification is a significant commitment and is highly regarded in the industry.

A Certified Information Management Professional is offered by eLearningCurve and consists of a series of courses with associated exams. To obtain this certification requires completing a package of courses (some core, some elective) that have been identified as appropriate for this certification. They offer a specific curricula on Data Governance (among others), so obtaining their certification can allow you to emphasize governance. What I find interesting is that they also have a separate curricula focused on Data Stewardship (and provide a different certification as well: Certified Data Steward), so if that is your particular interest, you can concentrate on that.

Those are just a few of the certification offerings out there. Vendors (such as Collibra) also offer certifications, but obviously those have a heavy focus on knowledge of their product as well as the Governance practice in general. Regardless, if certification is of interest to you, I hope this gives you a good start in researching a path towards such credentials. And for those of you who may already have certifications, I’d be interested in hearing which one you have and whether you’ve felt it worthwhile.

As far as the “value” of these certifications. I am of the opinion that right now they are an interesting “nice to have” from many organization’s standpoint. This is not to say they aren’t valuable, worthwhile and a good gauge for a person’s knowledge in the field, just that I don’t think the companies have quite caught up yet with seeing them as beneficial or necessary for their Governance Program resources. I am of the mind that this will be coming in the future, just that we are not quite there yet. I’d be interested to hear any of your thoughts as to the future trajectory for these credentials. Will they become a requirement in job descriptions (just like PMI certification)? And if so, when? (I personally think we are 5-10 years out.)

So, a quick review – we set the stage by defining terms and providing some context for Governance and taking a look at how to get properly “armed” to perform within a Governance Program, but what if nobody cares? In other words, the best concept in the world has no benefit unless an organization sees value in funding the program. You’ve got to sell it! So, the next few posts will take a look at things like benefits, challenges and best (good) practices which should help in formulating your “message of persuasion.”

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Mark Steinbacher

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