Over the last weekend, I spent nearly seventeen hours participating as a board member for the first CITA-P (Professional) accreditation board run in Ireland. CITA-P is an accreditation for practical hands-on architects. The accreditation program is run by IASA, a vendor-neutral organization dedicated to the development and education of IT professionals. You can get more information about the CITA-P accreditation at http://www.iasahome.org/web/home/certification/professional.
I’ve been involved with architect accreditation programs for years as part of my responsibility as the Chief Technology Officer for HP Services (I have since retired from HP). We tried many programs to improve the professional knowledge and standing of HP architects. One such program was run jointly with Microsoft in the 2003-2004 period when we certified individuals as HP-Microsoft architects and assigned them to HP’s largest enterprise customers. It didn’t make sense for HP and Microsoft to operate a closed program of this nature and Microsoft eventually launched the Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) program at TechEd in June 2005. Recently, Microsoft decided that they did not want to continue running the MCA program and transitioned responsibility for architect accreditation to IASA. The CITA-P accreditation is now equivalent to MCA (see the press release at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/05/prweb3946754.htm).
Anyway, IASA is organized in local chapters. I think that this is a good idea because it allows the chapters to reflect the nature of the local market. The demands on architects vary significantly around the world to account for the size of the market and the projects that flow from that aspect, culture, international connections, and so on. This board was the first time that IASA was offering accreditation to Irish candidates and because I have some experience in running promotion and other boards and am known to Andy Ruth, the IASA VP for Educational programs, I was asked to come along and contribute.
Five candidates appeared before the board, three on Saturday and two on Sunday. Each candidate had to:
- Make a 30 minute presentation to demonstrate their skills and knowledge as an architect, talk about some projects they had worked on, the roles that they had taken in the projects, and the way that they had succeeded (or failed) and why.
- Endure a 40 minute quiz about their work. There are four board members and each took the lead for 10 minutes to question the candidate about different aspects of their work, knowledge, and so on.
- After a five minute break to allow the board to discuss the candidate’s qualities (the candidate leaves the room) and review what areas of weakness should be further probed, the candidate then has another 40 minutes of questions.
- Finally, the candidate has a chance to make some closing remarks.
This is a tough process! I haven’t mentioned the work that the candidate has to do to prepare a submission for accreditation before they get to appear before a board.
After the candidate leaves, the board votes. This is a simple Yes/No process and a candidate needs three yes votes to be accredited. After the initial vote is taken, the board spends 30 minutes or so discussing the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses to determine whether the vote was correct and to give the candidate every chance to succeed. At the same time, the board gathers feedback to provide to the candidate so that they can improve their standing. After all, this is an educational process that aims to help architects increase their professional competence and standing.
Three candidates were successful; one was granted a temporary accreditation (they have to address some issues and be formally accredited by the local chapter after they demonstrate that they have addressed the concerns of the board); and one regretfully failed. In this context failure is a very harsh word because everyone – candidate and board members – learn and develop from the process. The great thing is that the “failed” candidate can reappear in due course and I have no doubt that they will be successful next time round because of the feedback they received from the board.
All in all, a tiring but stimulating way to spend the weekend.