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There's no question about the steadily growing demand for BPM professionals. And it's hard to argue against the need to validate those specialists' qualifications, inevitably through some type of certification.

But figuring out exactly what that means for employers-especially hiring managers-- is a trickier question, two of Gartner Inc.'s BPM specialists noted recently. "The need for skilled and experienced personnel to lead and participate in BPM activities is clear," analysts John Dixon and David McCoy wrote in Gartner's "Predicts 2011" report. "What is also clear is the eclectic nature of that skill set and, by definition, the individuals who possess it."

For that reason, recruiters aren't yet specifically looking for candidates who are certified in BPM. In fact, of 67 BPM job descriptions the Gartner researchers examined, not one included a requirement for BPM certification. Instead, most were seeking "hard skills" such as Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) and Six Sigma, and "soft skills" such as change management.

The researchers noted that while they consider BPM certification a valuable asset for the industry, employers aren't yet acknowledging its importance. "Until BPM certification reaches a critical mass and its value is recognized by hiring companies, organizations will have little to act on in terms of selection criteria," they wrote. "Further, because the content and assessment processes among different certifying organizations are not common, differing standards are used for many of today's certified applicants-making it that much harder for recruiters to see the value or relevance in such certifications." Dixon and McCoy don't expect to see BPM certification become "materially relevant to BPM hiring decisions" until 2015.

Defining BPM certification

The Gartner analysts define BPM certification as covering more than just certification in BPM-related methodologies (for instance, Six Sigma Black Belt) or one vendor's methodology in tools. In their view, the term refers to "more-generic, broadly scoped training in the art of the field." (As a possible model, they cite the Certified Information Systems Auditor designation offered by the Information Systems Audit & Control Association.)

A growing number of organizations and universities offer BPM certification programs, including the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), the Association of Business Process Management Professionals (ABPMP), the BPM Council and Boston University, among others. As the researchers noted in their report, the overall approach, curriculum and assessment criteria vary widely from one certifying organization to the next.


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