So, I’ve now taken two of the exams offered in this space by EMC. I wanted to post some thoughts on the program as it has been applied to Documentum. I’ve been through more than one IT certification program in the past (including a Microsoft one that expired years ago), so I’m not new to this process. First, an overview of the EMC Proven Professional program.
There are three levels of certification. Each level must be completed in sequence. First is the Fundamentals/Associate level. In the Documentum world, there is one exam here that must be passed before any other exam can be attempted. From the plans that I have heard, this is the only exam at this level in the roadmap.
The second level is the Specialist level. There are two exams currently, with at least 2 more in the planning stages. By passing a Specialist exam, the final level opens up, Expert. The theory is that for each Specialist exam, there can be one or more Expert exams.
Now, let’s look at how this applies to the Server Programming track that I “entered”. The knowledge space for developing with the Content Server (done with the Documentum Foundation Classes) looks a little like this:
As you move to the right in the graph, the interfaces become less and less used. IDfSysObject is buried in the blue while IDfPrincipalSupport would be in the Orange. If you move up, you see more and more obscure methods. IDfSysObject.updatePartEx(…) is one that is infrequently used on most projects. For almost everything in the Orange, somebody reading this may have used it, including myself. However, those part of the DFC that are found and used rarely.
When you divide the map into areas for certification, you get something like this:
Plenty of material for two exams, with an area in the upper right that would just be cruel to ask on an exam, though that doesn’t always stop people from do so. Now, let’s look at the scope of material on the actual Specialist exam.
Note the large scope of the exam brushing into the Orange. My main problem here is that is doesn’t leave a lot of room for growth. If there was only one exam, then the scope is actually just fine. The scope shows a lack of thinking ahead to the Expert exam.
The practice exam clearly indicates the scope of the actual exam. However, a Specialist in Server Programming would never pass that exam without extensive studying. Most Experts would have to study a fair amount. For a Specialist exam, that just seems a little much.
I know that the exams probably won’t be rewritten. That is fine. I love the Fundamentals exam. I thought it was perfect. I just ask EMC to think more carefully going forward when developing these exams. I would love to have more than one level of certification in each track to help evaluate talent. Right now, if they have the Specialist certification, I’m going to have to consider them an Expert. The problem, on some development efforts, I need one Expert and a couple of Specialists.
A couple quick last thoughts, I know the exam writers that EMC brought in are not responsible for the scope. I might not like a lot of the questions because of where they fell in the graphs above, but the writers where following the direction of EMC. Also, I would much rather have an exam that was too hard over one that was too easy.
The Specialist level means something at this level of difficulty. Unfortunately, I think it means they are an Expert.