Today I went out and passed AIIM’s Certified Information Professional exam. There are a lot of thoughts I want to share around this action, but it is going to take a couple of posts. In this post I am going to cover the Why. Later I will cover the What.
The first thing I want to say is that working for AIIM is not the reason I took the exam. My original goal had been to listen to feedback from others before I took the exam. It was always in my 2012 plans. Joining AIIM just moved me from the laggard position to that of the evaluator.
After all, if I was going to be the lead Information Professional at AIIM I should at least check out the certification sooner rather than later.
The Big Gap
Last year I was working on an effort to define certification paths within the Technology Solutions side of my old company, Washington Consulting, Inc. There were lots of technical certifications for developers and those specializing in products like Documentum and SharePoint. There were also good certifications for project managers and business analysts.
What was missing was a way for an Information Professional to demonstrate mastery of their craft in a way that could be marketed. That is how you get people to hire you in consulting. You market yourself to look like a better value than the competition.
The reason that I felt the gap so keenly was that I had no certification that was applicable. I could keep taking Documentum certifications until the end of time, but that didn’t really reflect what I did anymore. I was consulting on strategy and how Content Management should be effectively deployed as part of the bigger picture. I was advising people on how to effectively use SharePoint, the cloud, and records management. Managing large amount of data had become the norm and not the exception.
A technology-specific certification just no longer cut it for my career path or the paths of several of my colleagues.
Being an Information Professional
I have talked in the past about the need for us as Information professionals to evolve what we do so that it is looked upon as a mature profession. While I can’t find the post (I swear it was out there somewhere), it was in the context of discussing standards. Having standards, like CMIS, in our field is one way to show that we understand our field enough to call it a profession.
Another item is having an agreed upon body of knowledge that can be tested against. When you look at Information Management, it seems like it could be tough to nail down. If you look at it closer, the problem is no different than the one that faced project managers a few decades ago.
Project managers solved the problem by creating the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Today, possession of a PMP is required by many large organizations for their internal project managers and the consultants that they hire.
So when AIIM released the CIP exam this past fall, I was extremely curious but wasn’t about to recommend it to anyone until I had been able to judge the exam. I just didn’t have the time or business reason to take the exam. That said, I see it as potentially addressing the gap for us Information Professionals.
While I wasn’t sure, and am still not, if there was sufficient training out there to handle the entire breadth of the exam, the certification didn’t come out of a void. AIIM has been developing and delivering training programs for years on most of the areas tested. To be honest, if you are battle-scarred like me, you shouldn’t need a lot of training to pass any exam.
More on that when I talk about the exam itself.