In July 2012, we were having a discussion about our Enterprise Architecture experiences and current projects over dinner.  One discussion point focused on the difficulty of evaluating whether a prospective team member would be able to do real work supporting the team’s architecture development objectives.  A review of the various certification programs drew consensus that the education provided and methods described in those programs were very important to the EA community by providing firm and comprehensive intellectual foundations for the practice of EA.  But even though the current education and certification programs support hands-on exercises, the students usually develop the products in a team environment and may not have the opportunity to address the architecture design, content, scope, and focus issues that are associated with real life situations.

That led to the question, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a certification that defined a person’s ability to do real architecture work and almost immediately contribute to the team’s objectives?”  The response to that statement was, “Let’s create a certification program that will answer this question”.  And we formed a team to work out the details.

The team determined that a timed practical EA development demonstration focused on addressing a set of typical questions posed by senior leadership would enable an experienced architect to show that he or she had the ability to single-handedly develop a complete architecture.  The problem would be defined by a Purpose, Scope, Questions to be Addressed, a defined set of architecture products, and based on written source documentation.  Certification candidates would have a fixed time, e.g. three days on site to develop the architecture.

The choice of architecture framework is left to the candidate based on the belief that the most important point of the architecture is addressing the Questions to be Addressed.  The tools and framework are only the enablers for developing the information to address the Questions.

The team developed a set of problem statements for Platinum certification as the most challenging level, crafted an evaluation process, and defined criteria for measuring the architectures submitted.  The team inflicted the process on a set of volunteers and then graded the products to validate the process.  The result was the first set of Platinum certifications and the first set of evaluators for other certifications.

The initial members established the Association of Integrated Enterprise Architecture Practitioners (AIEAP), continue to refine the evaluation criteria, and plan to extend the process and certification to all architects.