In favor of certification.


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  1. #1
    James Guest

    In favor of certification.


    The IT industry is flailing in credibility. Most projects fail. The ones
    that are successful are approximately 180% over budget and time (where is
    my copy of Code Complete?!) Why? One of the top ten risks for project failure
    is the developers are not familiar with the technology. What does certification
    do? It makes people familiar with the technology. I see certification
    as being the answer to improving the success rate of the IT industry and
    regaining some credibility. I'll attempt to show this.

    First lets take a step back and purpose the following: Certification should
    be (legally) mandatory prior to working with a particular technology. It
    should also be an industry-regulated exam, offered at cost or for free (!)
    to developers.

    I've experienced an industry where no one really understands what he or she
    is doing. I worked on a project where the architect(s) didn't know what
    N-tier was (although it was the best solution). Another project had VB programmers
    with no concept of COM. Yet another was a 2-tier client-server project where
    the "experienced" people didn't know what a stored procedures was. How has
    this affected these projects and the industry? The projects (and customers)
    dramatically suffered in terms of cost, schedule, maintainability, etc.
    The "success" that was released from these projects was garbage. The projects
    were at the end of their life cycle as soon as they went out the door.

    If the developers in the above senarios were certified prior to working on
    these projects, would they have known about COM, N-tier, stored procedures,
    etc? Yes. Would they have used these technologies if they known about them?
    Yes. Certification, as purposed, acts as a method of forcing IT workers
    to train and learn the knowledge necessary to "successfully" work in the
    industry. While it is not a “guarantee” of success if definitely reduces
    the risk of failure. Certification is simply a means of ensuring that developers
    have the minimum necessary knowledge to “start” working in a technical area.
    (Notice I’m careful not to confuse certification with experience.)

    Another problem in the industry is hiring qualified people. The industry
    is different than most because the typical manager doesn't have the knowledge
    necessary to evaluate the abilities of the "technical" people they hire.
    Also, the industry "hides" what it does. The difference between a poor
    implementation and good one is not always readily apparent without intimate
    knowledge of the details. So what does this equate to? Resume experience
    is not a good indication of technical ability. A person can successfully
    learn 50% of a language and kludge together five years of resume experience.
    Making this worse is managers have few viable means to expose this scenario.
    What most employers end up doing is dreaming up some hokey-pokey in-house
    "test" prior to hiring. They are basically performing a inadequate version
    of certification. While certification is not the perfect answer to hiring
    quality people, it is perhaps the only useful "qualitative" means available.
    I for one would rather higher someone with a 1/2-year of VB certification
    and 2-1/2 years experience rather than someone with only 3 year of on-the-job
    VB learning. What would you prefer?

    On one hand, I have a person with 2 1/2 years of experience choosing and
    applying, from the realm of VB possibilities, the best solution to their
    problem. On the other hand I have someone who, under the stress of deadlines,
    learned a few necessary kludges to become productive during their first year
    of programming and spent 2 more years trying to make every problem they encounter
    look like the kludges they know. Tough choice.

    For all those "experienced" people that "don't need certification to be good
    at what they do", they can simply write the tests and be done with it. Since
    they have the experience and knowledge already, it shouldn't be a problem
    to pass.

    Let me turn on a flame for a moment. I am surprised by the number of arguments
    against certification that are not relevant. Most anti-certification arguments
    I've read are based on the "existing" certification system or whether "I"
    need certification. Let me address these quickly by saying "yes the existing
    system is lacking" but lets not turn down a good idea simply because of a
    poor implementation. Also, lets not discredit the benefits certification
    can offer simply because "you don't need it". The industry needs it. If
    everyone in the industry were in the 5% category that take the time and effort
    to thoroughly train themselves, of course there would be no need for certification.
    The fact that managers rarely train people, it is hard to learn a depth
    of knowledge on the job and a lot of people make a minimal effort to learn,
    makes certification necessary.



  2. #2
    Mark Hurd Guest

    Re: In favor of certification.

    "James " <dontgiveout@myemail.com> wrote in message
    news:3bfec398$1@147.208.176.211...
    >
    > <Snip some strongly stated views I essentially agree with>
    >
    > I for one would rather higher someone with a 1/2-year of VB certification
    > and 2-1/2 years experience rather than someone with only 3 year of

    on-the-job
    > VB learning. What would you prefer?
    >
    > On one hand, I have a person with 2 1/2 years of experience choosing and
    > applying, from the realm of VB possibilities, the best solution to their
    > problem. On the other hand I have someone who, under the stress of

    deadlines,
    > learned a few necessary kludges to become productive during their first year
    > of programming and spent 2 more years trying to make every problem they

    encounter
    > look like the kludges they know. Tough choice.


    OK, but what if your faced with a choice between a three year degree and a 6
    month certification, with the same experience?

    The correct answer *should* be to get the degree qualified candidate because
    they can be trained for whatever is needed now and in the future.

    Often, however, the normal scenario is that the certification is seen as
    better because it looks more relevant to the current requirements, and less
    training required.

    Over simplifying it, it still comes down to choosing between the right way and
    the way that works.

    Regards,
    Mark Hurd, B.Sc.(Ma.) (Hons.)

    PS And, yes, I am biased, but I have seen it happen, where I have been the
    losing candidate and where I've just watched from afar.



  3. #3
    Joe Monroe Guest

    Re: In favor of certification.

    "James " <dontgiveout@myemail.com> wrote in message
    news:3bfec398$1@147.208.176.211...
    >
    > The IT industry is flailing in credibility. Most projects fail. The ones
    > that are successful are approximately 180% over budget and time (where is
    > my copy of Code Complete?!) Why? One of the top ten risks for project

    failure
    > is the developers are not familiar with the technology. What does

    certification
    > do? It makes people familiar with the technology. I see certification
    > as being the answer to improving the success rate of the IT industry and
    > regaining some credibility. I'll attempt to show this.


    My experience has been that projects fail because of poor management and not
    sticking to a proper development methodology. This is sometimes because the
    PM doesn't know any better but usually because of pressure from higher-ups
    to "get it done now" insetead of "get it done right." And no certification
    system is going to help fix this.



  4. #4
    Bob Guest

    Re: In favor of certification.

    In article <3bfec398$1@147.208.176.211>, dontgiveout@myemail.com says...
    >
    > The IT industry is flailing in credibility. Most projects fail. The ones
    > that are successful are approximately 180% over budget and time (where is
    > my copy of Code Complete?!) Why? One of the top ten risks for project failure
    > is the developers are not familiar with the technology. What does certification
    > do? It makes people familiar with the technology. I see certification
    > as being the answer to improving the success rate of the IT industry and
    > regaining some credibility. I'll attempt to show this.
    >


    James,

    In the past 25 years I can only remember one project where a lack of
    understanding of technology was the primary or major cause of failure. The
    rest of the time it's usually one or more of; requirements defined in jello,
    impossible schedules, attempts to do the impossible given the resources, or
    poor project planning/documentation.

    Bob

  5. #5
    James Guest

    Re: In favor of certification.


    >OK, but what if your faced with a choice between a three year degree and
    >a 6 month certification, with the same experience?


    I think that that employers are finally figuring out what you are saying.
    I've heard from numerous sources that they were very disappointed when hiring
    certificate people with no experience or degrees. They end up hiring people
    that can barely function in a working environment. Imagine going from having
    little concept of what a PC is to having a MSCSE in a year (or however long
    the course is). No wonder.

    >The correct answer *should* be to get the degree qualified candidate because
    >they can be trained for whatever is needed now and in the future.
    >
    >Often, however, the normal scenario is that the certification is seen as
    >better because it looks more relevant to the current requirements, and >less

    training required.

    *heh* Less training until version X+1 comes out and the certified person
    has little theoretical or conceptual background to compensate. I totally
    agree with you. In my mind, certification is a perfect complement to a degree
    and experience.

    >PS And, yes, I am biased, but I have seen it happen, where I have been the
    >losing candidate and where I've just watched from afar.


    And I bet the employer was kicking themselves 4 months later.

    Right now a lot of experienced IT workers seem threatened by certification
    for experiences such as you've had. The tendency to hire certified people
    will straighten itself out once employer learn the "flavor of the month certificate"
    (with no experience) doesn't provide what it promises. Once employers figure
    out that a certificate is a "starting point" into the IT industry, they will
    start putting a higher weight on people's experience and degree.

    James

  6. #6
    James Guest

    Re: In favor of certification.


    >My experience has been that projects fail because of poor management and

    not
    >sticking to a proper development methodology. This is sometimes because

    the
    >PM doesn't know any better but usually because of pressure from higher-ups
    >to "get it done now" insetead of "get it done right." And no certification
    >system is going to help fix this.


    Project managers can learn to educate higher-ups. In this scenario a good
    project manager would go to the higher ups and say "If we adhere to your
    schedule, we will fail. The only way we can feasibly make the deadline is
    to cut functionality." This response is a "skill" and as such, it is something
    that can be taught. There are "necessary" and "essential" skills to succeed
    in any area, be it VB or PM. While PM have a set of skills used across all
    industries there are definitely some PM concepts that are specific or more
    relevant to the IT industry. These skills and concepts can be identified
    and taught.

    See my response in the post below for more details on this...

  7. #7
    Aaron Sevivas Guest

    Re: In favor of certification.


    I guess you would classify the most productive employee as having the following
    characteristics in order of importance:

    1) Experience = fought IN a war before against the same enemy.
    (degreeOfSeparation)
    (degreeOfSeparation)
    (degreeOfSeparation)
    2) University = studied about fighting in a war for years against many types
    of enemies, maybe even the enemy your currently fighting.
    (degreeOfSeparation)
    3) Certification = "crash course" on fighting a war against this enemy.


    thats what I think

    ~aaron
    "James" <dontgiveout@myemail.com> wrote:
    >
    >>OK, but what if your faced with a choice between a three year degree and
    >>a 6 month certification, with the same experience?

    >
    >I think that that employers are finally figuring out what you are saying.
    > I've heard from numerous sources that they were very disappointed when

    hiring
    >certificate people with no experience or degrees. They end up hiring people
    >that can barely function in a working environment. Imagine going from having
    >little concept of what a PC is to having a MSCSE in a year (or however long
    >the course is). No wonder.
    >
    >>The correct answer *should* be to get the degree qualified candidate because
    >>they can be trained for whatever is needed now and in the future.
    >>
    >>Often, however, the normal scenario is that the certification is seen as
    >>better because it looks more relevant to the current requirements, and

    >less
    >training required.
    >
    >*heh* Less training until version X+1 comes out and the certified person
    >has little theoretical or conceptual background to compensate. I totally
    >agree with you. In my mind, certification is a perfect complement to a

    degree
    >and experience.
    >
    >>PS And, yes, I am biased, but I have seen it happen, where I have been

    the
    >>losing candidate and where I've just watched from afar.

    >
    >And I bet the employer was kicking themselves 4 months later.
    >
    >Right now a lot of experienced IT workers seem threatened by certification
    >for experiences such as you've had. The tendency to hire certified people
    >will straighten itself out once employer learn the "flavor of the month

    certificate"
    >(with no experience) doesn't provide what it promises. Once employers figure
    >out that a certificate is a "starting point" into the IT industry, they

    will
    >start putting a higher weight on people's experience and degree.
    >
    >James



  8. #8
    Aaron Sevivas Guest

    Re: In favor of certification.


    BTW: Its all about combining the 3 to develop a powerful programmer/architect.
    Having just ONE will only work if its raw experience. Fresh newbies out
    of college can be just as worthless as some guy off the street thats certified.
    Knowledge/experience transfer is usually just easier with university kids
    (the potential can be realized quicker).

    IOU $.02 (im broke, I've been tossing my opinion out there alot today)

    ~aaron

    "Aaron Sevivas" <a@a.com> wrote:
    >
    >I guess you would classify the most productive employee as having the following
    >characteristics in order of importance:
    >
    >1) Experience = fought IN a war before against the same enemy.
    > (degreeOfSeparation)
    > (degreeOfSeparation)
    > (degreeOfSeparation)
    >2) University = studied about fighting in a war for years against many

    types
    >of enemies, maybe even the enemy your currently fighting.
    > (degreeOfSeparation)
    >3) Certification = "crash course" on fighting a war against this enemy.
    >
    >
    >thats what I think
    >
    >~aaron
    >"James" <dontgiveout@myemail.com> wrote:
    >>
    >>>OK, but what if your faced with a choice between a three year degree and
    >>>a 6 month certification, with the same experience?

    >>
    >>I think that that employers are finally figuring out what you are saying.
    >> I've heard from numerous sources that they were very disappointed when

    >hiring
    >>certificate people with no experience or degrees. They end up hiring people
    >>that can barely function in a working environment. Imagine going from

    having
    >>little concept of what a PC is to having a MSCSE in a year (or however

    long
    >>the course is). No wonder.
    >>
    >>>The correct answer *should* be to get the degree qualified candidate because
    >>>they can be trained for whatever is needed now and in the future.
    >>>
    >>>Often, however, the normal scenario is that the certification is seen

    as
    >>>better because it looks more relevant to the current requirements, and

    >>less
    >>training required.
    >>
    >>*heh* Less training until version X+1 comes out and the certified person
    >>has little theoretical or conceptual background to compensate. I totally
    >>agree with you. In my mind, certification is a perfect complement to a

    >degree
    >>and experience.
    >>
    >>>PS And, yes, I am biased, but I have seen it happen, where I have been

    >the
    >>>losing candidate and where I've just watched from afar.

    >>
    >>And I bet the employer was kicking themselves 4 months later.
    >>
    >>Right now a lot of experienced IT workers seem threatened by certification
    >>for experiences such as you've had. The tendency to hire certified people
    >>will straighten itself out once employer learn the "flavor of the month

    >certificate"
    >>(with no experience) doesn't provide what it promises. Once employers

    figure
    >>out that a certificate is a "starting point" into the IT industry, they

    >will
    >>start putting a higher weight on people's experience and degree.
    >>
    >>James

    >



  9. #9
    pnsm Guest

    Re: In favor of certification.


    I believe this entire discussion is based on the wrong arguments.
    People are different, some will be better than others, independently of
    their experience, degrres or certifications. You canīt escape it, some people
    will be better then others. Itīs the company's responsability who they hire,
    and it will all fall on luck in the end. They can only hire the ones that
    show up for the interviews.

    "Aaron Sevivas" <a@a.com> wrote:
    >
    >BTW: Its all about combining the 3 to develop a powerful programmer/architect.
    > Having just ONE will only work if its raw experience. Fresh newbies out
    >of college can be just as worthless as some guy off the street thats certified.
    > Knowledge/experience transfer is usually just easier with university kids
    >(the potential can be realized quicker).
    >
    >IOU $.02 (im broke, I've been tossing my opinion out there alot today)
    >
    >~aaron
    >
    >"Aaron Sevivas" <a@a.com> wrote:
    >>
    >>I guess you would classify the most productive employee as having the following
    >>characteristics in order of importance:
    >>
    >>1) Experience = fought IN a war before against the same enemy.
    >> (degreeOfSeparation)
    >> (degreeOfSeparation)
    >> (degreeOfSeparation)
    >>2) University = studied about fighting in a war for years against many

    >types
    >>of enemies, maybe even the enemy your currently fighting.
    >> (degreeOfSeparation)
    >>3) Certification = "crash course" on fighting a war against this enemy.
    >>
    >>
    >>thats what I think
    >>
    >>~aaron
    >>"James" <dontgiveout@myemail.com> wrote:
    >>>
    >>>>OK, but what if your faced with a choice between a three year degree

    and
    >>>>a 6 month certification, with the same experience?
    >>>
    >>>I think that that employers are finally figuring out what you are saying.
    >>> I've heard from numerous sources that they were very disappointed when

    >>hiring
    >>>certificate people with no experience or degrees. They end up hiring

    people
    >>>that can barely function in a working environment. Imagine going from

    >having
    >>>little concept of what a PC is to having a MSCSE in a year (or however

    >long
    >>>the course is). No wonder.
    >>>
    >>>>The correct answer *should* be to get the degree qualified candidate

    because
    >>>>they can be trained for whatever is needed now and in the future.
    >>>>
    >>>>Often, however, the normal scenario is that the certification is seen

    >as
    >>>>better because it looks more relevant to the current requirements, and
    >>>less
    >>>training required.
    >>>
    >>>*heh* Less training until version X+1 comes out and the certified person
    >>>has little theoretical or conceptual background to compensate. I totally
    >>>agree with you. In my mind, certification is a perfect complement to

    a
    >>degree
    >>>and experience.
    >>>
    >>>>PS And, yes, I am biased, but I have seen it happen, where I have been

    >>the
    >>>>losing candidate and where I've just watched from afar.
    >>>
    >>>And I bet the employer was kicking themselves 4 months later.
    >>>
    >>>Right now a lot of experienced IT workers seem threatened by certification
    >>>for experiences such as you've had. The tendency to hire certified people
    >>>will straighten itself out once employer learn the "flavor of the month

    >>certificate"
    >>>(with no experience) doesn't provide what it promises. Once employers

    >figure
    >>>out that a certificate is a "starting point" into the IT industry, they

    >>will
    >>>start putting a higher weight on people's experience and degree.
    >>>
    >>>James

    >>

    >



  10. #10
    Daniel Guest

    Re: In favor of certification.


    There is merit to all of the points people have made on this forum and want
    to add to what the previous person said...

    Yes, people have strengths which differ. Some will appear better at their
    job than others. However, if a company is willing to manage their people
    and target their skills, those people with their individual strengths can
    be focused in the right areas. Sure, someone may write better, bug-free code,
    but the other person may track down defects like a blood-hound or be a better
    architect.

    Granted, some people are hopeless unsuited for certain roles and one would
    hope they don't attain the job! However, there is also room for targeted
    use of people's abilities. A skillful manager will do this and do it well.


    So perhaps that is what is lacking?? Skilled, experience managers who understand
    the technical issues and the processes involved but also know how to manage
    people! No amount of technical certification will provide that...

    "pnsm" <pedro_ns_monteiro@yahoo.com> wrote:
    >
    > I believe this entire discussion is based on the wrong arguments.
    > People are different, some will be better than others, independently of
    >their experience, degrres or certifications. You canīt escape it, some people
    >will be better then others. Itīs the company's responsability who they hire,
    >and it will all fall on luck in the end. They can only hire the ones that
    >show up for the interviews.
    >
    >"Aaron Sevivas" <a@a.com> wrote:
    >>
    >>BTW: Its all about combining the 3 to develop a powerful programmer/architect.
    >> Having just ONE will only work if its raw experience. Fresh newbies out
    >>of college can be just as worthless as some guy off the street thats certified.
    >> Knowledge/experience transfer is usually just easier with university kids
    >>(the potential can be realized quicker).
    >>
    >>IOU $.02 (im broke, I've been tossing my opinion out there alot today)
    >>
    >>~aaron
    >>
    >>"Aaron Sevivas" <a@a.com> wrote:
    >>>
    >>>I guess you would classify the most productive employee as having the

    following
    >>>characteristics in order of importance:
    >>>
    >>>1) Experience = fought IN a war before against the same enemy.
    >>> (degreeOfSeparation)
    >>> (degreeOfSeparation)
    >>> (degreeOfSeparation)
    >>>2) University = studied about fighting in a war for years against many

    >>types
    >>>of enemies, maybe even the enemy your currently fighting.
    >>> (degreeOfSeparation)
    >>>3) Certification = "crash course" on fighting a war against this enemy.
    >>>
    >>>
    >>>thats what I think
    >>>
    >>>~aaron
    >>>"James" <dontgiveout@myemail.com> wrote:
    >>>>
    >>>>>OK, but what if your faced with a choice between a three year degree

    >and
    >>>>>a 6 month certification, with the same experience?
    >>>>
    >>>>I think that that employers are finally figuring out what you are saying.
    >>>> I've heard from numerous sources that they were very disappointed when
    >>>hiring
    >>>>certificate people with no experience or degrees. They end up hiring

    >people
    >>>>that can barely function in a working environment. Imagine going from

    >>having
    >>>>little concept of what a PC is to having a MSCSE in a year (or however

    >>long
    >>>>the course is). No wonder.
    >>>>
    >>>>>The correct answer *should* be to get the degree qualified candidate

    >because
    >>>>>they can be trained for whatever is needed now and in the future.
    >>>>>
    >>>>>Often, however, the normal scenario is that the certification is seen

    >>as
    >>>>>better because it looks more relevant to the current requirements, and
    >>>>less
    >>>>training required.
    >>>>
    >>>>*heh* Less training until version X+1 comes out and the certified person
    >>>>has little theoretical or conceptual background to compensate. I totally
    >>>>agree with you. In my mind, certification is a perfect complement to

    >a
    >>>degree
    >>>>and experience.
    >>>>
    >>>>>PS And, yes, I am biased, but I have seen it happen, where I have been
    >>>the
    >>>>>losing candidate and where I've just watched from afar.
    >>>>
    >>>>And I bet the employer was kicking themselves 4 months later.
    >>>>
    >>>>Right now a lot of experienced IT workers seem threatened by certification
    >>>>for experiences such as you've had. The tendency to hire certified people
    >>>>will straighten itself out once employer learn the "flavor of the month
    >>>certificate"
    >>>>(with no experience) doesn't provide what it promises. Once employers

    >>figure
    >>>>out that a certificate is a "starting point" into the IT industry, they
    >>>will
    >>>>start putting a higher weight on people's experience and degree.
    >>>>
    >>>>James
    >>>

    >>

    >



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