The Open Group: Move Your Business Architecture Skills To Another Level – with Steve Philp

by Mirek Burnejko

Steve PhilpThis is an interview with Steve Philp from The Open Group.

The Open Group is the leader on the Business and Enterprise Architects standards and IT certifications market. If you work for an enterprise as a Business Architect, you’ve probable heard about TOGAF® or Open CA.

If not, you absolutely should know these programs, because The Open Group creates great IT certifications, that can change your professional live and help your company.

In this interview you will find:

  • What Enterprise Architects should know about TOGAF® 9 certifications?
  • Why the Open Certified Architect certification is on the hardest IT certifications to achieve?
  • What changes in the program we should see in 2012?
  • What connects The Open Group with BCS Charted IT Professional and what is a benefit of this connection for you?

IT Certification Master: Tell us something about you and about your history in Open Group.

Steve Philp: I am the Marketing Director for the Professional Certification programs at The Open Group. Over the past 20 years, I have worked predominantly in sales, marketing and general management roles within the IT training industry. Based in Reading, UK, I joined the Open Group in 2008 to promote and develop the organization’s skills and experience-based IT certifications.

ICM: You have in your portfolio four certification programs for individuals. Can you describe them and tell us who should obtain these certifications?

SP: We have two knowledge based certification programs. They are TOGAF® 9 and ArchiMate® 2.

The ArchMate 2 certification was launched at our conference in San Francisco in January and aims to certify individuals who want to demonstrate their proven knowledge of the ArchiMate® framework.

The TOGAF 9 certification program is a trusted, vendor neutral and globally recognized program that has enabled more than 20,000 enterprise architects and trainers around the globe to demonstrate their proven knowledge of the framework.

Certification is achieved through a two-part exam, following a course of self-study or an Accredited TOGAF 9 Training Course. TOGAF courses are aimed at individuals who are already involved with or are looking to pursue a career in Enterprise Business Architecture.

We also have skills and experience based certification programs. They are The Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA) program and The Open Group Certified IT Specialist (Open CITS) program.

The Open CA program – formerly ITAC — is an independent global certification program for qualifying the skills, knowledge and experience of IT, Business and Enterprise Architects. Accepted and applicable worldwide, Open CA boasts more than 3,350 certified professionals from 160 companies in more than 60 countries worldwide.
The program requires applicants to demonstrate skills and experience against a set of conformance requirements through written applications and peer interviews. There are no training courses to attend, and no written exams to complete.

The Open CITS program – formerly ITSC – also qualifies an individual’s skills and experience in currently 18 different streams. Areas covered include: Application Development, Business Analysis, Security and later this year Service Management.

Both programs are aimed at individuals who want to demonstrate their proficiency as an IT Architect or IT Specialist at three different levels: Certified, Master and Distinguished.

ICM: What is the biggest difference between TOGAF® 9 Foundation and TOGAF® 9 Certified?

SP: TOGAF 9 Foundation. This provides validation that the candidate has gained knowledge of the terminology and basic concepts of TOGAF 9 and understands the core principles of Enterprise Architecture and TOGAF. The exam is based on a series of multiple-choice questions.
TOGAF 9 Certified. This certification provides validation that in addition to knowledge and comprehension, the candidate is able to analyse and apply knowledge of TOGAF. Questions are scenario based.

ICM: We had a short conversation about my article The Hardest IT Certification to Get. Can you tell me why Open CA should be also on that list?

Open Group CertificationsSP: The Open CA program is a rigorous certification and takes a considerable amount of time and effort to achieve. It is not based on a body of knowledge but involves meeting a set of conformance criteria that proves your competency as an Architect. You have to demonstrate your skills and experience by providing examples of how you have used a recognized business architecture method on the projects that you have worked on. Completing the initial certification package usually takes around 40 hours to complete and must contain written references from individuals that can validate your experience requirements.

The process for Open CA is as follows:

You submit your certification package to the Certification Authority and if for any reason the submission was not complete, you will be notified within ten (10) business days so that any corrections can be made and resubmitted. Then a Board member will review your package and advise you of any improvements that you may want to make.
Once the Certification Authority has accepted your certification package, it will be passed to three Certification Board members for review. Each Board member will read the package and prepare for a one-hour interview. For levels 2 and 3, the interviews are held face-to-face, usually at one of The Open Group quarterly conferences, or through our local partner offices. Interviews can also take place at an organization’s site and The Open Group will provide Board members to facilitate this.
Interviews for the initial Boards are normally organized about six (6) weeks after the package has been submitted. For Level 1, there are still three one-hour interviews, but these are conducted by telephone.

After the interviews, the Board will decide whether you have achieved Open CA status, and candidates will be notified within ten (10) working days.

ICM: What is the real value for employees who had the Open Group certifications?

SP: For individuals, The Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA) certification represents an ideal mechanism for demonstrating knowledge, success and overall business capabilities. The Open CA program can significantly enhance and affirm your professional skills, improve your prospects for rewarding assignments, accelerate salary and career advancement, and result in greater peer recognition.

ICM: What is the value for employers? Do they really need people with the Open Group certifications? Maybe trainings are enough?

SP: For organizations, the Open CA and Open CITS programs provide an independent, global, experience-based benchmark for identifying, assessing and selecting the most qualified individuals for critical roles and responsibilities. Specifying Open Group certified individuals in procurement and project proposals can considerably reduce recruitment time and cost, and result in higher project success rates.
Our professional certifications can help to optimize the staff recruitment and retention process, and motivate staff to acquire this widely recognized industry standard to authenticate their skills and experience.

Organizations can also utilize The Open Group materials to build their own professional certification programs, and apply The Open Group’s certification program structure to enhance their own learning and development programs.

Our programs help organizations to develop “T-Shaped” people. They are individuals who are experts or specialists in a core skill but also have a broad range of skills in other areas. A t-shaped person combines the broad level of skills and knowledge (the top horizontal part of the T) with specialist skills in a specific functional area (the bottom, vertical part of the T).

Open Group T

ICM: Where we should look for the trainings and the best materials for preparation for the exams.

SP: For TOGAF and ArchiMate, training courses are available from our training channel.
Details of the schedule of accredited TOGAF 9 courses.
There are self-study materials available from The Open Group bookstore. For example, the TOGAF 9 Certification Self Study Pack (which includes practice tests).

ICM: How about the renewal policy? Do we need to renew the Open Group certifications?

SP: There are no recertification criteria for TOGAF and ArchiMate. For Open CA and Open CITS you need to recertify every three years.

ICM: Tell me about the future. Do you plan any big changes in the certification process? Do you have plan for new certifications?

SP: In the next few months we are launching a Business Architecture stream into the Open CA program. The core requirements for being recognized as an Architect will remain and we will add in additional criteria for individuals working on Business Architecture projects.

There will also be two new streams in the Open CITS program covering Security and Service Management for 2012.

There are already a large number of internationally recognized security certifications available but unlike Open CITS none of these existing qualifications are based on an individual’s skills and experience. However, there is some recognition built into this new stream for holders of existing certifications such as CISSP, CISM, GISP etc. The Security steam is available now and you can view the conformance criteria in our Conformance Requirements.

The Service Management stream will cover three different areas: Delivery, Consulting and Operations. It will be available in the second half of 2012.

In the UK, we have also just signed an agreement with the BCS, Chartered Institute for IT. This agreement allows individuals who hold Open CA and Open CITS certifications at Level 2 (Master) and Level 3 (Distinguished) to be exempt from the initial review and interview elements of the BCS Charted IT Professional (CITP) process. Applicants will still need to take and pass the BCS breadth of knowledge test as well as be Professional members of BCS to achieve CITP status.

This agreement is great news for IT professionals who want to complete both a qualification from The Open Group and achieve CITP status without duplicating effort. The chartered status demonstrates the same degree of professionalism recognised in other chartered professions in the UK and provides independent validation that Level 2 and 3 of The Open Group’s professional programmes are at least equivalent to SFIA Level 5.

Holders of The Open Group certifications forming part of this agreement can register their interest in achieving CITP status through the scheme at:

ICM: We have on our list 1600 certifications. What do you think about it as person on the other side? Do we really need all these vendors and certifications?

SP: There are lots of certification programs available but the most valuable programs to both individuals and organizations are those that appear in recruitment ads and RFPs. If there is no perceived market value in holding a specific certification, then eventually it will cease to exist.

[This is part of the Interviews with Vendors Series]

  • Joep van Nieuwstadt

    How are the exams taken?
    I read that TOGAF has no requirements. Are persons just certified because they took a training?

    • ICM

      You must always pass the exam. There are two options Joep.
      1. After a training you can receive a voucher and you can pass this exam for free (cost of the training) in an examination center (Prometric).
      2. After a training you can pass an exam with your group. Of course everyone works alone.

      I will describe as detailed as possible TOGAF Foundation and TOGAF Certified next weeks.

      Also you can find more info on the official website:

  • Vito Nozza

    Thx for this interview. It answered many questions I had about furthering my EA aspirations. I recently became TOGAF9 Certified and in a year’s time will pursue Master status. Thx again.

  • Sivamurugan Subramaniam

    Dear Mirek,

    I would like to get certify with Open CA and TOGAF, What is the difference between Open CA certified and TOGAF certified?

    Please differentiate these two certification clearly, also please clarify how ArchMate 2 co relates with TOGAF & Open CA ?. is ArchMate 2 certification is prerequisite for TOGAF certification ?

    Thanks for your early response as I am making Open Group certification process for my organization.