update SINGAPORE--IT professionals in the country can now heighten their skillsets with the launch of three new certifications here Thursday, focusing specifically on business continuity management (BCM) and software quality.
Among the three is a homegrown professional certification called the Certification in IT Business Continuity Management (CITBCM). Developed by the Singapore Computer Society (SCS), it covers business continuity management, IT disaster recovery (DR) as well as datacenter management.
Speaking at the Infocomm Professional Development Forum jointly organized by SCS and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), SCS President Alphonsus Pang noted that BCM practices are growing in importance due to a greater reliance on ICT. He added that there are currently no IT-specific BCM certifications available globally, marking the Singapore program as the world's first geared toward IT professionals.
"More and more, business rules, processes and even the knowledge of the business are all going into IT systems," Pang told reporters here following the forum session. "So beyond the generic business continuity concerns, increasingly over time a larger and larger portion of the focus area must naturally go into the systems part because that's the heartbeat of the whole organization. If that doesn't flow, then everything breaks down and we've seen instances of that [happening] across the board."
Beyond enhancing a professional's employability and helping employers gauge the skills of potential hires, the certification will also be useful in outsourcing contracts, he said. "If I want to hire an outsourcer to look after my IT systems, I might want to request for personnel with such certifications so that I'm at least assured there is a [necessary] competency level to take care of things."
Allen Pathmarajah, director of India-based Quality Assurance Global Institute, pointed out that in many business process outsourcing deals, clients look for providers that possess level 4 or 5 of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). In time to come, the CITBCM will also be a "prerequisite" for businesses in the evaluation of outsourcing providers, he said.
According to Pang, SCS set up a resource panel last July involving industry experts and practitioners to understand industry needs and to work on specific levels of knowledge and types of certification. An industry briefing was then conducted involving over 40 companies during which, more than 80 individuals indicated they would undergo the certification program, he said.
"So that is a very good indication that there is a need [for the CITBCM certification] and there is demand for it," he noted.
Wong Tew Kiat, chairman of SCS' CITBCM Resource Panel and Board of Assessors, said the CITBCM takes into account locally-developed standards such as the SS507 for BC/DR and the SS540 for BCM. Aspects of ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) were also worked into the CITBCM.
With the new certification, IT professionals would be able to look at the bigger picture, added Wong, who is also service delivery director of NCS Group. BCM practitioners, he explained, were typically concerned with business risks, while data center managers are focused on infrastructure and operations. Similarly, DR personnel speak the language of servers and storage. Professionals in each of the three areas typically operate independently and do not fully understand or appreciate the concerns of the other others.
Taking that into account, Wong explained that the certification was designed to evaluate an individual's competency in seven key areas: program management, risk management, business and technology impact analysis, resilience strategy, planning and testing, crisis communications management, and audit, review and maintenance.
The CITBCM course will be administered by the National University of Singapore's Institute of Systems Science, which will act as the training and examination agent, and is supported by the IDA.
Software quality assurance
SCS, in partnership with the QAI, will also offer two quality assurance (QA) certifications for IT professionals who wish to attain competence in QA principles and practices.
The Certified Software Quality Analyst (CSQA) is geared toward practitioners who have some working experience in the field of IT, while the Certified Manager for Software Quality (CMSQ) is designed for senior-level professionals who have performed managerial tasks specific to QA.
The course program and certification fees for the CITBCM amount to S$3,800 (US$2,732.20) and S$588.50 (US$423.13), respectively, and recertification is required after five years. The CSQA certification costs S$588.50(US$423.13) while the CMSQ certification costs S$749 (US$538.53).
Candidates who apply for the CITBCM and CSQA certifications are eligible for up to 80 percent funding under the government's Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme (CITREP). The CMSQ has not yet been accorded CITREP status.