Is CMMI certification worth the investment?

A ZDNet Asia reader is forking out US$19,000 for CMMI accreditation. Find out if it will add to his resume.

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Q. I studied computer engineering, and I first started working with a BPO (business process outsourcing) vendor in India as an advisor.

Within one month, I was promoted to the position of Quality Auditor. I've been in this role for about a year, and I want to further my studies in this area as I think that it is the right kind of field for me. I have attended a few seminars on quality in the United States and the United Kingdom, but despite the knowledge I've gained, this doesn't add to my CV.

Therefore, I have signed up to do a certificate in CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration), and I will be attending the first training this December at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) in Arlington, Virginia. The cost of completing this training is about US$19,000--US$3,300 for six modules--and I'll have to make five trips to the US. I am unsure if this certificate is worth it. Although I am only 22 years old, I feel that this is an important decision that could impact my life and career.

I would like to know how much this CMMI certificate is worth in the global market and if my quality experience in BPO will help my career. Also, how easy would it be to switch to IT quality?

I am very confused about this and appreciate your advice.

Mohit Sharma
Quality Auditor

Note: Letters are edited for clarity.

Career advice from Michael Rehkopf, partner, TPI Asia-Pacific:
A. This question has a number of interesting facets. First, why study or take training? People look for a variety of results from studying or training, both before and after they've entered the workforce. These include:

  • Gain new skills/knowledge
  • Improve ways of thinking about issues
  • Make new contacts
  • Lead to accreditations
  • "If you see yourself moving into the accreditation field, then there would be a direct correlation between the course you mentioned and your CV. If that's not the field you wish to join, then you should consider which study/training results you want to achieve."
    --Michael Renkopf
    TPI Asia-Pacific

    Companies typically look for people who balance all of the above with experience and passion in order to deliver exellent results. With respect to CMMI specifically, there are a number of perspectives--two, perhaps, most relevant to your question.

    The first concerns the essence of CMMI which is about the integration of various disciplines and key process areas within those disciplines that are required to complete large-scale efforts. As such, CMMI can be applied to a wide variety of areas including both IT outsourcing and BPO.

    The second concerns accreditation. CMMi accreditation is designed to certify that projects, programs and organizations are adhering to the processes. A certification framework requires that individuals are accredited as assessors and trainers in CMMi processes. If you see yourself moving into the accreditation field, then there would be a direct correlation between the course you mentioned and your CV. If that's not the field you wish to join, then you should consider which of the previously mentioned study/training results you want to achieve and how that will translate into better performance, and presumably improved wages, in your chosen area.

    Career advice from Chong Yoke Sin, CEO, NCS:
    A. It is good that you were able to land a job as Quality Auditor so early in your career. Usually, auditors and assessors would need to be equipped with a fair bit of experience before entering the quality profession as the job involves quite a bit judgment and this could only come from experience.

    Nevertheless, going for CMMI training is generally a good decision, and it could help you land any IT job that you want. When you have enough practical experience, the CMMI certification would still be useful. At this point in your career, where you have gained some experience as quality auditor, a CMMI certification will add to your credentials. But real experience after that is necessary to put your acquired training to practice. Your new employer may pay a slight premium for your certification.

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