Certification vs training – how do we improve data literacy?


A few weeks back, Cognopia’s Neil Burge published his Ultimate Guide to Data Management Certification. As a Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP), Certified Information Management Professional (CIMP) and Data Capability Assessment Model (DCAM) – Burge has first-hand experience with each of the certifications he reviews. Like Neil, we have some relationship with each. 

The CDMP certification is based on the Data Management Association’s (DAMA) DMBok – Data Management Body of Knowledge. Master Data Management was a founding member of DAMA South Africa and remain active in the local chapter. Recertification is required after 3 years. 

The Data Management Capability Assessment Model (DCAM) is a framework developed by industry professional members of the Enterprise Data Management (EDM) Council, and is seeing some traction in South Africa, particularly in financial services. The certification is aligned to the current release of the DCAM and will require a new exam every 12 to 24 months. 

The CIMP is a certification that combines data management training, developed by eLearningCurve, and examinations on that training. CIMP recertification is granted automatically after two year, assuming that one remains active in the field in which they are certified. 
Broadly speaking, however, Burge makes the point that the CDMP and DCAM are frameworks and the certification tests knowledge of that specific framework. The CIMP, on the other hand, is “more similar to a university education (where the student selects the subjects they want to learn).” 

So, which is right for you? 

Learning vs Certification 

It all depends on one’s motivation. Are you looking to certify what you already know, or are you looking to build on your team’s existing expertise? 

DAMA certification is relatively well recognised but is based largely on testing existing experience and understanding. When training is offered, Burge observes that “they don’t actually focus on teaching the content of the DMBoK. Instead, they focus on ensuring that students cram the right knowledge to pass the exam at 60% or higher. They do this using a combination of focused study and example exam questions designed to mimic the test (i.e., help your rote learn the answers).” 

The CIMP’s focus is not on certification, but rather on training. Burge observes that “The Cognopia team were already CIMP or CIMP Ex qualified before we took the CDMP, and undoubtedly the knowledge from the CIMP helped pass the CDMP.” 

The CIMP curriculum provides teams with a sound, common foundation in data literacy while allowing individual team members to follow their passions and specialities with various electives. The courses teach both the fundamentals and advanced tips and techniques. 

For example, a team of data scientists will all take the Data Science Fundamentals course as part of their five-course curriculum, but some may specialise in data mining or predictive analytics, while others may be more interested in how to Frame and Plan Data Science projects. 

The goal with the CIMP is to help one to grow competence, at an individual level and for your team, in data management fundamentals. 

Whichever approach one chooses, they will need to be actively working in the field to really get value. These are complex topics and the knowledge gained must be practised and applied in order to be entrenched.