As a follow-on to the Foundation Level, which has been available for some time now, iSAQB’s Advanced Level is the next logical step in qualifying software architecture professionals. Developed according to iSAQB’s specification, this training scheme follows a modular structure and requires successful trainees to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and skills. Holders of the CPSA-A will be able to:
- Design medium-sized to large IT systems independently and in a methodologically sound manner
- Assume technical and content-related responsibility within IT systems of medium to high criticality
- Plan, design and document appropriate measures to meet non-functional requirements
- Accompany development teams in the process of implementing these measures
- Manage and direct architecture-related communication processes within medium-sized to large development teams
Three skills areas
For the purpose of CPSA-A training, iSAQB has defined the three following skills areas:
- Methodical skills: a systematic approach to architectural tasks, regardless of the technologies used
- Technological skills: knowledge and implementation of technology solutions used in design tasks
- Communicative skills: communication, presentation, argumentation and moderation skills as well as the ability to cooperate productively with different stakeholders
Two possibilities of acquiring the skills required for these skills areas exist:
- Through licensed training, based on a curriculum module of the iSAQB Advanced Level curriculum
- Through accreditation of a certificate from an institution other than iSAQB
For training that teaches content as defined by a curricular module, the participant will be awarded a certain amount of credit points. If you take part in such training and would like to register for the CPSA-A examination, you will need a total of at least 70 credit points, and all three skills areas will have to be covered with a minimum of 10 credit points in each skill area.
As a rule of thumb for calculating credit points, ten credit points are awarded at present for every single day of training. However, no more than 30 credit points can be awarded for training relating to just one particular curriculum module, even if the duration of this training exceeds three days. Credit points can become subject to a reassessment by iSAQB every twelve months. Should further criteria in addition to the afore-mentioned rule of thumb be introduced, these will be published online in advance.
Acquiring skills through the Advanced-Level scheme
The Advanced-Level programme’s structure is modular with a curriculum consisting of individual modules, each focusing on a particular core topic pertaining to the skills required of a software architecture professional. The following table gives a snapshot of the current situation. For each module, there is a detailed module description including content and objectives. Modules showing a link to their module description under ‘Acronym’ already form integral part of the scheme and are available for licensing (see below for more details on licensing). Work on other modules is still in progress.
|Acronym||Title/publication date||Brief description of content||
|How to document and communicate software architectures||0||20||0|
|AGILA||Agile Software Architecture
|How to accomplish effective architecture work in agile teams and projects||0||20||10|
|How to determine whether architecture meets expectations||0||20||0|
|DDD||Domain Driven Design
|How to design functional architecture in cooperation with experts and developers||0||20||10|
|EAM||Enterprise Architecture Management
|How to maintain consistency within a large IT system and application landscape||0||30||0|
|How to design embedded systems that have a direct impact on their environments||20||10||0|
|FLEX||Flexible Architectural Models
|How to develop most flexible architectures||20||10||0|
|IMPROVE||Evolution and Improvement of Software Architectures 2015-Jan-14||How to improve software systems systematically, focussed on economic and technical objectives?||10||20||0|
|How to design service-oriented architecture||20||10||0|
|SOFT||Soft Skills for Software Architects
|How can software architects lead and moderate discussions on architecture determination and present their architecture in a comprehensible manner?||0||0||30|
|SWAM||Mobile Architectures 2015-Okt-05||How to design architecture for mobile end devices||20||10||0|
|How to design effective and secure web-based systems||30||0||0|
Recognition of third-party certificates
If you are a participant and have already acquired skills through other training schemes as evidenced by a certificate, you will be able to apply for accreditation of relevant CPSA-A credit points under certain conditions (for more details please refer to the explanations further down on this page).
How the scheme operates
Submission of modules
The initial step is the development of the programme’s curricular modules. The CPSA-A scheme can be extended at any time. Anybody with relevant expertise can contribute a curriculum module by producing a module description to be submitted to iSAQB. The iSAQB Advanced Level working group will then decide whether the module should be accepted or rejected. There may also be further feedback given to the author that must be incorporated before the module can be accepted.
If you would like to submit a module:
- download the document template for a module description
- complete it and
- send the completed description to advanced-newmodules AT isaqb.org
Publication of modules
Once iSAQB has accepted a module, it will become part of the training scheme and published on the iSAQB website. At that stage, iSAQB will also make a decision on the amount of credit points awarded to participants for this module.
Interested training organisers can license a published module and develop module-specific training. They will be granted a licence for this training, allowing them to then offer it using the iSAQB logo. Prior to licensing, they will have to submit an examination task, which will be added to a large pool of tasks and used accordingly for individual candidates in the examination. Alternatively you can revise existing examination tasks and create sample solutions for existing examination tasks in accordance with iSAQB.
If you are a training provider or organiser and would like to license a module in order to develop specific training:
- download the Licence Agreement (currently available on request via e-mail to vorstand AT isaqb.org)
- complete and sign it
- either download the document template for examination tasks and test criteria, complete it and send it to advanced-module-licensing AT isaqb.org
- or contact advanced-module-licensing AT isaqb.org for further information about revising existing examination tasks and creating sample solutions
The licence agreement contains specific, legally-binding provisions on licensing details.
Carrying out training
If you are a training provider or organiser and have licensed a module, you will be allowed to use the iSAQB logo for advertising. You will have to issue participants of your training with a certificate confirming their attendance. This will serve as evidence that they have acquired the amount of credit points required for admission to the examination.
Accreditation of third-party certificates
If you are a participant and have previously been certified elsewhere, you might be able to submit an application for accreditation of your certificates to iSAQB. For these certificates, you will be awarded with a certain amount of credit points in one or more skills areas waiving the requirement to undergo training in those areas again.
The following guidelines apply to accreditation:
- If the certificate is acknowledged by iSAQB, you receive the credit points listed in the table below upon application. The list is subject to change. Changes become effective on 31 December of each year.
- Other technical and methodical trainings will not be accredited.
- For communicative trainings (soft skills) the recognition phase ended on 1st July 2015 and no more Credit Points will be given for external trainings.
iSAQB acknowledges the following certificates for advanced level:
accredited credit points
|SEI SOA Architect Professional Certificate||20||0||0|
|SEI Software Architecture Professional Certificate||0||20||0|
|SEI Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method® (ATAM®) Evaluator||0||15||0|
|SEI Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method® (ATAM®) Leader||0||20||0|
|SEI PLTP Team Member||20||0||0|
|SEI PLTP Leader||20||10||0|
|Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA)||10||10||0|
|Open Group TOGAF 9 Foundation||0||10||0|
|Open Group TOGAF 9 Certified||0||20||0|
Examination and certification
If you would like to be tested as a CPSA-A, you will have to register with one of the recognised certifying bodies. After initial consultation, your chosen certifying body will send you an examination task to be completed by you within approximately 40 working hours. You will also have to document how you solved the task and send the solution to the certifying body. The certifying body will appoint two independent examiners and transmit your solution to them for assessment and evaluation. This will be followed up by a telephone conversation between the examiners and you, the participant. During this conversation, you will have to explain and defend your solution.
If the examiners confirm that you meet all requirements for a CPSA-A, that yours is a good solution and that you have documented, explained and defended the solution well, the certifying body will issue you with the CPSA-A certificate.
Unfortunately for the time being the Advanced Level exam can only be taken in German. The English examination is in preparation.