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Inter­views with active voluntary iSAQB members!!

Since 2008, the members of the Inter­na­tional Software Architecture Quali­fi­cation Board, iSAQB e.V., have been working to promote standard­i­s­ation in the training of software archi­tects. They all are software architecture experts from industry, consulting, training, academia and other sectors and work for iSAQB on a voluntary basis.

Find out below what eight of the currently 88 iSAQB members have to say about their work and commitment for the associ­ation, the types of certification available and the reasons why certification within software architecture has been long overdue.

Why was iSAQB e.V. founded?

Phillip Ghadir: iSAQB was founded in order standardise and harmonise the training of software archi­tects. Ideally, this training should be the common denom­i­nator between those software archi­tects that develop software and those that take care of planning and communications.

Who can call themselves a software architect?

Matthias Bohlen: Basically, anybody can use this title as it is not protected. But in a typical software devel­opment team, there will always be one or two members of that team who have this ‘design energy’: they’re the ones to whom it matters what a component is called, they’re the ones to whom it matters what the interface looks like, they’re the ones to whom it matters whether a system can be maintained and extended. And it’s exactly that kind of people we need, so they really are the ones who should be allowed to call themselves software architects.

Andreas Rausch: The fact that anybody can use that title is a problem indeed. And it’s one of the reasons why we must have a clear occupa­tional profile with a certification programme that is substan­tiated by specific content.

Why is certification important for software archi­tects, what is its added value?

Martin Rösch: I’d liken it to a driving licence documenting that the holder is familiar with the basic traffic rules. iSAQB certification documents that knowledge has been acquired, which makes it a quality feature for potential clients or line managers.

Wolfgang Fahl: Up to now, employers have had to specify their expec­ta­tions in their job adverts. This has now become obsolete as the iSAQB curriculum defines 46 learning goals we expect a software architect to attain. At the end of training, the certificate will help to make clear what exactly I as a software architect am capable of doing.

What is the difference between the certification levels?

Mahbouba Gharbi: The Foundation Level forms a common basis for the topic of software architecture. It’s a basic course for software archi­tects as well as software devel­opers, testers, analysts and technical project managers. The Advanced Level is aimed at experi­enced software archi­tects and software devel­opers who have already famil­iarised themselves with the topic of software architecture.

Stefan Tilkov: The Foundation Level‘s final exami­nation is a multiple-choice test with 42 questions. In order to pass, partic­i­pants must answer at least 60% of all questions correctly. The Advanced Level is funda­men­tally different and composed of a variety of modules and areas.

Wolfgang Fahl: At Advanced Level, partic­i­pants have to collect 70 credit points from the modules of the three skills areas method­ology, technology and commu­ni­ca­tions in order to register for the exami­nation. They are then given an exami­nation task, which they will have approx. 40 hours to complete. Upon completion of the task, they will have to defend it in front of a board of examiners and respond to their questions. Those who pass the exami­nation can call themselves “Certified Profes­sional of Software Architecture”.

What impact does certification have on your career?

Matthias Bohlen: I think that within a company it would be good to have as many employees as possible taking part in Foundation Level training. This would provide more flexi­bility regarding their involvement in projects and help them settle faster. And it would harmonise the common language used as everybody would use the same termi­nology. Being qualified according to Advanced Level brings more benefits than just improving opera­tions within a company: as a line manager, having an architect with the quality feature of an iSAQB-certified Advanced Level gives me the peace of mind that I can delegate larger projects to a respon­sible and reliable employee. And that can be a career advantage of course.

Does iSAQB e.V. recognise certifi­cates gained from other previous training?

Carola Lilienthal: Third-party certifi­cates can be part of Advanced Level training as credit points may be awarded for certain certifi­cates. We’re always happy to provide fast and straight­forward information on how this could work out in individual cases. We encourage anybody inter­ested to contact the associ­ation via e‑mail.

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