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The Guide to Certification within The Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA) Program

Copyright 2002-2012 The Open Group

Issue 1.4, August 2012



Table of Contents

1.  Introduction

1.1  Referenced Documents
1.2  Summary of Program Documents
1.3  Summary of Web References

2.  How to Achieve Certification

2.1  Understanding the Program
2.2  Confidentiality
2.3  Preparing for Certification
2.4  Certification
2.5  The IT Architect Trademark License for the Program Logo
2.6  The Certification Agreement
2.7  Submission of Supporting Evidence

3.  Registration

3.1  Accessing the Web System
3.2  Submitting Initial Certification Information
3.3  Registering yourself for the Open CA Program
3.4  Entering Supporting Information
3.5  Submitting your Materials for Audit
3.6  Completion of Certification
3.7  The Appeals Process

4.  Renewals and Updating your Certification Information

4.1 The Renewals Process
4.2 Certification Information Updates
4.3 Re-Certification

5.  Checklist

1. Introduction

The intended audience for this document are individuals who want to register themselves for direct certification (see Section 1.2) within The Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA) Program (referred to in the rest of this document as the Program or the Open CA Program).

Note

This document is not intended for organizations who want to register their own Certification Programs for accreditation, or for contacts of accredited Certification Programs who want to register their IT Architects for indirect certification (see Section 1.2). The Guide to Accreditation within the Open CA Program should be consulted for such activities.

Certification within this Program occurs using an online web system (see Section 1.3). This document provides a roadmap to the steps required for certification.

Summary Overview

The Open CA Program is designed to validate the existence of those qualities and skills in a professional that enable the effective practice of IT architecture. The Program is skills and experience-based and goes beyond validating the mastery of any specific knowledge base.

The Program includes a framework for accreditation of third parties to establish IT Architect certification programs affiliated to The Open Group. The framework of accreditation and certification is specifically intended to standardize the process and criteria for IT Architect professional certification and establish a foundation for the required skills and experience necessary to achieve such a distinction. The Program was designed to be flexible and extensible so that the framework may be adopted by any industry, country, or organization.

The Open Group supports two different routes to IT Architect certification:

  • The first route is direct certification by The Open Group.
  • The second is indirect, through third-party programs accredited by The Open Group.

The Conformance Requirements for certification apply equally to the direct and indirect routes to certification.

The three conformance levels currently supported in this program are as follows:

Level 3: Distinguished (has significant breadth and depth of impact on the business through the application of IT architecture).

Level 2: Master (able to perform independently and take responsibility for delivery of systems and solutions as lead architect).

Level 1: Certified (able to perform with assistance/supervision, with a wide range of appropriate skills, as a contributing architect).

Key Documents

The Program is based upon four key documents:

  1. The Certification Policy, which sets out the policies and processes by which an IT Architect may achieve certification.
  2. The Conformance Requirements, in which the skills and experience that a Certified Architect must possess are documented
  3. The Accreditation Policy, which sets out the policies and processes by which an organization may achieve accreditation for its own certification program
  4. The Accreditation Requirements, in which the criteria that must be met by an Accredited Certification Program (ACP) are documented

The latter two Accreditation documents are not applicable to the audience of this document. At the end of this document is a Checklist to help you make sure that your registration is complete.

You should also read the applicable Getting Started Guides to Certification within the Program. These are available from http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/docs/.

Note

In the event of any conflicts, this informative guide defers to the normative Program documentation.

1.1 Referenced Documents

The documents currently referenced for certification within the Program are:

  • Open CA Program Documentation, July 2011, Open CA Certification Policy, Version 1.5.1 (X071), published by The Open Group.
  • Open CA Program Documentation, July 2011, Open CA Certification Conformance Requirements (Multi-Level), Version 1.0.1 (X110), published by The Open Group.

You should be familiar with the above documents prior to commencing certification. See Section 1.3 for information on obtaining a copy of the documents.

1.2 Summary of Program Documents

This section includes a list of all the Program documents and their purpose.

To become familiar with this Program, you should read the following Program documents:

The Certification Policy
This document is the foundation of the Program, providing information on the policies and processes by which an IT Architect can become certified, what it means to be certified, and how to remain certified. See Section 2.1.2 for further information.

The Conformance Requirements
The Conformance Requirements should then be read to understand the detailed requirements against which an IT Architect can be certified. See Section 2.1.2 for further information.

The Certification Agreement
The Certification Agreement defines the certification service and the legal commitment to the conditions of the service for individuals applying certification through the direct route. See Section 2.6 for further information.

The Guide to The Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA) Program (this document)
This document is a high level guide for individuals who want to register for direct certification within the Program. It provides detailed information on the steps required to take to achieve certification.

Certification Package
This document is provided by an IT Architect to support registration within the Program. It is a detailed description of the skill levels attained and experience undergone, and provides the Certification Authority or Accredited Certification Program with sufficient information to determine whether an IT Architect meets the Conformance Requirements. It is created by filling the Certification Package template provided by the Certification Authority.

There is a separate certification package template for each conformance level.

IT Architect Trademark License Agreement
To complete certification of an IT Architect, each individual must enter the web system in order to accept the IT Architect Trademark License Agreement. This sets out the usage terms and conditions for the IT Architect Certification mark. See Section 2.5 for further information.

1.3 Summary of Web References

A summary of the external web references is given below:

The Starting point for Open CA Certification http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/
The Guide to Certification within the Open CA Program http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/docs/OpenCA_Certification_Guide.html
The Guide to Accreditation within the Open CA Program http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/docs/OpenCA_Accreditation_Guide.html
The Directory of Certified IT Architects http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/Certified_Architects.html
The Accreditation Register http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/acpregister.html
The Certification Policy
http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/docs/OpenCA_Certification_Policy.pdf
The Current Set of Conformance Requirements http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/docs/OpenCA_Conformance_Requirements.pdf
The Frequently Asked Questions File http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/docs/index.tpl
The Certification Package Template http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/docs/templates.tpl
The Problem Reporting System and Database http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/PR/
List of Recognized Methods http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/methods.tpl
How to Submit a Method for Recognition http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/methods.tpl
Review Board Schedule for Master Open CA Certification http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/board_schedule.tpl

2. How to Achieve Certification

This section of the guide details the conceptual steps you are required to take to achieve certification. It provides information on how to perform each of these steps.

The process involves:

  • Understanding the certification program and the processes
  • Preparing for certification
  • Applying for certification
  • Submission of Supporting Evidence
  • A formal Certification Board Review
  • Accepting the Trademark License Agreement

2.1 Understanding the Program

To become familiar with the Program, you should read the following documents:

  • The Certification Policy
  • The Conformance Requirements

2.1.1 The Certification Policy

It is best to start with the Certification Policy, which is the foundation of the Program. It provides information on the policies and processes by which an IT Architect can become certified, what it means to be certified, and how to remain certified.

2.1.2 The Conformance Requirements

The Conformance Requirements should then be read to understand the detailed conformance requirements against which an IT Architect can be certified. These contain a definition of the mandatory and optional criteria an IT Architect must meet in order to be certified.

The three conformance levels currently supported in this program are as follows:

Level 3: Distinguished (has significant breadth and depth of impact on the business through the application of IT architecture).

Level 2: Master (able to perform independently and take responsibility for delivery of systems and solutions as lead architect).

Level 1: Certified (able to perform with assistance/supervision, with a wide range of appropriate skills, as a contributing architect).

You should review Section 3, Conformance of the Certification Policy and the Conformance Requirements to check whether you understand the requirements.

2.2 Confidentiality

Your details when undergoing certification, are confidential between you, the Certification Authority and the Certification Board members. This is effective once you accept the Certification Agreement, which is a prerequisite to commencing the formal registration process for certification.

Upon successful completion of the certification process, the certified IT Architect will not be included in the publicly available Directory of Certified IT Architects at http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/Certified_Architects.html, unless an explicit request has been made to do so to the Certification Authority during the registration process. See Section 5 DIRECTORY OF CERTIFIED IT ARCHITECTS of the Certification Policy for information regarding the visibility of your entry. A number of options exist including no visibility, list by name only, list by name including full certification record, and with or without contact details. For the case of no visibility, each Certified IT Architect has a personal confirmation code that they may pass to their customers and prospective customers to allow queries to the Directory of Certified IT Architects. This becomes available upon completion of certification (see Section 3.6 below)

2.3 Preparing for Certification

You should read the applicable requirements in order to identify the requirements you will need to meet. For Certification, this document is the Conformance Requirements

2.3.1 Problems and Problem Reporting

If you have problems with meeting a requirement for certification, please check the Frequently Asked Questions file at http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/docs/.

If you still have a problem but are certain that you meet the requirements, please check the Problem Report information database held at http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/PR. The online Problem Report database contains known information on existing bugs and interpretations for the Program.  The issue may already be resolved by an existing Interpretation, by an existing Evaluation Process Deficiency or by an agreed Certification System Deficiency.  If it is not, please raise a new Problem Report, see http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/PR.

For general questions related to certification, but not related to the conformance requirements, you can email openca-helpdesk@opengroup.org fully describing the problem. Please note that the Certification Authority helpdesk only handles general questions and is not able to address interpretations of the Program Conformance Requirements.

2.4 Certification

Certification is a formal process.  By accepting the Certification Agreeement terms, you warrant and represent that you meet all the conformance requirements for certification, and have the skills and experience claimed in the Certification Package.

The obligations, terms and conditions of certification are fully set out in the following documents:

  • the Certification Policy
  • the Certification Agreement
  • the Certification Requirements

These documents are available at http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/.

It is necessary to read these documents before you start the certification process in order to fully understand the policies and requirements.

2.5 The IT Architect Trademark License for the Program Logo

Once you have met the Conformance Requirements you will need to accept the IT Architect Trademark License in order to become certified. The trademark license agreement states the terms and conditions for use of the Program Logo and Program name in relation to services you offer, and descriptions of yourself and your skills and experience.

This agreement is completed as the final step to certification and is a click wrap agreement.

For information on obtaining a copy of the IT Architect Trademark License Agreement see the links on the left panel of the web site.

2.6 The Certification Agreement

You are required to agree to the Certification Agreement when you commence your registration.

The Certification Agreement is between you and the Certification Authority. It defines the certification service and the legal commitment to the conditions of the service. This is also where you warrant conformance to the Conformance Requirements.

Note

The Certification Agreement is a web based agreement. When you click the "I accept" button you are indicating that you accept the terms and conditions.

2.7 Submission of Supporting Evidence

To support your registration for certification you need to prepare and submit supporting evidence. This includes completion of a Certification Package in accordance with the template, and completion of a number of online forms giving information about yourself which comprise your Certification Record (see Section 3.2 Certification Record of the Certification Policy). You may also be required to submit documentation describing the Method(s) that you have chosen to cite with your submission, if not in the set of presently recognized methods.

Note
A number of supporting documents must be uploaded into the system. Acceptable upload formats are Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF. Other formats are not acceptable in the system. If high resolution graphics are included in the submission please choose a resolution of 150dpi to reduce the overall size of the upload.

2.7.1 The Certification Package Template

You must complete a Certification Package in accordance with the template to support your registration. This is a detailed description of the skill levels attained and experience you have, and will be examined by the Certification Board to determine whether you meet the Conformance Requirements. To aid preparation of the Certification Package a completed example is provided on the web site.

Note
  Separate templates are supplied for each Conformance Level. Please ensure you choose the correct template.

It is important that you follow the instructions within the template, which are very specific on the level of detail required, for example your submission must be a maxium of 50 pages and must include a certain number of projects in each section. If you do not complete the document correctly it will need to be updated and resubmitted before you can be scheduled for a Board Review.

2.7.2 The Certification Record

You must complete a number of online forms within the web system to define your Certification Record. This includes giving information about yourself, your contact details and optionally about your employer. The web system allows you to change parts of your Certification Record as defined in Section 3.2 Certification Record of the Certification Policy.

2.7.3 Methods Documentation

If your available choice for the method(s) cited to support your submission is not available in the list of recognized methods, you will be required to submit supporting documentation describing the Method(s) that you have chosen to cite with your submission. This will be evaluated as part of your submission.

It is important that you provide your assessment of how the method meets our published criteria, with sufficient references and/or back up material to support your case when evaluated by an expert the field of IT Architecture. This does not mean you need to provide full documentation for the method. Information on the current set of recognized methods and a template for a summary assessment of a method are available here. The criteria for recognition of a method are documented in the Conformance Requirements.


3. Registration

3.1 Accessing the Web Certification System

The Certification Authority provides a web based certification system through which an individual can submit themselves for certification. This is a workflow system that will guide you through the necessary steps for completing a registration. The entry point to the system is at https://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/ (this is a secure server).

3.2 Submitting Initial Certification Information

To log into the web certification system you need a valid username and password on the Certification Authority's web server.

If you don't yet have an account, you may obtain one from the certification web site by selecting "New User" to create your username and password. It takes approximately thirty minutes for a new account to become activated.

Once you have your username, from the secure web site, select "Login".

3.3 Registering yourself for the Open CA Program

Once you have successfully logged in, to register for the Program select "follow this link" under the Direct Certification Route, or if you have previously created a registration select the "Home Page" link and then "Start a New Registration".

Note

The Program has a set of conformance requirements. You will be prompted to select the applicable set at this point in the registration process.

The three conformance levels currently supported in this program are as follows:

Level 3: Distinguished (has significant breadth and depth of impact on the business through the application of IT architecture).

Level 2: Master (able to perform independently and take responsibility for delivery of systems and solutions as lead architect).

Level 1: Certified (able to perform with assistance/supervision, with a wide range of appropriate skills, as a contributing architect).

An application form is then presented on the screen for completion. The form is used to produce your initial Certification Record. This includes giving your contact details and optionally information about your employer. You also need to decide in this screen the initial visibility of your entry on the Directory of Certified Architects, and if visible whether you want your contact details on the public Directory.

You must then select the Method(s) that you have chosen to cite with your submission from a set of recognized methods. This is a multiple selection. If your available choice is not available select OTHER. If OTHER is selected, then an upload will be required later in the process containing documentation describing the method.

You must also indicate whether you wish to cite any granted problem reports in support of your submission. A scrollable selection allows you to select one or more references from the available granted problem reports.

You can also set the initial value for your personal confirmation code. This is the code that you can give out to third parties for obtaining your details from the Directory of Certified Architects if you select not to have a visible entry.

If you wish to send any notes to the Certification Authority about this registration you may do so on this form. Such notes are held confidential between you and the Certification Authority. You should use this field to specify any preferences for scheduling for the Board Review meeting.

After you select the "Submit" button, you are then presented with the Payment Screen. You should also complete this screen at the same time otherwise when you return you will need to repeat the above screen.

3.3.1 Payment

Payment is required to complete the initial submission for registration. Payment must be made by credit card. Fees are non-refundable and net of all taxes. Included with the payment screen is the Certification Agreement, which must be accepted in order to proceed with this registration.

Note

You will not be able to proceed beyond this point in your registration until payment has been received. Fees are non-refundable. If you choose to pay by a method other than the credit card, then your registration is placed on hold status. When the fees have been collected by the Certification Authority you will be released from hold status and alerted by an email from the system.

See http://www.opengroup.org/openca/cert/docs/OpenCA_Fee_Schedule.html for the fee schedule.

3.4 Entering Supporting Information

When alerted that payment has been accepted, return to the site and Login. The screen will now prompt for you to upload the Certification Package documentation. This must be a Microsoft Word format file. A template is supplied on the certification web site that should be completed to generate this document.

If you selected OTHER as the Method(s) in the initial registration stage, then an upload is required containing documentation describing the method(s). This will be evaluated as part of your submission. This should take the form of a html or pdf file. A template for a method submission and the list of available methods is available here.

Note

If you submit draft or incomplete information in your uploads, your submission will be held and not scheduled for a Review Board until you complete the submission and it has been audited by the Certification Authority and deemed acceptable. The Certification Authority will notify you and request you send them completed documents.

3.5 Submitting your Materials for Audit

Once you have completed input of all the required information, the web based certification system allows you to confirm your submission details.

The certification system will display a form into which you enter the final details that are required to submit yourself for the Program. This is done in two stages:

  • This form allows you to check all the information relating to yourself and the registration. It is divided into sections; each one needs confirmation from you that it is correct. You can also signify that you wish the registration to be kept confidential. If any of the information needs correcting you can, at this point, update it.
  • The second and final part is to re-affirm your commitment to the terms and conditions of the program as stated in the Policy and Certification Agreement. Once you have submitted your application, your details are frozen until your request is accepted or rejected.

3.6 Completion of Certification

If for any reason the submission was not complete, you will  be notified within 10 business days so that any corrections can be made and resubmitted. Such a resubmission needs to be done within one month unless an extension has been granted by the Certification Authority.  The initial fee covers one set of corrective actions.

Note

In order to be scheduled for a Certification Review Board, candidates must have submitted their materials and had them accepted by the Certification Authority at least 45 days in advance of the meeting. Acceptance by the Certification Authority takes the form of explicit messages to denote acceptance of the Certification Package and the Method Document (if applicable).

The Certification Authority will assign you to the next available Certification Board for evaluation. Certification Boards meet at a time and place of the Certification Authority's choosing according to demand.

The type of meeting is defined in the conformance requirements.

Where a face to face interview is required these are normally convened quarterly. Where attendance is required in person (Level 2:Master or Level 3:Distinguished) it should be noted that the Certification Authority will not provide you with any monetary or other assistance with travel, subsistence or other expenses incurred, or any compensation for loss of earnings or revenues, in connection with attendance at the Certification Board.

Where a telephone interview is required (Level 1:Certified, or a re-certification) this will be scheduled within the 45 to 60 days of your submission being audited as acceptable by the Certification Authority. In this case your details will be passed to Board Members and they will contact you directly.

After assignment to a Certification Board, you may, with no less than 30 days notice, request a postponement to the next available Certification Board. Failure to attend the assigned Certification Board with less than 30 days notice will result in the application being terminated without any refund of fees.

You will be informed of the outcome of the Certification Board Evaluation of your submission by electronic mail. Upon success, you should proceed to log in to the certification web site using your existing user name and password. You will then be given the opportunity to enter into the trademark license agreement. You need to complete this step in order to become certified.

The details of your certification will then be put on the Directory of Certified Architects, which is a public document, unless you have requested that it remains confidential. To keep the certification confidential, this option must be selected in the web certification system at the time your registration is submitted.

Once you have become certified, this will also activate some additional features within your account:

  • You will be able to download a certificate.
  • You will be able to alter your visibility level within the Directory of Certified Architects.
  • You will be able to download the Program logos applicable to the level of certification.
  • You will be able to amend certain fields of your Certification Record.
  • You will be able to set the initial and later amend the personal confirmation code that you can give out to third parties for obtaining your details from the Directory of Certified Architects when you have previously selected not to be visible.
  • You will be able to renew your certification within the defined period prior to expiry of the certification period

You should note that certification is valid for a defined period as stated in Section 8, Re-Certification of the Certification Policy. At the end of that period if you wish to remain certified you need to renew.

If, for any reason you wish to be removed from the register entirely please contact the Certification Authority directly.

3.7 Appeals Process

You may appeal decisions made by The Open Group Certification Authority as stated in Section 10, Appeals Process of the Certification Policy. Any request for appeal should be sent by electronic mail to open-cert-auth@opengroup.org . Receipt of such a request will be acknowledged within 6 working days by the Certification Authority and the appeals process invoked.


4. Renewals and Updating your Certification Information

4.1 The Renewals Process

An IT Architect is certified for a period of three years. During this period, annual renewal is required to ensure that the Directory of Certified IT Architects is kept up-to-date. After the three years , re-certification is required (see Section 4.3 below).

When a renewal is due the Certification Authority will notify you around one month in advance and again one week in advance using electronic mail (so it is important to maintain your contact information). You may renew your certification in the web system once you have received the reminder. At any time, you may use the web system to obtain your renewal date.

4.2 Certification Updates

You can enter the web system to update key information about yourself as defined in Section 3.2 Certification Record of the Certification Policy. This includes some contact information.

The web system restricts changes to certain types of information, such as your change of name. If the system does not allow you to make a change, please contact the Certification Authority. In the instance of a name change, you would be required to provide proof.

4.3 Re-certification

At the end of your three year certification period you are required to re-certify as defined in Section 8 of the Certification Policy.

When a re-certification is due, the Certification Authority will notify you around four months in advance and again two months in advance using electronic mail (so it is important to maintain your contact information). You are required to submit a fully revised and current Re-Certification Package together with an updated Certification Record.

You may begin the process of re-certification in the web system once you have received the reminder. For re-certifications that take place in the four-month renewal period, the new three-year term starts at the end of the previous term.


 5. Checklist

The following checklist is provided to assist with completion of your registration:

Understanding the certification program and process    
  Have you read and understood the Certification Policy? YES / NO
  Have you read and understood the Conformance Requirements ? YES / NO
Preparing for Certification    
  Have you identified and met the conformance requirements required? YES / NO
  Have you read the certification frequently asked questions file?  YES / NO
  Have you completed your preparation? YES / NO
  Have you filed all the necessary Problem Reports? YES / NO
Legal Agreements    
  Have you read the IT Architect Trademark License Agreement? YES / NO
  Have you read the Certification Agreement? YES / NO
  Has your legal representative reviewed the above agreements? YES / NO
Registration    
  Have you downloaded and completed the applicable Certification Package for the certification level for which you are applying?
YES / NO
  Do you have an account (userid/password) to access The Open Group's web system? YES / NO
  Have you clicked acceptance on the terms and conditions of the Certification Agreement YES / NO
  Have you entered the information required about yourself ? YES / NO
  Have you identified the additional supporting information, if any required for the Method? YES / NO
  If applicable, have you uploaded the additional supporting information? YES / NO
  If you require to alter the visibility of your registration, have you confirmed this within the web system? YES / NO
  Have you provided credit card details for payment of the certification fee? YES / NO
  If applicable, have you made arrangements to attend the Certification Board in person? YES / NO
  If a face to face interview is required and you cannot attend the scheduled dates, have you notified the Certification Authority? YES / NO
  If you have received notification of meeting the conformance requirements, have you entered the web system to accept the Trademark License Agreement, thereby completing certification? YES / NO

 


 Revision History:

Version Date Change History
1.0 July 2005 First release.
1.3 March 2006 Update to include Level 1 Conformance.
1.4   August 2012 Updated section 1.1 to reference latest Certification Policy and Conformance Requirements. Minor editorial updates.
   
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