IT Certification Council Awards: How We Determine the Winner

For the past four years, the IT Certification Council has awarded the Innovation Award for new and innovative ideas in IT certification. Often it is very difficult to evaluate and assign a ranking to the contributors.

This year was no exception. Choosing a winner among the top three finalists — even more difficult. How do we do it? Let’s first start with the criteria. Any organization with a focus on IT certifications can participate whether you are an IT company or a vendor. They do not need to be a member of the ITCC for submission of an innovation. In fact, this year the award nearly went to a non-member company.

We start with the written submission. All submissions will be distributed to the judging panel for the first phase of judging. The judging panel is comprised of experienced professionals working in the IT certifications industry. Judges score the applications based on the how well the written submission addresses each of the Judging Criteria Questions. The scores from each judge are totaled to get the submission scores. The top finalists will be selected for the presentation and interview phase of judging.

The scoring for the written submissions are done through a weighted-factor scoring method that once completed yields a total number for each submission. That allows us to select the top three as finalists without prejudice. The criteria is as follows:

  • How strategic was the genesis of the innovation?
    Does it address a known weakness or threat, expand on a strength or opportunity, expand market share, develop a new product, service a new client base, etc.
  • What was the level of innovation?
    Was it to improve an existing process/product/service or create a new process/product/service, was it an application of existing technology in the market or new technology, was it a high risk exploration or a low risk exploration.
  • What values or benefit did it create for one or more stakeholders?
    How did your innovation bring value to those who hold some influence over the certifications you build?  How does it benefit them while still being a benefit to the individual certified professional?
  • How well do the measurable results demonstrate an impact of the innovation?
    Provide hard data. Show how numbers of certified professionals improved due to your innovation, or how much time or effort was saved. Be as specific with numbers as possible.
  • How valuable were the lessons learned for the industry?
    Versus for the organization or the individuals involved.

Each finalist will be asked to give a 15-minute presentation explaining the innovation. Emphasis is placed on clearly defining the innovation, the reason the innovation was developed, the benefits to the different stakeholders, the measurable results, and the lessons learned. Following the presentation, the judges are given 15 minutes to ask questions of the innovation representative.

The judges discuss their evaluation of each of the finalists and then come to consensus on the winning submission. We then notify the winner and announce at our Spring face-to-face meeting.

In addition to receiving an award and recognition for their innovation, award recipients receive a digital badge they can share to highlight their accomplishment.

Innovation Award winners include Microsoft (2015), The Linux Foundation (2016), IBM/Acclaim (2017), and SAP (2018).

Contributing author: Jim Lucari, Vice Chair, IT Certification Council


February ITCC at ATP Member Meeting

Mark your calendar to join ITCC February 17-18, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. This member meeting will be taking place during the ATP Innovations in Testing conference. You do not need to attend ATP to attend these ITCC events!

Dates & Times:

  • Saturday, February 17
  • Sunday, February 18
    • Member Meeting: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
    • ITCC Guests welcome: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Members, be sure to RSVP here. Please note the $50 fee to support covering the cost of Member activities. Click here to view the Member Travel Memo.

ITCC Guests
can RSVP here, and are welcome to join free of charge. Click here to view the Guest Travel Memo.

Hotel Reservations
If you haven’t reserved your accommodations yet, we recommend you do so as the hotel tends to sell out. Reservations can be made here.

Have questions about the in-person meeting or your membership? Want to learn more about other members of the group? Interested in getting more involved? Contact ITCC HQ for more information and support!

ITCC January Member Meeting

Blockchain: Turning Academic Credentials Problems Into Opportunity

Presenter: Leon Katsnelson, Director & CTO, Emerging Technologies, IBM Analytics Platform
Thursday, January 18, 2017 – 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CT

Academic credentials fraud is more rampant than ever. From diploma mills, corrupt school administrators, and “certificate artists”, academic credentials are under assault destroying credibility of the credentials and the institutions that issue them and devaluing the effort of legitimate learners. Popularity of online learning and micro credentials only amplifies the problem. In addition, the costs of issuing, verifying and safekeeping credentials have skyrocketed. Blockchain provides not only an elegant technological solution to the problems of fraud and escalating costs but also a real opportunity to connect skills with employment, to help national and local governments with economic development and attracting investment and to help learning institutions become really effective at lifelong learning that spans geographic boundaries.

If you do not already have this meeting in your calendar,
please contact ITCC today to have the invitation sent to you!

Be Recognized as an IT Certification Innovator

Innovation Award: Call for Submissions Now Open!

Nominations are now being accepted for the Information Technology Certification Council’s (ITCC) Innovation Award. This annual award serves to recognize leadership initiatives that have positively impacted your company or the IT certification industry.  If you or someone you know has added value to a product, service, or initiative within industry, we encourage your submissions!
Submission Qualifications

  • Implementation of an innovative test, process, or service within the past two years
  • The product, service, or initiative must produce value for one or more stakeholders within the IT certification industry, such as, but not limited to:
    – Increased security of a test
    – Resulted in a new method for evaluating competencies
    – Improved convenience or market access to your certification program
    – Enhanced the respect and demand for certified professionals
  • Open to companies and individuals in the IT certification industry (ITCC membership is not required)

Participants must write a brief abstract of 1,000 words or less responding to each of the questions in the application and a follow-up presentation with an interview will take place if the submission is selected as a finalist.

Nominations will be accepted through Friday, January 5, 2018. The award presentation will take place at an ITCC event gathering during the ATP Innovations in Testing Conference in San Antonio, Texas in February 2018.

For application information and to learn more on the process, please download the information page.

Have questions about your membership? Want to learn more about other members of the group? Interested in getting more involved? Contact ITCC HQ for more information and support!

IT Certification Council: 10 Years and Counting

Authored by Chuck Cooper

Hard to imagine it’s been ten years already. Back in 2007, a few IT companies, including IBM (who I was still with at the time), HP, Sun, and CompTIA, came together with a common purpose. We wanted to add focus to our certification programs, in what was primarily an education and learning conference forum. We realized that while our programs differed in their product and test content, we shared many of the same challenges in the operation and growth of our programs.

We started with monthly conference calls and used popular conferences as our annual face to face gatherings. Initially, CompTIA helped host our gatherings. Then in 2010, we formalized our Council by bringing in SmithBucklin as our management organization. That’s when we really began to gel.

Our common challenges, as IT certification companies, remained our singular focus. As one of the member companies, I can tell you that I personally benefited from many of the ITCC’s efforts and deliverables. Marketing efforts to grow awareness on “why get IT certified,” and papers on the value of getting certified. Securing Certifications Task Force (which I had the pleasure to lead for about seven years) drove proactive efforts to prevent, detect and apply real consequences to individuals that do non-independent test taking (NITT, aka cheating). Most recently, the Badging initiative, which is taking a leadership role to document and promote the possibilities of badges– and how they can complement a company’s IT certification strategy.

The strength and true value of the ITCC, and my personal involvement over these ten years (even in post-retirement) is collaboration. To meet and share monthly with my peers–experts in the IT certification industry– is of immeasurable value. Even more, it’s the access to these same experts for an ad hoc, quick 10-minute call, to ask a question and get an opinion that helped me in my program.

We had no idea ten years ago, when a half dozen of us started our conference calls, that it would evolve to the current Council, with 22 member firms, with multiple initiatives, social media presence, and monthly education sessions.

I’ve had the pleasure to have served as vice chair of the ITCC for about seven of the years, and chair of the Securing Certifications Task Force for many of those years as well. I stay involved monthly in member and Task Force calls, even after my retirement from IBM, because of the friendships I’ve made with my peers, as well as my belief in and love for the IT certification industry. I have received far more than I have given!

Meet Chuck Cooper

Chuck Joined IBM in 1969. He initially
held roles in Program Development and Marketing of IBM’s Database Inquiry systems and Document Publishing
systems. Chuck helped IBM develop a
new Business Partner channel of Web Integrators (regional system integrators),
and then moved into his role of Program Director of IBM’s Professional Certification programs. Chuck held the position until retiring in 2016. Chuck also served as
one of the founders of the IT Certification Council (ITCC), and was vice-chair of the ITCC for 6 years. He also currently remains involved in the Test Security initiative for the ITCC.

ITCC September Member Meeting

National Instruments Certification: An Engineer’s Approach to Performance Based Testing

Presenter: Nathanael Letchford, National Instruments
 Thursday, September 21, 2017 – 11:00 a.m. CT

National Instruments has been involved in performance based testing for over 15 years to certify users of our flagship software, LabVIEW. Over the past 15 years the program has grown to 2500+ performance based exams administered per year and an additional 20,000+ multiple choice exams. This presentation will cover NI’s approach and philosophy to certification as well as technical and logistical hurdles and accomplishments along the way.

About the Speaker:
Nathanael is a mechanical engineering graduate from Texas Tech University. He began working for National Instruments in the Application Engineering department in January, 2013, specializing in NI’s vision and motion products. In August 2015 he moved to the Customer Education and Certification group to assume his current role of Staff Certification Engineer. In this role Nathanael has lead development on automated grading tools for performance based exams, expanding exam delivery options to an online, remotely proctored, exam delivery system and implemented the pilot program of NI’s digital badging effort.

If you do not already have this meeting in your calendar,
please contact ITCC today to have the invitation sent to you!

ITCC Fall In-Person Meeting

ITCC Fall Meeting Travel Memo
October 4 – 5, 2017 | Seattle, WA

The ITCC Fall In-Person Member Meeting is quickly approaching! Mark your calendar to join ITCC and the Performance Testing Council (PTC) at the Microsoft Campus in Bellevue, WA. Please find additional meeting details on hotel and transportation in the ITCC Fall Meeting Travel Memo.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017
PTC/ITCC Joint Session (1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.)

  • Introduction of the organizations and how we intersect with one another
  • Case Studies (Linux Foundation and Microsoft)
  • Open discussion based on the brainstorm from August’s ITCC Member Meeting

ITCC Member Dinner (6:30 p.m. / 7:00 p.m.) – Location TBA

Thursday, October 5, 2017
ITCC Meeting (9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) – Full agenda to follow

Be sure to RSVP here. As we discussed during our last in person meeting, ITCC has been looking at ways to help offset costs of the in person meetings. The Board has been working hard to close the gap and we’d like to try offering a $50 fee to support covering the cost of the Member Dinner. With different reimbursement policies from each of our member companies, a receipt will be provided to mark it as either a registration fee for the meeting or as a meal cost for dinner, whichever the member chooses when providing their RSVP.

If you select registration fee, your credit card will be charged the day of the RSVP and a receipt will be provided. If you select dinner, you will receive a secure link to pay on the day of the dinner for ease of reimbursement from your company. Please RSVP early to ensure we have an appropriate count for the meeting.

RSVP Link:

Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions when booking your travel.

A special thanks to Microsoft for hosting the meeting! We look forward to seeing you in there.

Upcoming: August Member Meeting
Title: ITCC/PTC Joint Meeting Brainstorm
Date: Thursday, August 17th
Time: 11am CT

If you are interested in joining the August 17th Member Meeting, please contact us for the invitation.

Thank you,

Four Ways Employers Benefit from IT Certification

Written by Joe Mignano, VP of Channels at Logical Operations

At the IT Certification Council, we believe in professional certifications, and we’re glad to have the chance to work with industry leaders on the issue.

We think the value of certification to an IT professional is obvious. There is no better way to advertise your skills than to get them certified. Certification benefits employers, too. Obviously, certifications help in the hiring process, but we wanted to mention four benefits that don’t often get much play in discussions of certification.

  1. Certified staff increase customer/client trust. This is most true with IT consulting organizations, when some of your employees will be working to manage or implement customers’ applications or data. The customers want to know the staff handling their data are competent and professional, and they can be reassured by certifications. But in today’s world, even if you’re not doing IT consulting, you are probably handling customer data, and customers are increasingly wary (with good reason) about who they entrust with their data. In fact, if IT certifications aren’t very common in your industry, increasing employee certifications can give you a competitive advantage, even in marketing.
  2. Certified staff are easier to manage. If you are managing an IT operation, one of your major responsibilities is assigning people to projects and problems. If you’re a good manager, you know your staff’s skills pretty well, but if you are new to the team, staff certifications can help you get a jump on that knowledge. Certified staff are also easier to hire because certifications can reduce or eliminate the need for screening tests among job applicants, and they certainly help in sorting them by skills.
  3. Certified staff are more effective in their jobs. There is a reason that certified staff earn, on average, about five percent more than their non-certified counterparts. A recent survey on certification found that 70% of people who took certification training reported gains in their on-the-job effectiveness.
  4. Certified staff are more satisfied in their jobs. This is probably the most interesting and powerful benefit of certification. The same survey mentioned above found that 86% of certified staff were satisfied in their jobs. Note that the Conference Board’s annual job satisfaction report for 2016 found job satisfaction among US workers is at 49.6%. That means more than half of US workers are dissatisfied with their jobs. This is a perilous situation in an era of insider threats. Encouraging certification training among IT staff may be one of the best steps you can take for cyber security.

What are your next steps if you are an employer? Managers within any organizations should compile a list of the certifications that validate key skills needed in each job function. For the employees in those roles who don’t have those certifications, managers should work on a learning and development plan that allows those employees to validate those skill-sets and demonstrate to the business they have the knowledge needed to perform their job.

The member organizations of the ITCC are a great place to look for understanding what certification are on the market today and should be adopted by your organization!

ITCC Member Updates

As a member of ITCC, we wanted to provide you with key details on the latest special projects and member benefits. Below highlights the ways you can get more involved in ITCC in the coming months.

Fun Facts From the First Half of 2017
Here are some fun facts about ITCC from the first half of this year:

  • Held a total of 6 Member Meetings
  • 146 attendees at Member Meetings
  • Active Task Forces: 5
  • Completed Projects: 4

ITCC welcomes our newest members: Logical Operations and Dr. Wallace Judd, Authentic Testing Corp.

Monthly Member Meetings
Each month ITCC hosts virtual Member Meetings with the goal of encouraging members to take time to listen to what others are doing in the certification industry to spark discussion. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month. Have an idea for an upcoming meeting? Interested in reviewing recent meetings? Visit the Member Meeting Database on Basecamp for more information.

Upcoming: August Member Meeting
Title: ITCC/PTC Joint Meeting Brainstorm
Date: Thursday, August 17th
Time: 11am CT

March In Person Meeting Wrap Up
If you weren’t able to attend the March in person meeting at ATP, stop by the ITCC Blog for a quick recap. Otherwise, all materials are available on Basecamp for your review.

Fall In Person Meeting
We are thrilled to share that Microsoft has graciously agreed to host the next ITCC Face to Face Meeting!

Mark your calendar to join us October 4th-5th in Seattle, Washington. Both ITCC and the Performance Testing Council (PTC) will meet at Microsoft for their meetings and host a half day joint session between the two groups. The joint PTC and ITCC session will have performance based testing case studies as well as detailed discussion groups.

As we discussed during our last in person meeting, ITCC has been looking at ways to help offset costs of the in person meetings. The Board has been working hard to close the gap and we’d like to try offering a $50 fee to support covering the cost of the Member Dinner. With different reimbursement policies from each of our member companies, a receipt will be provided to mark it as either a registration fee for the meeting or as a meal cost for dinner, whichever the member chooses when providing their RSVP.

Besides your travel expenses, all other meeting meals will be graciously covered by Microsoft as Fall Meeting hosts.

We hope you join us as we discuss the latest from ITCC and the certification industry in the beautiful northwestern U.S. this Fall.

If you are an IT vendor and interested in sponsoring the Member Dinner, please reach out to ITCC HQ for details on the opportunity.

Fall Meeting Schedule:
Tuesday, October 3rd:           PTC Meeting
Wednesday, October 4th:     Morning – ITCC Board Meeting
Afternoon – PTC and ITCC combined session
Thursday, October 5th:          ITCC Meeting

Feel free to begin booking your flights now according to the above schedule into Seattle Tacoma International Airport (Airport Code: SEA). The ITCC Meeting on Thursday, October 5th will conclude by 3:00 p.m. local time. Hotel information as well as a Travel Memo will be provided next week for you to reserve accommodations.

Join a Project or Task Force
Contribute to industry task forces and special projects that influence global IT Certification policies. Current projects include:

  • Agile Development
  • Certification Roadmap
  • Process for Legal and Program Support to Invalidate if Unauthorized Material is Used
  • ITCC Marketing Task Force
  • Badging

If you are interested in participating or have additional ideas, tell us here.

Recently Completed Task Force Projects:

  • ITCC Incident Response Matrix
  • Certification Program Question List
  • Remote Proctoring – Benefits, Risks, and Lessons Learned White Paper
  • Badge Program Checklist

Basecamp is the project management tool ITCC Task Forces use to collaborate and also hosts:

  • Member Meeting Video Database – All Member Meeting Videos since 2014
  • ITCC March In Person Member Meeting Wrap-Up 
    • March Meeting Presentation and Minutes
    • 2016 Employer Survey Results
    • Recently Completed Task Force Projects:
      • ITCC Incident Matrix
      • Certification Program Question List
      • Remote Proctoring – Benefits, Risks, and Lessons Learned White Paper

Join Our LinkedIn Group
ITCC’s private LinkedIn Group is the format members use to engage with each other. Have a quick question or interested in starting discussion? This is the place to connect with other individuals in the industry who are part of ITCC.

We also have a public company page, so feel free to connect with ITCC there as well.

Have questions about your membership? Want to learn more about other members of the group? Interested in getting more involved? Contact ITCC HQ for more information and support!

Invite Your Colleagues
To make sure you and your colleagues stay up to date on the newest ITCC news, please email ITCC the contact information of those who should be added to our member roster.

ITCC Badge Program Checklist

In the classic adventure film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, banditos accost prospector Fred C. Dobbs and his companions, Howard and Curtin. The bandit leader, Gold Hat, attempts a crude truck, telling Dobbs, “We are federales. You know: the mounted police.” To which Dobbs replies, “If you’re the police, where are your badges?”

Caught off guard, Gold Hat famously blusters, “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!”

Just as badges are an essential signifier of trust and authority in society at large, they have an emerging and important role in the IT certification realm. IT certification badges, more commonly called digital badges, are image files containing various metadata that IT professionals can display on websites, digital documents, and social media.

Badges offer a number of benefits, both to professionals who earn them, and the certification organizations that issue them. Badges can be more conveniently stored and shared by individuals who earn them, while badge issuers generally find it far easier to verify these digital credentials to employers and other interested parties.

It’s no wonder, then, that many in the IT certification realm are leaving behind the era of ink-and-paper credentials and going digital.

A Blueprint for Success in Badging

The process of changing over from traditional certifications to digital badges is perhaps straightforward in theory, but can be both intricate and arduous in practice. Those more apt to leap before they look are likely to land in a minefield where each next step could blow up into an unforeseen complication.

Thankfully, there’s no need for anyone to go blundering off into the digital wilderness without a map or a clear destination. The IT Certification Council has a number of participating members who are old hands in the brave new world of digital badging.

With the benefit of the ITCC’s Badge Program Checklist, you can start at the very beginning — a very good place to start — and carefully design and build exactly the program that suits both your badging needs and the individual character of your organization.

For example, the Badge Program Checklist can help you determine the business objectives of your program, always an essential step in pitching any new direction to the bean counters and purse-string holders who will be providing the funds required to make the change.

The Badge Program Checklist also helps you work through key specifics like launching your new program. In the classic baseball movie Field of Dreams, farmer Ray Kinsella throws away his harvest by constructing a ballpark in his cornfield after a spectral voice promises him, “If you build it, they will come.”

Badging ventures, in spite of their obvious benefits, don’t come with the same guarantee. When everything is ready, you’ll want to both make a splash and be prepared to show the ropes to eager professionals, guiding them through your new arrangements.

Essentially, if there’s something that you need to think about while putting everything in place, it’s covered in the Badge Program Checklist.

The last thing you want is for the IT professionals who devote their time, energy, and finances to your certifications to become frustrated and decide that they don’t need your stinking badges. Become a member of the ITCC, get the Badge Program Checklist, and everything will unfold just the way it should.

ITCC Projects are for the use of ITCC  Members. To download, visit Basecamp or request a copy from ITCC HQ. Click here to view the condensed, public version of the Badge Program Checklist.