Information governance certification: AIIM vs. ARMA

Those of you who read this blog regularly are aware that Sherpa has traditionally created tools that solve a particular information management challenge, such as enforcing email retention policies or performing eDiscovery. While those products have historically performed well, we’ve started addressing a new market mandate to identify, track, manage and dispose of information assets from a more holistic point of view, this trend is often referred to as information governance. Along with the development and launch of our Altitude IG platform, Sherpa is expanding our focus on information governance by building our internal expertise in the topic and pursuing professional certifications for our team.

I recently completed both the AIIM and ARMA certification programs and have a few observations to share about my experience:

  • First, both programs are well worth the time and investment if you are planning an information governance project. Often, we tend to view certifications as a ‘tick-the-box’ requirement for our professional development. It’s apparent though that both AIIM and ARMA have put a lot of thought and considerable effort into creating programs that offer actionable insights. Governance initiatives tend to be large complex efforts and both certification programs provide an excellent framework for structuring a project and breaking the process down into manageable components.
  • The AIIM Information Governance Practitioner program consists of ten modules that are covered in a 170 page workbook. The certification test is open-book and available on the AIIM training website. You have 90 minutes to answer 60 questions, and a score of 70% or above will earn you a passing grade. For those of you who may be approaching a governance project from an IT background, the AIIM program is a great fit, since it provides more guidance on how to analyze the various information silos within the organization and evaluate them with regard to the appropriate governance controls.
  • ARMA presents their Information Governance Professional program in six distinct domain areas. Their one-day certification overview program walks candidates through a high-level overview of those areas and provides study strategies and information about testing, maintaining certification and more. ARMA’s program requires a fair amount of independent study in order to prepare for the exam; these exams are taken at a certified Pearson testing center and contain 140 multiple choice questions that must be completed within two hours and 45 minutes. The ARMA program requires knowledge about a much broader range of topics including project management process, regulatory constraints, industry standards, and more. You certainly don’t need to be an expert in all of these topics to satisfy the certification requirements, but you do need a working knowledge on all of the subjects ‑ which seems reasonable, since they can be integral components of an information governance project.

So, which program would I recommend pursuing? As I mentioned earlier, if you are a team member assigned to a governance project and want a better understanding of the overall process or have a specific focus area, the AIIM program is a great option. If you are tasked with being the project manager for an information governance initiative, ARMA’s IGP program may be the way to go. If you are planning your organization’s first foray into information governance and you will be responsible for both designing and executing the project, both programs are worth considering. They will provide you with an excellent, well-rounded overview of the information governance process.

Whichever option you choose, I wish you the best on your certification path. If this overview was helpful, follow me on Twitter @SherpaRick where I regularly post on topics related to information governance.

One comment on “Information governance certification: AIIM vs. ARMA

  1. Hello Rick,

    I am writing an article for the Dallas ARMA Chapter about Information Governance. Would it be ok if I quote or paraphrase your blog on July 7 about IG certification?(with proper credits of course)

    thank you, Jan

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