PEGA – A shortage of LSA’s or a lack of emphasis on LBA’s?

The Pega  BPM market is still one of the most buoyant recruiting markets in enterprise software and has been for the last 4 years (if not more) though it lacks experienced candidates at the higher level, particularly Pega Lead System Architects (LSA's) globally. Being the recognised market leading BPM solution, it echoes the issues from the past such as EAI, SOA and more recently, BIgData. It evolves too quickly to satisfy the market thirst for experienced candidates.

A recent Gartner article predicted that globally in the next 2 years there will be a huge increase in Pega certified professionals, but does this actually ease the problem? Does a Pega certification actually guarantee a good candidate? As a collective, views on this vary. Those with certifications naturally conclude this is a positive, and in some cases this is correct. Though speaking to a core nucleus of exceptional Pega subject matter experts with some 15-20 years’ experience, the opposite would appear to be true.

Pega as a solution is renowned as the most agile and scalable BPM available. I can't argue with that. My question is, does a Pega certified professional actually understand the underlying infrastructure, or are they simply Pega trained? Many Pega programmes suffer from an acceleration of Pega development in the early phase, only to report a huge deceleration to follow. Foundations are flimsy and scalability is questionable. This has created an opportunity for subject matter experts to carve a unique niche to unravel poor implementation practices, whilst offering architectural advice and best practice consultancy for the ongoing programme. All too often this is too late with little to show by way of a workable solution, plus timescales and budgets are way over initial expectations. The overriding theme is that business needs and business analysis are being undervalued in favour of jumping the gun and heading to implementation. Even at this point the attitude is one of “throw enough developers in and mix and all will be fine. As long as they're certified, what can go wrong?”

In simple terms, would you invite an architect to draw your building plans when you've already laid foundations and committed to erecting a structure? Would you allow your builders to build on top of foundations they have no knowledge of? Without the engineering know how? Without the knowledge of the soil temperament and the drainage? The answer is obvious. So why do so many Pega installs run into the same issues?

My opinion is that a Pega Certification is exactly that. It's Pega focused and doesn't take enough of the wider view into account. In 2007-2012 I worked with a number of highly experienced LSA's, certified for 5 years or more as an LSA with practical commercial experience. Backed with further CSSA (Certified Senior System Architect) experience previous to that. These candidates are a rare breed and the majority claim to be able reduce developments costs through the recognition of a number of factors. Firstly, more significant investment in business analysis, invest more to save more in terms of project resources and man hours to completion. Secondly, take a breath after the fact and look into hiring only the top tier of Pega candidates available. This doesn’t simply mean a certification, it’s hiring the right candidates for right role with the right tools. They exist, contrary to popular opinion.

So the original question – A lack of LSA’s or a lack of appreciation for LBA’s. My view is the latter.

In my experience, the lack of good Pega candidates at all levels is a lack of investment. Clients immediate needs are for certified candidates under the assumption this solves their issues. On the flip side, with further investment in the candidate community for training in addition to the certifications, the majority of the SI’s and similar can actually offer a client a robust, cost effective implementation. Pega isn’t going away, the demand for candidates at all levels is higher than ever. The long term solution is investment at the lower levels, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s stop talking about the problem and focus on the solution.