February 11, 2022

Breaking Down the Changes to AIIM's CIP Program

As I previously posted, CIPs received the following email yesterday. In this post, I'm going to break down AIIM's points, line by line, and explain how they demonstrate AIIM's absolute lack of understanding of certifications and why these changes spell the end of the CIP program. 

Let me note that I write this "not in anger, but in sorrow". I made the decision to leave AIIM, and I suspected that this would happen based on conversations over the last couple of years where senior management demonstrated how little they understand certifications broadly, the CIP specifically, and how to sell and market them. 

I've made no changes to the original text of the AIIM email other than to remove the bullet points because Blogger is a bit wonky about quotes and bullets. So I present and respond, you decide. 

“I just love tracking and reporting CEUs,” said no one, ever! That’s why we’re changing the CIP recertification process, effective immediately.

JW: I've heard from three CIPs so far, and had thought myself as well, "I just love taking certification exams," said no one, ever! 

Here’s the deal:

We trust you. We know that, if you care enough about the Information Management practice to keep current with your CIP designation, you’ll naturally be engaging in continuing education and networking activities. 
JW: Yep. And those who don't, won't. That's why certifications require maintenance. 

AIIM has tons of opportunities for you to do just that throughout the year – and we can easily tell when you’ve participated. The old method of reporting your CEUs from any number of activities (including non-AIIM activities) was random and arbitrary at best. We think you have better uses for your time.
JW: I hold half a dozen certifications. It's not that onerous - it takes about the same time as taking the test again. And it's not random and arbitrary, rather, AIIM's former practices reflected the established industry practice that education is education. 

While AIIM will no longer require any proof of CEUs, your employer or other organizations might. So, if you are an AIIM+ Pro subscriber, you’ll get real-time CEU tracking for the courses you complete in your courses portal. And, we’re always happy to help you determine the other AIIM activities you’ve participated in throughout the year. (CEU reporting is available upon request for AIIM+ and AIIM+ Pro members).
JW: Update 3/10: I don't see any way to export out this list of CEUs other than copy/paste or screen print. If AIIM's thinking is to have CIPs reach out to AIIM to get an export, this seems unnecessarily cumbersome. 

I also signed up for AIIM+ Pro to test it out, and items are currently awarded 1 CEU regardless of length or effort expended, e.g., a 20-min module that I listened to was awarded 1 CEU; so was the AIIM21 session that I literally clicked into and out of the video in under 10 seconds. Even accepting the certificate for completing a learning path was awarded 1 CEU. Arbitrary indeed. If I were another certifying body, I don't see how I could accept AIIM "CEUs" in good faith given that. 

Going forward, you will maintain your CIP by retaking the CIP exam at a discounted fee of $150. 
JW: Because the thing everyone loves about certifications is taking the exam. 

Did we tell you that the CIP exam is no longer proctored? Instead, you’ll have unlimited time to complete the exam and multiple attempts to pass it with a score of 70% or higher. Feel free to have your study and resource materials at hand during the examination period.
JW: So: open book, unlimited tries, not proctored. That doesn't sound very valuable to me. Also, I'll be taking the new "exam" soon to understand what they did. The old passing score of 60% was set mathematically based on actual exam performance. 70% was picked arbitrarily (that word again....). So either they are using one or the other of the exam forms, which were calibrated at 60%, and which are now harder, or they are using the sample exam, which are not really valid questions because they weren't developed and tested by a group of your peers. I wrote them, and while I'm good, I wasn't going the extra length to make them psychometrically valid. 

Upon successful completion of your CIP exam, you will automatically receive your official CIP certificate and digital badge. And, we look forward to celebrating your achievement during special events year-round.
JW: The first announcement sent recognizing CIPs will be the first CIP-related email sent in years, so I guess that represents at least one improvement.

Don’t worry about keeping track of your expiration date. A few month’s shy of your 3-year active period, we’ll send you a reminder and link to recertify. Easy peasy. Update 3/10: After another inquiry, AIIM had this in response: "You’ll receive an email with a link within a few weeks of your renewal date to recertify." So is it weeks or months? I guess I'll update this again once I get the official notification. 

JW: I don't know where your CIP status will be available through the website, but it isn't currently in the AIIM+ Pro learning portal. It's still available as I type this in the old portal, along with your other transcripts, but I imagine that will go away at some point and AIIM has not answered my specific question last week as to what happens after it does. 

In consultation with members of our community and professional training/certification experts,

JW: Who? I'm in the inaugural group of 120+ Certified Credentialing Experts certified by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, and I have worked on 5 other certifications including vendor certs and all 3 versions of the CIP and I say AIIM has gone off the rails here. 

we make these changes to align with modern pervasive learning best practices. 

JW: Every single major certification uses a formal assessment - i.e. if there's an exam, it's proctored. Almost every single major certification uses CEUs as an alternative to retesting. If you're reading this, odds are you have at least one certification and you know this. This is just flat-out wrong and again demonstrates the absolute lack of understanding among AIIM senior management as to what a certification is and how it works. Which is unfortunate, because associations with reasonably valid certifications who actually market them make a lot of money off of them and use them to fund other programs. AIIM has never understood this. 

We stand by the value and relevancy of the CIP designation and the rigor of the examination process.

JW: As someone who actually knows this stuff, I know that CIP as a certificate, which is what it now is, will retain some value and some relevancy. I don't know how AIIM plans to update it, which means the relevancy will fade quickly (the current CIP will be 3 years old in June). The value will drop precipitously as the number of CIPs does, because as noted, nobody, NOBODY, wants to take a test again. 

If AIIM's Board of Directors takes this seriously, I encourage them to do an audit of the current number of CIPs and audit it each month. I predict that not only will there be no growth, but that the number of CIPs will drop by 50% in 2022. It's a shame that AIIM has done this, and it's a shame that they won't understand the decline. 

CIPs, if you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear and share them, and happy to do so anonymously. You can reach out to me at jwilkins13@gmail.com. 


John Daly said...

Not always mind you but sometimes the motivation to attend a webinar was in order to acquire CEUs. And I didn't mind filling out the maintenance form. The process worked just fine for me.

I guess I'll sound like my dad when it comes to future CIPs: "I become a CIP back when you had to work for it!"

Am I going to retake a test on a certification I already have? lol

Jesse Wilkins said...

Yep. I haven't taken the new exam so not sure how onerous it is - gonna do that this week and will post my thoughts about it as well.

JedPC said...

I certainly wont be renewing, as to me it now appears worthless. More to the point, I now have to consider dropping AIIM membership completely, because, what exactly is it for, and what does it give me?

George Parapadakis said...

As one of the first people to pass the CIP exam, while it was still in beta testing, I found the announcement painful to read and painful to think of the ramifications.

The CIP program was already hampered by lack of marketing that would drive demand. It was a very respected badge of honour amongst peers, but never became a prerequisite for anything.

Your analysis is very thorough, but I looked at the announcement in a slightly more cynical way. This is AIIM saying: "Take the exam, it's easy - open book, many retakes, phone-a-friend, whatever. So long as you pay us the $150, the renewed CIP is yours for the asking".

Being a CIP used to indicate that you had a basic broad understanding of the ECM industry. Now being a CIP just indicates that you can afford it.

Unknown said...

I don't have the CIP yet, but I would retake the CA exam rather than use CEU because they only counted records mgt activities as 50% archival and it was too cumbersome to document for someone with a foot in both worlds. That said, taking the CIP exam to recertification and as open book is not something that lends credibility to the results.

Unknown said...

I agree with George P. that this appears to be a cynical attempt to extract more money from AIIM members.

I did my first CIP renewal in 2020 and aside from webinars and training, I accumulated many of the required CEUs by reading a bunch of books I would probably never otherwise have made the time to tackle, which was actually of great value to me and expanded my knowledge and understanding of our field.

The initial CIP exam meant we could demonstrate a baseline level of knowledge and I could then build on it with CEUs that incentivised us to stay current with industry developments and practices.

A repeated, unproctored exam - aside from the ridiculous cost - will instead incentivise CIPs to narrow the scope of their ongoing learning just to the areas known to be addressed by the exam itself - which will be lagging literally by years behind what's going on in the industry.

I not will be paying for and sitting exams to maintain my CIP and I will have amother look at my membership because TBH I'm not even sure which type of membership I now have and what it's giving me.

Very disappointed.
Paddy Brown