The half of knowledge, is knowing where to find knowledge or preparing for and passing CDMP
I remember I was doing a data model and encountered a many-to-many relationship — for those who don’t know, a many-to-many relationship occurs when more than one record in one table is related to more than one record in another table. I was researching how to model it and came across the term a ‘bridge table’ — also known as an associative table. The bridge table is used to tackle the many-to-many relationship by creating a table with foreign keys to the primary tables.
“Associative entities are used to describe Many-to-Many (or Many-to-Many-to-Many, etc.) relationships. An associative entity takes the identifying attributes from the entities involved in the relationship, and puts them into a new entity that just describes the relationship between the entities” (DMBoK).
Yes, now it feels like data modeling 101 but back then I remember the immense sense of achievement of ‘cracking’ the case like I was the first person in the world who cleverly found a way of avoiding duplicate data.
Where am I going with it?
If I were to start my journey in data again, I would have started with Data Management Body of Knowledge (DMBoK) by the International Data Management Association (DAMA). Like PMBOK® Guide, considered to be the ‘Bible’ of Project Management, DMBoK should be considered the ‘Bible’ of Data Management, laying the foundation of data management. Data management processes include different functional areas, which have been broken down by DAMA into 11 knowledge areas.
I don’t think I would be able to pass the Certified Data Management Professionals (CDMP), a certification developed by DAMA, back then, though. But X years after and here I am, ready to share my CDMP journey.
If you find this blog post, most probably you already know the exam structure, levels, and levels thresholds. If not, take a look at https://cdmp.info/exams/
Time and again, I find that exam prep is the best way for me to systematize knowledge. The same was with CDMP, to organize knowledge and get some missing pieces- or, to rob myself of the joy of a ‘bridge’ table discovery.
When you start preparing, you, most probably, will come across the sentiment that CDMP will help you with employment opportunities. I would say I’ve never seen the CDMP requirement for the cool kids in the data playground — a data engineering/data scientist/data analyst role. The situation might be somewhat different for a data manager, data management specialist, data governance, and other traditional data management roles.
In my opinion, the Data Management Fundamentals Exam should be prepared for and taken for the knowledge-sake by any data professional, and if we follow the definition by DAMA, a data professional is basically everyone involved in the system design or who directly works in data management.
“A Data Management Professional is any person who works in any facet of data management (from technical management of data throughout its lifecycle to ensuring that data is properly utilized and leveraged) to meet strategic organizational goals. Data management professionals fill numerous roles, from the highly technical (e.g., database administrators, network administrators, programmers) to strategic business (e.g., Data Stewards, Data Strategists, Chief Data Officers).” (DAMA)
- DMBoK like a PMBOK is quite a read. The paperback is 590 pages in length. If you don’t want to prepare for the exam and just want to get a high-level view of data management, you could read ‘Navigating the Labyrinth: An Executive Guide to Data Management’ by Laura Sebastian-Coleman, which is only 200 pages in length. And yes, I read or skimmed both.
- I am an auditory learner which means that I absorb information better through listening, and unfortunately, there is no CDMP exam prep audiobook — or at least I didn’t find any book. I benchmarked different courses — see below - and went for the Data Management for Certification course by Modelware.
The primary reason was that I followed their Youtube channel ‘Modelware Systems’ where Modelware regularly posts recordings from the Meetup meetings (https://www.meetup.com/DAMA-SA-Data-Management-Meetup/). The four-day (eight hours each) course was conducted by Veronica Diesel, an education director at Modelware Systems, and covered all eleven knowledge areas and additional topics such as Ethics, Roles and Responsibilities, etc. If it was not Modelware, it would have been Dataversity. I purchased a few courses from them and the quality was superb.
- I also got the ‘Data Management Essentials’ course from Udemy (https://www.udemy.com/course/data-management-essentials-p/) to go through the concepts.
- Although the training tests were included as a part of the course with Modelware, I collected some links to the Udemy courses which offer the practice tests — as I didn’t use them, I cannot guarantee the quality. A test with 40 questions is available on Canvas, once you register for the exam.
- I appreciated the synthesized version of the DMBoK that was given by Veronica. If you read the DMBoK by yourself, I would recommend highlighting the most important definitions. In one article, I saw that a person spent a large portion of his prep time studying the context diagrams and just graphs/diagrams from the DMBoK, but as for me, the answers to the questions (directly or indirectly) were in the text itself.
- “The half of knowledge, is knowing where to find knowledge…” Somehow it was a surprise for me to see that CDMP is an open book exam which means that you can consult reference materials while taking the exam. It is a matter of preferences but I found it easier to search for some concepts in the e-DMBoK during the exam. Some questions/answers can be found word by word in the DMBoK, other questions require you to apply the materials to practical situations — I would say it was a 50–50 ratio. My feeling is that the DMBoK will help you to get to the associate level almost effortlessly but to get a higher score, you actually need to have some industry experience, not only the guide behind your belt.
What is next? I’ve started preparing for the specialist exams which are a bit trickier as there is no freely available information/materials on the exams. But the beauty of CDMP is that you can always roll back to a lower level if your score is not good enough, so, I guess it is worth a try.