Don't know if you saw, but at TechEd in the US (6/4/2007) we opened the registration for the MCA program permanently. We’ve done that in conjunction with other changes based on refining and growing the program.
What we’ve found – IT architects that are at the level we certify will achieve (or not) the credential regardless of any obstacles and with or without any support. If you tell an architect of this caliber that they must prepare for an interview with other practicing architects and they will have 2 hours to prove their skills in the 7 competencies and myriad sub-competencies, they will. The people that are not as experienced as we are certifying will struggle regardless of the support provided them, and too much support is not very helpful.
What we’ve tried – We implemented a screening process where candidates were screened by MCAs to assess their readiness to enter the program. This helped with save some people the frustration of preparing for the certification when they clearly were not at a level where they would be successful, but this has had limited success as the assessment is not to great depth. To support the candidate we have set the program up with no support/coaching by MCAs, connected candidates with MCAs for 1:1 coaching, and connected candidates with (up to) 4 MCAs to help them prepare. None have helped the candidates.
What we are doing – The program will now be open year round. There will not be a screening process so the potential candidate can enter the program when they feel they are ready. There will not be a time limit to complete the certification, so if the candidate starts gathering the evidence they submit to the review board and find they need to hone their skills and experience in an area, they can pause during the process and continue once they feel ready to continue. This will also make it easier on the candidate if work gets too busy to allow proper time to prepare. There are (and will be additional) assets the candidates will have access to that will help them with preparing. The MCAs have created sample documents and videos to provide tips and tricks that are available when the candidate needs them. There will not be a requirement to synchronize schedules with an MCA to receive their coaching help.