What are the most popular ITIL Intermediate exams?

The ITIL v3 certification structure does allow some flexibility in your pursuit of obtaining the ITIL Expert designation.  Not a perfect laid out option tree; but a few options nonetheless.

At the Intermediate level, you can take the Lifecycle Stream.  More focused on Managers.  Or you can go the Capabilities route.  More focused on Practitioners.  There are combinations where you could mix and match.  The numbers don’t add up as nicely.  But it is possible.

You gather 3 credits for each Lifecycle module.  4 for each Capability module.  Consequently, I was wondering what the more popular route was and what exams were the most taken.  My pokey research is limited.  What I gathered is unofficial – and possibly dated.

Preliminarily, it appears that the streams have a fairly balanced number.  This could be due to focused pathways or picking and choosing between the streams.

Not surprising, Service Operations (SO) is the most popular exam to take.  Service Operations is what most in IT are used to.  What they do daily.  Safe.  Familiar.  Which makes it the easiest.  Pair that with the next easiest  – in terms of familiarity – Operational Support and Analysis (OSA) – and you have knocked out 7 Intermediate credits.  Not a bad start.  Eight more to go.  You can go with 2 more Capability exams or 3 more Lifecycle exams.

The ones not really getting any love are Service Strategy (SS) and Continual Service Improvement (CSI) on the Lifecycle side; and Planning, Protection, and Optimization (PPO) on the Capability side.

Again, not surprising.  They are bigger picture.  More theoretical at points than the others.  Often not want many in the IT field do regularly.  Plus, they incorporate material and subject matter outside of daily IT operations – i.e. Quality Management and Marketing.

Curious what path you took.  Please share your thoughts, if you may.

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An analogy of Why ITIL

In trying to explain why implement ITIL (IT Service Management) best practices within an IT organization, I played out a scenario of an IT professional speaking with an IT manager knowledgeable of ITIL frameworks. Here is essence of what I ad libbed. Want to throw it out there and seek critique because I wish to use this or similar in my books, trainings, etc.

IT professional does not see the point of changing the way we have always done things. He announces, “Business will use IT Tool X and Y because that is the tool we have and they will like it.”

“Ah, that is the fundamental problem of IT,” chimes in the IT Manager presenting ITIL v3 to the group. “That is why best practices such as ITIL are so important. IT is a powerful component of a business. But we are here because of the business.

“Our business has options. If we are not doing the best and striving to the aims of business, then what good are we? What is stopping senior management to outsource or find some other means? And the few customers outside our company we provide service for, aren’t there 100 other places or ways they can meet their needs?

“We are the backbone of business because we provide the support for the business. Allowing business to achieve its needs and value. We must place ourselves in a position to strive for better support to our business. This is done by delivering better quality at increased cost effecitiency and the best fit. Imagine if your backbone was bent and bent on doing its own thing. You cannot have your backbone sticking out. Your backbone certainly cannot survive without you. A misaligned spine is not going to do you well. If you were business, would you care about a backbone that was crooked and did not support you in the way you needed?

“Now business can swap out all or part of their backbone – us, IT. Physically, we cannot do it as easily in our bodies. Maybe some adjustments or paying attention to our posture a little better. Or a painful surgery. Getting rid of our IT department may be painful at first, but if the business sees more long term advantages of it, why not?”

ITIL at its core is providing an alignment to the needs of business with the capabilities and resources within IT.

Tackling the Remainder of the ITIL Intermediate Stream

One of the big decisions you need to make is whether you are going to go primarily down the LIFECYCLE stream or the CAPABILITIES stream.  Ok, it’s not that big of a decision.  Not like buying a car or which ice cream you are going to order.  Well, it is a little less costly – barely – than buying a car; and more life affecting than choosing your ice cream flavor [side note: I tried Pumpkin ice cream the other day – pretty good!].

Covered in another post and podcast [to be attached here soon], the ITIL certification schema has layers.  All must do the Foundations and the Managing Across the Lifecycle exams.  But in the middle it is a little more squishy.  More squishy if you eat a lot of ice cream.

You must gain 15 intermediate credits.  Many place themselves in one of the 2 camps: Lifecycle or Capabilities.  You don’t have place yourself strictly in one camp or the other. You may pick and choose.  Although, I did.  I am firmly placed in one camp.

The different streams are based on different mindsets or purposes, if you will.  They represent a different approach.  A different angle to the ITIL framework.  Lifecycle’s path more ‘management’ focused.  Capabilities more ‘practitioner’ focused.

I am in the management mind.  I am collecting the certifications under the lifecycle stream: SS, SD, ST, SO, and CSI.  Means I must do all 5 (if I don’t cross over) to acquire my full 15 Intermediate credits.  My intentions are to continue viewing IT Service management and ITIL practices in the more holistic views.  Seeing the picture.  Seeing where it is best applied.

Coming from a more strategic, business, and project management background, this was an easy choice for me.  You may have a tougher choice.  Depending on where you have been and where you wish to go.  If you want to be the ones executing the best practices and have background in the trenches, go capabilities.  If you see yourself defining strategy, determining broader applications, go lifecycle.

In any case, they all meet up again in the MALC capstone exam.  See you at the top