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.

Final Stab at CSI

I did it! I finally cleared all the ITIL® v. 3 Intermediate Lifecycle certification exams! CSI (Continual Service Improvement) was the one causing me headaches. Failed it before. But now have passed it with distinction. That would make all 5 certifications passed with distinction.

Now only Managing Across the Lifecycle exam remains. This is the capstone that pulls all the ITIL principles in place. Upon passing that exam, I will finally reach the designation of ITIL v. 3 Expert!

I’ll keep you posted.

Reading Kotter’s Change Book

As noted in another post, I failed to clear the Continual Service Improvement -CSI- of the the ITIL v3 Intermediate certification exams. The only one remaining in my goal to clear all the Intermediate Lifecycle modules. All the others I have passed. Not only passed; but with distinction. Alas, for some strange reason this CSI exam eludes me.

Determined to pass this one soon, I am trying to find inexpensive ways to enhance my preparation. Very little resources are out there to prepare oneself for the CSI exam. I have taken multiple practice exams (oddly have passed each one on the first attempt) and have read the CSI core publication. I will read the core book a little more closely once again and take extensive notes. In the meantime, I thought I might complement my studies with a side book.

The CSI book stresses the 8 Steps to Transforming Your Organization theorized by John Kotter. Hence, I thought: let’s read it straight from the source. Grabbed a copy of Kotter’s “ground-breaking” book Our Iceberg is Melting Sadly, this has been the lamest professional book I have read since… Who Moved My Cheese. Maybe because they take the same lame ass way of presenting the data. And yet people eat this stuff up. I think it belittles people’s intelligence. I guess I might be in the minority when I think professional books should be… more professional?

Only 147 pages. With pictures. Then add ample white space . And 16 point FONT! I think the entire book is no longer than my entire blog.

What was most annoying, was the feeble attempts at using an analogy, but not sticking with it. He went from penguin actions to human actions. If you are going to use an analogy, then stay in the analogy. This book was so disconnected. Î guess I should not be too harsh. I am working on an ITIL v3 Foundation book using an analogy/story. I might have to take other’s criticism.

But it is a short read. Don’t waste any money buying it. You can finish before you leave the bookstore. Keep the change. The lesson on the ‘change’ is worthy. Knowing the 8 steps is good. At least for those considering sitting for the CSI certification exam. I have also produced a GoGogh podcast/radio show on the topic. I will link it once it is up.

I have also received the new book by Chip and Dan Heath entitled, Swith. The topic is also change management. I have higher hopes for this. I really enjoyed their last book, Made to Stick. I’ll give you my review once I am finished.

Until then, I need to re-read the CSI publication in preparation for my exam Monday.

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

Another Go at CSI

Tomorrow, I retake my CSI Intermediate ITIL exam.  As posted earlier, my previous attempt missed by 1 point.  Time to give it another go.

Not certain what else I can do to prepare at this time.  My plan is strictly to re-read the core CSI publication once more.  Having taken the exam once already –  not to mention the other Lifecylce Modules: Service Operations (SO), Service Transition (ST), and Service Strategy (SS).  I am familiar with the question types.  Familiar with the topic.  Now it is making certain I align it with their thinking.

With luck, this time I will not have a repeated scenario with an unaligned question.

Taking the CSI Intermediate ITIL Exam: Take 1

Alright, got the disappointment off my chest.  Now to give you more beneficial feedback on taking the ITIL v3 Continual Service Improvement Exam.

Cold, rainy Seattle morning.  Time was set to take the CSI Exam at the local community college.  Don’t think I spent enough time preparing.  At least not like I prepared for the other exams.  Overconfidence – maybe.  Hell, I have already banged out 3 other ITIL Intermediate exams over the course of the last 3 weeks – how hard could it be?  Harder than I thought.

Continual Service Improvement intertwines with all the other core publications of ITIL.  It is the quality and betterment that drives the entire IT service lifecycle.  Although the shortest core publication; it is the farthest reaching.  Mainly due to the fact that it extends even beyond the core publication and the foundational knowledge found within the other core books.

I found this exam to pull from outside best practices and references more than the other exams.  CMMI, COBIT, ISO standards, Quality Management, PRINCE2 and other project management practices, etc seemed to seep in this exam.  They don’t inform you that you must be proficient in these other knowledge areas, but it definitely helps.

Many of the questions seemed to seek your ‘next best action’ or ‘best course of action’ or ‘where do you start’.  Subjectivity is nothing new to these exams.  It is only ‘best practices’ after all.  And it is whatever best practices or mode of action the authors of the exam feel it is best.  Granted, there is a lot of supporting evidence -primarily what is written in the official manuals – but everyone’s experiences and perspectives are different.  So take this as caution when you take the exam.  Understand what you think they want you to do.  Not necessarily what may be the case in your niche workplace.  They are looking for application to the scenario at hand.

My final word of advice would be to take this exam last, if you are pursuing the certifications on the Lifecycle Module path.  If you are mixing and matching between modules, just skip it

This post was originally entered on my previous blog.