Doing ITIL v3 Foundations in a Weekend

The ground level of the ITIL v3 certification schema is the Foundation.  Using the construction metaphor, it lays the base for everything else to build upon.  It has to cover the bottom of everything that is to be built upon it.  ITIL v3 Foundation is about breadth, not depth.

Ergo, obtaining ITIL v3 Foundation certification is all about knowing a little about a lot.

ITIL (IT Service Management) is a broad concept with far reaching implications.  Trying to master all its points and nuisances is difficult and ever expanding.  Not a weekend’s task.  Like any good management principle, there are always new things to learn, new ways to interpret, different ways to implement to differing situations, and of course, learning by doing.

Foundations is not expecting, nor should it, full and complete comprehension.  A holder of ITIL V3 Foundation certification should not be expected to implement, consult, or direct ITIL initiatives.  This holder does have an appreciation of the concepts and comprehends the same lexicon all ITIL users speak – regardless of location in the world.  To accomplish this level of understanding, an ITIL V3 Foundations seeker must gain enough knowledge of the universal terms and enough conceptualization of the basics principles, purposes, and processes of ITIL.  Something I feel can be accomplished in a weekend.

Heavy concentration on memorization and associations, with more holistic view of the interconnectedness of the ITIL processes and functions is suitable to claim the Foundations certificate.  A person with this level of knowledge and comprehension can contribute in an excellent support and operational perspective of ITIL – whether one process or a full out rollout.

The ITIL Crowd is offering a weekend preparation course for ITIL Foundations is the Los Angeles area.  We want to help more people the opportunity to learn the ways of ITIL and how it is useful in an IT Service organization.  We do not offer the exam.  But we can show you what you need to know.  Registration and more info at: http://itilla.eventbrite.com/

See you for a weekend?

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ITIL Crowd also Heading to California

The ITIL Crowd has scheduled two classes in California this summer.  Join the ITIL Crowd for a limited engagement in the LA area at the end of June and San Jose in August.

As extra incentive, the classes are not the normal price of $1,200, but only $529 for the 2 day ITIL® v. 3 Foundation certification exam prep course.  You can register at http://ITILla.eventbrite.com

More information about 5 Day Project Management Professional (PMP) courses coming soon.

NOTE: This LA ITIL class has been moved to Santa Ana, California for the weekend of July 10 thru 11. As a bonus, the price has been reduced further to $429 for advanced purchase only. If you wait too long to register, then the price returns to the regular $799 course fee.
Here is the link: Attend This Event

Writing an ITIL Foundation Book

After writing for this blog and my many course documents/study guides, I have decided to also write a stand alone book for those wishing to learn the foundations of ITIL v3.

It is currently titled, ITIL® V3 Foundations in Plain (American) English. Being American and most of the ITIL documentation and study guides in British English or Dutch, I decided there needs to be a colloquial American take on the topic.

Using a conversational approach and my hand drawn illustrations,

ITIL Crowd customer
Sample illustration from upcoming book
I aim to bring a light, entertaining presentation of the complex – and often boring and abstract – ITIL v3 information.

Years developing course materials and comprehensive learning environments for project management, risk management, conflict resolution, quality management, emotional intelligence, project leadership, organizational theory, general how-to, and general management theory, beyond IT service management topics, I have found this formula to work well. Studying research on effective learning strategies and cognitive science as part of my Doctorate program, there is plenty to support the concept of presenting data in comfortable, conversational format. With graphics and supporting material coupled closely to the written text, reinforcing the concepts, the learner is absorbing the complex material in many formats – making retention easier and more lasting. I hope my efforts benefit many who desire to either take on the ITIL® v. 3 Foundation certification exam or simple familiarize themselves with the ITIL framework, purpose, and the processes involved.

Writing a book takes much longer than one thinks. Especially when producing one’s own illustrations and supporting material (not to much contributing to my other projects). With luck, this book project will be completed and published within the next few months. I will see how long I can work for free – I mean “invest” – my time on this endeavor over other projects.

I am in need of reviewers. If you are interested in reviewing rough drafts or advanced copies, please contact me or comment on this blog. Former participants in my PMP and ITIL training classes are accustomed to my style and published study guides. I may have to give a shout out to all of you!

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Advice on Taking ITIL Intermediate Exams

Now having cleared all 5 ITIL® v. 3 Intermediate Exams on the Lifecycle Module path, I wish to share some of my suggestions on clearing them.

One suggestion I mentioned in an earlier blog post was to look to eliminate 1 answer choice off the top. There is one answer that serves as a distractor. Often, it sticks out. Find it. Get rid of it. The distractor may have it’s own direction or something the others don’t.

What I mean by “it’s own direction”, is for example: 3 answers may have a “negative” or all “positive” response. Say, “inform the CIO the suggestion cannot (can) work at the present time…”. Whereas, 1 answer has the opposite approach. That makes it stick out. That is the one you must remove. Granted, there are not many blatant examples such as this, nonetheless there are a few from time to time.

Frequently, the distractor has its own errors. Maybe terms/definitions wrong, off topic, repeats irrelevant material from scenario, or something you can -or should – spot as erroneous.

The other suggestion I have for you: READ THE QUESTION FIRST! It took me a few exams before I started doing this, and I wish someone told me to do this from the start. The scenarios are long. They have lots of information. Potentially, more information than you need. How do you know what is important and what is not? Exactly. You don’t. Unless you read the question first.

Some scenarios are written to be used multiple times for various questions. Each question seeks out different learning objectives from the same scenario. Worrying your little head about all the fine details unnecessarily clouds your mind. This is a timed exam. No reason to waste your time.

Scroll down to the question first. Don’t even start reading the scenario – you may not stop. Read the question – usually a line to a paragraph in length. Then read the entire scenario! Now you have a frame of reference. You know what they are seeking from you. You know which data points are important. You know what to look for.

Before, I would read a scenario slowly. Taking detailed notes. Making certain I had all the information comprehended. Only to read the question and discover some of the information was totally irrelevant. Sometimes all the scenario information was absolutely important. But a few times, I had to demonstrate in the answer is comprehension of a concept. Essentially able to answer without reading the story at all. The story helped put the question in perspective and give it “meat”. But not that crucial to answering the question. If you don’t read the question first, you do not know if the story and all its details are absolutely important, certain parts important, or very little of it.

That is my recommendation. Try it out on your practice exams first. It takes some behavioral change; but an easy one to make. It pays off in your ability to answer the exam questions and the time management. My later ITIL Intermediate exams I was finishing with 20 -30 minutes remaining. Earlier Intermediate exams I was taking them down to the wire.

I shall post more suggestions. More are being included in my ITIL v3 training courses and study book materials. Alas, I do not mind sharing some of my experiences for free.

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.

My Strategy – Start with Service Strategy

My strategy.  Not necessarily one that is best for others.  Not certain retrospectively if it was the best for me.  But it worked.

Taking on the lifecycle path within the ITIL certification schema, I figured I needed to start somewhere. Staring at 5 choices. No set place required to start. But having to start somewhere, I selected the big picture first – and first on the list. Developing most management experience from the business side of IT, Service Strategy seemed the most logical.

Those in the trenches, I would recommend starting with the Service Operations exam. When I took that exam, it felt like a breeze. Could it have been because I had already completed 2 other certifications by then? Certainly. All the topics revolve around the same thing: IT Service Management. They all relate. The management on one area depends in part to the management of the others. After all, the first chapter of each core publication is practically the same.

Which ever topic you select to tackle first, it will most likely be the most difficult. Getting comfortable with the format and topic is one of the first hurdles. Then you build momentum. By far, the Service Strategy exam is the one that I studied for the most. Thoroughly reading the core publication on top of hours of online instruction took many hours over many weeks. In all, I think I spent 30-40 hours in study prep. But considering by syllabus, ITIL v3 Intermediate Service Strategy classroom based training sessions are 24 hours. Granted, that often includes the exam and breaks. Although, I imagine most attending a class spend near that time to reading and completing any other side work.

Subsequent study prep times were less.

My strategy for starting with Service Strategy paid off. Not only did I pass on the first attempt – I passed with Distinction. That was quite a relief.