Archive for the ‘itil’ Category

Taking the ITIL Practitioner exam: Ins and outs

August 30, 2016

A post at AXELOS forums prompted me to write about my experience while taking the ITIL Practitioner exam. I am posting here based on my reply there.

I’ll write more generic stuff on taking the exam itself, then studying/preparing for it and finally some specifics. Disclaimer: It’s my personal view from my own experience. I tried hard not writing ambiguous stuff. My goal is to help you on getting the certification because you’re prepared for it 🙂 So, adopt and adapt to YOUR way.

The exam is harder (in part because it is different in style and scope) than ITIL exams below ITIL Expert level. It combines relatively large topic coverage with template based questions and the specific scenarios (that you only get to read when you seat the exam) consume precious time. “It is what it is”, like it or not. So reserve the time to study (with more than one pass through all the content please) and have a good night rest the day before the exam.

The exam
– You need to know really well the ITIL Practitioner book and where topics are. I think it’s a good idea to use little post its to help find the chapters. Use the Table of Contents and the word index at the end, it’s good and faster than your memory. It works. Some topics are touched in more than one place like stakeholder analysis or reporting (these are just examples; there’s naturally lots of cross-referencing between the main topics like OCM with communication for instance). So it’s more efficient wasting as little time as possible looking for context in the book.
– I find one or two questions really difficult to understand. So don’t dwell too much on those. Tough decision because of the way the exam is organized (specific scenarios give context and at least for me it was hard coming back to a different block without re-reading the scenario again). I establish a half-way goal (like half the questions at half time or a bit earlier for buffer). I tend to be faster and review as little as possible but this time I reviewed a lot! So, make the time for it.
– It takes time to read the specific scenario, the question, then think on the right answer and/or eliminate the wrong ones. So it’s not efficient jumping around the questions; it’s more effective doing them by specific scenario blocks of questions.

The study
– I recommend reading The whole ITIL Practitioner book in one go first so you know what’s harder for you. Use different ways to review the content. For me it worked writing summaries, lists and – to a lesser extent than usual – mindmaps. Writing it down makes me notice patterns and think on it in a different way (good because my memory is bad 😉 I’ve used as a rule of thumb the weight of the questions per main topic as a guidance on how long I’ve studied for each (I studied first the heavy ones – did not follow exactly the book sequence for deeper study.
– Study really well the Introduction of the book; most of the easier questions come from here (it’s really good and has new stuff there. I like the way the Service definition is deconstructed in value, outcome, cost and risk as a way of explaining what a service is), you can thank me after passing the exam for this one.
– Try the mock exams officially available, they do reflect the kind of questions in the real exam.
– Go beyond the questions available within the mock exams. Especially the ones using the templates at the end of the book (the Toolkit chapter). You will certainly have questions made on top of practical examples using those templates.

Specific tips (please take them with salt; it’s my perception of my exam)
– For the measurement and metrics… The questions on this main topic used frequently templates from the appendix. So it’s good to review the specific templates and mock exam questions using templates.
– For CSI Approach you’ll have to be careful with outputs from each step (it really shows on the mock exam – I stress this again: study the mock exams),
– As for the Guiding principles, I suggest you take note whenever you find references of one or more of them on the other chapters; they do not show up always in a clear way in the book.
– Beware of the deceptive communication chapter. It’s quite easy to understand while reading it but I found the questions hard. That being said maybe it’s just the case this is the part I need to learn and practice the most 😉 [I’ve been doing that by the way]

Hope this helps! In the end of the day, you’ll have to approach the ITIL Practitioner exam in a systematic way. Reserve the time, plan for it… and just do it.

An interview with Stuart Rance

February 12, 2014

Starting 2014 interviews with Stuart Rance, author of the ITIL 2011 edition Service Transition book and a true dynamo on pushing practices and having people discuss what really matters.

Stuart Rance

1. Do share your very best practices on chocolate degustation. Dark? With almonds? Swiss? Belgium?

I’m glad you asked that! I’m very fond of dark chocolate coated brazil nuts, but dark chocolate with hazelnuts or almonds is nearly as good.

2. Lately I’ve observed lots of discussion on incident versus problem. Could it mean ITSM still has lots of concepts not well understood by the community?

I think most people understand the concepts, but very few people seem to be doing a good job of problem management. Part of the reason for this may be because of the way activities are assigned to incident or problem management, which I think could be improved. I’ve written about this in a blog article at – I intentionally made this blog a bit controversial to try and get people to discuss the underlying issues.

There is one area where I think that ITSM concepts are poorly understood, and that is in the area of service strategy. I’ve heard people complain that we shouldn’t include service strategy concepts in ITIL foundation training because they aren’t relevant to most people in ITSM and I find that really scary. Key concepts in service strategy include value creation and how customers perceive value. Sadly many people in IT still think in terms of technology solving problems, rather than in terms of creating value for people. I would love to see improvements to ITIL training so that everyone with a foundation certificate really understood that services are about creating value for customers, not about ITSM processes.

3. Social media is here to stay – as once you remarked, for instance we’ve never met in real life but we share and discuss. How do you think it as influenced Service Management progress?

I think discussions in social media have opened out the creation of best practice to a much wider community. Not very long ago there were only a few people contributing to the creation of best practice for ITSM but I have been involved in debates with lots of really creative people, and some of these have led to us having face-to-face meetings where we continue the discussions. There are some very frustrating forums where people seem to endlessly debate the same sterile ITSM questions, such as “is a password reset an incident or a service request”, but I just ignore those and focus on the places where I see useful things happening.

There is a danger that those of us who participate in social media can forget that we are only a very tiny subset of the people with ideas and opinions. It would be great if we could get more people involved, and to do that we have to create truly welcoming communities where people feel that they can join in and get benefits.

4. Regarding Taking Service Forward initiative with the service meta model Adaptive Service Model… what’s your expectation on how these efforts will benefit the ITSM world?

I know what I would like to see, which is the creation of an open, shared, common architecture and ontology for services that is in the public domain and available for many people to use. Even better would be if the owners of all the different best practices and standards adopted (and adapted) this architecture, so that we could all do a better job of adapting and integrating multiple different frameworks. I can’t really say that this is an expectation, but it is an aspiration. I would like to encourage your readers to get involved, join in the discussions and help us to create this architecture.

5. From your experience can ideas and practices like Tipu, Standard+Case, process mining applied to service management and others from “alien” fields outside ITSM really flourish and gain momentum without Axelos support?

Both Tipu and Standard+Case come from the fertile mind of Rob England, and maybe you should be asking him this question. I really do like many of his contributions to ITSM best practice, but it is hard for ideas like this to compete when hundreds of thousands of people every year are taking ITIL training. It would be really good if we could find ways to communicate developing best practice to a wider audience, and maybe that is something we should put more effort into over the next year.

6. [Mistery question from Aprill Allen!]  If you were putting together a new service management program team, which celebrities—living or past—would you choose?

In general I think that celebrities would be a terrible idea for a service management team. We don’t need heroes and people whose main talent is marketing themselves, but in the spirit of the question I will offer some names.

Overall charge of the program and Continual Improvement:

Eli Goldratt (if you haven’t heard of him then do some research)

Demand management and BRM:

Steve Jobs (tell me what customers will want next year)

Service operation processes:

Rob England (who else)

Change – Initial assessment checklist, anyone?

April 1, 2013

Cuff checklist, by nasa_appel @ Flickr, Some Rights Reserved

Cuff checklist by nasa_appel @ Flickr, Some Rights Reserved

Came up with this initial change assessment checklist for early identification of potential issues that must be taken care of.

The sparkle was a detected tendency that somehow inflicts change analysts to disregard planning and risk analysis. I found this in a customer that relies heavily on a subcontracted service provider for most of its service management activities.

As with all that has real value, it takes work and real thinking. A checklist can be helpful as a kickstarter.


  • Does it need specific people in my organization?
  • Does it need specific expertise not available in my organization?
  • Is there a clear potential affected user list?
  • What training for end users will be needed?
  • What training for operational and administration level is required?
  • Does it need multiple teams effort?


  • Will it need specific resources (not people)?
  • Does it include technology never used within our organization?
  • Does it need additional testing, staging environments?
  • Does it need specific licensing?


  • Is it dependent on other changes?
  • What is the scope of the change? Does it affect only one component or several?
  • Is it possible to fully test the change?
  • Is there a work-around available should things go wrong? If so does it need specific preparation and resources?


  • Do we know what benefits it will bring?
  • Does it have a clear business deadline?
  • How critical are the affected services?
  • What is the duration and scope of possible service disruption? Can the change be deployed within a scheduled maintenance window for services affected?
  • Are there any special circumstances regarding this change?

I am working on testing this set (or a smaller one) on a customer.

Interested in how much meaningful analysis can really be performed early on a change life cycle and what the payoff will be.

Business Service Orchestration

March 18, 2013

Maestrina, by Leo Nabuco @ Flickr, Some Rights Reserved

This paper shared by Jan is good read on service catalog and how one should look at it. For starters we should look from the point of view of the ones using it.

End users and business managers (customers) see and expect different – even if related – outcomes from IT services. As referenced in the paper, Joe Peppard distinguishes two types of value of IT services:

User utility – Which is defined as the benefit a user or community of users attaches to a particular service, based on the usefulness of the service to them in the performance of their jobs.

Organizational benefit – Which is based on the extent to which the service supports the organization in achieving its business objectives.


What is the problem with problem management?

January 13, 2012

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes”, Henri J. Kaiser

Problem solving is a very human specific capability that can be honed as time elapses. Most of us are great solvers yet have difficulties isolating what really is the problem. Lets look at the root cause for this and how organizations take it.

Roots by Eva the Weaver at Flickr - Some rights reserved

Roots by Eva the Weaver at Flickr - Some rights reserved

More context for problem management is in order. On Rob England’s Review of recent ITIL studies paper, one of the studies analysed gives this quantitative information:

“problem management – a process that requires organizational maturity and commitment – is the ITIL process most firms are currently [2010] implementing (24%) or planning to implement (24%). Furthermore, 43% currently follow ITIL problem management processes, reflecting a 91% adoption/soon-to-be-adopted rate among those surveyed.”


On security for IT services

December 14, 2011

Security_by Loozilla_at_flickr

Security by Loopzilla at flickr - some rights reserved


How should one go about regarding security for IT services?

One can look at it taking in account the service lifecycle approach from ITIL and concentrate on the Design phase, when we can invest early in order to achieve that honorable goal of having the minimum (avoidable) surprises and rework when service finally goes live. In other words, reduce operational costs by designing services right.

Some ideas (in no particular order):

  1. Ensure external partners and suppliers that contribute to the services know and formally agree to their responsibilities (Underpinning Contracts)
  2. Also get internal groups/teams formally agree on their responsibilities (Operational Level Agreements)
  3. Changes to the services must include security impact assessment
  4. A procedure for receiving and acting on security vulnerabilities reported from vendors of components that support the service
  5. Include an explicit security section regarding security requisites in the initial analysis phase for new or changed services
  6. Link the security requisites to service level targets so the SLA covers them
  7. Check those requisites with customer when feasible (or at least with yourself if you’re a good candidate for using the service)
  8. Make sure security tests are covered in the test plan
  9. Then, while transitioning the service, perform the security tests
  10. Have experts trying to break your service from outside and inside
  11. Use the tools. There are technical tools and best practices you can apply thus avoiding reinventing the wheel or forgetting important checks
  12. If a security incident happens is it clear for everybody who must be involved and what to do?

Yes, some of these will happen in the Transition and Operation phases even though their planning occurs before.

Love to hear about more ideas!

ITIL v3 2011 edition: Official Glossary is out – a handy, free reference

September 9, 2011

InfiniteWisdom_by Ksionic_at_flickr

Infinite Wisdom by Ksioninc at Flickr - Some rights reserved

As before, this official Glossary is a quite useful and free reference on ITIL. You can get this on other languages here (on this post date the list included: Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, German, Korean, Romanian, Russian and Latin American Spanish).

ITIL v3 2011 edition Glossary  [English]

Mush and Room #32: Extra! Extra! ITIL v3 2011 edition

August 3, 2011

Mush and Room #32: ITIL v3 2011 edition

ITIL v3 reloaded (the 2011 edition)

Brightalk’s ITIL “v4” (2011 edition) highlights

July 20, 2011

Took short notes on what Vernon Lloyd shared during Brightalk’s “ITIL v4? -What’s new? webinar

Service Strategy

  • Key concepts and diagram clarification
  • New two processes: Strategy Management and BRM (at last! Business Relationship Management existed on ISO/IEC 20000 and was missing on ITIL)

Service Design

  • New process: Design Coordination
  • Service Catalogue clarification

Service Transition/Operation

  • Little changes to Service Transition/Operation
  • Some workflows were corrected (e.g., incident management)
  • Proactive Problem management expanded


  • CSI Register: New concept, to register all CSI initiatives going on
  • 7-step improvement process changed
  • CSI/Deming cycle and Knowledge Mgmt links clarified
ITIL v3.1 - 2011 edition covers

ITIL v3.1 - 2011 edition covers

The ITIL v3, 2011 edition comes out next 29th of July.

Mush and Room #25: Balance

July 21, 2010


Balance (between extremes)