Gareth Saunders
Friday 20 August 2010

This week (Monday – Wednesday) Steve and myself were involved in the next wave of IT Services and Business Improvements (BI) staff to undergo the minor ordeal that is the three-days ITIL® V3 Foundation training and exam.

What is ITIL?

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library version 3, to give ITIL V3 its full name, is a best/good practice framework for managing IT services that is being adopted by the University. So it was decided that all members of IT and BI should become at least familiar with it to foundation certificate level. Which meant a series of three days courses culminating in one hour closed-book exam.

That was, incidentally, my first exam since I finished my undergraduate finals in June 1993.  And actually took place less than 100m from the location of my finals in St Salvator’s Quad.

ITIL V3 breaks down IT service management into five main areas, which it calls a lifecycle:

  1. Service Strategy
  2. Service Design
  3. Service Transition
  4. Service Operation
  5. Continual Service Improvement

I wrote those from memory, I hope you’re impressed!

Each lifecycle stage comprises various processes and practices, and the foundation certificate focuses on learning and understanding the structure, models and terminology used throughout the ITIL V3 framework and lifecycle.

And I tell you: it’s really tough.

There is so much information to take onboard in three days.  A lot of it is common sense, of course, but it’s common sense that’s been wrapped up into a complex model and distilled down into a very efficient vocabulary.

For example, here’s the ITIL definition of service:

A service is a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific cost and risks.

Great resource

By the end of day two my head was swimming with facts and figures and models and vocabulary.  I felt lost.  I hadn’t really got my head around the basic framework of the framework that I was struggling to know where to hang these new models and processes and practices.

For example, I knew that I had to remember this sequence:

  • Planning
  • Identification
  • Control
  • Accounting
  • Verification

but I couldn’t for the life of me remember why, or into which of the lifecycle phases it fitted!

And that’s when I came across this resource on

This book by John Long from IBM gave me just the right level of detail to get my head around it all.  It gave me the simple overview that I needed, as well as highly useful and usable diagrams, some of which were so simple that they really helped me in the examination.

Exam and results

In the mock exam on Wednesday morning I scored 33/40 (82.5%) having disappointingly changed three answers at the last minute and dropping from a commendable score of 90%. So I’m hoping/confident that I did okay in the final exam.

We get our results in a few weeks; we’ll let you know.  The pass mark is 26/40 (65%).  Our colleague Duncan has already set the bar high for the Web team with a percentage score in the 80s.

But to be honest, I’ll be delighted with a simple pass.

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