ITIL® integrated approach takes off

Drawing of man with books for wingsA new set of ITIL® core books, version 3, has just been released, and a suite of other products, including new qualifications, will follow. They set out best practice in service management from a lifecycle approach. Helen Boddy reviews the changes.

Service with a smile is not always literally possible when you are dealing with customers over the phone or via the internet. So to make sure they make the best impression possible on their customers, without needing to display a happy grin, many companies have adopted the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®). It sets out processes for best practice in service management.

The popularity of ITIL® has mushroomed over the last two decades, expanding from a UK government philosophy to becoming a widely adopted global framework for service management. Almost 450,000 people have taken ITIL® examinations globally with either ISEB or EXIN, the two providers that have been offering examinations since they began in the mid-1990s.

The ITIL® philosophy grew up around the guidance contained within the ITIL® core books and the supporting professional qualifications scheme. In the 1990s, the ITIL® core books were updated to version 2 and accompanying qualifications were developed by ISEB and EXIN in agreement with the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), and the user’s forum, the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF).

However, in line with the fast developing nature of the industry, service management as a concept evolved, so in 2004 the OGC decided it was time to refresh the ITIL® guidance. The ITIL® Refresh project began back in November 2004 with the aim of improving the usefulness and applicability of ITIL®, and clarifying the link between employment of the best practices and business benefits.

Ten years on

Sharon Taylor 'The current version of ITIL® is now ten years old and if you think how far the IT service industry has come in ten years, there’s been a huge progression towards different types of services in the market, such as outsourcing,' explained Sharon Taylor, ITIL® Refresh chief architect and chief examiner, in an interview published on the BCS website.

'What were best practices 10 years ago are actually current practice now, so the entire library of best practice needed to be brought up to date to what is current now.

'The consultation phase of the project took place in the early part of 2005 under the guiding principle that ITIL® has grown into a globally adopted practice and is in use around the world - experiences that users and practitioners have are very valuable in terms of what is missing in the guidance today and where it needs to go in the future.'

Authors were chosen to write five new core ITIL® books based around a life-cycle approach to service management best practice.

'Previously, there was no sort of particular approach of how you went from one book to the other,' said Vernon Lloyd, one of the authors. 'These news books form a single entity and are very much joined.'

Each of the five books was reviewed by almost 50 representatives of industry, representing different sized companies and various sectors, in public and private enterprise.

The final version of the five titles have been kept under close wraps and were due to be unveiled on 30 May, as we went to press. They replace the eight titles in ITIL® version 2 and are available as hard copy, either singly or as a set, e-books or pdfs.

The five core ITIL® version 3 books are as follows:

  • service strategy;
  • service design;
  • service transition;
  • service operation;
  • continual service improvement.

A sixth book, also due out shortly, is an introduction to ITIL® service life cycle, aimed at anyone who wishes to understand the changes or have an overview of ITIL®.

Other complementary publications are due to be published in June, including a foundation level version 3 study guide along with web support services, according to Taylor.

Qualifications developed

Now that the core guidance has been set out in the books, ITIL® qualifications are being developed in line with the new publications. The syllabus for foundation level version 3, the starting point of the three levels, has already been approved. 'At this basic level there are not many changes from version two,' said Taylor in a briefing to ISEB training providers.

'The syllabus will be similar in terms of amount of time needed and in what it covers. The difference is that it will have a broader scope as it will be based on the five new books rather than the existing two [in version 2, examinations only related to two of the eight books - service delivery and support]. More weighting will be given to elements such as service delivery while service strategy will only be covered in brief at a high level.'

The examination panel has recommended that a foundation course should be delivered in three days, including, time for the examination. However, Taylor stressed that one of the aims with the new qualifications was to allow providers some flexibility in delivery. There would be a recommended number of contact hours but it would be up to training providers to decide on the details.

The new foundation examination will follow the same format as the previous one with a closed book multiple-choice exam of 40 questions to be completed in one hour.

As we go to press, the examination providers are planning to run the first examinations for foundation version 3 from the 13 June onwards.

The current version 2 foundation level exam will continue to be examined until the end of this year. The proposal is that those who have already passed ITIL® foundation level version 2 will be able to take a course to convert to version 3, if they wish, to keep up with the latest thinking. As we go to press, it has not been decided if that will be in the format of an examination or certificate of attendance.

Training providers are already preparing to deliver courses for the new exams. Rachael Kavanagh, BCS Qualifications manager, said: 'We think that approximately half of the training providers currently accredited by ISEB to deliver ITIL® will start using version 3 as soon as it becomes available.'

Pink Elephant, for example, has already developed its course for the new ITIL® version 3 Foundation and will be running courses from mid June. It has also developed a one-day 'v2 to v3 upgrade', available from June.

QA-IQ has announced it will start version 3 foundation courses in June, and Global Knowledge has said it starting one-day v2 to v3 conversion courses from 4 June.

That said, Michiel van der Voort, EXIN VP business development, believes that providers who offer the examinations in languages other than English (12 languages in total) would not be so quick to take up the syllabus.

At the time of IT Training going to press, the ITIL® qualification board (consisting of representatives of the accreditor, examining institutes, and itSMF), had not approved details of examinations for other levels. The 15-member examination panel has made recommendations to the board for consideration and approval.

The panel is proposing that the second, management level, will culminate in an ITIL® diploma, replacing both the current practitioner's and manager's levels.

Candidates will work towards the diploma via a points-based modular structure. A new third level, advanced, would result in an ITIL® advanced diploma. Planning for the advanced diploma will not begin until details of the second level have been approved.

The levels are built around the Blooms Taxonomy of learning: the basic foundation level assesses an individual's knowledge and comprehension; the management level is about comprehension and application; and the advanced level tests application and analysis.

The panel has proposed that there would be two different streams that candidates could follow to obtain a diploma - a manager's stream based on the five books, and a service capabilities stream with clusters on the subjects of: portfolio and relationship management; design and optimisation; monitoring and control; and operation and support.

After following either stream, or combining modules from both to gain the requisite points, a candidate would then have to take an overarching exam called 'managing through the lifecycle'.

The panel has recommended that those who already hold the manager's ITIL® version 2 certificate will be able to take a conversion examination to receive the diploma, if they wish, which will be offered from the end of August. For those starting the diploma level from scratch, examinations for the manager’s modules are planned for the end of October, for the capability modules at the end of September, and for the overarching managing through the lifecycle module at the end of November.

Taylor stressed that certification for version 2 would still be valid for individuals; version 3 is simply an updating of skills. Also, training companies will be free and no doubt will continue to offer overviews to service management and ITIL® that do not relate to the accredited examinations.

With regards to corporate service management programmes, Taylor said: 'There are a number of companies certified at different levels. We need to recognise that these qualifications still hold merit in the industry, and offer a chance to upgrade to the next level without forcing them to retake certifications.'

Alan McCarthy, director of Pink Elephant, commented: 'Organisations will simply take on board the changes to the existing processes when it suits them.'

The ITIL® Refresh team is going on a worldwide road show explaining the changes to ITIL® Refresh. Examination providers are holding seminars for the training providers, who will in turn explain changes to their customers. Updates will also be available on the websites as listed below.

Useful links

- OGC
- itSMF
- ISEB
- EXIN
- APMG
- Interview with Sharon Taylor
- BCS service management website

ITIL®: a brief history

1980s: The Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) developed the first incarnation of ITIL® (version one), called the Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management (GITIM). It was adopted by Government agencies and other large organisations in the UK.

1990s: ITIL® begins to be adopted across Europe and ISEB and EXIN begin offering ITIL® examinations.

2000: ITIL® version 2 was released, aligning ITIL® and the BS15000 service management standard.

2002: BS15000 was significantly revised.

2006: BS15000 went international - ISO/IEC 20000.

2006: OGC appoints APMG as the new accreditator.

2007: ISEB and EXIN sign an agreement with APMG to continue as ITIL® examination institutes.

2007: ITIL® version 3 is released.

This article first appeared in the Spring issue of IT Training.

May 2007