A new set of ITIL® core books, version 3, were released at the end of May and the accompanying qualifications are following. Helen Boddy reviews the changes that have been made to ITIL® to update it to a lifecycle approach and the resulting new products.

The popularity of ITIL® has expanded from a UK government philosophy to becoming a widely adopted global framework for service management.

Around 35 per cent of organisations in many northern European countries have adopted part of the ITIL® philosophy, according to estimates by the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF), the users' forum.

Almost 450,000 people have taken ITIL® examinations with ISEB and EXIN, the two examination insitutes that have been offering examinations since the early 1990s.

'The most important reason for the change to ITIL® version 3 was based on research that found that the service lifecycle is how services are managed today,' said Sharon Taylor, ITIL® Refresh chief architect and chief examiner.

'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,' she explained 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 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 official accreditor, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), and itSMF.

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

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 - users' and Practitioners' experiences are very valuable in terms of what is missing in the guidance today and where it needs to go in the future.

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

Each of the five books was reviewed by almost 50 representatives of industry, representing different sized companies and various sectors, in public and private entreprise. The final version of the five core ITIL® version 3 titles were unveiled on 30 May. They suceed the eight titles in version 2 and are available as hard copy, e-books or pdfs.

They are:

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

A sixth book was also published on 30 May, an introduction to the core life cycle, aimed at anyone who wishes to understand the changes or have an overview of ITIL®.

Other complementary publications will follow. There will be an official study aid for each element of the syllabi, and key element guides will replace the pocket guides. There will also be ITIL® for executives with 'compelling arguments' to convince them to invest in ITIL®.

Qualifications developed

Following the core guidance having been set out in the books, ITIL® qualifications are being developed in line with the new publications. There will be a central database of questions for each level from which each examination institute will create their own examinations.

The syllabus for Foundation level version 3 has been approved, and many of the current UK training providers are already offering courses. The first examinations will be run from 13 June onwards.

'Around half of our ISEB accredited training providers have already requested accreditation to offer version 3 Foundation courses,' said Pete Bayley, BCS Qualifications director. 'We will continue, however, to provide examinations to support delivery of existing extremely popular version 2 courses, until version 3 is well established.'

That said, Michiel van der Voort, EXIN VP business development, believes that providers who offer the examinations in languages other than English (12 in total) will not be so quick to take up the new syllabus. The books themselves will be available in multiple languages by November this year.

'At the Foundation level there are not many changes from version 2,' said Sharon 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 sscope 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 sevice delivery while service strategy will only be covered in brief at a high level.'

The Examination Panel recommends that a Foundation course should be delivered in three days including time for the examination. There is a recommended number of contact hours but Sharon stressed that one of the aims was to allow some flexibility for training providers in delivery.

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. The pass mark will also remain unchanged at 26/40.

The Panel is proposing that Candidates who have already passed ITIL® version 2 will be able to take a course and examination to convert to version 3, if they wish, to keep up to date with the latest thinking.

The ITIL® Qualifications Board (consisting of representatives of the accreditor, examining institutes, itSMF, TSO and examiners) had not approved details of examinations for other levels. The 15-member ITIL® Examination Panel has made recommendations to the Board for consideration and approval.

The Panel is proposing that examinations are modularised. Following the Foundation level, the Panel has proposed that candidates could follow two different streams to obtain a Diploma - a lifecycle 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 a 'normalisation' examination called 'managing through the lifecycle' that brings together the essence of the lifecycle approach.

The ITIL® Diploma would replace both the current Practitioner's and Manager's qualifications. The Panel has recommended that those who currently 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 Q3 this year.

For those starting the Diploma from scratch, examinations for the lifecycle and capability streams for Q3 2003, and for the managing through the lifecycle module in Q4. For those with the version 2 Practitioner's certificate, the Panel has proposed that each of their existing examinations be nominated a certain value which would count towards some of the points needed to gain a Diploma.

Beyond the diploma, an ITIL® Advanced Diploma is being considered. Planning for the Advanced Diploma will not begin until details of the Diploma have been approved.

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

Corporate alignment

In regard to companies that have already adopted and implemented version 2, Michael Nieves, co-author of the Service Strategy book and a senior manager at Accenture, said: 'Version 3 does not invalidate what they have done before.

The version 2 work exists within version 3, which expands on version 2. A company will need to look at what other topics are covered in version 3, for example how strategy is generated, portfolio management and outsourcing.'

Portfolio management is one of the new areas that Sharon believes will help organisations get services quicker to market. 'It's about forward thinking. Continual feedback always let us see opportunities before requested by the business. In all of the books you'll see use of the models. You build them once and repeat, which shortens lead times.'

At the itSMF ITIL® version 3 road show in London in June, most of the books' authors agreed that any organisation looking at implementing ITIL® should first establish what they already have and then do a gap analysis. That will determine the work needed, as well as helping prove later the improvements due to ITIL®.

The London road show was the first in a global tour during which the Refresh team is explaining the ITIL® changes to itSMF partners. Examination institues are also holding seminars for the training providers, who will in turn explain changes to their customers.

Sharon was keen to stress that ITIL® is still on a journey. 'It's not pefect,' she admitted at the road show. There will therefore be a change log which will have an open forum to discuss changes necessary to future versions.

Updates of the progress on the next milestones in the ITIL® version 3 work will also be available in this area and in the other stakeholders' websites.


Certifications for IT Professionals

ITIL®: a short 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.