Thursday, August 30, 2007

NEW Service Capability Programs

The APM Group have released details for the Service Capability programs covering the ITIL version 3 framework.

The program names have changed since the Service Capability level of course was announced earlier this year. The concept of service capability remains unchanged as the courses will be pitched at an intermediate level of service management professional looking to bolster their skills in a particular set of processes.

PP&O = Planning, Protection and Optimization
For those looking to enhance skills and understanding in Capacity, Availability, Continuity, Security, Demand and Risk management.

SO&A = Service Offerings and Agreements
For the more strategically focussed, covering Service Portfolio, Service Level Management, Service Catalogue Mangement, Demand, Supplier and Financial Management.

OS&A = Operational Support and Analysis
Perhaps to be the most popular as it deals with day-to-day issues of Event Management, Incident, Request, Problem, Access Management. Then the functions of Service Desk, Technical, IT Operations and Application management.

RC&V = Release, Control & Validation
Change, Release and Deployment management, Validation and Testing, Asset and Configuration, Knowledge Management, Request fulfilment and Service Evaluation management.

To attend any of the programs you MUST have passed the ITIL Foundation exam.

The exam questions are looking as if they will be radically different from anything we have ever seen before.

9 Multiple Choice questions.. 6 out 9 will be a pass, 7 will be a distinction.
However, there is still questions over the scoring as original reports show that selecting the MOST correct answer from the 4 choices per question will earn you 5 marks, next best answer 3 marks, next - 1 mark and 0 for the incorrect answer.

But if marks are used in that way how can the pass be set at 6 out of 9. Surely it needs to be a number of marks that have to be reached.

Each question will be a lengthy scenario - with 4 quite involved options. Time allowed: 90 minutes.

Things are hotting up in the industry... it's getting exciting!

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ITIL Accredited Consultancy Organization (ACO)

On a recent browse of Service Management web sites I found one making some misleading claims.

The company is a Prince2 Accredited Training Organization, Prince2 Accredited Training Organization AND an ITIL Accredited Training Organization.

Then you read the ITIL Consultancy summary on their web site. It is here the company makes a claim about being an Accredited Consultancy Organization. It is also where they say that they have been an Accredited Training Organization since 1997.

Of course the thing that they don't say is that they are an ACO in Prince2, not ITIL and the ITIL ATO program from APMG has only been around since 2006.

Now the clever writer has used wording in an attempt to dupe the public and their response to any complaint would be obvious, but let me point out the following:

At the time of writing there is no recognized Accredited Consultancy program for ITIL. There will be, it is coming - but it is not there yet. Whether the value of an ACO program will be adopted with any level of enthusiasm remains to be seen, but I can see that it is another great revenue raiser for the folks that control the program.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Distressed ITIL Trainers

I am seeing quite a few messages in which very proficient ITIL trainers pour out their concerns regarding the delivery of ITIL v3 courses.

At the time of writing the only course that is being discussed is the v3 Foundation program and the concerns go along the following lines...

I've been an ITIL trainer for x years; but with v3 I am really worried that there is too much material to cover and the concepts are far too detailed for a Foundation level program.

Ok... let's break this down.

Firstly, yes it's harder - but it will become easier with time and practice. As trainers there is a need to learn how to present the course and nothing beats practice. The reality here is that even in a v2 world every course you ran was just that bit better than the last - because of your confidence in your own ability.

So too it will be for v3. The confidence will take big steps in the first ten courses; but after 10 you will be wondering why you were concerned.

Your material must be spot on. Most vendors are just wildly following the syllabus without creating stories and anecdotes to support the message. You do need to study the syllabus, your material and books and then think about easy ways to explain that.

You need to ensure that one slide/topic flows to the next and this can even mean that you change the ordering of the materials (there is no hard and fast rule that says your course must follow the syllabus)... For example.. I put all the disucssion about certification at the front of the course (in the syllabus it is last).

Two reasons to change that. It gives you something 'easy' to discuss AND it is what your class students want to talk about when they first start the course. This is just one example of many where the syllabus writers were obviously not trainers (but to their credit - there is no rule preventing you from moving elements around).

Also, you must come up with non-IT stories and examples to help explain concepts. There are a million stories around and perhaps trainers reading this blog can add comments.

My one for the community is a airline company and long haul plane flights. Strategic - which markets shall we compete in, Transition - new fleet of planes to replace older models, Operations - mid-course correction required to avoid bad weather, CSI - improvements in customer seating and in flight entertainment.

So, please feedback any support for other trainers and perhaps leave a story that others may benefit from.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Guage on ITIL v3 Acceptance - Australia speaks

Well it was more a case of what wasn't being whispered about in the halls of the recent itSMF conference held in Australia.

Your intreprid reporter is here to say that while there was no outright "we will not migrate to ITIL v3" there was not a headlong rush towards the new framework.

This is to be expected and it is even a healthy indicator that the new framework will gradually find its feet in the industry. To rush into ITIL v3 adoption would be as silly as rushing into the adoption of CoBIT, ITIL v2, ISO 20000, Six sigma, etc.

It isn't something that should be or can be rushed. A lot of companies have invested in v2 and there is no reason to dismiss that investment by abandoning all plans. However, the gradual review and adoption of small pieces of ITIL v3 will move towards whole scale adoption and improvement over time.

Also, the savvy IT professional is now backing two horses in this two horse race. ITIL v3 will find a place and it will be as a supplment to ISO 20000. Together they will make a wonderful couple. ISO 20000 for the skeleton and ITIL for the flesh.

The new ITIL certification scheme and the Service Quality Management Foundation and Service Quality Management Advanced certifications will be large contributing factors to this eventual acceptance.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What news of the alliance?

December 2006 Exin and ISEB announce their alliance in what appeared - at the time - to be a direct snub of the APM Group (however, recall that in January 2007, both Exin and ISEB signed on with APM Group).

BUT - what of the alliance? I searched both Exin and ISEB web sites today and the only reference I found to the alliance was copies of the press release relating to the alliance announcement.

Neither features the others logo or courses and there does not appear to be anything that would actually suggest that the alliance has gone further than just a statement saying that there was one !

Maybe I am missing something, but can someone tell us what the flow on benefits to the industry has been as a result of the alliance.

The press releases indicated "other alliance members" - did anyone hear any more about that? On the ISEB web site there was talk about a launch event in Q1 2007. Again nothing on the web site and no major news stories have broken that I have seen.

For one, I feel that after 8 months surely there should have been some further announcement. If the alliance lost it's puff after both signed on with APMG then so be it. That is the nature of business, but it may be time to remove the press releases if there is nothing more to add.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Just what is the definition of "not for profit"?

I read with interest about the new "not for profit collaboration" between the itSMF and the HDI - Services Futures Group.

I wonder if the term "not for profit" is bandied around a little bit too much based on the past track record of the involved parties.

Picking an example at random. The itSMF web site for many years proudly held itself out to be a "not for profit" body. It is easy to check the words that were used on the home page of the web site over the last few years.

2002 - Not for Profit
2003 - Not for Profit
2004 - Not for Profit
2005 - Not for Profit
2006 - Not for Profit
DECEMBER 2006 - NEW WEB SITE... now redirects to
2007 - No sign of being a not for profit entity anymore

So, right at the end of 2006 and this year the words have been dropped and now the web site redirects to

I am no web guru, but isn't this a bit topsy-turvey. Wouldn't we now expect to see "not for profit" emblazened on the landing page, when the .org is in use.

I wonder if the changing web site is a reflection in the changing commercial interests in the 'formerly known as not-for-profit" itSMF. I wonder if the change is a reflection at all on some disillusionment in the itSMF that is posted on several blogs.

Either way the HDI and itSMF have created the Service Futures Group a "not for profit" collaboration. I will be watching their .org web site with interest to see what "not-for profit" papers, kits, etc. can be purchased there, all under the banner of "not for profit"!!

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Request Fulfilment explained

Request fulfilment, as the name implies, deals exclusively with Service Requests.

The process is defined in the Service Operations volume of the ITIL version 3 and is associated with low risk, low cost, frequently occuring issues.

These issues can be as simple as answering "how do I?" questions, relocation of hardware, installation of approved software, low risk access requests.

The primary benefit of defining a seperate process is that it allows the incident management process to focus on actual incidents that indicate a failure in a service, rather than dealing with general questions and requests.

ITIL version 3 introduces several new models and the 'request model' concept is a way predefining procedures to manager frequently occuring service requests (the model will generally include some element of change management (typically via a pre-approved change).

Service Requests can come in a number of forms. The actual service request will detail the requestor, what is required, responsible person, date and time details and eventually closure details.

Requests can also be Requests for Change (RFCs). These will generally be used when a change to a Confguration item is requested (e.g. in a bank each group of users may be defined as a CI; changes to the membership of the group may require a formal change process, but the actual change to the group can be dealt with by a service request team).

There is a very close connection between request fulfilment and the Service Desk/Incident Management process; as calls made by end users to the Service Desk may be intially treated as incidents, but be later classified as requests (following initial questioning).

In most organizations the Service Desk staff will actually fulfil the requests - but the benefit is that requests can be 'stockpiled' and worked on as a seperate exercise, once the more critical incidents are dealt with.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

MTTR out: MTRS in

The Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) metric was widely known - but it has been replaced by a more meaningful and 'holistic' measurement.

The Mean Time to Restore Service (MTRS) is considered to be a better measurement for issues relating to availability and change management as it encompasses all aspects of service restoration and not just one element.

The problem with MTTR was that while a component (or part of a service) may have been repaired the service itself was still not available to an end user. Take a simple example. Server hard drive crashes, service is unavailable, emergency change is rushed through and the hard drive is replaced.

In this example the MTTR is measured from the time of the actual crash until the new hard drive is snapped into place. A good metric that can reflect on the overall performance of the IT department, but not a metric that is of any interest to the customers and users of that service.

Once the hard drive is snapped into place, the server is powered on and 15 or 20 minutes later the customers and end users can get access to the service. It is these 15 or 20 minutes that equate to MTRS and make it a better overall metric.

MTRS will be taken from the point of failure to the point where the service can be accessed by customers and end users.

Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) remains as a way to measure the uptime of a component in the service chain, but now the MTRS is the true downtime of a service.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

What Chance Passing the Exam....?

IT professionals look to develop skills in specific areas that they believe will increase their value in the mareketplace or to their own organization.

One element of skills development includes learning that ultimately results in a test and a certificate. There are many other positive elements that come from any learning program - but testing and certification is - for many - one of the more important issues.

In the 'world' of IT Service Management tests and certification are available for ITIL, Service Quality Management and other globally accepted frameworks/methodologies.

For the Service Quality Management program there are two certification programs (SQMF - Foundation and SQMA - Advanced). The SQMF program ends in a multiple choice exam.

The ITIL certification program has, for many years, had the Managers exam as its pinnacle. Under ITIL version 3 this changes to the Diploma in IT Service Management.

The v2 Managers exams have traditionally been based around a case study and written exams. The passing rate for these exams in countries where English is not the business language is generally lower thn 30%. In countries where English is a dominant language the passing rate is typically over 50%.

This difference is too large given the fact that ITIL is ITIL no matter where you go in the world.

Exams from participants in these countries are generally sent to markers that have a strong grasp of English. Is it really a case that IT professionals do not have the skills or is it a case that the delicate use of the English language counts against them?

Perhaps the use of multiple choice exams at all levels of ITIL certification is the answer; however perhaps there needs to be an element of instructor assessment that counts towards the actual exam result - rather than leaving it entirely to a written assessment.

What chance passing the exam....?

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Cross process relationships - tighter bond

While all the talk about ITIL v3 centres on the Lifecycle approach it is wise to remember that processes still form a large strata of the framework. It is also true that many of the widely documented process relationships from ITIL v2 have made the seamless transition to the latest version.

The issue that most IT folks are having is that they are getting stopped in their tracks by the lifecycle concept. Perhaps this is scaring people off, but look beyond that and the processes still exist - in fact there are more than ever.

It is true that ITIL v3 introduces many new processes, but again these are spin-offs of what was already happening..

Release and Deployment Management simply recognizes that there are two disciplines to the installation of new infrastructure and maintains its close alliance with Change and Service Asset and Configuration Management.

Service Request fulfillment neatly packages those requests that weren't incidents in the first place.

Access Management is born of Security and Availability.

Service Reporting - like its ISO 20000 cousin is just common plain good sense and refers to all processes.

and so on.....

We may have lost some elements of ITIL v2 that we had grown accustomed to, but the ability to tell logical stories that connect all the lifecycle phase processes together can still be told.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Event Management explained

When you actually study these ITIL v3 books they start to make a lot of sense. Last night I treated myself to a "getting to know Event Management" evening.

The basic premise for Event Management is "detectable and discernable" occurences where a response can be largely automated.

First point of clarity is that Event Management and Monitoring are linked but different concepts. Events can be monitored, but monitoring also includes tracking entities that are operating within normal ranges. An event

Events can be generated for configuration items, environmental conditions, software, security and standard activities (e.g. completion of a batch job).

Events need to be classified according to their significance. Events can be informational, warnings or exceptions; and it is warnings that need to be intelligently assessed as part of the Event Management process. Informational events do not require any action and exceptions may actually be inputs for the incident management process or the change management process.

Event warnings are processed by a correlation engine that contains business rules that intelligently decide upon a response.

The response - which should be automated - can include logging, generation of alert requiring human intervention or even a link to change management should the event indicate an exception (e.g. new devices detected on the network - which indicates a bypassing of the Change Management process) or an indication that intervention is required (e.g. network link is within 5% of its maximum operating capability).

The process - one of the Service Operations processes - actually makes a lot of sense when studied and properly understood.

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