Saturday, May 24, 2008

Back to the Future: Flexibility slowly degrading

For those in the know the rules established by Exin and ISEB regarding the numbers of students that could sit in on a classroom course where in the vincinity of 16 for a Foundation and 12 for a Managers.

I will grant you that while all ATOs had access to the same creed, they were more like "guidelines" (my Pirates of the Caribbean reference).

APMG came along and those rules/guidelines disappeared. I personally spoke out against the move, as I felt having the guidelines in place ensured candidates wouldn't end up learning ITIL in a lecture theatre of 200 people.

However, it appeared that APMG didn't really take that into account. Until now.

In a 180 degree the ITIL Qualifications Board has reintroduced the studnet to teacher ratio. The ratio applies to courses at the Intermediate level (Lifecycle, Capability and Managing Across the Lifecycle) - and the magic ratio is 12:1.

12 students requires 1 teacher.
13 students requires 2 teachers... !!!!

This is where I get perplexed at the lack of common sense.
You add an entire additional resource for one student??.. not only is that NOT good teaching practice, it isn't good business practice.

Where my children went to school there wasn't a full time resource to help out with the class. There were staggered support arrangements based on the class size and any special requirements of the children.

Why not adopt some guidelines that I suggested several years ago that adds teaching resource, following a similar patter, in a sliding scale.

For example, 13 students requires, 1 full time on site resource and 10 hours of a remote resource. 14 students requires 1 full time on site resource and 15 hours of remote support. And so on and so on until for example 18 students requires two full time on site resources.

Perhaps that was too hard to work out !! Has anyone at the Board looked at their childrens schooling system and thought that the concept is essentially the same - just different content.

The 12:1 ratio does come with a small dose of "flexibility". If an ATO wants to run a course with more than 12 students (at the Intermediate level) you need to seek express permission from the Examination Institute that certified the ATO.

On the flip side of this minor oversight the wording in the release clearly states "An additional trainer will be required for classes over 12 students". My point here is APMG are now doing what I felt they should have done all along. Make some decisions and put some rules in place.

There is way too much "open for interpreation" in this entire industry and it only serves to frustrate and confuse.

For those who are keen of mind, I can see your next question already... "How will the APMG and the Exam Institutes police this 12:1 ratio?".

Easy answer - I would say that eventually they will move back towards the model that Exin and ISEB had working successfully, and start to have signed assessment forms or perhaps targetted interviews to those who take the exams, regarding the numbers of studnets and teachers.

The APMG also need to advise the general public about the ratio. The Public then need to see proof that an ATO has got the appropriate permissions if a course has more than 12 students and only one instructor.

Another telling factor is that many ATOs have taken advantage of the defined affiliate program. The margins in play with affiliates are tight and now all of a sudden you throw in a second resource for +12 courses and the margins disappear altogether.

Then less reputable companies start to pick up the slack, as they flaunt the regulation. Perhaps to comply they will "qualify" inadequate instructors who will literally sit in a corner during a +12 course and add no value, not even be introduced as an instructor.

Then we need to see the Exam Institutes making more and more frequent visits to the field to conduct course audits - but who tells the EIs when they are running their courses. Noone, so then APMG may decree that all courses have to be registered...

Oh - can't you just see the tangled web starting to get more and more constrictive as we slowly disappear beneath a growing pile of regulations and "guidelines".

Let's put our faith in the hands of the learned Examination Board who will also spot the risks and potential risks and adopt some of the OGCs M_o_R to manage the situation.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

What's in a name.... this is getting annoying!

Word on the grapevine is that the naming of the ITIL Expert level (formerly known as ITIL Diploma) is still up for debate.

I doubt that OGC appointed the APM group to run the ITIL certification scheme if they thought that they couldn't make decisions that are as trivial as what to call a particular certification level.

The arguement that different names mean different things in different countries is just silly. Exin and ISEB ran the scheme and had the ITIL Masters as the top level name for years.

Each country will make their own translations...

ITIL Diploma was fine...
ITIL Expert is FINE.... I would say, please just leave it as it is.. There are enough changes let's have some stability.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What is the news on ITIL Exams?

It's been many months since APMG took over the reins of managing all the ITIL certification. What is the latest on their progress and performance?

By all reports things are going "ok" !
On a scale where OK sits halfway between awful and awesome it isn't a glowing report, but it could have been worse.

On the down side... exam certificates are taking weeks (if not months) to distribute. While this may not seem to be a major issue to the official accreditor, it has a lot to do with the way they are perceived in the marketplace. "Exin and ISEB managed to get certificates issued within a week of results. Why is it taking APMG so long?".

To be fair we need to remind ourselves that APMG wears two hats in this whole ITIL certification game. One is their role as an Examination Institute (EI). Like Exin, ISEB, Loyalist and others; EIs compete for the business of Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs). The other hat is the role of the "Official Accreditor".

As the official accreditor APMG has all EIs under their control with regards to exams, syllabi and general guidelines on how ITIL courses should be administered.

The issue with exam certificates rests with APMG the EI.

Also on the downside, there is too much indecision in the way that course syllabi are released. There are no fixed and firm dates and there is still no decision on withdrawl of older ITIL v2 exams. Such indecision causes confusion in the marketplace.

This is an issue that rests with APMG as the official accreditor.

However, I like to balance. On the sunny side, the industry is in a state of perpetual flux right now and any attempt to lock things into place requires involvement, sign-off and acceptance by so many parties; it's like juggling light beams.

APMG is doing everything in its power to keep everyone happy; perhaps this is the problem and they need to upset a few to get progress for the community at large.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

The first 6 months of ITIL v3

Well it's been over 6 months since the release of ITIL v3 (officially launched on 5th June 2007) and it seems like the framework is here to stay.

There was initial outcry at the complexity and definite rumblings from the training vendors who knew that the Foundation level study was too complex (rumblings which APMG have listened to).

However, those that predicted the fall of ITIL will perhaps have to wait for ITIL v4 to try again. It is true that there has not been a flood of interest or uptake in ITIL 3, but it's enough to show that it remains a viable methodology for infrastructure management.

Certainly in Asia the interest is exploding; perhaps even faster than in the West. However, all the global signs are positive that, while many organizations will stick with v2, enough companies are investigating how to incorporate the language and processes of v3.

My only one fear is that the behemoth that is HP decides to wade in and create/buy the market and link everything to their own service management tool offering - but that is the subject of another blog.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Does the UKAS suspension of APMG really matter?

At the time there was a sharp intake of breath. APMG have their own accreditation suspended for failing to comply to audit request by UKAS.

I am certain that there were as many people pleased to see this happen as there were those that were shocked. However, it is prudent to remind ourselves that the suspension covered just a portion of the APMG business (namely Prince2, M_o_R and MSP) and we should remember that they are very likely to get it back.

UKAS (the United Kingdom Accreditation Service), as an entity has been around since 1995 and has over 130 certification bodies accredited. At the time of writing APMG is the only one of those that seems to be facing any major non-compliance issues.

Will this suspension hurt APMG? I seriously doubt it. APMG has some smart people at the helm as the recent presentation of GBP 100,000 to the itSMF as part of an ongoing arrangement demonstrates. The massive amount of cash is clear evidence that APMG know how to make and keep friends; and in a world that is driven by revenues and profits that is more important than the logo that appears on the certificate.

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Monday, July 9, 2007

Random Red Dot or a Freudian Slip

exAs near as I can make out the ITIL Exam centre for Australia is located in the North Western sector of Western Australia.

Well that is according to the map on the home page of the official ITIL Web site. That is where the red dot is placed in that huge mass of land.

Now, in an interesting twist, the location of the red dot is smack bang in the middle of Lake Dissapointment !

Lake Disappointment is a huge inland salt lake, devoid of life, but I'm sure a mighty impressive place to visit.

It's true, head to Google Earth 23°30′S, 122°50′E.

Yes, I know the red dot indicates that testing takes place in the country and that the placement was purely coincidental..... or was it? ;-)

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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Latest from Exin...

Things are really heating up in the battle of Examination Institutes (EIs). Exin have outlined their plans for the future and while ITIL and the relationship with APMG features, it is certainly not dominant.

Exin have for many years offered a variety of certification programs, but the latest news from them can be seen as a focussed effort to break away from relying too heavily on ITIL.

First bit of news. In the past if you wanted to take the Exin Service Quality Management Foundation (SQMF) exam, (which is Exins answer to the itSMF ISO20000 program) - you first had to pass the ITIL Foundation exam.

That requirement is now gone. So now anyone can take the globally recognized ISO 20000 Foundation certification exam - very good news and well done to Exin. This move demonstrates that understanding ISO 20000 does not require ITIL theory knowledge, but Exin still state the ITIL understanding will help or the participant should have some good working experience in IT; but it is no longer a pre-requisite for taking the exam.

Secondly in the ISO 20000 field, Exin have published the long awaited second level - Service Quality Management Advanced (SQMA) syllabus and certification.

Pilots for this program were held in the Netherlands (makes sense as this is Exin's Head Office location) and Australia (also makes sense as the Aussies are big adopters of new initiatives and proud to lead the way !!).

Exin state that the SQMA program will involve theory elements, but also practical work assignments. However, it yet another attempt to completely confuse the market the way that Exin are describing their program leaves me trying to work out how to position it all.

Yes, there are explanations, but the fact sheet on the Exin Service Quality Management program ISO/IEC 20000 is a combination of both ITIL and ISO 20000 certification.

Here is an example of where the confusion comes from.

Exin "The ISO/IEC 20000 SQM Foundation program is targeted at a ....."

Exin "Exin's SQM program consists of two Foundation exams: Foundation in IT Service Management (based on ITIL) (ITILF) and SQM Foundation (SQMF)."

Deeper reading and analysis uncovers the strategy.

Exin are looking to create a certification for ISO 20000 consultants, based on ITIL and ISO 20000 certification. This could be seen as competition to the APM Groups Diploma in IT Service Management, as the complete Exin track is 4 courses...

1. ITIL Foundation (ITILF)
2. ISO 20000 Foundation (SQMF)
3. ITIL Managers
4. ISO 20000 Advanced (SQMA)

Either way Exin are putting up alternatives and this can only be a good thing for the marketplace.

So, in summary - you can now take an ISO 20000 Foundation certificate without having to first take the ITIL Foundation course and exam.

Next, Exin have announced end dates on all their single practitioner exams.

In effect, all the single practitioner Exin courses are now defunct. So for those vendors that invested heavily in the development of material and the accreditation; well perhaps that work can be used as part of developing the Clustered courses that Exin bought in several years ago.

It would appear that all the single practitioner exams will disappear effective immediate EXCEPT Serice Level Management and Security Management (both expire 1 January 2008).

Next on the "Exin news" is the statement that Exin will offer the APMG ITIL v3 Foundation exam. We knew this was going to happen, but interestinly, and in an even more apparent move to stamp their mark on the ITIL certification world, the certificate issued will be an APMG certificate.

Now perhaps this is by agreement between Exin and APMG or perhaps APMG have dictated that all ITIL Foundation certificates will carry the APMG stamp - but the days of Exin certifications for ITIL Foundation are at an end. I wonder if this is the case for ISEB as well?

Exin take great pains to point out that passing the APMG exam - whereever it is taken is recognized and acts as a starting point for the "broader IT Service Management certification program".

So, the wheels are turning in what was always going to be an interesting few months.

Exin's decision to broaden the availability of the ISO 20000 certification (SQMF) can only be seen as a good thing and APMG have no way to prevent that from happening. However, it would appear that the move by Exin is a clever one in terms of starting to give the marketplace a different path to travel when it comes to certification.

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Sunday, July 1, 2007

What is missing from this list.. ?

Interesting page on the APM Group web site regarding Consulting Accreditation.

It is an overview of the Accredited Consultant service that is offered by the
APMG. The registered consultant services offered...

  • "Project Management" is there (certification scheme managed by APMG)
  • "Management of risk" is there (certification scheme managed by APMG)
  • ??? is not there (certification scheme managed by APMG)

Doesn't take a genius to see the "hint" of a pattern emerging here. I don't think it will be too long, before we hear about "ITIL Registered Consultants".

Judging by the numbers of Project Management Registered Consultants, APMG will have to come up with a compelling reason to follow that track.

At the time of writing only 12 names exist on the Registered Consultants list - it would be interesting for those of us in the ITSM world to hear from any of those 12 about the program they have to follow and the benefits (and why are the numbers so low... is the scheme new?).

I am not anti-registration, but it would seem to be a tough sell in a market as mature as IT Service Management. I am putting myself in the shoes of a potential client and wondering what beneifts I get if I employ a "registered consultant" instead of a "damm good one". Will there be some guarantee of quality, will there be a "no cut costs, no pay for services policy" - somehow I doubt it.

Document your thoughts in reply as this is going to be an interesting one to watch.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Comprehensive ITIL Education and Certification update

There is a lot of talk and speculation regarding ITIL education and certification in the marketplace.

So I thought that perhaps I should throw in my views and opinions which are based on:

1. Face-to-face discussions with the APM Group
2. Attendance at the official launch of ITIL v3 (London 5th June 2007)
3. A whole host of e-mails and phone calls

I am making the information public as we have all been given a taste of what the new structure may look like. This paper gives you the first real evidence of an education track for IT Service Management.

So, have a read, but BEWARE.. everything comes with a health warning. Some elements may change, but I would suggest that the primary skeleton will remain.

Download this free ITIL paper on Education and certification.

Make comments, ask questions, I'll respond and answer all.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

What ever happened to....

It was late 2006 that Exin and ISEB tied the knot in a (what could only be considered as a commercial) agreement; that was an effectual thumbing of the nose at the APM Group.

It was early 2007 that both Exin and ISEB signed up as Examination Institutes under the APM Group. It is now mid 2007 and the waters are still muddy over the new certification scheme and who will play what part.

What is interesting is the apparent lack of knowledge (still) amongst the vendor community about the Examination Institutes.

I read the blog at Court Square in the Round. Refer to the first paragraph, the first two key words "Last week..." and then jump to the last paragraph "There are two certification tests... ISEB and EXIN". It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that it was an HP program, but shame on the instructor not providing participants with the complete story.

There are THREE certification test... Exin, ISEB and APMG. Perhaps it was a minor oversight, perhaps it was a deliberate attempt to not educate the market place; but as a major player in the industry you would hope that HP are able to present the facts as they are.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The APM Group web site lists the details regarding the new ITIL version 3 certification program. The article explains the option for existing ITIL Managers to take a bridging course and be awarded the Diploma in Service Management.

BUT... the scheme requires 22 points of credit to be awarded the Diploma and with the ITIL v2 Managers certificate worth 15, the ITIL v2 Foundation worth 1.5 and the bridging course worth 5 points... there is 0.5 points missing.

To me it's obvious the ITIL v2 to v3 Foundation upgrade course which is worth 0.5 points is mandatory AND it should be mandatory.

Otherwise we will have a bunch of Diploma qualified Service Managers running around that don't even understand the basic processes, key principles and general concepts of ITIL v3.

Now, we just need the APM Group to make the bold step of proclaiming the Foundation upgrade is mandatory and order will be restored.

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas, Degrees and Doctorates

In a huge shake up for the industry, the APM Group have given the first hints of what is to come with regard to their ITIL certification program. In what can only be described as a bold move the APM Groups appointed Examination panel – chaired by the Chief of all things ITIL – Sharon Taylor – have unveiled their points based ITIL Certification scheme that culminates in the Advanced Service Management Diploma. Below the Advanced Diploma is a “Diploma in Service Management”.

The Advanced Diploma may well be out of the reach of mere mortals; it looks as if holding the Advanced certificate will mean that you either wrote ITIL or you are good enough to be asked to write ITIL or you’ve been a key player for many (many) years. The Advanced Diploma sounds as if it could be a “by invitation only” – perhaps a secret handshake as well.

It is the Diploma in Service Management for most of us. Your existing v2 Qualifications can be used as credits towards the (current thinking) 22 points required to be awarded the Diploma. The Diploma is earned by accumulating enough points.

1.5 points for your existing v2 Foundation, 15 points for your v2 Managers certificate, 3.75 points for an existing Clustered Practitioner and 1 point for a single Practitioner. There will be 0.5 points for passing the v2 to v3 Foundation upgrade exam.

The new v3 Foundation will be worth 2 points and there will be 3 points per exam, per book in the Core of ITIL. The examination panel is pushing the clustered approach for practitioners – with a to be created set of service capability programs.

There will be a “capping” course and Exam in the Service Lifecycle (worth 5 points) that all of us will have to do if we want to get the Diploma (so for those of you with Foundation, Managers and a few clustered practitioners behind you – you will still need to do the 5 day Service lifecycle course).

So, it is big change ahead for Education. We should remember that the new program outlined is under the control of the APM Group. As the “official” accreditor for the OGC they will manage the program once it is endorsed by the Examination Panel (the panel includes Exin, ISEB, APMG, Sharon Taylor and other notables that have been invited). Once approved then the program becomes law for ITIL v3 and it will be interesting to see how Exin and ISEB actually present to the marketplace.

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Friday, June 1, 2007

ITIL Certification future

The future for ITIL Certification rests in the hands of the APM Group - who are the "official" ITIL Accreditation body (as appointed by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in 2006.

The release of ITIL v3 has prompted a total overhaul of the certification scheme and this task rests with the APMG appointed Examination Panel.

Word on the street is that the concept of the Foundation exam will remain in v3 - except the examinable syllabus will be a selected sub-set of the v3 material (to cover all the material at a Foundation level would take too long).

The concept of the Practitioner program also looks set to remain through a well designed "Service Capability" series of exams that will be based around specialist topics and material.

The glorious Managers program, it is said, will be reborn as the "Service Management" series and here it would make sense to have 5 courses, 5 exams - one for each of the core books (but shorter courses - maybe 2 to 3 days each).

I've also heard that there may also be a "capping" course and exam that covers the all important concept of the service lifecycle.

Now, if this wasn't interesting enough. All of the courses (including current ITIL v2 certificates and ITIL v2 to v3 upgrade exams) would be assigned a number of points. Earn enough points in a given time period and you would qualify for a "junior degree" (or Diploma) in IT Service Management.

.....AND then there is also talk about an Advanced Diploma - which - rather than being examinable is earned by reputation, contributation to the industry and consideration from peers.

Now, this is early news - don't bank it, but it could be the first concrete evidence we've seen about the future certification program. And early indications are that it looks like a solid program that APMG have defined.

The important point is like it or not.. if the APM Group decree it, then Exin and ISEB will HAVE to follow suit for their ITIL certification programs.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Where will we be in 12 months time..?

It's 24 hours until the official launch of ITIL v3... is this a bit like the Year 2000... everyone expecting fireworks and mayhem, confusion, crashing systems and general destruction on an unprecedented scale... but what actually happened.. NOT MUCH.

The most disruption for Y2K was caused when all the IT folks had to miss the parties; even when they knew nothing would happen!

One thing is for sure, the launch of ITIL v3 does not have folks camping out overnight so as to get the first copies. This is not X-Box !

What will the cynical bloggers be writing about in 12 months. Will it be the demise of ITIL, because of what seemed like a good idea at the time (but actually turns out to be a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it)… OR will we be applauding ourselves as an industry for having the foresight to see that ITIL v3 was an upgrade that we just had to have.

I simply don’t know, no-one does and don’t believe a word from anyone who says that they know which way the pendulum will swing. The market place will decide and the marketplace is a fickle beast when it comes to changing something that we’ve all grown comfortable with.

Vendors of course will be pushing everyone down the upgrade path; however, this upgrade may in fact be just what organizations need in order to save their cash being spent on what they perceive as “big-cost, small value” projects.

The upgrade may be the justification for decisions against adoption of ITIL that has changed in such a big way; opting for a framework with built in longevity – aka ISO 20000.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

5th June 2007 - Who will be on the invite list ?

June 5th 2007, London - looms as a 'red letter' day for the "ITILites" amongst us.

The "offical launch" of the framework version 3. Bit like the Olympics, with the official publication date being set at the 30th May.

Who will be on the invite list? Well for one, your intrepid ITSMer will be there and will be able to rub shoulders with the rich and infamous of the ITIL world.

Stay tuned for a full briefing. However, I have heard tell that there are speeches from OGC (expected), TSO (expected), APMG (interesting, but not unexpected)..... notice who is missing from this list - Exin and ISEB.

It seems that not all Examination Institutes are created equal... it obviously pays to have won the OGC contract for Managing the ITIL certification scheme.,,, you get invited to all the good parties (just like the Oscars).

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Who will want ITIL v2 learning?

The Examination Institutes (APMG, Exin, ISEB) are happy to tell the public that v2 exams will co-exist with the new v3 exams for some time (up to 12 months).

Begs the question - who will want them?

Two schools of thought; but I believe both can be countered with a logical argument....

1. Consultants who need to get some ITIL Qualifications in order to apply for positions. Forget it, go for v3 - with Version 3 knowledge you'll be a shoe-in for any v2 work as well.

2. Organizations that have already invested heavily in v2 certification. Forget it, v2 exams will not be available in the future - bite the bullet and start investing in v3 certification and all those bridging courses that the vendors will offer.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Confusion reigns on certification

The impending upgrade of ITIL (r) v2 to version 3 is going to create a lot of debate and questions regarding the change in content.

However, let's not forget all those that have worked hard to earn ITIL certification in Foundation, Practitioner or Managers level programs.

There is a lot of misinformation about changes to the certification scheme. The one certainty is that there will be change. The Foundation level program is expected to stay roughly the same - pitching a common understanding in the fundamentals of ITIL.

However, the upper levels of certification may head along the Six Sigma path. With classroom components, but an element of "real world" proof of practice required.

Questions are coming in thick and fast about new programs, bridging courses and validity of v2 certification. We really need to see the Examination institutes put out some definitive answers to these questions and concerns rather than the stock standard answer "we are currently reviewing the system and will provide more information".

People want dates, not flimsy excuses.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

ITIL v3 Early starters

The printers are running hot, with the anticipated release of ITIL v3.

ITIL is a trademark protected concept belonging to the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in the United Kingdom.

Training vendors are busy preparing their new ITIL education programs. Bridging programs are expected to be the big ticket item in the first several months. The accredited training companies already have pre-release material that they are using to prepare the programs.

This is how you will be able to tell the "grey market" trainers from the others. Only accredited companies have the material; so if you're training says "no material yet - so we can't offer the course" - you know that they are not accredited by one of the three Examiniation Insitutes (APMG, Exin or ISEB).

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