Saturday, December 13, 2008

No more overkill on identity verification

Several months ago a directive was issued regarding the mandatory identity verification for every ITIL exam. No consideration given to the amount of extra effort that involved for training providers.... glad to say that the ATOs have rebelled and have been heard.

From this point forward the only time you have to provide proof of who you are is in the following situations:

1. Manager’s Bridge – confirmation of pass at version 2 manager exams
2. Intermediate exams – confirmation of pass at version 3 foundation or foundation bridge
3. Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) – confirmation of 17 eligible credits from ITIL examinations
4. Expert – confirmation of a pass at MALC or Manager’s Bridge.

This is a reasonable list as the qualifications worth protecting with a simple picture identity process.

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Latest on ITIL v3 takeup

Figures have been published that indicate the global adoption of ITIL v3 - certainly with regard to exams and certification is picking up steam.

January to August 2008 figures look like this:

ITIL Version 2 Examinations Taken
v2 Foundation 81500
v2 Practitioner 7550
v2 Service Managers 7700

ITIL Version 3 Examinations Taken
v3 Foundation 74150
v3 Foundation Bridge 11100
v3 Managers Bridge 1900

We're not reporting here on the pass rate, just the fact that v3 is starting to work it's way into the market, but v2 is still going strong.

v2 is still going strong as it is now understood to be effectively a "fast-track" way to qualify as an ITIL v3 Expert. It is therefore not surprising that v2 Managers exams exceed the number of Practitioner exams taken for this period.

It is almost 18 months since the launch of ITIL v3. Most pundits predicted that the adoption would take 12 to 18 months to catch on and that would seem to be the case.

Regarding the "retirement" of v2 Exams. We are still being told that it there will be 4 to 6 months notice of exams being withdrawn, but a survey will be conducted early next year to guage the interest in ITIL v2.

Here is my tip.... ITIL v2 will stay as long as there is an economically viable reason. It would not be a very good business decision to cut off a revenue stream just because it felt like the right time to do it. v2 and v3 will need to coexist for a lot longer. Why not?

Why not is that Sharon Taylor, Chief Architect, for ITIL v3 made the statement in May 2007, that ITIL v3 is not an UPGRADE it is a REPLACEMENT. So I imagine that Sharon for one is banking on the certification demise of v2 so that her statement can become a reality. For the reality now is that v3 is there for those who want it, but a lot still don't want it and the exam numbers above bear testomony to that fact.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 9, 2008

New marks for Intermediate courses

APMG have issued a short paper detailing the expected marking pattern for the upcoming:

Service Lifecycle
Service Capability and
Managing across the Lifecycle courses.

Collectively the 10 courses in this area are referred to as Intermediate level.

All exams will be "Complex multiple choice". 8 questions. The pass mark will be 28 out of a possible 40 marks maximum (or 70%).

5 marks will be awarded for the correct answer
3 marks for partially correct answer
1 mark for the least correct answer
0 marks for the incorrect answer

How will it work... ?

Partially correct answers on all 8 questions - you will fail the exam... (8 * 3 = 24).

Correct answers on 4 questions, partially correct on 2 and wrong on 2 - you will fail the exam (4*5 + 2*3 = 2*0 = 26)

Correct answers on 5 and least correct on 3 - you will PASS (5*5 + 3*1 = 28).

First set of exams is available from October 1 2008. The remainder are available from January 1st 2009.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe.... New ITIL exams

The latest set of draft syllabus for the ITIL v3 Intermediate courses have been published by APMG.

You may have heard that the Intermediate courses which encompass the five Service Lifecycle, four Service Capability and Managing Across the Lifecycle courses will be released in two waves.

Wave 1 - October 1st 2008 sees exams available to the public for Service Transition, Service Operation, Release, Control and Validation, Operational Support and Analysis and Service Offerings and Agreements.

Having seen the syllabi I can report that there are some changes from the draft syllabi that were produced several weeks ago. The most notable and probably of greatest interest is the exam format in all of the courses.

8 multiple choice questions !

So you are thinking that can't be too bad; but if you consider that the exam is 90 minutes long you get the idea that these are not simple questions.

In fact the questions are scenario based, each with 4 possible answers and (get this) there are varying degrees of "correctness" for each of the 4 answers. Correct, no longer is one question right and the others wrong. Now there is a really right one that is worth 5 marks, a not quite so right one that is worth 3 marks, a answer that earns 1 mark and a "distracter" worth 0.

Love it or hate it, the pass mark for the exam is 65% or 26 marks out of a possible 40 marks. You can earn yourself a distinction by getting 30 marks (75%).

So that is the breaking news on the new exam format for ITIL v3 Intermediate courses.

Personally, the format does not appeal to me. Having a gradient scoring system is very subjective. In real life there are multiple ways to achieve a result, so in this regard it makes sense to have different "correct" answers. However, my view of what is the right way to deal with a situation will be different from someone else and the choice is dependant on many more factors than can be documented in an exam (e.g. emotions, experiences).

Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, December 10, 2007

ITIL v3 Foundation Syllabus to change

APMG have listened and will make changes to the course syllabus that describes the learning requirements for the ITIL v3 Foundation course.

All along they could have been told that heavy emphasis on Service Strategy was not a clever move and it is incredible that the examination panel responsible for the development couldn't see that.

Perhaps it was an ego boost for the exam panel to create a complex syllabus that they understood; but they failed the test of understanding the audience of interest for the course.

The word is that the new syllabus will have far less material on Service Strategy and Continual Service Improvement and more on the core processes. It is anticipated that the new syllabus will be available to ATOs by the end of calendar year 2007.

At least they listened, but let's hope that we don't face a similar situation again.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, November 2, 2007

What is the buzz, the goss, the good oil on v3 exams?

For ITIL v3 examinations the system basically works as follows:

The system works as follows…

1. APMG create the syllabus and the mock exams
2. The syllabus and mock exams come to the ATOs (Accredited Training Organizations) for review and comment
3. The ATOs give feedback
4. APMG make improvements, based on their own and ATO assessment
5. The final syllabus is released to the ATOs
6. The ATOs develop the courses.

Step 6 can take however long it takes each ATO to develop their variant of the same course.

The situation at the time of publishing this blog.

ITIL v2 to v3 Managers bridge course – is at step 4 and unlikely to get to step 5 until January 2008

ITIL v3 Service Capability (4 courses) is at step 3 and seems to have stalled there
ITIL v3 Service Lifecycle (5 courses) has not started
ITIL v3 Managing through the Lifecycle has not started

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 12, 2007

Delay for Managers Bridge exam + Potential changes to Foundation syllabus

Word is out that the Managers bridge exam is to be delayed, due to the exams "not being balanced across the whole syllabus".

In the same release is a statement hinting at the possibility that the v3 Foundation syllabus may be too heavily weighted towards Service Strategy and Continual Service Improvement.

It would appear that this is a case of "about time". However, on the positive side it is an indication that complaints are actually heard and acted upon. However, how did we reach this situation in the first place.

The blame (for want of a better word) has to rest entirely with the parties on the examination panel responsible for the syllabus and ultimately the Chief Examiner for ITIL v3 - Sharon Taylor.

It would appear to this skeptic that the examination panel is made up of Service Management gurus and not one specialist education analyst amongst them. Was it not apparent that the qantum leap from v2 to v3 had to be handled very carefully and not simply scanning the table of contents and picking concepts at random.

Perhaps the Foundation course for v3 should not include Service Strategy and the Service Lifecycle at all. Keep the entry level for what will deliver the most benefit for the majority of people interested in it - discussions about process activities.

Is it really necessary to introduce the 4 activities of Strategy Generation at this early stage. Save that stuff for those that have an interest.

Is it too late to regain the lost ground - time will tell - what is important is that something has to be done and all indications point to the fact that it is.

Oh and one final point - someone please involve an education specialist who who understands the challenges of adult education and can put some real meaning to Blooms Taxonomy and Awareness, Comprehension, Knowledge - make it real.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Was Gartner right or wrong?

An article published in November 2006 quoted Simon Mingay, research vice president for IT management strategies at Gartner "...appointment of APM Group has created a division in the IT service management community..." and "will effectively create a parallel qualification scheme in competition with the official ITIL-branded APM Group scheme and marks the end of effective negotiations between APMG and EXIN/BCS-ISEB".

Of course, at the time Simon could not have foreseen that in January 2007 the three organizations would resolve their differences; seeing Exin and BCS/ISEB offering the APMG ITIL v3 exams to the training partners.

So in that regard Simon was incorrect; but he did go on to say "...important for IT organisations to be aware that they will be faced with two competing training schemes..".

What is being referred to here is the genuine ITIL certification program (owned and operated by APM Group) and a spin off certification scheme loosely term IT Service Management (owned and operated by Exin and BCS/ISEB).

As mentioned Exin and BCS/ISEB now do offer the genuine APMG ITIL exams, but they also have their own IT Service Management programs. What the long term future is for certification programs that don't use the term ITIL remains to be seen. However, as the global community starts to come to understand who and what is involved I predict that ITIL certification will dominate.

To think otherwise is to assume that the market has a loyalty to the past, rather than a desire for the future.

Labels: , , , ,

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....?

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, July 21, 2007

EXIN - Knocks one out of the park!

Exin have released full details of their Service Quality Management track of programs. Terms such as SQMF, ITSMA, SQMA and how the program hangs together can now be explained.

The track is based predominantly around ISO 20000, but also recognizes the close connections to the ITIL framework.

First the program becomes a lot clearer when you remember that Exin - long time IT Service Management certification gurus have developed new programs that extend upon the long respected ITIL Framework. They have developed two programs in that area. IT Service Managment Foundation (ITSMF) and IT Service Management Advanced (ITSMA). The Exin programs focus beyond the theory of ITIL, by encouraging training vendors to consider implementation and application issues.

Then came ISO 20000 and EXIN recognized the logical flow on for ITIL into this international standard and developed two new programs.

Service Quality Management Foundation (SQMF), based on ISO 20000, but includes Terms and Vocabulary from ISO 9000. This program looks at the theory of ISO 20000 and until recently required a participant to have passed the IT Service Management Foudnation (ITSMF) exam - BUT in July 2007 this pre-requisite was removed.

Most recently Exin have launched the Service Quality Management Advanced (SQMA) program. This program does in fact have TWO pre-requisites. The Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management) AND the Service Quality Management Foundation (SQMF).

The syllabus of SQMA is designed to teach the "HOW" regarding the practical application of Quality Management, especially related to ISO/IEC 20000, and also on certification and auditing based upon ISO/IEC 20000. So while SQMF focuses on theory - which has to be learnt - the focus of the Advanced Certificate will be on managing, organizing, optimizing and evaluating quality systems based upon ISO/IEC 20000.

All in all the program is now a solid alternative for those people looking to lift themeselves beyond the ITIL theory and into a world of standards based Quality Management.


If you are currently ITIL Foundation certified (v2 or v3) learn the SQMF material and pass that exam. Then you can automatically qualify to take the SQMA course (as your ITIL Foundation certificate will be recognized as equivalent to the IT Service Management Foundation certificate.

If we look first at the Service Quality Management Advanced (SQMA) program then a lot of other programs can be explained.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

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? ;-)

Labels: , , ,