Thursday, 28 September 2006

ISEB upgrade their qualification framework

I´m on holiday at the moment, so apologies for the lack of posts. They´ll commence again from Tuesday 3rd October.

I heard something at a conference a few months ago about the need to upgrade the BCS ISEB IT qualifications framework to support the acceptance of IT as a profession in the truest sense of the word.

On page 21 of this month´s IT Now magazine there is a short explanation of the changes. It aligns other qualifications along the Foundation / Practitionar / Manager´s theme for certifications that we are already familiar with for ITIL. You can download the new ISEB Framework from their website.

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

The 7 Sources Of Problems

I imagine that many of the ITIL readers out there are familiar with Dr ITIL. Some of you may even recall a series he wrote regarding the 7 sources of problems. I found it so useful that I diligently saved the articles to my hard disc for future reference; so when I found out about his first e-book 'The S7ven Sources of Problems: How to eliminate problems before they impact your business' I found myself wondering why I should pay for content that was already out there on the internet. That was until I read it!

The e-book goes far beyond the previous articles; a total of 66 pages. Diagrams are kept to a minimum, the majority of the book is content, content, content. It neatly distills not just what the 7 sources of problems are; but importantly HOW to mitigate and in some cases completely eliminate them. I find the writing style no-nonsense and conversational which makes for an easy read. Admittedly much of what he writes may be common sense to some people; but sometimes you need someone to remind you of what you already know; let alone point out the things you don't know.

In my view this should be mandatory reading for not just problem process owners everywhere, but anyone involved in project or change management, in fact include anyone supporting the IT environment and frustrated with the constant fire-fighting.

Start your journey of problem elimination by opening the door with the golden key (nudge, nudge, wink, wink!).

Sunday, 17 September 2006

Need help to pass the foundation exam?

I recently came across a podcast 'Top Tips for Taking the ITIL Foundation Exam' from ILX Training and finally made time to listen to it today. It wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be and the bulk of the helpful tips were in the final 10 minutes of the cast.

The advice is primarily directed towards those who are taking the exam following a classroom based training course, and is not hugely useful for those who are going the self-study route.

So... to summarise for those of you who don't have 30 minutes to listen to the cast:

Before the exam:
  1. There is no need to read up on ITIL prior to going on a formal training course. Everything you need should be provided on the course.
  2. Classroom based training courses will have official mock papers for you to practice.
  3. The ITIL Foundation Exam consists of 40 multiple choice questions to be answered in 1 hour.
  4. Need a minimum of 26 correct answers, the pass rate is perhaps 95% in this trainer's experience.
  5. The majority of questions are regarding the process itself.
  6. Only a few questions will ask about people (mainly on service desk) and technology.
  7. Ask your trainer questions, do not be embarrased. Chances are other people want to know the answer as well.
  8. Leave your preconceptions at home. The exam is on ITIL and not how you do things at work.
  9. Remember that even if you do something differently and think it is wrong, forget the 'I think...'. Answers must be 'ITIL'.
  10. Don't think you know everything about a process because it is similar to what you do at work. There may be new terminology, or the same terminology with different definitions.
  11. Learn the abbrieviations and acronyms and where they are used in each process. Think of it as learning a new language.
If taking the exam in a class based environment there will be an invigilator from EXIN or ISEB. They user generic exam forms.
  1. Scribble answers on the actual exam question paper.
  2. Only when you are finished should you mark answers on the generic exam form.
  3. Mark answers in pencil.
  4. Be very careful if you erase an incorrect answer as the computer may read it as a separate mark and void the entire line.
  5. ITIL papers normally only have 4 possible answers: A, B, C, D. The generic form includes a fifth option, E. Be careful not to mark column E.
The exam itself:
  1. Ignore everyone else in the room.
  2. Read the question, read the answers, re-read the question again.
  3. Go through the paper and answer all those you are sure of first.
  4. Eliminate the answers you know are incorrect (like 50/50 on who wants to be a millionaire).
  5. Allow approximately a minute and a half per question.
  6. If you aren't sure of an answer within 1 minute move on. There may be another question that may assist you.
  7. Once you have committed to an answer, do not go back and check as invariably you will change a correct answer to an incorrect answer.
  8. Do not over-analyse or second-guess yourself.
  9. If you can't answer all the questions don't worry about it.
  10. Remember to transfer your answers from the question paper to the answer form!
You may also want to refer to my previous Foundation tips post.

Tuesday, 5 September 2006

First time interviewer?

We're finally going to appoint some permanent Help Desk Operators and the recently appointed Team Leader was feeling a little apprehensive about conducting the actual interview itself. So, I stepped in with a few tips that I thought I'd share with the rest of you over the next two blog entries. Most organisations will have some recruitment procedures so I'm not going to focus on the entire process, just the interview itself.

Preparation is Key
When you are the interviewee, you prepare for the interview without giving a second thought to the interviewer who may be as nervous as you. The key to eliminating apprehension is adequate preparation. This applies to the interviewer as well as interviewee.
  1. Gather together the Job Description and the Person Specification (if there isn't one then make creating one your first task!).
  2. For each responsibility, jot down a short phrase that encapsulates the behaviours, skills, and knowledges required to deliver it, e.g.
  3. Once the list has been compiled, give yourself 100 points to allocate amongst each. The idea is that those which are more important are awarded more points, and those that are less important receive fewer points. The outcome should be a prioritised list of what you are looking for in the candidate.
  4. If there were more than 10 items on the wish list, cut off those that did not make the top 10. If you find yourself wishing one of the items were in the list, then go back to step 3 and repeat until happy.
  5. Use the information above to design a Candidate Assessment Sheet that you can use during the actual interview for each candidate.
More in part 2 coming Friday!

Friday, 1 September 2006

ITIL Refresh v3 - Update

There's a new status update up today regarding the ITIL Refresh.

Also, Sharon Taylor and the ITIL v3 Refresh team published a FAQ a few weeks ago to answer some of the many questions we all have regarding the changes.

It explains the new life cycle approach (using the analogy of building a house) and details the new 'core' titles of the 'service management practice suite' which are more role-oriented:
  • Service Strategies
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement
These core books will be released simultaneously hopefully towards late Spring 2007.

There will also be complementary titles available, focusing on specific issues although the FAQ does not indicate what these may be.

Mention is specifically made of the new focus on knowledge management, although it is not clear to me from the document whether this takes into account the practice of Knowledge Centred Support (KCS) (I'll be very surprised if it doesn't and build on it).

A key difference we finally have an answer to is that service requests will no longer be treated under incident management. They have their own 'Request Management' process which relates to Change Management.

For the full lowdown, download the itSMF PDF version of the ITIL Refresh v3 FAQ.