Weekend Warrior: Get ITIL Certified in a Single Weekend

ITIL hip dude studies up at home

Bored this weekend? Wife and kids visiting your in-laws? Perhaps you need a reason to avoid going to your boss' weekend barbecue? Rather than make up some shallow excuse, or pretend that you caught your 14th flu of the year, why not get ITIL certified? The entry-level ITIL certification is fairly easy to achieve, looks great on a resume and, who knows, you may learn a great deal.

 

Yes, it is possible to get ITIL certified over the course of a weekend. The steps will go something like this: Make the decision to get certified around Monday afternoon. Sign up for the test that same day. Order the book or borrow it from a friend that week. Study over the weekend and take the exam the following Monday.

 

All of your studying should be done in just a couple of days, and in a location conducive to learning. In all seriousness, if you have to pour more than 16 hours of study into passing the certification exam, then you simply aren't ready for the test.

 

What is ITIL?

 

In loose terms ITIL is a framework for delivering IT Services. ITIL had its genesis in the 1980s, when the government of the United Kingdom expressed concern that there were no generally accepted standards for the management of IT practices, noting that government agencies and private sector companies were each developing their own standards.

 

ITIL was originally developed as a collection of books, each covering specific practices within IT service management. Since 2013, ITIL, also known as IT Infrastructure Library, has been owned by AXELOS, a joint-venture between Capita and the government of the UK.

 

Axelos defines ITIL as "a widely accepted approach to IT Service Management (ITSM), which has been adopted by individuals and organizations across the world. ITIL provides a cohesive set of best practices, drawn from the public and private sectors internationally." This sounds pretty generic until you review the components surrounding the framework.

 

ITIL has since been streamlined and reworked to include 26 listed processes, organized in five separate volumes covering the core content for each process.

 

Service Strategy (SS) deals with understanding organizational objectives and customer needs. If you have ever been in a help desk role, on the receiving end of an angry phone call from a customer, or if you understand how Information Technology fits into ANY organization, then you will understand this part of the framework.

 

Service Design (SD) is where we delve into turning strategy into a plan for delivering the business objectives. If you've ever worked as a project manager or business analyst, or been around those types of people and seen how they run a requirements gathering session, then you will understand the importance of a concrete plan as opposed to a simple strategy.

 

Service Transition (ST) provides a framework for developing and improving capabilities for introducing new services into supported environments. This probably seems like it's getting a little harder, but don't fear — if you have ever been around a new product rollout or formally given a new laptop to someone, then you probably executed this framework or its steps without even being aware that you were doing so.

 

Service Operation (SO) covers the best practice for delivering agreed upon services to users. While ITIL is IT based, anyone that manages a service-oriented operation will understand the steps of this framework.

 

Continual Service Improvement (CSI) deals with the constant realigning of IT services to meet the changing needs of business in order to achieve incremental or large-scale improvements in delivered services. This part of the framework doesn't require excessive elaboration. Just consider how the free fruit at work can incrementally change our waistlines for the better.

 

Here is a quick tip-sheet of each area that you'll be studying for the exam:

 

? ITIL Service Strategy: Understands organizational objectives and customer needs.
? ITIL Service Design: Turns the service strategy into a plan for delivering the business objectives.
? ITIL Service Transition: Develops and improves capabilities for introducing new services into       supported environments.
? ITIL Service Operation: Manages services in supported environments.
? ITIL Continual Service Improvement: Achieves services incremental and large-scale improvements.

 

ITIL bridge clip and PostIt

Do note that my one-weekend recommendation is specific to the ITIL Foundation v3 certification. AXELOS carries further designations in this line of certifications such as Practitioner, Intermediate, Expert and Master. AXELOS also offers the well-known (outside of the United States) Prince2 certification.

 

Now that you've made the commitment and understand what the test covers, it's time to order your book. Here is a link to AXELOS's recommended preparation materials. You can also acquire a Dummies guide or equivalent reading from Amazon. If you have a friend who took a guided class, borrow the material from them, but be sure to check with the educational authority on how they view their ex-students lending the books to people who didn't take the class — some just don't like it.

 

I personally like Sybex books. They usually have offer a hardcover guide, or at least one substantial enough to meet my quirky texture fixation. The ITIL Foundation Exam Study Guide by Sybex should do the trick nicely.

 

The Exam

 

Your book have arrived, and you're ready to sign up for the exam, which can be done with a few clicks at Pearson VUE. (I suggest that you sign up to take the test early in the morning.) The cost of the exam is $169 (U.S.) and covers the five framework topics. The format is 40 multiple-choice questions, to be completed within one hour. A score of 65 percent (26 questions) is required to pass.

 

It's been said that the exam is equivalent to a U.S. driver's license test — does the candidate know enough not to kill anyone with their motor vehicle? It's not difficult with a bit of preparation. If you fail, you shouldn't be on the road ... same concept.

 

Study tips

 

Study weekend approaches and you need a plan for getting through the material. Simply take an hour on Friday night and lay out a step-by-step approach that works for you. Here is a typical one for myself:

 

1. Establish a quiet place to study.
2. Select appropriate snacks and drinks (skip the alcohol).
3. Google and print a few practice exams.
4. Read the book.
5. Review other people's tips and tricks.
6. Read the second book.
7. Take a break — a movie works best for me.
8. Review practice questions and answers.
9. Try a practice exam (they are all over the internet) under timed conditions.
10. Print/Read/Review reliable study guides that you've found all over the Internet.

 

There is no perfect way to study. My advice is that the best way to study is to do what works for you.

 

When you signed up for the exam, you should have signed up for an early morning seat. Experience indicates that getting a good night's sleep, waking up early, and taking the test early allows for optimal performance. Plus you can go straight into work afterward, bragging that you are now ITIL-certified.

 

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About the Author
Nathan Kimpel is a seasoned information technology and operations executive.

Nathan Kimpel is a seasoned information technology and operations executive with a diverse background in all areas of company functionality, and a keen focus on all aspects of IT operations and security. Over his 20 years in the industry, he has held every job in IT and currently serves as a Project Manager in the St. Louis (Missouri) area, overseeing 50-plus projects. He has years of success driving multi-million dollar improvements in technology, products and teams. His wide range of skills include finance, ERP and CRM systems. Certifications include PMP, CISSP, CEH, ITIL and Microsoft.