Preparation notes for ITIL Foundation exam: Part 6 (continual service improvement)

This content is 8 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Last month I started a series of preparation notes as I study for my IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) Foundation certification:

This post continues by looking at the topic of the fifth and final stage in the ITIL service lifecycle: continual service improvement (CSI).

Continual Service Improvement

Generally, the performance of a service can be improved upon – that’s where CSI comes in:

“Focuses on increasing the efficiency, maximising the effectiveness and optimising the cost of services and the underlying ITSM processes.”


  • Kaizen:
    • Japanese term that means continuous improvement (literally, “change good”). Small steps.
  • IT Governance:
    • Defining expectations, assign power, verify performance. Has everything been done that should be.
    • Enterprise (business); Corporate (regulatory); IT (management, rules, regulations and framework of IT department).
  • CSI register:
    • Database/record of improvement opportunities. Part of the Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS).

“If you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing” [William Edwards Deming]

Seven Step Improvement Process:

  1. Identify the strategy for improvement.
  2. Define what you will measure. (Because you can’t control what you can’t measure!)
  3. Gather the data.
  4. Process the data. Turn it into information.
  5. Analyse the information and data. Identify actions.
  6. Present and use the information. Changes to be made.
  7. Implement improvement.

Deming cycle (actually it’s not Deming’s work – but he’s often credited):

  • Plan.
  • Do.
  • Check. On progress.
  • Act. Maybe need another iteration…

The CSI Approach:

  1. What is the vision? Business goals, etc.
  2. Where are we now? Establish baselines.
  3. Where do we want to be? Set target (measurable).
  4. How do we get there? Process improvement – gap analysis, defined goals.
  5. Did we get there? Measure and check metrics.
  6. How do we keep up the momentum? Look to go around again…


That’s the end of this series – by the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to the exam testing centre…

40 questions, multiple choice, 60 minutes. £168.

Fingers crossed, creating these notes will help me – and I hope they help you out too.

These notes were written and published prior to sitting the exam (so this post doesn’t breach any NDA). They are intended as an aid and no guarantee is given or implied as to their suitability for others hoping to pass the exam.

ITIL® is a registered trademark of Axelos limited.

Preparation notes for ITIL Foundation exam: Part 5 (service operation)

This content is 8 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Last month I started a series of preparation notes as I study for my IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) Foundation certification:

This post continues by looking at the topic of the fourth stage in the ITIL service lifecycle: service operation.

Service Operation

Service operation has both processes and functions:

  • Processes (the “how”):
    • Event Management.
    • Incident Management.
    • Problem Management.
    • Request Fulfilment.
    • Access Management.
  • Functions (the “who”):
    • Service Desk.
    • Technical Management.
    • IT Operations.
    • Application Management.

Goals of service operation:

“Maintain business satisfaction and confidence in IT through effective and efficient delivery and support of agreed IT services.”

(i.e. for the services you have agreed to provide)

“Minimise the impact of service outages on day-to-day business activities.”

“Ensure that access to agreed IT services is only provided to those authorised to receive those services.”

(i.e. security)

There is a continuous balancing act/conflict between:

  • Internal IT vs. external business services.
  • Stability vs. speed of response.
  • Cost of service vs. quality of service.

Service Desk

Not just incident/problem management but all of the processes – fulfilling requests, managing access and communicating about events.

ITIL recognises four service desk structures :

  • Local service desk:
    • Co-located with user community.
    • Local knowledge/language.
    • Expensive (multiple desks).
    • Possibly less knowledge transfer and inconsistent service.
  • Centralised service desk:
    • All locations contact a central desk, possibly with second-line behind it and various specialist teams (e.g. for technical management, application management, request fulfilment, third party).
    • Reduces operational costs; simplified contact.
    • Lose local knowledge and possibly language barriers.
    • Single point of failure.
  • Virtual service desk:
    • Looks like centralised but resources in different locations.
    • May route requests to teams in different locations (e.g. server support) – match skills to requirement.
    • High rollout costs; inconsistent service and reporting; hard to monitor staff.
    • Knowledge exchange may be difficult with remote staff.
  • Follow-the-sun service desk:
    • Route calls to where people are awake, e.g. 3 desks for Asia, EMEA, Americas.
    • Works well in global scenarios.
    • Hand over to another location at end of shift so knowledge transfer is improved.
    • Expensive to maintain, needs technology to ensure connection; language constraints.
    • Staff need business understanding as well as communications skills.

Increasingly, self-help service-desk functionality is part of the solution (e.g. automated phone service, direction to websites, etc.).

Technical, IT Operations and Application Management

Technical Management:

“Helps plan, implement and maintain a stable technical infrastructure to support the operations business processes.”

(Managing Technical Infrastructure, Networking, etc.)

IT Operations Management:

“Defines the department, group or team of people responsible for performing the day-to-day operational activities.”

(Managing operations – control: monitoring, backups, etc. – facilities, etc.)

Application Management:

“Working together with Technical Management, ensures that the knowledge required to design, test and manage IT services is there for resources to use.”

(Managing the applications within their lifecycle.)

Together these functions ensure that there is a stable balance for services to provide to customers.

Incident and Problem Management

An incident:

“Concentrates on restoring unexpected degradation of services or disrupted services.”

An incident is an unplanned interruption or reduction in quality of service.

A problem:

“Involves root cause analysis to determine underlying causes of incidents”

Looking at a series of incidents, possibly a trend.


  • Escalation:
    • Assign additional resources to meet service level targets of customer expectations.
    • Types:
      • Functional: transfer incident to technical team with higher expertise.
      • Hierarchical: go to a senior level of management.
  • Impact:
    • Measure of the effect of the incident on the business process.
  • Incident (Major):
    • Unplanned interruption to IT service, or reduction in quality.
    • Major is highest category – total service disruption.
  • Resolution:
    • Action used to repair root cause of incident or problem.
  • Urgency:
    • How long until the incident or problem impacts the business.
  • Workaround:
    • Reduce/eliminate the impact of the problem, before a resolution is in place.
  • Known Error Database (KEDB):
    • Database of known errors. Part of the Configuration Management System (CMS).
  • Proactive Problem Management:
    • Identify problems that will be missed otherwise, and take action before they happen.
  • Problem (Major):
    • The cause of one or more incidents.
  • Root cause:
    • The underlying or original cause of an incident or problem.
  • Threat:
    • Anything that might exploit a vulnerability.
Incident Management

“To restore normal service operation as quickly as possible and minimise the adverse effect on business operations, ensuring agreed levels of service quality are maintained.”

Diagnosis and getting back up to speed as quickly as possible.

Open-In progress-Resolve-Close broken into 9 steps:

  1. Identification. Service desk call, or monitoring leads to an incident.
  2. Logging. Record all incidents (with a reference number).
  3. Categorisation. Type of incident for effective escalation (and reporting).
  4. Prioritisation. Run incidents through a matrix. Impact + Urgency = Priority.
  5. Initial diagnosis. First line scripts, etc.
  6. Incident escalation. VIPs may get more attention!
  7. Investigation and diagnosis. Identify the error, look for events that may have triggered the incident.
  8. Resolution and recovery. Apply and test fix (in a controlled manner).
  9. Incident closure. Ensure users are satisfied, etc. Document into problem management and KEDB.
Problem Management

“To manage the lifecycle of all problems from first identification through eventual removal. It seeks to minimise the adverse impact of incidents and problems and to proactively prevent recurrent of related errors due to incidents.”

Root cause analysis (RCA) is at the heart of problem management.


  1. Problem detection.
  2. Problem logging.
  3. Problem categorisation.
  4. Problem prioritisation (urgency + impact).
  5. Diagnosis (leading to RCA).
  6. Workarounds.
  7. Raising a “known error” (KEDB).
  8. Problem resolution.
  9. Problem closure. Major problem review to understand lessons that have been learned for the future (what went well, what didn’t?)


  1. Trend analysis – look for trends in incidents.
  2. Root cause analysis.
  3. Targeted prevention – cost benefit analysis and target areas that need most support, co-ordinated with availability and capacity management.

Event and Access Management

Event Management: How to make sure that the configuration items that are changing during rollout of a service continue to function.

“Event Management’s purpose is to manage events through their lifecycle. The lifecycle is detecting events, making sense of them and determining the appropriate control action.”

Access Management: Who gets access to a service or information necessary to continue a service.

“Access Management’s purpose is to provide the right for users to use a service, while preventing access to non-authorised users.”


  • Alert: a notification that an item needs to be changed (e.g. a threshold is met).
  • Event: any change of state in a configuration item (e.g. software patching).
  • Rights: who can access a service or information.
Event Management

Dealing with configuration items – assets used to deliver IT service. Also environmental conditions, software licencing, performance metrics.

  • Informational events – logged.
  • Warning events – e.g. meeting a threshold.
  • Exception events – e.g. malware alert, CPU spike,
Access Management
  1. Request access.
  2. Verification. Verify that the person requesting access is who they say they are.
  3. Provide rights.
  4. Monitor identity status. May change status (e.g. if no longer subscribing to a service).
  5. Logging and tracking access. Locking for anomalies.
  6. Removing or restricting rights. e.g. after security breach or when no longer have permission to access the service.

Request fulfilment

“Request fulfilment helps maintain user and customer satisfaction by managing the lifecycle of all service requests from users.”


  • Request Model. Documenting the activities necessary to fulfil a request, associated timescales, etc.
  • Service Request. Formal request for service – open a ticket – that can be managed. Known and planned for.

Service requests to fulfil are pre-defined (in the Service Knowledge Management System – SKMS):

  • Menu selection. To find the right service (e.g. request a new laptop).
  • Request tracking. System to track the request as it moves through the lifecycle.
  • Financial approval. May not be needed for some services if there is no fiscal impact (e.g. a password reset).
  • Other approval. Compliance, regulatory impact, etc.
  • Fulfilment. Service desk takes action.
  • Closure. Once the service request has been completed. Log into SKMS.

Some services may be handled in an automated fashion – self-service/self-help.


The next post in this series will follow soon, looking at continual service improvement.

These notes were written and published prior to sitting the exam (so this post doesn’t breach any NDA). They are intended as an aid and no guarantee is given or implied as to their suitability for others hoping to pass the exam.

ITIL® is a registered trademark of Axelos limited.

Preparation notes for ITIL Foundation exam: Part 4 (service transition)

This content is 8 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Last month I started a series of preparation notes as I study for my IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) Foundation certification:

This post continues by looking at the topic of the third stage in the ITIL service lifecycle: service transition.

Service Transition

Service transition is concerned with moving from service design to operation:

  • Plan and manage service changes with efficiency.
  • Successfully deploy the new or changed services.
  • Make sure that the service changes meet the agreed requirements.
  • Educate people with the appropriate knowledge and information about services and assets.
  • Manage risk.

Benefits include:

  • Enable more accurate cost, timing and resource requirements.
  • Make it easier for people to adopt and follow.
  • Reduce delays due to unexpected clashes and dependencies.
  • Improve expectation setting for all stakeholders.
  • Ensure that new or changed services will be maintainable.
  • Improve control of service assets and configurations.

ITIL defines the following Service Transition processes, which are expanded upon in the rest of this post:

  • Transition planning and support.
  • Change management.
  • Knowledge management.
  • Service asset and configuration management (SACM).
  • Release and deployment management.
  • Change evaluation.
  • Service validation and testing.

(the last of these are not discussed in detail for ITIL Foundation level.)

Transition Planning and Support

Focuses on the transition of the service, not the service itself. Co-ordinate resources, plan for them, make sure requirements are met, coordinate activities across service teams.

“To provide overall planning for service transitions and to co-ordinate the resources that they require.”


  • Release Policy.
    • Service assets with people, each with responsibilities for handover and acceptance of the release:
    • 3 types:
      • Major release – new functionality, maybe removing tactical changes from the past.
      • Minor release – small enhancements, fixes.
      • Emergency release – updates (usually relating to security).
    • Make sure Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) is up-to-date.
    • Understand Service Acceptance Criteria (SAC).
  • SDP Lifecycle
    • All the information including service charter, budgets, timescales, definition and design of releases, making sure everyone has what they need to succeed.

Change Management

Unexpected change is often received negatively – by managing change we can keep people happy.

“To control the lifecycle of all changes, enabling beneficial changes to be made with minimum disruption of IT services.”

Change is the addition, modification or removal of anything that could have an effect on the IT services.

One set of study materials I used referred to an Adventures of Ace, DBA comic strip by Steve Karam where multiple changes are causing issues that are hard to track down. It’s a good example of the issues that poor change management can introduce.

Steve Karam's Adventures of Ace, DBA comic on Changes


  • Change Advisory Board (CAB):
    • Group of people who assess, advise on and authorise changes.
  • Emergency CAB (ECAB):
    • CAB for emergency changes.
  • Request for Change (RFC):
    • Formal request for a change to be made.
  • Change Model:
    • Approach to managing change, e.g. based on impact:
      • Normal change (follows all the steps of the change process)
      • Emergency change (needs to be implemented right away)
      • Standard change (pre-approved, rarely need additional authorisation); low risk, common procedure (work instruction) – e.g. new employee account, laptop, etc.; password reset; etc.
  • Change Record:
    • Details of the change lifecycle (actions taken)
    • For both accepted and rejected changes
    • Change Proposal:
      • Overall view of the change to be introduced. High level description, details of change, business case, implementation schedules, etc.

Remediation planning:

  • Ensuring there is roll-back plan to go to the previous milestone in the change.
  • Not all changes are reversible so there may be another plan to move around problems.

The Change Manager is the person who administers RFCs, prepares RFCs for CAB/ECAB; authorises/rejects changes based on CAB advice.

Knowledge Management

Does everyone know what’s going on?

“To share perspectives, ideas, experience and information; to ensure that these are available to the right place at the right time to enable informed decision; reducing the need to rediscover knowledge.”


  • User, service desk, support staff and supplier understanding of the new or changed service.
  • Awareness of the use of the service and the discontinuation of previous versions.
  • Establishment of the acceptable risk and confidence levels associated with the transition.


  • Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom (DIKW) Chart:
    • Data is just the facts (e.g. logs from monitoring tools).
    • Provide context to become information (e.g. in documents, email) – need to manage to find and reuse (e.g. to deliver service). Who, what, when, where?
    • Knowledge is based on past experience, ideas, values, etc. – dynamic and context-based for decision-making. How?
    • Wisdom can be thought of as “applied knowledge” – create value through correct and well-informed decisions. Why?
  • Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS):
    • Contains information needed to manage services
    • Includes Configuration Management System (CMS), which itself contains the Known Error Database (KEDB) and Configuration Management Database (CMDB)
    • Also includes:
      • Staff – experience/skills.
      • Suppliers – abilities.
      • Users – education.

Service Asset and Configuration Management

“To ensure that the assets required to deliver services are properly controlled and that accurate and reliable information about those asses is available when and where it is needed.”

Ensuring all configuration items are configured appropriately and that relationships are known.


  • Service Asset:
    • Any resource or capability of a service provider.
  • Configuration Item (CI):
    • Any component or service asset that needs to be managed to deliver a service (with associated scope).
  • Attribute:
    • Information about the asset: serial number, capabilities, location, etc.
  • CI Type:
    • Ways to classify configuration items (hardware, software, personnel, etc.)
  • Component:
    • Smaller piece of a larger environment
  • Configuration Baseline:
    • Configuration that has been set and agreed upon in change management.
    • Starting point for changes, or target to roll back to in remediation.
  • CMDB and CMS:
    • Store information about Service Assets
  • Relationship:
    • Connection between CIs – e.g. an application relationship to a server.
    • Between CIs in scope and out of scope (e.g. between PSTN and PBX)
  • Verification and Audit:
    • Making sure information is up to date and accurate.
    • Formalised check.

SACM activities – not a cycle – these are interconnected:

  • Planning:
    • Define objectives, processes, procedures, scope, naming conventions, types, etc.
  • Identification:
    • Inventory of what/where systems exist.
    • Creation of baselines.
    • Control:
      • Information placed in CMDB and modifications are controlled/authorised.
      • Change Management will help with this.
    • Status Accounting:
      • Reporting (during and after transition).
    • Verification and Audit:
      • Constantly ensuring items are recorded, up-to-date and have no unapproved changes.

Release and Deployment Management

What is coming when?

“To plan, schedule and control the build, test and deployment of releases. To deliver new functionality required by the business while protecting the integrity of existing services.”

Includes all of the processes, systems, functions to help package, build test and deploy release into service operation (live use). Works hand-in-hand with service validation and testing (see below).

One set of study materials uses an analogy of a film release: which is created, written, filmed – then released. Planning – which cinemas, what date, when is the red carpet premier, etc. – are all part of release and deployment management.


  • Deployment:
    • AKA Rollout
    • Activity responsible for movement of new or changed hardware/software/documentation to the live environment
  • Release:
    • Change to IT service that has been built tested and deployed together.
  • Release Package:
    • A set of configuration items that will be built, tested and deployed together as a single release.
    • Get from current baseline to target baseline
  • Release Record:
    • The record that defines the content of the release.
    • Relationship with all configuration items affected by the release
  • Release Unit:
    • The components of the service that are released together. e.g. hardware, software and associated end-user documentation.
  • Build:
    • Number to refer to the configuration items that create the IT service being deployed.
    • May be a date/number.
  • Definitive Media Library (DML):
    • One or more locations where authorised versions of software are placed (may include licenses, documentation, etc.)
  • Release Policy:
    • Formal documentation that defines the strategy for releases (from service design).
    • Governing policy document for release and deployment.
    • What constitutes major or minor releases, deliverables, remediation policy for rollback, how/where releases are documented, etc.?


  • Service design has release policy.
  • Start putting together release packages.
  • Service validation and testing to make sure release packages look OK (e.g. soft release).
  • Release.
  • Remediate if necessary.

Deployment options:

  • Parallel (big bang).
  • Phased.

Four phases:

  1. Release and Deployment Planning.
  2. Release Build and Test:
    • To DML.
  3. Deployment:
    • With change management authorisation.
  4. Review and close:
    • Experience, feedback, lessons learned, etc.

Change Evaluation

(Not covered in ITIL Foundation.)

Once changes have been deployed, how are they working out? Goes hand-in-hand with Change Management.

Service Validation and Testing

(Not covered in ITIL Foundation.)

Make sure all is working. Goes hand-in-hand with Release and Deployment Management


The next post in this series will follow soon, looking at service operation.

These notes were written and published prior to sitting the exam (so this post doesn’t breach any NDA). They are intended as an aid and no guarantee is given or implied as to their suitability for others hoping to pass the exam.

ITIL® is a registered trademark of Axelos limited.

Preparation notes for ITIL Foundation exam: Part 3 (service design)

This content is 8 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Last month I started a series of preparation notes as I study for my IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) Foundation certification:

This post continues by looking at the topic of the second stage in the ITIL service lifecycle: service design.

Service Design

“To design IT services, together with the governing IT practices, processes and policies to realise the service provider’s strategy and to facilitate the introduction of these services into supported environments, ensuring quality service delivery, customer satisfaction, and cost-effective service provision”

Service design’s value to the business is:

  • Reduction in total cost of ownership.
  • Improvement of quality of service, consistency, implementation of new or ongoing services.
  • Business/organisation strategic alignment.
  • Improvement in IT governance.
  • Streamlined IT processes.
  • Efficient decision-making and ITSM.

It translates the concepts in the service strategy into hard and fast design.

There are four perspectives of ITSM:

  • People – need input from stakeholders, end users, others.
  • Products – services (not always physical products).
  • Processes – to create the service design package.
  • Partners – to work with in delivery (e.g. suppliers).

The output from service design is one or more service design packages (SDPs) containing:

  • Requirements.
  • Service design.
  • Organisational readiness assessment.
  • Service lifecycle plan.

There are five aspects of service design:

  1. Service solutions – for new or changed services – from the service portfolio.
  2. Management information solutions – able to support new or changed services.
  3. Technical architectures – frameworks used to make sure service solutions are designed, implemented and consistent across the entire organisation.
  4. Processes – skills, processes, responsibilities to roll out new or changed services.
  5. Measurement methods and metrics.

ITIL defines the following Service Design processes, which are expanded upon in the rest of this post:

  • Supplier management.
  • Service level management.
  • Service catalogue management.
  • Availability management.
  • Capacity management.
  • Information security management.
  • Design coordination.
  • IT Service continuity management.

Supplier Management

“Ensures that suppliers and the services they provide are managed to support IT service targets and business expectations. Also, it obtains value for money from suppliers and contracts, while ensuring contracts with suppliers are aligned to business needs.”


  • Supplier – any third party supplying goods or services required to deliver services.
  • Supplier and Contract Management Information System (SCMIS) – tools used to support supplier management, integrated with the Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS).
  • Underpinning Contract – contracts with third parties for supply.
    • Basic terms and conditions.
    • Service description and scope – constraints etc.
    • Service standards – minimum levels that constitute acceptable performance and quality.
    • Workload ranges – which standards for what pricing.
    • Management information – data to be reported by supplier on performance – critical success factors and/or key performance indicators.
    • Responsibilities and dependencies – obligations of third party supplier and organization.

Supplier categorisation is used to assess how much time to spend on each supplier – either value/performance-based or risk/impact-based:

  • Strategic – significant partners in immediate and long term.
  • Tactical – business interaction and a lot of contact; manage performance.
  • Operational – needed for day-to-day work (e.g. software licence provider).
  • Commodity – low-level products that could be bought from many locations.

Supplier management activities deal with underpinning contracts (UCs):

  • Define any new suppliers (e.g. to meet new needs).
  • Evaluate new suppliers (make sure contract will be good).
  • Place contracts into SCMIS (categorised).
  • Supplier contract management (ongoing) to ensure service level criteria are being met (checking quality/cost, periodic reviews), manage relationship.
  • Contract termination/renewal.

Service Level Management

Hitting the targets that supplier and customer have agreed on.

“Ensures that all current and planned IT services are delivered to agreed achievable targets. This is accomplished with a constant cycle of negotiating, agreeing, monitoring and reviewing IT Service Targets and Achievements.”


  • Service Improvement Plan (SIP):
    • Formal plans to help improve a process or service due to SLA breaches, training needs, weak systems, customer complaints, etc.
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA):
    • Based on underpinning contract and OLA (see below).
    • Types:
      • Service-based (SLA to provide a single service).
      • Customer-based (SLA for all services used by a customer – e.g. by geography).
      • Multi-level (SLA for Corporate, Customer and Service levels).
  • Common elements:
    • Introduction.
    • Service Description.
    • Mutual Responsibilities (service goes both ways – there may be requirements on the customer too).
    • Scope (defining targets).
    • Service Hours.
    • Service Availability.
    • Customer Support Information.
    • Contacts and Escalation Policy.
    • Security.
    • Costs and Charging Methods.
  • Service Level Requirement (SLR):
    • Based on customer business objectives.
  • Service Level Agreement Monitoring (SLAM) Chart:
    • Regular reporting.
  • Organisation Level Agreement (OLA):
    • Sometimes referred to as underpinning agreements.
    • Make sure that internal suppliers (e.g. support teams) will help meet the SLA targets agreed with the customer.

Service Catalogue Management

“To provide and maintain a single source of consistent information on all operational services and those being prepared to run operationally. To ensure that it is widely available to those who are authorised to view it”

The Service Catalogue is a database or structured document with information about all live IT services, including those available for deployment. It is the only part of the service portfolio that is published to customers:

  • Deliverables.
  • Prices.
  • Contracts.
  • Ordering and Requests.
    • How to make the request – not the request itself!

Two views:

  • Business Service Catalogue:
    • Customer-facing services.
  • Technical Service Catalogue:
    • Support services, configuration items, etc.

Availability Management

“To ensure that the level of availability delivered in all IT services meets the agreed availability needs and/or service level targets in a cost-effective and timely manner. This is both current and future needs of the business.”


  • Provide advice and guidance to all other areas of the business and IT on availability.
  • Produce an up-to-date availability plan.
  • Help diagnose and resolve problems.

Respond with:

  • Reactive activities:
    • Monitoring.
    • Looking back at past incidents.
  • Proactive activities:
    • Planning, designing, updating.


  • Availability:
    • Ability of the IT service or configuration item to perform its agreed function when required. Usually calculated as a percentage.
  • Availability Management Information System (AMIS)
  • Downtime:
    • Time when not available (e.g. when performing maintenance).
    • = Mean Time to Restore Service (MTRS).
    • Includes detection time, diagnosis time, repair time and restoration time.
  • Reliability:
    • How long can perform without interruption (uptime).
    • = Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF).
  • Resilience:
    • Coping with interruptions/time between issues.
    • = Mean Time Between System Incidents (MTBSI).
  • Response Time:
    • Time taken to respond to an incident.
  • Risk:
    • An event that can cause harm or loss to an objective (a threat). Conversely, opportunities are about the possibility of doing something.
    • So risk is associated with the impacts of doing or not doing something (including mitigations).
  • Vital Business Function:
    • Any critical thing that you have to have.
  • Serviceability:
    • Ability of suppliers to meet terms of contracts.

Capacity Management

“To ensure that the capacity of IT services and the IT infrastructure meets the agreed capacity and performance related requirements in a cost-effective and timely manner. It meets both the current and future capacity and performance needs of the business.”


  • Produce and maintain an appropriate/up-to-date plan.
  • Assist with diagnosing and resolving performance/capacity issues.
  • Ensure all performance achievements meet all of their agreed targets.


  • Capacity:
    • The maximum amount of delivery ability that an IT service can provide (e.g. bandwidth, storage).
  • Capacity Management Information System (CMIS).
  • Modelling:
    • Predicting future behaviour of a system or service item, e.g. if increase use of the service.
    • Analyse using performance monitoring data.
  • Tuning:
    • Customising the use of resources in appropriate quantities.
    • Analyse using performance monitoring data.
  • Business Capacity Management:
    • Plan to meet business needs and requirements.
  • Service Capacity Management:
    • About performance of the services themselves.
    • Prediction of end-to-end performance.
  • Component Capacity Management:
    • About the capacity of individual components (network, servers, applications, etc.).
  • Performance monitoring:
    • Monitoring performance of components of the service.
  • Demand management:
    • Comes from service strategy.
    • Balance costs and required resources; supply and demand.
  • Capacity planning:
    • Forecasting when more (or less) capacity will be needed.
  • Application Sizing:
    • Ability to support new or modified applications and know what their capacity requirements will be.

Information Security Management

“To align IT security with business security and ensure that the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the organisation’s assets, information, data and IT services matches the agreed needs of the business.”


  • Confidentiality:
    • Ensuring information remains confidential.
  • Risk Management:
    • Assess and manage/control risks.
  • Security Management Information System (SMIS).
  • Information Security Policy:
    • A list of rules/requirements to follow.
  • Threat:
    • Exploits vulnerabilities (e.g. denial of service).
  • Vulnerability:
    • Weakness exploited by threats (e.g. open network ports).

The Information Security Management System:

  • Guides the development and management of an information security programme.
  • Formal process.
    • Cycle of:
      • Plan: identify measures, procedures, requirements (e.g. regulatory), etc.
      • Implement: put the above in place.
      • Control: making sure documentation is present, all in order.
      • Evaluate: audit for compliance.
      • Maintain: making sure agreements are documented and improved upon (CSI).
  • Includes:
    • Physical security (e.g. of devices).
    • Procedural security: how to secure things.
    • Organisational security: security policies, etc.

Design Coordination

“To provide and maintain a single point of co-ordination and control for all activities and processes within this stage of the service lifecycle.”


  • Activities relating to the overall service design lifecycle stage.
  • Activities relating to each individual design.
    • Based on service design packages (SDPs).

IT Service Continuity Management

Dealing with “Disaster Recovery”.

  • Business Continuity Plan:
    • Business Impact Analysis.
  • IT Service Continuity Plan:
    • Triggers, actions, etc.

Recovery Operations (in order of urgency):

  • Immediate: hot standby/swap (e.g. load balancing/mirroring).
  • Fast: recover within a few minutes.
  • Intermediate: warm standby (e.g. restore data from backup).
  • Gradual: cold standby (restore non-critical services over time).


  • Board: crisis management and company-level control.
  • Senior management: direct and co-ordinate; authorise spending money.
  • Management: reporting on progress.
  • Supervisors and staff: execute plan.


The next post in this series will follow soon, looking at service transition.

These notes were written and published prior to sitting the exam (so this post doesn’t breach any NDA). They are intended as an aid and no guarantee is given or implied as to their suitability for others hoping to pass the exam.

ITIL® is a registered trademark of Axelos limited.

Preparation notes for ITIL Foundation exam: Part 2 (service strategy)

This content is 8 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

A few days ago I published the first in a series of preparation notes as I study for my IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) Foundation certification. Part 1 was an overview/introduction. This post continues by looking at the topic of the first stage in the ITIL service lifecycle: service strategy.

Service Strategy

“The purpose of the service strategy stage is to define the perspective, position, plans and patterns that a service provider needs to be able to execute in order to meet an organisation’s business outcomes”

“Strategy is a complex set of planning activities in which an organisation seeks to move from one situation to another in response to a number of internal and external variables.”

Henry Mintzberg defined 5 Ps of strategy. ITIL uses 4:

  • Perspective – view of selves, vision and direction.
  • Position – where we are in relation to the rest of the market.
  • Plans – details for supporting and enhancing perspective and position.
  • Patterns – define the conditions and actions that need to be in place, and need to be repeatable to meet the objectives of the organization.
  • Ploy is the 5th P, not used in ITIL.

Customer perception and preferences drive expectations. Quality of product, ambience, etc. affect service value.

Utility + Warranty = Value

  • Utility is about “fit for purpose” – support performance, remove constraints.
  • Warranty is about fit for use – availability, continuity, capacity, security.

ITIL defines the following Service Strategy processes, which are expanded upon in the rest of this post:

    • Service portfolio management.
    • Business relationship management.
    • Financial management.

There are two more processes that are not discussed at ITIL foundation level:

    • Demand management.
    • IT strategy.

Service Packages, Service Level Packages and Service Assets

Service packages are the things that we offer to our customers:

  • The Core Service Package provides what the customer desires – the basic outcome.
  • Enabling services allow the core service to be provided.
  • Enhancing services are the extras that aren’t necessary to deliver the core service but make the core service more exciting or enticing.

Sometimes customers want more warranty or more utility – Service Level Packages provide choice:

  • Warranty:
    • Availability levels.
    • Continuity levels.
    • Capacity levels.
    • Security levels.
  • Utility:
    • Features of the service.
    • Support of the service.

Levels will relate to price.

Service Assets:

“A resource or capability used in the provision of services in order to create value in the forms of goods and services for the customer.”

  • Resources are tangible (e.g. inputs to a process) – boxes, method of taking payment, etc.
  • Capabilities are intangible – people with knowledge, behaviours, processes, etc.

Service Portfolio Management

Service Portfolio Management is about managing the service portfolio – not the services, processes, assets, etc.:

“To ensure that the service provider has the right mix of services and the investment in IT with the ability to manage or meet your business outcomes.”

Service portfolio is a database of services managed by a service provider – the complete set of services, including:

  • Service Pipeline – IT services of the future; being developed, not available to customers (yet).
  • Service Catalogue – database or document of current IT services – customer-facing or support services (internal IT).
  • Retired services – all IT services that are no longer useful for customers or internal organisation,

When looking at service portfolio, may need to consider service investments:

  • Transform the business (TTB): new market, ventures, high risk.
  • Grow the business (GTB): gain more customers, increase value, capture more market space (moderate risk).
  • Run the business (RTB): status quo, focus on core services (low risk).

Service portfolio management is about establishing or including services – 4 phases:

  • Define – document and understand existing and new services to make sure each has a documented business case.
  • Analyse – indicate if the service will optimise value and to understand supply and demand.
  • Approve – make sure that we have enough money to offer this service (retain, rebuild, refactor, renew or retire).
  • Charter – authorise the work to begin on a project.

Financial Management

Balances requirements between IT and business requirements: balance cost of service against the quality of the service. Looking for highest quality for lowest cost.

  • Budgeting – about the future (for things in pipeline, and for current services).
  • IT Accounting – make sure we know where we are spending our money. Group costs to see what part of service provision is costing most, rebalance/adjust as necessary “the process responsible for identifying the actual cost pf delivering the IT services compared with the costs in managing variance”. EV-AC=CV (expected value – accumulated cost = current value).
  • Chargeback – charge customers for use of IT services. Notional accounting where no money changes hands (e.g. internal showback).

Service valuation is about charging an appropriate price for a service based upon costs.

Business case to justify costs, benefits, risks, etc. with methods, assumptions, business impact, etc. (or a business impact analysis – BIA – i.e. what is the implication if we don’t offer the service).

Business Relationship Management

“To establish and maintain a business relationship between the service provider and the customer based on understanding the customer and their business needs.”

“To identify customer needs and ensure that the service provide is able to meet these needs as business needs change over time and between circumstances. BRM ensures that the service provider understands the changing needs. BRM also assists the business in articulating the value of a service. Put another way, BRM ensures that customer expectations to not exceed what they are willing to pay for and that the service provider is able to meet the customer’s expectations before agreeing to deliver the service.”

Service Level Management deals with service level agreements (SLAs) cf. BRM is concerned with understanding business needs – goal is customer satisfaction for both but measured in different ways. For BRM measured in improvement or recommendation of services.  BRM is about a positive relationship and defines the service catalogue.

Different types of relationship:

  1. Internal service provider.
  2. Shared service provider – to more than one business unit (still internal).
  3. External service provider – to external customers. Business Relations Manager talks to clients.

Business Relationship Manager will use:

  • Customer portfolio – database of information about customers and potential customers who will consume a service (commitments, investments, etc.).
  • Customer agreement portfolio – database of current contracts with clients (services delivering, with SLAs).

Activities include:

  • Marketing, selling and delivery.
  • Working with Service Portfolio Management to properly respond to customer requirements.


The next post in this series will follow soon, looking at service design.

These notes were written and published prior to sitting the exam (so this post doesn’t breach any NDA). They are intended as an aid and no guarantee is given or implied as to their suitability for others hoping to pass the exam.

ITIL® is a registered trademark of Axelos limited.

Preparation notes for ITIL Foundation exam: Part 1 (overview/introduction)

This content is 8 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Being able to “talk service” is an important part of the role of an IT architect so I’m currently studying for my IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) Foundation certification.

At the time of writing, I haven’t yet sat the exam (so this post doesn’t breach any NDA) but the notes that follow were taken as I studied.

About ITIL

There are various ITIL introductions on the Internet – this video is the one from Axelos, the joint venture between Capita and the UK Cabinet Office, who administer ITIL (and PRINCE) and it’s really just an advert…

For a better understanding of what ITIL is, try this:


ITIL certification is available at several levels (foundation, practitioner, intermediate, expert and master) with foundation being the entry level. The ITIL Foundation syllabus details the information that candidates are expected to demonstrate to be successful in the exam.

Axelos has published three “top tips” articles around the ITIL Foundation certification:

There are also sample exam papers available as well as an Official ITIL Exam app available for testing your knowledge.

ITIL Overview

IT Service Management is:

“The implementation and management of quality IT services that meet the needs of the business. IT service management is performed by IT service providers, through an appropriate mix of people, process and information technology.”

ITIL is an IT Management framework showing best practices for IT Service Management. It’s a library of 5 books (and other resources):

  • Service Strategy.
  • Service Design.
  • Service Transition.
  • Service Operation.
  • Continual Service Improvement (CSI).

There is also complementary guidance (e.g. release control and validation) – broken out by industry vertical (e.g. health, government) or by technology architecture (e.g. cloud, networking, software).

Basic terminology

  • Baselines – starting points/reference point. Used to look back or get back:
    • ITSM Baseline – measure service improvement plan (SIP).
    • Configuration Baseline – used for remediation/back-out from change.
    • Performance Baseline – response before made service improvement.
  • Business case – justification for spending money (planning tool):
    • Costs.
    • Benefits.
    • Risk.
    • Potential problems.
  • Capabilities – ability to carry out activities (functions and processes)
  • Functions – team of people and tools carrying out activities:
    • Who will do something – e.g.:
      • Service Desk.
      • Technical Management.
      • Application Management.
      • IT Operations Management.
  • IT Service Management – capabilities providing value to customers in the form of services.
  • Process – co-ordinated activities to produce an outcome that provides value:
    • How to do something.
  • Process Owner vs. Manager
    • Owner is responsible and accountable for making sure process does what it should.
    • Manager is responsible for operational management of the process (reports to the owner).
  • Resources:
    • IT infrastructure.
    • People.
    • Money.
    • Tangible assets (used to deliver service, cf. capabilities which are intangible).
  • Service – means to deliver value
    • Manage costs on the provider side whilst delivering value to the customer.
    • Service will have a service strategy.
  • Service owner – responsible for delivering the service. Also responsible for CSI.

ITSM and Services

  • Organisation has strategic goals, objectives
  • Core business processes are the activities that produce results for the organisation (reliant on vision)
  • IT service organisation – to execute on core business processes.
  • IT service management – repeatable, managed and controlled processes to deliver service
  • IT technical – computers, networking, etc.

Each layer supports the levels above.


“A means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs or risks”

Processes and Functions


“A structured set of activities designed to accomplish a specific objective. A process takes one or more defined inputs and turns them into defined outputs.”

  • Trigger.
  • Activity.
  • Dependency.
  • Sequence.


  1. Are measured.
  2. Have specific results.
  3. Meet expectations.
  4. Trigger change.

Processes have practitioners, managers and owners (accountable for making sure the process is fit for purpose, including definition of the process).


“Grouping of roles that are responsible for performing a defined process or activity.”

  • Service Desk.
  • Technical Management.
  • Applications Management.
  • Facilities Management.
  • IT Operations Control.

Functions interact and have dependencies.

Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM chart) – e.g. RACI:

  • Responsible.
  • Accountable.
  • Consult.
  • Inform.

Map processes and roles.

ITIL Service Lifecycle

Earlier versions of ITIL used to focus on the processes. Version 3 focuses on why those processes are necessary. For foundation level, candidates need to know the objectives, rather than the detail.

ITIL v3 lifecycle

The idea to provide a service will be conceptualized, then it will be designed, it will transition, and be maintained through operation. Always looking for ways to improve a process or service for customers (and deliver more value).

Services will be born and also retired (death).

The service catalogue details the things on offer, together with service levels.

The table below shows the processes for each stage within the ITIL service lifecycle:

Service strategy Service design Service transition Service operation CSI
  • Business relationship management
  • Service portfolio management
  • Financial management
  • Demand Management*
  • IT Strategy*

* Not required at foundation level

  • Design coordination
  • Supplier management
  • Information security management
  • Service catalogue management
  • IT service continuity
  • Availability management
  • Capacity management
  • Service level management
  • Transition planning
  • Knowledge management
  • Release and deployment management
  • Service asset and configuration management
  • Change management
  • Change Evaluation*
  • Service Validation and Testing*

* Not discussed in detail at foundation level


  • Event management
  • Request fulfilment
  • Access management
  • Problem management
  • Incident management


  • Service desk
  • IT operations
  • Application management
  • Technical management
 7 step improvement plan

The next post in this series will follow soon, looking at service strategy.

These notes were written and published prior to sitting the exam (so this post doesn’t breach any NDA). They are intended as an aid and no guarantee is given or implied as to their suitability for others hoping to pass the exam.

ITIL® is a registered trademark of Axelos limited.