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ITIL Practitioner: Core Competencies, Guiding Principles and Service Strategy Importance

In my previous post, I wrote a beginners article for ITIL practitioner. There I spoke about how ITIL practitioner certification fits in the entire ITIL framework, we briefly touched upon the examination format for ITIL practitioner course, I wrote about what benefits you and your company can have if you choose to take ITIL practitioner certification and most importantly, I tried to answer the question, “whether you should choose to go for ITIL practitioner certification or not”. Now, in this post, I will try to delve a bit deeper into the other but very important aspects of ITIL practitioner course and those are following: What are the core competencies of ITIL Practitioner Various guiding principles of ITIL Practitioner And to answer the question of the previous post- “Why service strategy is considered the core of ITIL and ITSM framework” Let’s start! Core competencies of ITIL Practitioner: Core competencies refer to the major engine behind ITIL framework. All the processes, steps, functions and techniques revolve around these competencies in the ITIL universe. These three core competencies are as follows: Critical competency Guiding Approach CSI or Continual Service Improvement Critical Competency talks about the critical requirements that any member or professional or organization should possess if they want to achieve success in their service-based projects. Those competencies have been categorized into 3 sections: Communication Organizational change management Measurement and Metric I personally, like to refer to them as CMO [for the ease of memorization]. As expected, communication refers to the paradigm where every individual in your team/project is able to articulate his/her needs, wants, requests in a clear concise manner and as well as to be able to decipher the sender’s message in its accurate form of meaning. Not only this, it also covers the area where the project manager or the project owner needs to ensure that communications to all stakeholders, customers, internal or external are handled properly, documented for future reference and lead to overall service satisfaction. Measure and Metrics deals with the obvious concept that what you can’t measure, you can’t improve. Hence, you will not be able to gauge with accuracy if your service is providing the benefits or not, if your project is on track or not or if the service that is eating resources is performing its intended job or not. For example, an internet search engine service might be able to return more than 1000 results for the most basic of queries. But whether those results are relevant to the user or not will decide the fate of your internet search engine company. In the above case, the internet search engine service is doing the job well by returning more than 1000 results to choose, but if none of those results are the ones user is looking for then it is a failure. And you will not be able to know if you can’t measure effectiveness, efficiency, user satisfaction etc. Hence, measurement on the scale of defined metrics is very important competency to have in ITIL. Organization change management depicts an organizational structure that deals with change management for the service you are providing. Let us continue with the example of Internet search engine service.  Once you could identify, through Measurement and Metrics, that your service was not returning relevant results for your users, then obviously you will engage your engineering team to work on the improved service design. New service design will require changes in the existing search engine code, infrastructure and may be configurations as well. Not all changes, can be, should be and will be approved. Right? We all know that. So there needs to be a change management board for your organization [or project] that will discuss the merits and demerits of all the proposed changes, prioritize them as per business benefits and costs involved, then finally give go-ahead or not. This is what organizational change management is all about. No service management project or organization can succeed if they do not have these 3 competencies sorted out perfectly. And that is where your role as an ITIL practitioner becomes important. Guiding Principles of ITIL Practitioner Now since your project and organization has entrusted you to get the service management perfect and set the core competencies in place and get the parts moving, being a thorough professional and an ITIL practitioner, you will do those perfectly well. Because you have the knowledge required to do this. But what should be your guiding principles for the situations that are not mentioned in the ITIL practitioner guide, what should decide your way forward when you will encounter roadblocks resisting change, and what values should you believe in before you explain the needs of these improvements to stakeholders. And those mantras to guide you in difficult, uncertain, moralistic situations are known as “Nine Guiding principles of ITIL Practitioner”. I personally believe that even if you lose your ITIL practitioner guide [which I hope you don’t because it is not cheap] or if you forget the technical knowledge, as long as your guiding principles are correct you will never falter on your journey. Those principles are as follows: Focus on Value: Always try to look beyond materialistic gains. Look for long-term value. Will it help the organization in long run? Will it solve some genuine problems? Will your customers/users thank you for it? Design for experience: Always ask your designer to keep themselves in the user’s shoes and try to use the service as if they were them. Then check if this current service is being helpful to them or not. This actually helps eliminate a lot of faux pas that actually look good in presentation but are miserable failures when released to the market. Start where you are: There could be multiple interpretations to this statement, but in simple terms, it states, do not forget who you are, where you come from and what your current ground reality is. If you are clear about these things, then more often than not, you will make correct plans. Work Holistically: Always remember, your work and your service not only help solve a problem, but it interacts with a lot of other components in the ecosystem also whether technical, mechanical, and emotional or culturally. So work holistically. An internet search engine may provide accurate results, but in a country where those results are banned or are offending the audience’s religious faith can seriously backfire on you and your organization. Progress Iteratively: Always break the problem into smaller pieces and achieve one or two steps at a time. This helps you get user feedback and improve your service at a low cost, rather than creating the whole service and finding out that there is no market for it. Observe directly: What if you rely on sources to get you the feedback or user reactions or problems data and later on find out that the “source” did not understand the feedback properly, leading you to make something that was not required at all. Or worst, the “source” had vested interest and now your service is out of the market. So don’t take the risk. Focus more on getting the data directly. Be Transparent: Good or bad, whatever be the situation, it should be clearly communicated to your stakeholders. All the decisions along with their rationale should be explained to the audience. Precaution should be taken to not divulge unintended information to the unintended audience. Still, there should be transparency. For example, you got a feedback that in the Middle East your service was gaining negative publicity due to the search results being rendered on a particular topic in spite of the government directive against doing so. In such cases, you are expected to inform your stakeholders about the situation, your plan to tackle it and to inform the end user about the upcoming change. You need to explain the exact problem and its implication to the business users, but you need not maintain the same detailing while sending out communication to market users. So use your filtering mechanism but ensure that transparency is maintained. Collaborate: Not everybody has answer or solution to everything. So better to get best people for their competencies and sometimes, more minds can give you better results. So mix and collaborate. Simple! Keep it simple: Means keep things simple and do not overcomplicate them for showing proficiency. And finally, continually improving service talks about the goal where you have to keep finding ways to improve your service through measure and metrics via communication and organizational change management. So these are the 3 competencies of an ITIL practitioner along with their 9 guiding principles- Why is service strategy the core of ITIL Practitioner? You will be amazed by the answer! It keeps in line with the 9th guiding principle of ITIL. And that principle was: Keep it simple! And this is the reason, I did not answer this question up until now. The answer is: Service strategy deals with the knowledge of what service are you [as a company] going to create through this project and why. It talks about the plans to be executed to develop this service, how to market it, how to provision it, what business benefits will it drive for users and for the organization. So once you have that clear, all your plans, processes, techniques need to be modified to align with that goal, else there is no point of creating an internet search engine service that gives wrong results to the user even if it works very fast.  And this is the reason why Service strategy is the core of ITIL practitioner. Because you need to make it clear to the team you are going to work with!  

ITIL Practitioner: Core Competencies, Guiding Principles and Service Strategy Importance

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ITIL Practitioner: Core Competencies, Guiding Principles and Service Strategy Importance

In my previous post, I wrote a beginners article for ITIL practitioner. There I spoke about how ITIL practitioner certification fits in the entire ITIL framework, we briefly touched upon the examination format for ITIL practitioner course, I wrote about what benefits you and your company can have if you choose to take ITIL practitioner certification and most importantly, I tried to answer the question, “whether you should choose to go for ITIL practitioner certification or not”.

Now, in this post, I will try to delve a bit deeper into the other but very important aspects of ITIL practitioner course and those are following:

  • What are the core competencies of ITIL Practitioner
  • Various guiding principles of ITIL Practitioner
  • And to answer the question of the previous post- “Why service strategy is considered the core of ITIL and ITSM framework”

Let’s start!
Core competencies of ITIL Practitioner:
Core competencies refer to the major engine behind ITIL framework. All the processes, steps, functions and techniques revolve around these competencies in the ITIL universe.

These three core competencies are as follows:

  • Critical competency
  • Guiding Approach
  • CSI or Continual Service Improvement

Critical Competency talks about the critical requirements that any member or professional or organization should possess if they want to achieve success in their service-based projects. Those competencies have been categorized into 3 sections:

  • Communication
  • Organizational change management
  • Measurement and Metric

I personally, like to refer to them as CMO [for the ease of memorization].

As expected, communication refers to the paradigm where every individual in your team/project is able to articulate his/her needs, wants, requests in a clear concise manner and as well as to be able to decipher the sender’s message in its accurate form of meaning. Not only this, it also covers the area where the project manager or the project owner needs to ensure that communications to all stakeholders, customers, internal or external are handled properly, documented for future reference and lead to overall service satisfaction.

Measure and Metrics deals with the obvious concept that what you can’t measure, you can’t improve. Hence, you will not be able to gauge with accuracy if your service is providing the benefits or not, if your project is on track or not or if the service that is eating resources is performing its intended job or not.

For example, an internet search engine service might be able to return more than 1000 results for the most basic of queries. But whether those results are relevant to the user or not will decide the fate of your internet search engine company.

In the above case, the internet search engine service is doing the job well by returning more than 1000 results to choose, but if none of those results are the ones user is looking for then it is a failure.

And you will not be able to know if you can’t measure effectiveness, efficiency, user satisfaction etc.

Hence, measurement on the scale of defined metrics is very important competency to have in ITIL.

Organization change management depicts an organizational structure that deals with change management for the service you are providing. Let us continue with the example of Internet search engine service. 

Once you could identify, through Measurement and Metrics, that your service was not returning relevant results for your users, then obviously you will engage your engineering team to work on the improved service design.

New service design will require changes in the existing search engine code, infrastructure and may be configurations as well. Not all changes, can be, should be and will be approved. Right? We all know that.

So there needs to be a change management board for your organization [or project] that will discuss the merits and demerits of all the proposed changes, prioritize them as per business benefits and costs involved, then finally give go-ahead or not.

This is what organizational change management is all about.

No service management project or organization can succeed if they do not have these 3 competencies sorted out perfectly. And that is where your role as an ITIL practitioner becomes important.

Guiding Principles of ITIL Practitioner
Now since your project and organization has entrusted you to get the service management perfect and set the core competencies in place and get the parts moving, being a thorough professional and an ITIL practitioner, you will do those perfectly well. Because you have the knowledge required to do this.

But what should be your guiding principles for the situations that are not mentioned in the ITIL practitioner guide, what should decide your way forward when you will encounter roadblocks resisting change, and what values should you believe in before you explain the needs of these improvements to stakeholders.

And those mantras to guide you in difficult, uncertain, moralistic situations are known as “Nine Guiding principles of ITIL Practitioner”.

I personally believe that even if you lose your ITIL practitioner guide [which I hope you don’t because it is not cheap] or if you forget the technical knowledge, as long as your guiding principles are correct you will never falter on your journey.

Those principles are as follows:

  • Focus on Value: Always try to look beyond materialistic gains. Look for long-term value. Will it help the organization in long run? Will it solve some genuine problems? Will your customers/users thank you for it?
  • Design for experience: Always ask your designer to keep themselves in the user’s shoes and try to use the service as if they were them. Then check if this current service is being helpful to them or not. This actually helps eliminate a lot of faux pas that actually look good in presentation but are miserable failures when released to the market.
  • Start where you are: There could be multiple interpretations to this statement, but in simple terms, it states, do not forget who you are, where you come from and what your current ground reality is. If you are clear about these things, then more often than not, you will make correct plans.
  • Work Holistically: Always remember, your work and your service not only help solve a problem, but it interacts with a lot of other components in the ecosystem also whether technical, mechanical, and emotional or culturally. So work holistically. An internet search engine may provide accurate results, but in a country where those results are banned or are offending the audience’s religious faith can seriously backfire on you and your organization.
  • Progress Iteratively: Always break the problem into smaller pieces and achieve one or two steps at a time. This helps you get user feedback and improve your service at a low cost, rather than creating the whole service and finding out that there is no market for it.
  • Observe directly: What if you rely on sources to get you the feedback or user reactions or problems data and later on find out that the “source” did not understand the feedback properly, leading you to make something that was not required at all. Or worst, the “source” had vested interest and now your service is out of the market. So don’t take the risk. Focus more on getting the data directly.
  • Be Transparent: Good or bad, whatever be the situation, it should be clearly communicated to your stakeholders. All the decisions along with their rationale should be explained to the audience. Precaution should be taken to not divulge unintended information to the unintended audience. Still, there should be transparency. For example, you got a feedback that in the Middle East your service was gaining negative publicity due to the search results being rendered on a particular topic in spite of the government directive against doing so. In such cases, you are expected to inform your stakeholders about the situation, your plan to tackle it and to inform the end user about the upcoming change. You need to explain the exact problem and its implication to the business users, but you need not maintain the same detailing while sending out communication to market users. So use your filtering mechanism but ensure that transparency is maintained.
  • Collaborate: Not everybody has answer or solution to everything. So better to get best people for their competencies and sometimes, more minds can give you better results. So mix and collaborate. Simple!
  • Keep it simple: Means keep things simple and do not overcomplicate them for showing proficiency.

And finally, continually improving service talks about the goal where you have to keep finding ways to improve your service through measure and metrics via communication and organizational change management.

So these are the 3 competencies of an ITIL practitioner along with their 9 guiding principles-

Why is service strategy the core of ITIL Practitioner?
You will be amazed by the answer!

It keeps in line with the 9th guiding principle of ITIL.

And that principle was: Keep it simple!

And this is the reason, I did not answer this question up until now.

The answer is:
Service strategy deals with the knowledge of what service are you [as a company] going to create through this project and why. It talks about the plans to be executed to develop this service, how to market it, how to provision it, what business benefits will it drive for users and for the organization.

So once you have that clear, all your plans, processes, techniques need to be modified to align with that goal, else there is no point of creating an internet search engine service that gives wrong results to the user even if it works very fast. 

And this is the reason why Service strategy is the core of ITIL practitioner. Because you need to make it clear to the team you are going to work with!
 

Abhinav

Abhinav Gupta

Blog Author

PMP, has 12+ years of experience working in Information technology sector and has worked with companies like Infosys and Microsoft in various capacities. He started his career as a manual tester for a world renowned software product and grew on to become automation champion in both functional as well as UI. He has worked with Healthcare units providing various software solutions to companies in North America and has worked with search engine based groups to enhance their experience and provide more bang for buck to their customers.

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