ITIL for Newbies…. (Like Me) – Part 1: An Introduction to ITIL

ITIL for Newbies…. (Like Me) – Part 1: An Introduction to ITIL

Do you have any idea what ITIL is? I didn’t. Not. A. Clue….and I had to get certified. Fast. I’ve recently joined this really great, start-up company called Intréis, a consulting company that provides services regarding Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC). Being new to the IT industry, I didn’t know what that GRC term even meant, but I understood that it was important for me to get caught up on the lingo, topics, laws, etc. and ITIL is merely one important stop in my on-going journey.

Luckily for me (and now you), a Spanish major, turned Marketing Coordinator, now studying to become a Business Analyst, knew a thing or two about how to dive in and do some good ol’ fashioned studying. I’ve learned a lot, in a short amount of time, and am going to share with you a few of the secrets I learned along the way.

I used many study guides, video tutorials, and asked a lot of questions from others more experienced than myself, but still found myself wondering – “What is ITIL really?” “If ITIL is the best practice, what does an IT Service Provider, that isn’t implementing ITIL look like?” I needed context and I needed the concepts dumbed down before I could make sense of it all.

So get excited (well, as excited as you can be about ITIL), because that is exactly what I’m going to do for you! In this series of blog posts, I will take you from the most basic understanding of ITIL, excluding even the extensive and somewhat painful vocabulary that is so characteristic of ITIL, to a deeper understanding of what you need to be studying as you prepare for the ITIL exam.

Don’t get me wrong, there are is no cheating here. ITIL has a beast of a vocabulary list and you must take the time to understand the main concepts, but I promise to get you started off on the right foot.

Already familiar with ITIL? No worries, the following, weekly posts will provide a great refresher course on the five ITIL Stages.

First things first – What is ITIL?
ITIL is a non-prescriptive framework of best practices that a company uses to set a baseline, from which they can strategize, implement new services or changes to current services, and measure the success…or lack thereof.

Newbie Translation:
ITIL is a best practice, not a requirement, which means that companies CHOOSE to implement ITIL as a means to improve the way their IT department provides IT services to the rest of the business or to customers. Pretty important stuff because we can all agree that if IT fails to keep our internet, systems, and gadgets up and running, we aren’t very happy campers – and neither are our customers. To top it off, ITIL is not specific to any industry or type of business (the non-prescriptive part), making it a very general framework, meant to be customized to each individual business’s needs. This is both good and bad for the implementer. Flexibility and openness to interpretation can be positive, but the less strictly defined a rule is, the harder it can be to follow.

How does ITIL work?
ITIL is broken up into five stages, each with its own textbook full of processes, definitions and acronyms…but we will get to that later. For now, check out this cool graphic of the five ITIL Stages (in orange) and the newbie translations (in black).

Why would you want to become certified in ITIL Foundations?
Some benefits include:

  • Introduction to ITIL if you are looking to pursue a more advanced level of certification
  • ITIL Foundations is #3 on the “Top 15 Highest Paying Certifications in the Technology Industry
  • Proves that you know how to facilitate the smooth and efficient delivery of IT services
  • ITIL is a globally adopted ITSM approach, creating a common ground between industries, countries, etc.

What do you need to know about getting ITIL certified?
There are five levels of certification: from ITIL Foundations (For those of you reading this blog) to ITIL Master (If ITIL really gets you going).

The ITIL Foundations Exam consists of 40 multiple choice questions, to be completed in 1 hour and you must get a 65% to become certified. This is a pass/fail exam, so beyond beating that 65%, score doesn’t matter. Those odds aren’t too bad are they?

Study Tools:

  • There are a number of tools, study guides, and YouTube videos out there to help you become certified. Here are the tools that I used:
  • CBT Nuggets – ($99/month) Website providing video tutorials and practice exams for ITIL and an extensive list of other IT related certifications
  • ThoughtRock – ($175/6 month subscription) Website providing video tutorials, practice exams, & includes your actual, proctored exam in the package
  • Taruu Study Guide – (Free) A very helpful study guide that breaks down the concepts, defines vocabulary, and includes diagrams. As I watched the video tutorials, I took notes here and then studied this guide a million times.
  • Case Study – (Free) Internal draft of a Process Review Workshop provided to a current client

What you have to look forward to:
Use the links below to check out the rest of the “ITIL for Newbies…(Like Me)” series. I will cover one of the five stages with each post, at the ITIL Foundations Level. Next time I’ll tell you all you need (and maybe more than you wanted) to know about the Service Strategy Stage. Good luck studying!


ITIL for Newbies…. (Like Me) – Part 1: An Introduction to ITIL

ITIL for Newbies…. (Like Me) – Part 2: Service Strategy

ITIL for Newbies…. (Like Me) – Part 3: Service Design

ITIL for Newbies…. (Like Me) – Part 4: Service Transition

ITIL for Newbies…. (Like Me) – Part 5:  Service Operation

ITIL for Newbies…. (Like Me) – Part 6: Continual Service Improvement

About the author

“Life is too short to live un-inspired by the world” - margaret muir

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Margaret Muir

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