What is the ITIL certification and why do you need it?

Find out how to improve your IT infrastructure through this certification

ITIL, previously an acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is the number on must-have IT certification. 

ITIL is an assortment of best practices for creating and improving an Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) process. Originally published as a series of books in the 1980s before becoming part of the AXELOS portfolio of certifications, it's intended to help companies build enduring IT environments for growth, scale, and change.

It's is also a vital tool to help the organisation meet the obligations for ISO 20000 certification, assuring any IT organisation can make sure their ITSM processes meet the demands of the business with international best practices.

It's been updated, too. ITIL 4, the most recent release of ITIL, was launched in February 2019. It's the first significant update to the framework since 2007, and it's intended to keep up with current trends in software development and IT operations. Elaborating on the previous framework, ITIL V3, it provides a more elastic basis to support organisations on their digital transformation journeys. 

ITIL 4 defines four dimensions that should be considered to ensure a complete approach to service management: organisations and people, information and technology, partners and suppliers, and value streams and processes.

Why should you use it?

ITIL can afford many advantages for your company. The most immediate is the commonality that a single platform of support and quality brings, making it far easier for your partners to gain a comprehension of how your business functions, whether they’re local or abroad.

Nevertheless, ITIL also can create a far more open internal help desk, making it easier for employees to get information, saving time, and increasing productivity.

Another major benefit is the extent to which it future proofs your business. Using ITIL principles, your IT infrastructure will be able to cope far better with unexpected business growth and system disruption, particularly as the helpdesk will have a vital role in the process.

Who uses ITIL?

ITIL is used by many organisations across the world, both large and small, and public and private. Some notable examples include Disney, Liverpool Victoria, Müller, and the UK’s HMRC

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For example, Müller made use of ITIL processes as part of an infrastructure upgrade, creating a bridge between its service desk and the rest of its IT department. The service desk’s key performance indicators (KPIs) exceeded 99% in an average week once the change was made.

At Disney, it was the executive branch that first pushed ITIL down to the rest of the business, as part of an awareness campaign to address several company issues. To initiate change, 250 employees were trained in ITIL Foundation, 50% of which signed up to the official ITIL certification exam.

The certification

ITIL v3 certification has a modular approach and is made up of a series of qualifications that cover the best practices in diverse ways.

There are five certification levels: Foundation, Practitioner, Intermediate, Expert, and Master.

Foundation

This entry level certification aims to give individuals a general awareness of the key elements, concepts, and terminology of the framework. It's aimed at those who need a basic understanding of the ITIL framework or who need to understand how ITIL can be used to enhance IT service management in an organisation, as well as IT professionals who need to be informed about ITIL in their current organisation.

The one-hour exam is made up of 40 multiple choice questions and you need 26 marks out of the 40 (65% correct) to pass. As the name suggests, this module is the one on which the other four are built

Practitioner

Axelos insists that the Practitioner certification not only helps individuals speak the language of ITIL but also to "translate it and use it in practice".

This module can be taken at any stage in the ITIL certification scheme after Foundation and builds on other methodologies and frameworks, like DevOps, Agile, and Lean. It also improves efficiency, productivity, and collaborations between ITSM and the wider business, Axelos claims.

It covers three subjects: Organisational Change Management, Communication, and Measurements and Metrics.

The exam follows the same format as the Foundation test but needs 28 marks to pass (70% correct) and is two hours and 15 minutes long. It's also an open book exam.

Intermediate

This module, which you can take if you have passed the Foundation exam, has two in-depth areas of study: Service Lifecycle and Service Capability.

Service Lifecycle is relevant to people working in a management or team leader role where who need to work across multiple teams. The other part, Service Capability, is for those who want to get specific knowledge in one or more processes, such as operational support and analysis.

For this module, you will not be able to self-study and then take the exams, you must attend Axelos training to complete it.

Expert

This module is for candidates who have achieved a "well-rounded, superior knowledge and skills base in ITIL Best Practices".

It's meant to help you advance your career in the IT service management field and you will need to pass it if you expect to take the Master level the highest level of ITIL certification.

To study this module, you need to have earned a minimum of 17 credits from the Foundation and Intermediate modules. You then need to take the "Managing Across the Lifecycle" module too. The pass mark for the exam in this module is 35/50 (70%) and lasts for two hours.

Master

This final level aims to see whether you can apply the principles, methods, and techniques from ITIL in the workplace.

You will have to explain and justify how you used ITIL to achieve the desired business outcome in one or more assignments. There's no prescribed training, but you must have achieved Expert level and worked in IT service management for at least five years in leadership, managerial, or higher management advisory levels.

ITIL 4 certification

ITIL has recently evolved from ITIL v3 to ITIL 4. Those ITIL v3 Foundation qualified candidates are urged to move straight to ITIL 4 Foundation to keep skills updated.

The ITIL 4 scheme has four certification levels:

ITIL 4 Foundation Level

ITIL 4 Foundation is intended as an intro to ITIL 4 and enables candidates to look at IT service management through an end-to-end operating model for the creation, delivery, and continual improvement of tech-enabled products.

ITIL 4 Managing Professional

ITIL 4 Managing Professional (MP) stream offers practical and technical understanding about how to run successful IT-enabled services, teams, and workflows. It is intended for IT practitioners working within technology and digital teams across companies.

ITIL 4 Strategic Leader

ITIL 4 Strategic Leader (SL) identifies the value of ITIL, not just for IT operations, but for all digitally enabled services. Becoming an ITIL 4 Strategic Leader demonstrates that candidates have a clear understanding of how IT affects and directs business strategy.

Master Level

To achieve the ITIL Master certification, candidates must be able to explain and defend how they have personally selected and applied a range of knowledge, principles, methods, and techniques from ITIL and supporting management techniques, to achieve desired business outcomes in one or more practical assignments.

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