As the demand grows for more online services and technology to help do our jobs, so too does the role of the IT team.
The bigger the team and its responsibilities, the greater the need for standard practices and processes to help keep the work under control. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) defines those practices. It’s made up of 5 volumes that cover the complete role of the IT division from understanding customer needs to managing large scale infrastructure improvements. In between, it goes into lots of detail about configuration management, dealing with vendors and much, much more.
However, it all starts with ITIL® Foundation. Here are 9 things that you might not have known about ITIL Foundation.
1. It’s a Complete Qualification
The Foundation level is the first of the ITIL certificates. The others are Practitioner, Intermediate, Expert and Master, and they each reflect a level of competence as an IT professional. However, Foundation is a recognized qualification in its own right. You don’t have to go on and take any of the other levels if you don’t feel they are a good fit for your career needs. For some people ITIL® Foundation is going to be the complete qualification that they need.
2. It’s a Pre-Requisite for Some Jobs
Entry level IT jobs might require you to have a certified level of competence to demonstrate both your skills and preparedness for the IT environment. ITIL Foundation is the perfect way to do that and the qualification can enhance your CV in a crowded market.
Check the requirements of the kind of jobs you want to go for and find out what your target employers think are the important skills.
3. It’s Tailorable
The skills and knowledge you’ll learn on your ITIL® Foundation course are completely tailorable and scalable for your own organization. Whether you work somewhere big or small, with hundreds of IT staff, and off-shored capability or a handful of people in the office just a few desks away from you, ITIL will work.
4. There Is No Membership
Unlike other qualifications like PMP®, there is no associated membership body with ITIL Foundation. Or with any of the ITIL qualifications. That means you don’t have to pay membership fees but also that you don’t benefit from the body of knowledge and sense of community that comes with being a member.
There are alternative membership groups that focus on IT service management and plenty of industry press. Check out what your employer recommends as your professional membership association if you think that it would be of value to you to join a group.
The ITIL Foundation course is part of a suite of ITIL courses designed for people who work in service management but it’s also useful for people who work in a wider, broader IT role such as IT project managers. ITIL Foundation is a great grounding in what good technical service management looks like.
Whatever your role in IT, a solid understanding of how technical services are provided to the rest of the business is a great way to advance your skills and ensure everyone is on the same page with priorities.
7. Your Course Counts for PDUs
As we saw above, ITIL Foundation is for everyone. The great news for people holding other qualifications is that studying for ITIL Foundation can count towards the professional development units and continuing education schemes for your existing qualifications. The study you do for ITIL Foundation will give you 25 PDUs towards maintaining your PMP® credential, for example.
You get to build your knowledge in a new and valuable area and meet the requirements of your other professional bodies at the same time!
8. The Exam Is Only 60 Minutes
Many professional qualifications ask you to sit long, essay-based exams. Not so for ITIL® Foundation. For this exam you’ve got only 60 minutes to answer 40 questions and they are all multiple choice! You can’t take any manuals into the exam but the exam itself is very manageable if you have done the required study.
9. ITIL Foundation Is Only The First Step
While ITIL Foundation is a qualification in its own right, it will only really give you the basics. It will help you understand the terminology, concepts and key elements of how an IT service organization works. You’ll come away understanding the service lifecycle, the key processes involved in running a service division and how it all fits together to help teams deliver great service.
However, alone, that is unlikely to be enough to apply the principles of IT service management. If your role involves setting up IT service processes or defining new work practices, or even taking part in the more complicated processes, then you are going to have to take your studies further. The Foundation level is the perfect grounding and it gives you a general overview and awareness, which for many people is all they need to do their roles effectively. Just be aware that you should continue your exploration of service management beyond that if you want to be able to lead and implement the processes effectively.
Elizabeth Harrin is the author of Shortcuts to Success: Project Management in the Real World, Social Media for Project Managers and Customer-Centric Project Management. She also writes the award-winning blog, Subscribe to Elizabeth's newsletter for more updates.