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Today, the worlds of business and technology have overlapped each other and are linked inextricably. To thrive and to remain competitive, companies need to bring IT services in considerable focus. The transition of a company’s objectives and capabilities to IT can be an overwhelming process. To ease this transition and to select, plan, deliver and maintain a certain standard in IT services within the organisation, a standardised framework called the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) is designed.
The ITIL® ensures that the implementation of IT services for any business has efficiency and predictable service deliverability at its core. The framework makes sure that the IT services department in any organisation is an active business partner and not just a backend service provider.
The reason why ITIL® is gaining such importance and focus in the business world is that without it, the resources spent on designing and developing an IT service management (ITSM) process would be futile, which would, in turn, make the business less competitive, susceptible to losses in money and customers and less efficient.
The growing discrepancies in processes, deployments and inconsistent IT services on account of the geographical decentralisation of data centers in the 1980s led to the need for ITIL®.
Released as a series of books in 1989 by The United Kingdom's Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), ITIL® Version one, i.e., ITIL® V1 was their response to a need to recognise IT as an essential service and the need to apply it consistently across the organisation.
ITIL® consists of various levels and modules. It aims to cover comprehensively everything from service strategies to continuous improvement which would ultimately help practitioners to adopt the IT services for their organisation and be prepared for changes down the line.
Post-1989, the ITIL® has been upgraded to reflect the changes in the business world and is now a highly renowned and recommended practice with multiple thousands of practitioners getting certified and implementing it.
Post launch, the first major change in ITIL® came in 2000-2001 with the release of ITIL® V2. This version focused on making the entire framework more accessible and less formidable for the candidates. It compiled the entire framework into nine sets of related elements. This version was followed by the ITIL® V3 in 2007 which was a compact and well-designed framework of 26 functions that were combined into five volumes. This version was built to inculcate the concept of service lifecycle structure. Few changes were introduced to V3 which was launched in 2011 as ITIL® V3 2011. In 2019, the latest version, ITIL® V4, is all set for launch with a focus on the ITIL® service value system and upgrading the credit system.
The framework of ITIL® V3 encompasses five core publications which aim to cover the entire lifecycle of ITSM. They are reviewed and updated regularly to reflect the advancements made in IT technology. The five core publications are:
As is evident, the modules cover everything from the beginning, i.e., identifying the customer’s needs to designing and implementation and in the end, monitoring and improving the ITSM process.
The entire ITIL® process is a module based framework. The certification, for example, under ITIL® v4 has been broken down into ITIL® Foundation and the ITIL® Master exams. Post the ITIL® Foundation, the course is further split into two modules: ITIL® Managing Professional (MP) and ITIL® Strategic Leader (SL), which the candidate need to complete in order to progress further.
ITIL® MP has the following modules:
ITIL® SL, on the other hand, has the following modules:
Released in 2019, ITIL® V4 has the same focus as its predecessors. Although, it does have an updated framework which also represents and accommodates modern technologies and software. The program has illustrated nine guiding principles with an aim to provide for change management within an organisation, organisation communication, measurement, and metrics. These nine principles include:
Here, ITIL® encourages the professional to define the service output in a manner that captures the needs of the customer.
The paramount thing here, as per ITIL®, is to understand the context within which the service offered will be consumed by the customers.
This principle pushes the candidate to collect information and understand the customer’s current pattern of consumption and how the services offered under ITIL® will support it.
By understanding the entire value chain of the customer, ITIL® ensures that the services offered do not disrupt that value chain but make an active contribution to it.
ITIL®, while being implemented, must start with the minimally viable option and then progress from there based on an understanding of the priorities of the customer’s needs and expectations.
ITIL® requires that the customers including users and sponsors are heard out and observed regularly. Candidates must observe how the service is delivered, executed and consumed.
In the realm of ITIL®, sharing is encouraged: of ideas, thoughts, failures, concerns as well as improvements made.
ITIL® requires the active involvement of all stakeholders from customers, users to suppliers.
It is imperative that any implementation of ITIL® uses simple words which are easy to understand to ensure clear communication.
ITIL® principles and modules when systematically followed can help an organisation manage as well as mitigate risks better, save on IT support costs, create a thriving ecosystem which ensures growth, scale, change and strengthens the organisation’s relationship with their end users i.e the customers.
The framework of ITIL® V3 is made up of five parts: service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation, and continual service improvement. These sections comprise of:
The design of an IT service which has architectures, processes, policies and documentation is laid out in this section to address the requirements of the business requirement. Seven processes are included in Service Design:
This stage is to make sure that that the current state of service is not ignored when an organization is going through change. ITIL® Service Transition includes seven processes which are:
ITIL® Service Operation is essential to make sure the organisation meets the requirements of the customer. It comprises of various functions to ensure a smooth flow of everyday tasks related to planning, operations, monitoring, and related services. Service Operation includes five processes:
In this stage of ITIL®, stringent quality checks are required to ensure the service process is improved consistently. There are three processes in this stage of Continual Service Improvement:
ITIL® guidelines and best practices' primary aim is to align IT department actions as well as expenses to the needs of the business and change them as the company grows and shifts direction.
ITIL® ensures support to the organisations and individuals as they endeavour to achieve optimal value from their investment in IT and digital technologies and services. It creates a sense of direction for the service provider to create a clear capability model and adjust its business strategy with customer needs.
As a professionally recognised international certification scheme, ITIL® ensures comprehensive and pragmatic guidance which helps in establishing a service management system. Its best practices start from the basics such as defining a glossary of common terms which business can use as they adopt IT-enabled services into their practices.
ITIL®, in its objective, contributes immense value to the organisation which adopts its framework. It not only assures quality, increased availability, reduction in costs and better cost-benefit relationship but also a tremendous improvement in effectiveness in meeting requirements of a class, growth in flexibility and making the principle of adopting and adapting possible.
ITIL® helps organisations in achieving the following objectives:
Whether it is the private or public sector, internal or external services providers, small, medium or large organisations, ITIL® continues to remain useful, relevant and evolving in every technical environment. There are some ITIL® fundamentals which are a primary reason why organisations must adopt it to ensure that their needs of IT and their customers are met.
These fundamentals include:
Here is a brief overview of the ITIL® Certification Program.
ITIL® serves as the primary ITSM framework for any organisation. As a person in IT, getting these certificates is essential, as they add to their skillset. Many IT professionals in the industry consider the ITIL® certifications as the Holy Bible to IT support. ITIL® V3 utilises a credit system for all its levels from the Foundation through Master levels. Each certification level earns a certain number of credits. After obtaining the requisite number of credits, the individual will take the ITIL® Master certification. In ITIL® V3, a total of 22 credits are required by a professional, if they are to earn the ITIL® Expert certification. The benefits of the ITIL® certification program include:
ITIL® certification is a modular programme, directed towards learning the ITIL® framework and comprises of a series of qualifications which are focused on different aspects of the ITIL® framework and its implementation.
The certification enfolds in a tiered structure which ensures that candidates have flexibility and progress through the depths of ITIL® in a sequential manner.
Recently, on the 18th of February, 2019, ITIL® 4 certifications starting with a foundation course have been released. The remaining certifications are due for release in the second half of 2019.
Under the ITIL® V3, the certifications had five levels which included:
This system has evolved to the following under V4:
It is important to note that the ITIL® system uses a credit system right from the Foundation level through the Expert levels with each certification amounting to a certain number of credits. The following chart illustrates the current ITIL® V3® credit system:
|Sr. No||Level of ITIL® certification||No. of credits awarded|
|3||ITIL® Intermediate||Lifecycle Module||Service Strategy||3|
|Continual Service Improvement||3|
|Capability Module||Operational Support and Analysis||4|
|Planning, Protection, and Optimization||4|
|Release, Control, and Validation||4|
|Service Offerings and Agreements||4|
|4||Managing across the lifecycle||5|
This is the first level in the ITIL® certifications. It focuses on ensuring that the candidate is well versed with standard terminology and methodology. They will get the knowledge required to not only support but also deliver ITIL® related services.
The Practitioner level is the second level of the ITIL® certification. In this level, the candidates are encouraged to improve their ability to adopt and adapt ITIL® for an organization.
This is the third level of the ITIL® certification. It consists of two categories or modules of certification: Service Lifecycle and Service Capability.
The Service Lifecycle modules are:
The Service Capability modules are:
In the Service Lifecycle module, a lot of focus is given to management across several ITIL® processes. On the other hand, the module of Service Capability focuses on specialized as well as process-level knowledge within ITIL® processes.
ITIL® Expert certification is the fourth level of the ITIL® certification, and it is also delivered in modular form. This certification can be taken only by those candidates who have cleared the previous levels to ensure that they the requisite detailed knowledge and skills to clearly understand the entire system of ITIL®.
The fifth level of the ITIL® certification is the ITIL® Master Level certification. This level focuses on strengthening and widening the mastery of the practical application of ITIL® in a variety of settings. The professionals working on ITIL® directly are usually involved in planning, operations, and management of ITSM. Through this certification, they obtain the skills to demonstrate their knowledge.
The ITIL® 4 Foundation certification is designed as an introduction to ITIL® 4, and it enables candidates to look at ITSM as an end-to-end operating model for creating, delivering and continuously improving tech-enabled products and services. It helps those individuals who require a basic knowledge of the ITIL® framework. It also helps those who wish to understand how ITIL® as a framework can be used to enhance ITSM and those IT professionals working within an organisation that has adopted ITIL®.
ITIL® MP has four modules within itself, adding value of ITIL® Foundation, which are:
ITIL® MP targets those IT practitioners who work within technology and digital teams across organisations.
Within ITIL® SL, two modules embody the next stage of ITIL® evolution. The two modules are:
This set is perfect for those who understand how IT services influence business strategy.
ITIL® Master Certificate helps the person justify and explain a range of knowledge, principles, methods, and techniques of ITIL® Framework. It requires one to have extensive practical experience with ITIL® and demonstrative knowledge of the prospect.
To be eligible for the ITIL® Master certification, you must:
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Currently, ITIL® certifications are under Axelos. An individual can start the course by either using a hardcopy, PDF, ePublication or via an online subscription which can be availed directly from Axelos. While this is the primary cost, the second is the training cost. For each level of the course, there is a different cost associated. The curriculum leading to the initial certificate usually runs for two days and the courses commencing to higher certifications can run for a week or more.
There is an additional cost of re-engineering a few of the processes to enable ITIL® frameworks and enable them to comply with ITIL® guidelines. An additional cost would be the investment in the ITIL® study guide and ITIL® practice exam which is set to be between $30 to $50 respectively. Therefore, there is no fixed cost for gaining the ITIL® certification. Axelos has tied up with an institution called Accredited Training Organisation (ATO) where one can take ITIL® training.
Axelos, apart from the five levels of ITIL® certifications, also offers complementary courses under the ITIL® credit system which are known as ITIL® complementary certifications. A total of 6 credits can be earned through these additional courses. It is critical to ensure that there is no overlap between the modules at different levels, as the percentage of overlap that Axelos segregates can be divided into three categories: low, moderate and high. The candidate should focus on staying in the ‘low overlap’ zone to ensure that they earn the right credits. Axelos details the course on its website and gives a hawk-eye view of its benefit.
ITIL® certification is acquired via classroom study and virtual IT coaching which can be supplemented with self-study. An ITIL® certification represents that the person who has it has the requisite knowledge and skills related to ITIL® structure and terminology. It also describes that he has a working knowledge of the core principles and subject areas relating to IT, which is the primary use of ITIL® technology in the management of business services. The certification is helpful for:
Following professionals are recommended to take the ITIL® course:
The foundation course will act as an introduction to ITIL® 4, and it will introduce candidates to ITSM as an end-to-end operating model with a focus on creating, delivering, and improving IT-enabled products and services.
The certification aims to help:
However, the ITIL® V4 foundation certification is helpful to anyone who has an interest in IT service management. ITIL® V4 Foundation candidates, at the end of the certificate course, will have an understanding of the following:
ITIL® has seen 4 versions till date. Each of the versions has had the same motive of helping the candidate achieve alignment between the IT systems with the business strategies.
Version 1 was launched with more than 30 volumes each covering a specific practice within ITSM. It aimed at establishing a model of controlling and managing business operations using IT.
In the year 2000-2001, in order to make ITIL® more accessible as well as affordable, a new version, ITIL® V2 endeavoured to consolidate the publications into nine sets which focus on logic and were grouped in a manner that matched different aspects of IT management and services.
Under ITIL® V3, the foundation level was introduced to candidates with the aim of exposing them to the basic concepts, key elements and common terminologies under ITIL®.
The primary purpose has not changed under the ITIL® V4, and their essential features remain the same. The updated version of ITIL® V4 merely includes advanced material on the additional best practices. ITIL® V4 aims to address the two major complains of the ITIL® :
ITIL® certification has now become essential for any business which uses digital services daily and aspires to have a flawless ITSM. An ITIL® certification helps with installing good ITSM practices within the organisation. This certification covers the whole development lifecycle of IT, all the way from recognising requirements of IT and business to maintaining and delivering the levels of service in a state of focused review and improvement. This holistic approach enhances the overall customer experience and integration of work.
To help understand the nuances better, let us explore ITIL® V3 Foundation Vs. ITIL® V4 Foundation.
ITIL® V3, which is also popularly referred to as ITIL® 2011, was the latest version before the upgrade to ITIL® V4. The new version introduced the process of the Business Relationship Management (BRM) process but other than that, most of the other elements remain the same. An important change was that it was easier to read and many of the inconsistencies were edited out. ITIL® V4 uses newer techniques to align IT with a more evolved level of efficiency and effectiveness. It is now possible to align ITIL® with other existing methods such as IT4IT, Agile, DevOps, and Lean.
Even with ITIL® V4, the essential elements of ITIL® V3 remain the same. ITIL® V4 just ensures the inclusion of additional best practices and easier integration.
ITIL® V4 encourages lesser siloes, more collaboration and encourages communication across the whole organization with the integration of Agile, Lean and DevOps into ITSM strategies. It is made to be more flexible and customizable than ITIL® V3 i.e. more holistic.
By investing in a training course and implementing ITIL®, you can expect the following things:
Thus, through this, it is clear that ITIL® is almost inevitable for business and must be implemented within organisations who wish to keep evolving with the times and achieve their ever-changing goals with the help of IT.
To wrap it up, ITIL® is not just a straightforward skills course in IT. It equips the candidate with the requisite resources to apply the knowledge gained to the larger scope of their organization and align with business practices. This means that the candidate would have a practical hold over the best practices, especially when addressing all facets of IT management.