​ITIL®: Beyond ITIL® Foundation (The Ultimate Guide)

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'What training course should I take after the ITIL® Foundation?'

I'm asked this question on a regular basis by course delegates. I'm also asked to speak to undecided customers on the phone and have commented on many LinkedIn posts on this subject.

In fact, I’ve repeated myself so many times that I thought it was about time to put my fingers to keyboard and create the ‘Ultimate Guide to Training Beyond the ITIL® Foundation Course’.

In this article I'll cover:

Okay, so you've done your ITIL® Foundation and are wondering ‘What next?’.

First of all, you need to determine what your motivation is to move beyond an ITIL® Foundation level certificate.

Are you looking to improve your career prospects? Are you looking to acquire the necessary skills to do your job more efficiently or has your manager told you to get some training booked before you lose the training budget?

If you are just planning on honing your skills and not seeking to acquire certifications or formal training for your CV, then you could just watch a load of YouTube videos. You could also be more active on LinkedIn and read a few books to improve your knowledge. The choice is yours.

Assuming that you are looking to further your career with your current or future employer then you’ll probably be looking for certified courses with an exam at the end. So, let's see what is available.

Beyond ITIL Foundation. What Next?

ITIL® Foundation

Whether you've taken a public scheduled training course, attended an on-site course, undertaken E-Learning or self-studied to pass the ITIL® (v3 or 2011) Foundation exam, you'll now have acquired two credits (we’ll talk about these later). If you only have a V2 ITIL® Foundation certificate you will have to take the latest version of the Foundation exam to progress beyond this point.

ITIL® Intermediate Courses

If you want to get to ITIL® Expert level, you will need to acquire 22 or more credits. Having passed the ITIL® Foundation exam means that you have just two. Unfortunately, you cannot take the MALC exam until you have acquired at least 17, so how are you going to get the other 15 credits?

Credits are awarded by ALEXOS, the owner of the 'Best Practice' qualification scheme which includes ITIL®, PRINCE2®, etc.

Okay, time to talk about credits:

  • ITIL® Foundation will give you two Credits
  • Each of the five Intermediate Lifecycle courses will give you three credits
  • Each of the four intermediate Capabilities will give you four credits
  • Managing across the Lifecycle (MALC) will give you five credits
  • If you took any of the BCS Specialist courses, or other qualifying complementary courses prior to 1st April 2015, then you can collect and use those points. You can accrue up to a maximum of six credits from what were approved complementary courses.

So you’ve taken your ITIL® Foundation, what’s next?

Life after ITIL® Foundation can be unclear for many people. One of the main reasons for this is that the key differences between ITIL® ’s Lifecycle and Capability streams are often not explicitly defined. So, what is the difference between Lifecycles and Capabilities and which path is right for your career?

After completing the Foundation course, the next step on the journey to ITIL® Expert status is to achieve your additional 15 credits in either the Lifecycle or Capability stream. In some cases, a combination of courses from both streams may be appropriate. When trying to decide between the two pathways you should start with this question:

Is my job role focused on designing, implementing, managing and improving IT Service Management processes or is it focused more on the hands-on Process Practitioner elements of IT Service Management?

If you are focused more on process design and implementation, then the Lifecycle stream may be the best route for you.

The ITIL® Lifecycle work stream consists of five three-day courses that can be taken as stand-alone courses or as part of your pathway towards ITIL® Expert:

  • ITIL® Service Strategy Course

The first of the IT Service Management Lifecycle courses, which focuses on the business fundamentals to drive the need for IT services ITIL® Service Strategy Course.

The course will take you through an explanation of the fundamentals of Service Strategy and show you how they drive the need for IT services and provide justification for investments. It will cover how to design, develop, and implement service management, not only as an organisational capability but also as a strategic asset.

This course may appeal to anyone working at a Strategic level as a Business Relationship Manager, Service Portfolio Manager, IT Financial Manager or a Demand Manager, or used as part of your pathway to ITIL® Expert.

  • ITIL® Service Design Course

The second phase of the IT Service Management Lifecycle is the ITIL® Service Design course, which focuses on the design of IT services. It includes all of the relevant aspects, such as architectures, processes & policies, and documentation. These will all need to be aligned to meet the needs of the business, both at this point and in the future.

This course will suit anyone working in Availability, Capacity, Continuity or Security Management process areas. It would also be suitable if you are looking to implement a Service Catalogue or if you work in a Design Coordination role or used as part of your pathway to ITIL® Expert.

  • ITIL® Service Transition Course

This course focuses on managing changes of services and processes to ensure that you deliver maximum benefits to the target organisations. It will also assist you in understanding the critical issues around controlling the building, testing and implementation of changes to services, and why it's important to do so.

You’ll also find out how Service Transition processes can apply throughout the Service Management Lifecycle, for example how Knowledge Management can underpin decisions in both Strategy and Operations.

The course will also cover the importance of understanding how transitions can affect people and how to manage them through changes to a successful conclusion.

This course is suitable for those working in a Transition Managers role, or a Change, Release or Configuration Management role, or for those who require an understanding of the Transition phase of the Lifecycle, or used as part of your pathway to ITIL® Expert.

  • ITIL® Service Operation Course

This module focuses on how to deliver value to customers and users by managing the operation of services.

It will help you to understand the processes and functions needed to keep IT services running in the most efficient manner. This includes Incident, Problem and Event Management.

The course also explains how you involve operations staff in processes that span other phases of the Service Management Lifecycle, such as Change Management and Service Level Management.

This course is most suitable for those working in Incident and Problem Management roles or Operational roles within IT or used as part of your pathway to ITIL® Expert.

  • ITIL® Continual Service Improvement Course

This module focuses on the principles and techniques of the Continual Service Improvement stage of the ITIL® Lifecycle but does not go into detail about specific processes.

It covers how organisations and individuals can strategically review all of the products and services they have produced following the strategy, design, transition and operation stages of the IT Service Lifecycle.

It also offers guidance on how this process should be organised and executed, a well as advice on the tools and technology that can be used to support CSI activities, including how to evaluate risks and critical success factors.

If you are working within a Continual Service Improvement programme, this is a 'must attend' course, or used as part of your pathway to ITIL® Expert.

These intermediate Lifecycle courses take a detailed look at the processes specifically around policy, organisational structure and additional critical lifecycle interface phases of the Service Lifecycle. It will give you a high-level overview of the ITIL® practice areas and, as a result, is best suited for those seeking leadership roles within their organisation.

Each course culminates in a 90 minute ‘closed book’ exam consisting of eight complex multiple choice scenario-based questions.

ITIL Lifecycle Workstream


If you are more focused on the individual processes and their day-to-day operational activities, then a five-day Capability stream course is perfect for you.

The Capability stream of courses focuses on four areas:

  • ITIL® Service Offerings and Agreements Course (SOA)
  • This course looks at how the associated processes support the service lifecycle. Also specifically, how the five phases of the ITIL® lifecycle (service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation and continual service improvement) creates organisational value.

    It also covers how service providers ensure that the return on investment (ROI) is commensurate with the efforts and expenditure involved and that justifiable business cases underpin our approach.

    The course will take you through an explanation of these fundamentals. It will enable you to understand that the organisation and its requirements drive service providers in identifying and designing the appropriate services to meet these needs, both now and in the future.

    This course is most suitable for those working in Customer facing roles at a strategic and tactical level, like Service Level Management or Business Relationship Management or those involved in managing the 'value chain' from supplier to customer.

    • ITIL® Release Control and Validation Course (RCV)

    This course specifically addresses the need to ensure that services are planned, built, tested, evaluated and deployed in a controlled manner. You will understand how they meet the organisations requirements and ensure that during deployment there is minimal disruption to your existing Infrastructure and services and that the required organisational needs are still achieved, and value is realised.

    It will also take you through an explanation of these fundamentals. It will show you how they drive the need for ensuring that during transitional activities, all aspects of the service and its requirements are considered and managed in a controlled fashion.

    This course is most suitable for those working in 'hands-on' Service Transition roles such as Change Release or Service Asset Management.

    • ITIL® Operational Support and Analysis Course (OSA)

    This course looks at the most customer-facing element of the ITIL® Lifecycle, Service Operation. It will take you through an explanation of these principles. It will show how they drive the need for managing the day-to-day operation of an organisation’s IT services. It also covers fundamental issues relating to people, processes, infrastructure technology and relationships necessary to ensure the high-quality, cost-effective provision of IT service required to meet organisational needs.

    This course is most suitable for those working at 'the coal face' in Incident Management and Problem Management type roles.

    • ITIL® Planning, Protection and Optimisation Course (PPO)

    This course covers the objectives, purpose, the scope, value to the business, service design basics and service design’s role in the ITIL® Lifecycle. It explains the role of design coordination in ensuring that what we deliver to our organisations meets their requirements and supports the outcomes we need to achieve to be successful.

    The course will show you how these design fundamentals ensure that all aspects of service design are considered. This will enable the introduction of these services into supported environments ensuring quality service delivery, customer satisfaction and cost-effective service provision.

    This course is most suitable for those working in 'Warranty' type functions such as Availability, Capacity, Continuity and Security Management related roles.

    It is debatable whether you would want to take all four Capability courses as you may just be a practitioner working in one of these areas. Many replace a Lifecycle course module with the equivalent Capability module in the area they work most in. So you could replace:

    • Service Strategy with Service Offerings and Agreements
    • Service Design with Planning, Protection and Optimisation
    • Service Transition with Release, Control and Validation
    • Service Operation with Operational Support and Analysis

    There is no equivalent Capability module for the Continual Service Improvement Lifecycle module, although all Capability modules do touch on CSI. It’s arguable that if someone undertakes all four Capability modules then they would also benefit from taking the CSI Lifecycle module.

    The Capability courses will examine in detail each of the processes necessary to execute the ITIL® Best Practices. They provide you with intense and detailed instruction on each process that makes this stream ideal for those individuals in more of a hands-on Practitioner role.

    Both the Lifecycle and the Capability courses end with a one and a half hour, eight question, multiple-choice, scenario-based exam.

    Phew! That's a lot of information to take in, and we've not finished yet.

    ITIL® Expert

    So, is getting to ITIL® Expert level worth it?

    The short answer is yes, but then I would say that wouldn't I?

    What do people who have reached ITIL® Expert level think?

    Surveys have shown they believe that:

    • The training helped them develop their skills so that they could better perform their role. It helped them become more productive and also helped the IT organisation improve its overall productivity.
    • Achieving this level of ITIL® expertise led to a better implementation of IT Service Management processes within their organisation.
    • ITIL® advanced certification is a competitive differentiator and it helps gain confidence, enabling you to stand out amongst non-certified individuals.
    • They are more valued by management after they became ITIL® Experts.
    • Their knowledge is more valued by peers inside and outside the organisation.
    • The training allowed them to develop a greater understanding of the importance of good practices.
    • It increased their capability to lead and participate in improvement initiatives.
    IT Service Management is something that all IT departments do, either deliberately or sometimes inadvertently. If the purpose of the IT department is to provide IT services to the business, then IT Service Management is something that needs to be done. Moreover, if it needs to be performed, then why not do it properly through qualified ITIL® professionals?

    Suitably experienced and trained staff can make significant contributions to the success of their organisations. Halting training after just the Foundation level qualification will mean that staff simply don’t have the competence to make ITIL® realise all the potential benefits that it can provide.

    Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC)

    The five-day ITIL® Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) course is the final step in you achieving the ITIL® Expert qualification.

    The course primarily focuses on the integration of the service management processes right across the lifecycle.

    It also includes the key aspects of:

    • Communication
    • Stakeholder management
    • Governance and organisation
    • Measurement
    • Implementing and improving service management capabilities

    The course will allow you to gain a clear understanding of how all the processes across the lifecycle interact, and will convert your knowledge from 'content' as learned on the previous Lifecycle or Capability courses, to 'application'. The MALC course will enable you to identify how the service management processes should be implemented and how information should be passed and received from one process to another.

    The exam is held at the end of the course and is a two hour, scenario based, ten question multiple-choice exam, with the pass mark being 35/50 (70%).

    ITIL® Practitioner

    The ITIL® Practitioner is a new two-day course that was announced by AXELOS in April 2015.

    The latest information from AXELOS as of 29th September 2015 regarding the release of the ITIL® Practitioner Certificate training course and exam is that it will probably be available towards the end of 2015 or early 2016.

    The ITIL Practitioner course is aimed at those who need to implement and improve ITIL® processes.

    The key points of the ITIL® Practitioner course are that:

    • It provides practical guidance on how individuals can leverage Continual Service Improvement (CSI) to maximise the benefits of adopting and adapting ITIL® to underpin Service Management.
    • It improves the capability of people throughout the business. This will enable them to adopt and adapt ITIL® in their day-to-day roles to generate maximum business benefits.
    • It makes use of technological capabilities, such as automation, real-time reporting and cloud computing. This will increase the quality of service design activities, improving the efficiency of service delivery.
    • It will also leverage other frameworks and good and best practices and methodologies - such as Agile, Lean, DevOps and SIAM - to further enhance the value of ITSM.

    ITIL Practitioner


    BCS Specialist Certificates

    To supplement the ITIL® Foundation and Intermediate courses there are six BCS single process specialist certification courses that are role-based and focus on the practical aspects of working in theses service management specialist areas. As well as covering ITIL® 'Best Practice' guidance, each course will include aspects of SFIA, COBIT and ISO/IEC20000 and how they relate to each IT Service Management specialisation.

    These certifications complement the ITIL® scheme and provide an ideal stepping stone between the ITIL® Foundation and Intermediate certifications in IT service management.

    There are currently six, three-day ITIL® Specialist courses:

    • BCS Specialist Certificate in Service Desk & Incident Management

      This course focuses on maximising user satisfaction with IT services through the effective and efficient support of operational services.

      It will take you through an explanation of the importance of the Service Desk and the processes that it is involved in. This is chiefly the Incident Management and Request Fulfillment processes.

      You’ll find out how many staff and with what skills you need to employ to ensure that the Service Desk is a success in the eyes of the users of the operational services.

      You’ll also discuss the importance of suitable tools, such as an Integrated ITSM system, the Incident logging system, the Configuration Management System and an adequate telephone system amongst others.

      You’ll gain an understanding of the importance and use of associated processes such as Service Level Management, Problem Management and Request Fulfillment. Also, you’ll learn how other frameworks such as SFIA and COBIT can help you.

      • BCS Specialist Certificate in Change Management

        This course focuses on understanding how to control and manage changes efficiently. It will give you the opportunity to create or improve your existing Change Process.

        You’ll discuss challenges for Change Management and how to overcome them.

        You’ll also consider how tools such as the Configuration Management System (CMS and CMDB) can help you.

        You will gain an understanding of the importance of other processes such as Release & Deployment Management and how to interface with them. You'll learn the benefits of using related frameworks such as SFIA and COBIT.

        • BCS Specialist Certificate in Service Level Management

        This course focuses on understanding how to manage the delivery of services successfully. It will take you through an explanation of how to create and use tools such as Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Operational Level Agreements (OLAs) and the Service Catalogue that support your delivery of services.

        You'll also gain an understanding of the importance and use of associated processes such as Business Relationship Management and Supplier Management. Finally, you'll also learn the benefits of using related frameworks such as SFIA and COBIT.

        • BCS Specialist Certificate in Business Relationship Management

        This course focuses on how best to create and maintain a successful relationship between the Service Provider and its Customers (whether they are internal or external). It will take you through an explanation of how to identify who your customers are, how to communicate successfully to ensure you understand their issues and positively influence them.

        You’ll also find out how tools and frameworks such as the Customer Portfolio, SFIA and COBIT can help you.

        The course will also give you an understanding of the importance and use of associated processes such as Service Level Management, Demand Management and Supplier Management.

        • BCS Specialist Certificate in Problem Management

        This course focuses on maximising service 'up time' through the elimination of the causes of incidents. It will give you the opportunity to discuss the successful implementation of a Problem Management process taking you through how to overcome risks and challenges.

        You’ll learn the importance of adopting proactive Problem Management, and the use of tools such as the Known Error Database.

        You’ll also gain an understanding of the importance and use of other processes such as Service Level Management, Incident Management and Configuration Management. Also, you’ll learn how other frameworks such as SFIA and COBIT can help you.

        • BCS Specialist Certificate in Supplier Management

        This course focuses on understanding how to manage suppliers successfully.

        It will give you an opportunity to discuss the implications of using various types suppliers and how to maximise the benefits of using them.

        You'll also consider the contents of Underpinning Contracts (UCs) and how to ensure they underpin your Service Level Agreements.

        You'll gain an understanding of the importance and use of interface processes such as Service Level Management. Also, you'll also learn the benefits of using related frameworks such as SFIA and COBIT.

        All of the BCS Specialist courses end with a one and a half hour, scenario based twenty-five question multiple-choice examination. The pass mark is 16/25 (65%).


        If you've previously taken and passed one of the ‘BCS Specialist’ courses and exam prior to 1st April 2015, then you could have collected 1½ points for each course. This can count (up to a maximum of six credits) towards your ITIL® Expert certification for each exam passed.

        Single ITIL® Process Masterclasses and Workshops

        Purple Griffon run a schedule of one-day Masterclasses, and two-day Workshops. Each Masterclass/Workshop is based on a single ITIL® process. If you are wanting to implement or improve a unique process, then this one day course will explain all about the process, the roles and how to manage the processes on a day to day basis.

        As Masterclasses and Workshops are not constrained by rigid a syllabus, then the trainer can pitch the training to the most suitable level for those attending the Masterclass. This allows our trainer/consultant to focus on the common challenges most organisations incur and how to overcome them.

        Each single process Masterclass/workshop takes a pragmatic, in-depth look at a unique process down to the activity level and will:

      • Look at all of the key process interfaces
      • Help you clearly establish roles and responsibilities
      • Look at the technology that underpins and supports each process
      • Provide advice and guidance on developing a roadmap for implementation and improvement
      • Provide counselling and direction on how to communicate the benefits and turn doubters into advocates
      • Identify future improvements and advise you on how you can overcome the challenges you will no doubt face in the future

      • ITIL Masterclasses

        V2 Managers

        For those V2 Managers who aspire to reach ITIL® Expert level, there is still a route available without having to take ‘all’ of the lifecycle or capability stream courses. It allows you to build on your previous V2 knowledge and experience. You will, however, need an up-to-date Foundation certificate (V3 or V2011) and then take either Service Strategy or CSI, before taking MALC.

        My advice for those wishing to convert from V2 Manager to ITIL® Expert would be to attend both the Service Strategy and the CSI intermediate modules. This is because neither of these two areas was actually covered in the V2 syllabus. If I'm being honest, you must have taken the V2 Managers certificate at least eight years ago, and let’s face it no one’s memory is that good.

        Other courses that support and build on your ITIL® Foundation knowledge

        If you have decided that you don't want to become an ITIL® Expert then you can still continue your Continuous Professional Development (CPD) by taking complementary training. Here are some ideas

        IT Asset Management (ITAM) and Software Asset Management (SAM)

        These courses will help you specialise in Service Asset and Configuration Management. In fact SAM in many organisations.

        Kepner-Tregoe

        This course covers a proven technique primarily used in Incident and Problem Management.

        Project Management (including PRINCE2®, AGILE, etc.)

        Project Management is an enormous area, and one that complements Service Management perfectly, allowing you to develop a big picture view of IT. Having both a good working knowledge of Service Management and Project Management will do your career no harm at all.

        DevOps Foundation

        This course will help you understand the basic concepts of continuous deployment and how development and IT Operations can be merged to provide an effective and efficient business solution. It will enable you to understand the impact on IT Service Management and how it can be adapted to underpin a DevOps approach.

        In Summary

        There are many options available to you depending on your career aspirations, your budget, your available time, whether you want to acquire certifications, and your personal likes and dislikes. Many of the courses are also now available as E-Learning as well as classroom based training.

        If you want to discuss your options further then call one of Purple Griffon’s friendly Account Managers on +44(0)1539 736 828 to discuss your next step.

        We will aim to keep this article up to date on a regular basis as the IT Service Management training world evolves.

        Happy Learning.