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The ITIL® Certification Scheme - Explained

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The ITIL® Certification Scheme - Explained

The ITIL certification scheme is a series of qualifications focused on different aspects of IT service management (ITSM) that offer a modular approach to the ITIL framework. The certifications are progressive and can be taken at various stages of an individual's career. Managed by PeopleCert, the ITIL certification scheme has been updated over the years to reflect the evolving practices in ITSM. The latest iteration of the framework is ITIL 4, which was introduced to replace ITIL v3. In this blog we will go into depth explaining the ITIL 4 certification scheme, its certification paths and individual courses.

What is the ITIL Certification Scheme?

The ITIL Certification Scheme comprises of five levels:

  • ITIL Foundation
  • MP (Managing Professional)
  • PM (Practice Manager)
  • SL (Strategic Leader)
  • ITIL Master

These 5 levels asses an individuals competency within the ITIL framework. However, within the ITIL certification scheme there are 3 clear paths an individual can take depending on their job role within an organisation. These ITIL certification paths comprise of:

  • MP (Managing Professional)
  • SL (Strategic Leader)
  • PM (Practice Manager)

ITIL Foundation

ITIL certification scheme highlighting the ITIL Foundation course

The ITIL 4 Foundation certification is the entry-level qualification in the ITIL 4 certification scheme, providing an introduction to the management of modern IT-enabled services. The Foundation level is designed to introduce the candidates to the management of modern IT-enabled services, to provide them with an understanding of the common language and key concepts, and to show them how they can improve their work and the work of their organisation with ITIL 4 guidance.

The certification aims to help individuals understand the ITIL 4 framework and enables them to look at IT service management through an end-to-end operating model for the creation, delivery, and continual improvement of tech-enabled products and services.

Please note that the ITIL Foundation certification is a prerequisite for many of the following courses.

Benefits of ITIL 4 Foundation Certification:

  • Provides a universal language and shared understanding of ITSM concepts, thus improving communication within and between IT teams and the rest of the organisation.
  • Offers a systematic approach to IT service management based on best practices.
  • Helps individuals and organisations to understand how to effectively use IT as a tool for business change and growth.
  • The knowledge from ITIL 4 Foundation can be applied to improve IT service management practices within the organisation, potentially leading to increased productivity, optimisation of costs, and enhanced customer satisfaction.
  • The ITIL 4 Foundation certification is beneficial for anyone working in IT services, service management, or with a role that involves focus on the delivery or support of IT services, whether in an IT service management capacity or a business manager role.

ITIL Managing Professional

ITIL certification scheme highlighting the managing professional path courses

The ITIL 4 Managing Professional stream provides practical and technical knowledge about how to run successful IT-enabled services, teams, and workflows. It is aimed at IT practitioners working within technology and digital teams across businesses. The Managing Professional stream includes four modules:

ITIL® 4 Specialist: Create, Deliver and Support (CDS)

This module is centred around the integration of different value streams and activities to create, deliver, and support IT-enabled products and services. It covers areas such as development, deployment, service management practices, and how an iterative approach to the service lifecycle can be applied.

ITIL® 4 Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value (DSV)

The drive stakeholder value course focuses on engagement and interactions between service providers and their customers, users, suppliers, and partners. It guides how to convert demand into value through IT-enabled services, emphasising the customer journey and experience, as well as how to foster stakeholder relationships.

ITIL® 4 Specialist: High-velocity IT (HVIT)

The ITIL 4 Specialist: High-velocity IT module explores the ways in which digital organisations and digital operating models function in high-velocity environments. It covers the application of agile, lean, and DevOps principles and practices within ITIL's service value system.

ITIL® 4 Strategist: Direct, Plan, and Improve (DPI)

The 3-day course is the universal module for both the ITIL 4 Managing Professional and Strategic Leader streams. It focuses on the practical skills needed to create a 'learning and improving' IT organisation with a strong and effective strategic direction. It provides guidance on alignment of strategy and actions, measurement and reporting, continuous improvement, and how organisational change can be managed effectively.

To become an ITIL managing professional you need to complete and pass all 4 courses. Please note all these courses require the ITIL Foundation certification as a prerequisite.

Who Should Take ITIL 4 MP?

IT practitioners involved in technology solutions or services delivery, as well as those who manage or lead teams in an organisation that subscribes to the ITIL framework.

Professionals who are part of a team that manages the operation of IT-enabled and digital products and services, and those who need practical and technical skills to manage such services.

Benefits of ITIL 4 MP Certification:

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of how to manage effective IT and digital services.
  • Acquire the ability to integrate ITIL principles and practices with other methodologies like agile, lean, and DevOps.
  • Enhance skills to drive overall business success through IT service management and delivery.
  • Improve capabilities in creating, delivering, and supporting services that provide great value.

ITIL Strategic Leader

ITIL certification scheme highlighting the strategic leader courses

The ITIL Strategic Leader (SL) designation is part of the ITIL 4 certification scheme and recognises the value of ITIL, not just for IT operations but for all digitally enabled services in an organisation. It is designed for those who are involved in shaping IT and business strategy. The ITIL Strategic Leader stream focuses on how IT influences and directs business strategy. The ITIL Foundation is a prerequisite for the courses in this certification path. To achieve the ITIL Strategic Leader designation you need to complete the following courses:

ITIL 4 Strategist: Direct, Plan, and Improve (DPI)

This module is shared with the ITIL Managing Professional (MP) stream and provides individuals with the practical skills necessary to create a 'learning and improving' IT organisation with a strong and effective strategic direction. It covers the influence and impact of Agile and Lean ways of working, and how they can be leveraged to an organisation’s advantage. It provides an understanding of how to direct, plan, and improve an organisation or team's efficiency and effectiveness.

ITIL 4 Leader Digital and IT Strategy (DITS)

This module focuses on aligning digital business strategy with IT strategy. Candidates learn about the use of the ITIL framework to support organisations on their digital transformation journey, through an exploration of the use of ITIL guiding principles and other strategic elements. The module also covers how to become a strategic leader who can steer and sustain organisational change by enabling business success through the creation and execution of digital and IT strategies.

Who Should Take ITIL 4 SL?

ITIL 4 SL is aimed at managers and aspiring managers at all levels who are involved in shaping the digital strategy of their organisation.

It's also suitable for IT leaders and practitioners who handle the direction and strategy of their IT team or department, and for individuals looking to understand how IT and digital strategy can be crafted to create value for the business.

Benefits of ITIL 4 SL Certification:

  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of how IT influences and directs business strategy.
  • Establish an expert understanding of how leaders can become strategic and effective in this new digital era.
  • Gain a globally recognised qualification that is sought after by potential employers in the IT industry.
  • Have a comprehensive view of how to integrate the principles and methods of ITIL into overall business strategies.
  • Understand the impact of IT on business and how to adapt and innovate in rapidly changing business environments.

Practice Manager

ITIL certification scheme highlighting the practice manager courses

There are multiple ways to become an ITIL Practice Manager. The first is you can pass the ITIL® 4 Specialist: Create, Deliver and Support (CDS) course as well as one of the 3-day practice manager exams:

  • ITIL® 4 Specialist: Monitor, Support & Fulfil (MSF)
  • ITIL® 4 Specialist: Plan, Implement & Control (PIC)
  • ITIL® 4 Specialist: Collaborate, Assure & Improve (CAI)

The other way of becoming an ITIL practice manager is to pass the ITIL® 4 Specialist: Create, Deliver and Support (CDS) course as well as five of the 15 available 1-day practitioner courses:

  1. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Desk
  2. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Incident Management
  3. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Problem Management
  4. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Request Management
  5. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Monitoring & Event Management
  6. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Change Enablement
  7. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Release Management
  8. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Configuration Management
  9. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Deployment Management
  10. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: IT Asset Management
  11. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Continual Improvement
  12. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Level Management
  13. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Relationship Management
  14. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Information Security Management
  15. ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Supplier Management

Let’s go more in depth with these courses:

ITIL® 4 Specialist: Monitor, Support & Fulfil (MSF)

ITIL® 4 Specialist: Monitor, Support & Fulfil course focuses on key concepts across five core ITIL practices. It is geared towards IT professionals who have already achieved the ITIL 4 Foundation certificate and wish to deepen their knowledge of ITIL 4 Management Practices. The course is designed to help IT professionals establish effective cross-practice collaboration and service value streams, which are essential for the delivery of high-quality IT services. The 5 practitioner courses in MSF are:

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Desk

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Desk course is designed for IT professionals who wish to demonstrate and validate their skills in the service desk practice area.

The main objective of the Service Desk practice is to capture the demand for incident resolution and service requests. It involves defining and maintaining communication channels and interfaces between the service provider and users. The course equips professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively capture demand for incident resolution and service requests, as well as establishing and maintaining these crucial communication channels.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Incident Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Incident Management course is a specialised module that focuses on the processes and activities within the incident management practice and their significance in the service value chain.

The course covers the key concepts of the practice, including the purpose of incident management, practice success factors, key metrics, key terms, and concepts like incident models, major incidents, workarounds, technical debt, task priority, and prioritisation. It is structured around the ITIL® Framework and includes an examination that assesses the participants' understanding and application of the concepts covered in the ITIL® 4 Incident Management practices publication.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Problem Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Problem Management course provides IT professionals with practical guidance on the processes and activities involved in Problem Management within the ITIL framework. The module is designed to help professionals reduce the likelihood and impact of incidents by identifying actual and potential causes of incidents, managing workarounds, and addressing known errors.

This course covers key concepts, the purpose of the practice, success factors, metrics, and terms such as problem, known error, problem prioritisation, reactive and proactive problem management, workaround, and technical debt. It also touches on the role of Problem Management in the service value chain, the organisations and people involved, the information and technology supporting the practice, and considerations for partners and suppliers.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Request Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Request Management course is a specialised module aimed at IT professionals. The focus is on supporting the agreed quality of service by effectively and user-friendly handling all predefined, user-initiated service requests.

The course provides participants with an understanding and application of the key concepts, principles, values, and challenges of the Service Request Management practice. It also covers the purpose of the practice, practice success factors, key metrics, key terms and concepts like service request and its main characteristics, service request models, and request catalogues.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Monitoring & Event Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Monitoring and Event Management course provides IT professionals with the knowledge and tools needed to systematically observe services and service components, record, report, and respond to selected changes of state that are identified as events. This module is essential for those who wish to ensure the performance, availability, and health of IT systems and networks by managing and responding to events and incidents efficiently.

The course covers key concepts, including the purpose of Monitoring and Event Management, success factors, and key metrics associated with the practice. It discusses different types of monitoring, metric thresholds, and alerts, which are all crucial for early detection of IT service interruptions or degradation, proactive detection of incidents and problems, and understanding the health of IT services.

ITIL® 4 Specialist: Plan, Implement & Control (PIC)

This three-day course is designed to equip IT professionals with the skills necessary to establish effective cross-practice collaboration and to manage service value streams efficiently. The ITIL® 4 Specialist: Plan, Implement & Control course is a comprehensive training module that spans across five key ITIL practices: Change Enablement, Deployment Management, Release Management, Service Configuration Management, and IT Asset Management.

The course focuses on integrating these practices within an organisation’s value streams, understanding the interfaces and synergies across them, and applying metrics and practice success factors to improve performance. It also aims to measure, assess, and develop the capabilities of the various practices using the ITIL Maturity Model. Let’s have a look at these practices in more detail:

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Change Enablement

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Change Enablement course is a module designed to enhance the skills of IT professionals in managing service and product changes effectively. This course aims to maximise the number of successful changes by ensuring that all risks are accurately assessed, authorising changes to proceed, and managing the change schedule meticulously.

The training course offers a deep dive into the key concepts, principles, value, and challenges of the Change Enablement Practice within the ITIL framework. It emphasises the importance of guiding and supporting individuals and organisations through successful transitions, which is critical for the continual improvement of service management.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Release Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Release Management course is a detailed module that provides best practice guidance on releasing new and changed services and features. This course equips IT professionals with the knowledge to align these releases with the organisation's policies and service agreements with consumers.

It's a structured process focusing on the planning, coordination, and execution of software changes from the development stage to the production environment. The practice of Release Management involves a series of steps to ensure that changes are made smoothly and effectively, minimising disruptions, and maximising service quality.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Configuration Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Configuration Management course is tailored for IT professionals aiming to validate their skills in managing service configuration effectively. The course focuses on maximising value from the Service Configuration Management practice area and teaches participants how to collect and manage configuration items (CIs), which represent the assets required to deliver services.

Service Configuration Management is a key practice within IT Service Management (ITSM) that ensures the systematic management and maintenance of accurate information about an organisation's IT infrastructure and services. This practice is crucial for supporting various IT service management processes such as change management, incident and problem management, release management, asset management, capacity and performance management, as well as security and compliance.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Deployment Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Deployment Management course is an essential module for IT professionals that focuses on the process of moving new or changed hardware, software, documentation, processes, or any other service component to live environments. The course also addresses deploying components to other environments for purposes like testing or staging.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: IT Asset Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: IT Asset Management (ITAM) course is tailored for IT professionals who aim to demonstrate and validate their skills in effectively managing an organisation's IT assets throughout their entire lifecycle. The practice encompasses the planning, procurement, deployment, usage, maintenance, and eventual disposal of IT assets, thereby supporting informed decision-making regarding their purchase, reuse, retirement, and disposal. The course intends to help organisations maximise the value of their IT assets while controlling costs, managing risks, and ensuring compliance with regulatory and contractual requirements.

ITIL® 4 Specialist: Collaborate, Assure & Improve (CAI)

The ITIL® 4 Specialist: Collaborate, Assure & Improve (CAI) course is a combined practice module that spans five key ITIL practices, which are:

  • Relationship Management
  • Supplier Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Continual Improvement
  • Information Security Management

This three-day course is practice-based and covers the key concepts, teaching how to establish good cross-practice collaboration and effective service value streams, which are crucial for delivering and maintaining service quality. By covering these five practices, the course provides a comprehensive understanding that supports the management and improvement of IT services. Lets have a look at these practices in more detail:

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Continual Improvement

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Continual Improvement course is designed to guide IT professionals on how to align an organisation's services with its changing business needs through the ongoing improvement of products, services, practices, or any aspect involved in the management of products and services.

Participants will learn key concepts and processes of the Continual Improvement practice, enabling them to become proficient in identifying and implementing improvements within their organisation's service management. This is particularly important for adapting to the evolving business landscape and ensuring that products, services, and practices are continually enhanced to meet the demands of the business and its customers.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Level Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Service Level Management course focuses on setting clear, business-based targets for service delivery and ensuring these services are assessed, monitored, and managed effectively. It is designed for IT professionals who want to demonstrate their expertise in Service Level Management at both strategic and operational levels.

The course helps participants to manage service quality, monitor service performance, translate stakeholder needs into actionable metrics, manage resources, and use the ITIL Maturity Model to develop practice capability.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Relationship Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Relationship Management course provides IT professionals with best practices to establish and nurture relationships between their organisation and its stakeholders. It includes the identification, analysis, monitoring, and improvement of these relationships.

The course aims to help professionals create a unified approach to relationship management, ensuring successful interactions within and outside the organisation, and promoting cooperation, collaboration, and conflict prevention.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Information Security Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Information Security Management course covers the practice's key concepts, such as information security and its characteristics (confidentiality, availability, integrity), authentication, non-repudiation, and understanding threats, vulnerabilities, and risks. It teaches how to integrate the practice into the organisation's value streams, the responsibilities of key roles like the chief information security officer and information security manager, and the use of technology and third-party support in the practice.

ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Supplier Management

The ITIL® 4 Practitioner: Supplier Management course is aimed at IT professionals who wish to demonstrate their expertise in managing suppliers to ensure the seamless provision of quality IT services.

The course teaches how to optimise sourcing strategies, manage supplier relationships, and maintain control over supplier contracts and services. It also focuses on defining strategies for using suppliers’ services, evaluating and selecting suppliers, and ensuring services meet agreed levels while controlling costs and risks. Improving customer satisfaction and developing the Supplier Management practice capability using the ITIL Maturity Model are also covered.

Please note that all Practitioner courses are one day courses, and the combined specialist courses are 3 day courses.

ITIL Master

ITIL certification scheme highlighting ITIL master designation

The ultimate qualification for ITIL 4, to become an ITIL master, you must complete all 3 certification paths, which include:

  • MP (Managing Professional)
  • SL (Strategic Leader)
  • PM (Practice Manager)

There is no exam for the ITIL Master qualification, however becoming an ITIL master will not happen overnight and will require you to pass many exams. Please comment below if you have achieved the ITIL master qualification.

ITIL Extension Modules

ITIL certification scheme highlighting the extension module courses

There are 4 extension modules in ITIL 4, these include:

  • ITIL® 4 Specialist: Business Relationship Management (BRM)
  • ITIL® 4 Specialist: IT Asset Management (ITAM)
  • ITIL® 4 Specialist: Sustainability In Digital & IT (SDIT)
  • ITIL® 4 Specialist: Acquiring & Managing Cloud Services (AMCS)

These courses are different to all other ITIL courses and do not require a prerequisite of the ITIL 4 Foundation certification. Lets have a look at these courses in more detail:

ITIL® 4 Specialist: Business Relationship Management (BRM)

The three-day ITIL® 4 Specialist: Business Relationship Management (BRM) course is a comprehensive training program designed for IT professionals who are responsible for managing and nurturing the relationships between service providers and their customers and stakeholders. The course aims to impart knowledge on the key concepts, principles, value, and challenges associated with BRM within the ITIL framework.

This module focuses on how Business Relationship Management can be leveraged to deliver return on investment in digital technology, highlighting the strategic role that BRM plays in aligning IT services with business goals and objectives.

Professionals who undertake this course will learn how to define BRM roles, responsibilities, and the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively manage business relationships. Moreover, it emphasises ensuring that stakeholders are aligned with the strategic and operational requirements to co-create value and achieve business goals.

ITIL® 4 Specialist: IT Asset Management (ITAM)

The three-day ITIL® 4 Specialist: IT Asset Management course focuses on applying IT Asset Management to foster financial stewardship and support decisions regarding the purchase, reuse, retirement, and disposal of IT assets. It is aimed at IT professionals involved in managing costs and risks, ensuring compliance, and governing IT assets. The course covers defining roles, managing the lifecycle of IT assets, automation, applying metrics, and using the ITIL Maturity Model to develop capabilities.

ITIL® 4 Specialist: Sustainability In Digital & IT (SDIT)

The four-day ITIL® 4 Specialist: Sustainability in Digital & IT (SDIT) course is designed for individuals interested in understanding the role of IT and digitally enabled services in relation to the environment and identifying opportunities to positively impact it.

The course focuses on developing key sustainability competencies and capabilities within service organisations. Participants will learn to use ITIL principles to create sustainable digital products and services, address challenges, understand sustainability principles, and perform cost-benefit analyses.

ITIL® 4 Specialist: Acquiring & Managing Cloud Services (AMCS)

The three-day ITIL® 4 Specialist: Acquiring & Managing Cloud Services (AMCS) course is designed to provide vendor-neutral, user-centric guidance on integrating cloud procurement and technology with broader business strategy and functions. It covers the 'cloud services user journey', aligning ITIL concepts like Guiding Principles and the Service Value Chain for a comprehensive view of the procurement lifecycle.

The course includes analysing solutions, identifying and delivering cloud services, and co-creating value through procurement and integration using ITIL 4 frameworks. It is structured around the ITIL customer journey, with practical guidance on cloud basics, procuring and onboarding, and cloud strategy management.

The Benefits of Becoming ITIL Certified

The benefits of becoming ITIL certified are numerous and significant, especially considering the evolving landscape of IT service management (ITSM). Here are some of the advantages:

Higher Earning Potential

ITIL certification is often associated with an increase in salary, as it demonstrates a professional's knowledge and skills in ITSM, which can play a crucial role in achieving broader business objectives.

Comprehensive Understanding of ITIL Framework

ITIL certifications provide an in-depth understanding of the ITIL framework and processes, which have been designed as a set of best practices for IT service management. This knowledge is vital for improving service delivery and adding value to IT services.

Alignment with International Standards

ITIL 4, in particular, aligns with international ITSM standards, offering a strong foundation for professionals who aim to advance their careers in ITSM and improve the delivery of quality digital services.

Efficiency and Cost Reduction

For organisations, ITIL certification can lead to more efficient and effective operations. It can help reduce training costs, give a clearer view of IT costs and assets, and increase the ability to manage business risk and service disruptions. It also aids in eliminating redundant work and improving resource utilisation.

Enhanced Customer Experience

ITIL training emphasises meeting customer needs and aligning IT services accordingly. It aids in delivering better customer experiences by implementing effective incident management processes, ensuring incidents are addressed efficiently.

Recognition of Expertise

ITIL certification is globally recognised and signifies adherence to best practice standards, which in turn helps organisations and IT projects deliver superior value. ITIL-certified professionals are in high demand, reflecting the market's acknowledgment of the expertise that ITIL certification represents.

Professional Development

ITIL skills can lead to better employee satisfaction and retention rates, enhanced collaboration among team members, greater adaptability to change, improved customer satisfaction, and increased innovation and creativity. Overall, it contributes to optimal operational performance.

These benefits not only enhance the career prospects of IT professionals but also significantly contribute to the operational success of their organisations.

Final Notes on The ITIL® Certification Scheme Explained

In conclusion, the ITIL 4 certification scheme provides a modular and flexible path for IT professionals. It starts with the ITIL 4 Foundation level, covering key concepts and terminology. Beyond this, there are 3 streams: ITIL 4 Managing Professional, ITIL 4 Strategic Leader, and ITIL 4 Practice Manager. Completing all 3 streams leads to the ITIL 4 Master designation.

From the Purple Griffon team, we wish you the best of luck with you ITIL 4 journey!

About The Author

James Lawless

James Lawless

From a young age I have been interested in media and technology. I look forward to seeing the interesting future of AI and how it will affect ITSM, business processes and day-to-day life. I am passionate about sustainability, gaming, and user experience. At Purple Griffon I oversee creating/maintaining blogs, creating free resources, and general website maintenance. I’m also a keen skier and enjoy going on family skiing holidays

Tel: +44 (0)1539 736 828

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