ITIL is an abbreviation of the phrase “Information Technology Infrastructure Library”. It covers a set of practices and standards for IT service management. ITIL provides businesses with guidance on best practices for using IT within their organizations. ITIL started as a UK Government sponsored project to improve the methodologies used there for managing IT. It has since spread into business worldwide as it is seen as providing exceptional improvements in the use of IT. Current adopters of ITIL include NASA, Disney Corporation, the UK National Health Service, and HSBC Bank.
The Library is divided into logical segments that each concentrate on a specific IT function. Taken individually, they can provide great benefits. Taken together, the benefits grow enormously as consistent practices are applied across IT service management.
If a person achieves an ITIL certification, it will demonstrate their competence with one of the ITIL functions. It is possible to gain certification in several functions and this will show a more rounded approach to IT service management. ITIL is now on version 3, and certification holders have to ensure they regularly update their skills with refresher courses. What ITIL certificates are there?
The Foundation level is the entry-level qualification which gives a general awareness of the key elements, concepts and terminology used in the ITIL service lifecycle, including links between lifecycle stages and the processes they use. This certification is essential to qualify to sit exams at the next level, ITIL Intermediate, which is divided into two main areas: Service Capability, and Service Lifecycle.
The Service Capability modules are suitable for someone who needs to gain intense, specialized, process-level knowledge in one or more process, with focus on the day-to-day execution of ITIL practices. There are separate ITIL certifications showing specialisation in these areas:
- Service Offerings and Agreements
- Release, Control and Validation
- Operational Support and Analysis
- Planning, Protection and Optimization
The Service Lifecycle modules are suitable for a management or team leader role that requires a broad management focus of ITIL practice areas and work across teams or manage multiple capability areas. Again, each of these is a separate specialist ITIL certification:
- Service Strategy
- Service Design
- Service Transition
- Service Operation
- Continual Service Improvement
Beyond the ITIL Intermediate level, there are other more advanced certifications, including ITIL Expert and ITIL Master. These are mainly for people who have gained considerable experience in the use of ITIL and want to develop improved skills and knowledge.
Benefits to certification
If you work for an organisation that uses ITIL, it is essential to receive formal training in its terminology, elements and concepts. You gain this through the Foundation Certificate. If you want to work for an organisation that uses ITIL, holding the Foundation certificate will show them you are tuned into their way of working.
Once you are “on-board”, your employer will most likely help you to gain an intermediate level qualification depending on your role within the company. For example, if your job is primarily about software control and managing the release of new versions to the users, you would want to gain the ITIL “Release, Control and Validation” certification. Alternatively if you job involves managing the delivery of the IT function within the company, you would seek the ITIL “Service Operation” qualification.
Gaining ITIL certification is of great benefit to a career. It shows your usefulness to your current employer and is a great way of marketing yourself when it comes to changing jobs in IT.