ITSM

ITIL 4 Certifications: A Guide for Service Desk Pros

February 20, 2020

ITIL 4 Certifications: A Guide for Service Desk Pros

The ITIL framework is more than a best practice guide for IT service management (ITSM); it’s a way to design a strategy that creates value for the customer and service provider. Since the initial framework was first put into practice decades ago, ITIL has helped IT professionals integrate applications across departments, streamline data, and boost efficiency for the entire organization.

So what’s the importance of becoming ITIL certified and what does it mean for service desk professionals? Earning an ITIL certification can show more validity to customers when recommendations are made for incident, problem, and change management, for instance. This guide lays out the different certification levels of ITIL 4 and how to add them to your IT trophy case.

Are you up for the challenge?

ITIL 4 Foundation

“[ITIL 4 Foundation] enables candidates to look at IT service management through an end-to-end operating model for the creation, delivery and continual improvement of tech-enabled products.” Axelos

Foundation, as the name might imply, provides a basic understanding of the ITIL 4 framework and its 7 guiding principles and teaches IT pros how to apply these principles to your service desk. The goal here is to adopt a collaborative, Agile mentality while actively working to break down silos across departments and add value to your organization.

Whether you prefer learning independently or if the classroom setting is more your speed, both options are available to you. The course content includes an introduction, key concepts of service management, the four dimensions of service management, ITIL service value system, and ITIL management practices. The final portion is the closed-book examination, consisting of 40 multiple choice questions. There’s an hour to take the exam and 26 questions must be answered correctly to pass.

Once you pass this test, you have enough experience to level up.

ITIL 4 Managing Professional

“Managing Professional 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.” Axelos

This level is for ITIL v3 certified professionals who have passed the ITIL Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) exam. It focuses on the service value system and responding to the growing demand of digital organizations. Course content includes the introduction; ITIL 4 Foundation; Create, Deliver and Support (CDS); Drive Stakeholder Value (DSV); High Velocity IT (HVIT); and Direct, Plan and Improve (DPI).

With this, you should have enough knowledge for the next ITIL 4 stream.

ITIL 4 Strategic Leader

“Becoming an ITIL 4 Strategic Leader (SL) demonstrates that you have a clear understanding of how IT influences and directs business strategy.” Axelos

Becoming a Strategic Leader doesn’t just happen overnight. Before you can unlock SL status, you need to have at least three years of experience in an IT managerial role. There are two modules in this certification: DPI and ITIL 4 Leader Digital and IT Strategy. DPI really dives into the Agile and Lean concepts and how an organization can use them to its advantage. Digital and IT Strategy shows practitioners how to handle disruption from new technologies and drive success.

If all of this sounds like a breeze so far, you can go on to the next challenge: Master Level.

Master Level

“To achieve the ITIL Master certification, you must be able to explain and justify how you have personally selected and applied a range of knowledge, principles, methods and techniques from ITIL, and supporting management techniques, to achieve desired business outcomes in one or more practical assignments.” Axelos

There’s no set syllabus or specific training for this level since it depends on the nature of your situation. However, before you can get started, you must be ITIL Expert certified and have worked at least five years in a leadership, managerial, or higher management role. You will also need to prove your active involvement in the implementation of the ITIL practices.

Now that you’ve achieved the Master rank, you’re prepared for virtually any challenge the evolving world of ITSM might throw your way.

Is My ITIL v3 Certification Still Valuable?

Definitely. In fact, in order to reach certain levels of ITIL 4, ITIL v3 is a prerequisite. ITIL v3 has a distinct focus on people and it has helped define the language used in the IT world. Understanding the vernacular and best practices around processes for v3 is valuable when continuing the ITIL journey. ITIL 4 offers additional techniques to provide even greater efficiency in ITSM,  increased collaboration, and an emphasis on value—but ITIL v3 lays the groundwork for ITIL 4.

However you decide to approach the ITIL framework, knowing the ins and outs of it can be beneficial to your service desk and everyone that uses it—employees and service providers alike. Each certification level provides a different level of understanding, but each is valuable in ensuring the overall success of your organization.


Jason Yeary is a technical expert for SolarWinds Service Desk customers and a former service desk manager in the healthcare industry. He is ITIL 4 certified and specializes in ITSM best practices, configuration, and integrations. He also has a refined palate for craft beer and knows professional football news before it's on your TV.