Do we need ITIL® Practitioners?

2015 03 17 Do we need ITIL practitioners IMAGE

Last week, AXELOS announced their new ITIL Practitioner qualification, which will “help organizations and individuals increase the value they obtain from using ITIL by offering additional practical guidance to adopt and adapt the framework to support the business”.

There are already 11 different ITIL exams, so you might think there’s little need for yet another one. Let’s have a look at the current ITIL qualification scheme and see how the new one fits in. The current ITIL exams are categorised into three levels:

  • Foundation level
    • ITIL Foundation. This offers general awareness of the key elements, concepts and terminology and is a pre-requisite for all the other ITIL qualifications.
  • Intermediate level
    • Lifecycle qualifications. There are 5 lifecycle qualifications, one for each of the ITIL core publications (Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement). These are aimed at managers and team leaders who need a good understanding of how to plan and manage the practices relevant to that stage of the lifecycle.
    • Capability qualifications. There are 4 capability qualifications. Each covering a specific set of processes. These are aimed at people who need detailed knowledge of IT service management processes.
  • Expert level
    • There is a single exam at this level, Managing across the Lifecycle (MALC). This is intended to help people who have a broad knowledge of ITIL and want to understand how to apply and integrate this knowledge in the workplace. The pre-requisite for this qualification is based on a points system; the required points can most easily be achieved by passing all 5 lifecycle exams, or all 4 capability exams.

So why on earth do we need a new ITIL practitioner exam, and what value could it possibly have?

My initial reaction, like that of many other people, was that there really isn’t a need for yet another ITIL exam, but then I spent a bit of time studying the announcement and trying to understand why AXELOS have launched this new exam, and I actually think it makes a lot of sense.

People who study ITIL Foundation gain awareness of key concepts, but they don’t really learn to do anything with this knowledge. There are many millions of people who have ITIL Foundation Qualifications, but by itself this is not delivering much value to their employers.

To graduate from ITIL Foundation to ITIL expert requires many weeks’ training, which is far more than can be justified by most people. The intermediate qualifications help people to learn lots of information, but it is not until the MALC qualification that the focus moves to practical implementation.

The new ITIL Practitioner qualification will be based on continual service improvement, which, in my opinion has been a sadly underused part of ITIL up to now.  It also refers to additional sources of practical guidance; the AXELOS web site specifically mentions Lean, DevOps, Agile and SIAM. I often deliver presentations on continual service improvement and when I do I always recommend additional practical guidance to supplement what is found in the ITIL publications, so I naturally think this exam could be a hugely valuable addition to the ITIL framework.

ITIL Practitioner training is expected to be a two day course, which is a reasonable length of time for people to invest in learning how to take their foundation knowledge and apply it. I really hope that many of the people who currently study for three days to achieve ITIL Foundation will instead study for a week and achieve both Foundation and Practitioner. They could then return to their workplace with both knowledge of what is needed and practical ideas of how to start implementing change.

I was interested to see the response of Rob England (@theitskeptic) who wrote onhis blog:

“I think there is a place in the market for a certification that beefs up the Foundation. I might even consider doing it myself (all I have now is Foundation).”

I agree with Rob, I think AXELOS have got this one right, and I’m looking forward to the initial availability of ITIL Practitioner training and exams.

I was also very encouraged to read that Kaimar Karu, head of ITSM at AXELOS is actively looking for input from practitioners. This is what he had to say in a recent blog:

“We encourage ITSM professionals from around the world to get in touch with us and share your personal good practice - philosophies, methods, tools and tweaks you have successfully used to deliver value to your organization or to your customers. This is your chance to take part in developing global best practice, your chance to demonstrate what good looks like.”

So I encourage you to offer your input to AXELOS, and let them know what you think should be included in this new qualification.

For further information:


Image credit: Alan Levine

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