Introduction to the ITIL 4 Update

ITIL (the IT Infrastructure Library) is a framework for service management that originated in the 1980s with the UK government. In the last 30 years, ITIL has grown to become the ‘de facto’ standard for service management at almost every enterprise. Globally leading service providers, such as the Walt Disney Company, Mercantil Bank an Sutter Health, have all implemented ITIL Best Practices.

Throughout the past four decades, ITIL has gone through a number of revisions. Major updates included the introduction of ITIL V2 in 2001 (the Service Support and Service Delivery model) and ITIL V3 (the Service Lifecycle) in 2007. After more than decade, the new ITIL 4 Update was released.

ITIL 4 addresses many of the previous critiques that were part of the previous versions. Most importantly, the rigidity towards process orientation, which was very prevalent in ITIL V3. Additionally, the new ITIL 4 framework incorporates many of the newer IT developments, such as a DevOps, Lean and Service Automation. These developments were not recognized in any of the previous versions.

What is ITIL 4?

ITIL 4 is the latest version of ITIL, and was published by AXELOS. AXELOS is a joint venture between the UK Government and Capita, a private equity investor. In its core, ITIL 4 consists of a series of books that describe the fundamental models an operating principles of ITIL. Around these ITIL books, a whole ecosystem exists of training, certification and technology providers. And this is perhaps the best description of ITIL: it is an ecosystem, and common way of working, for people in the service management industry.

ITIL 4 represents the latest – much required – update to ITIL. In ITIL 4, the process oriented nature of IT Service Management has been completely replaced. Instead, ITIL is now organized around the Service Value System (SVS) and the Four Dimension Model.

The ITIL Service Value System descries the chain of activities that is required to translate customer demand (depicted as opportunity) into business value. In order to create this value, ITIL 4 describes a number of activities, which together form the ITIL Service Value Chain. These activities range from initial planning, to delivery and support practices. In a way, it could be stated that the previous versions of ITIL are reflected in the ITIL value chain.

Service Value System

The Service Value System – reprinted with permission from AXELOS Ltd.

The second core mode of the ITIL 4 Update consists of the Four Dimension Model. In order to create business value – as we have just seen above – an ecosystem is required of different stakeholders. In today’s day and age, most organizations do not just create value by themselves. The work together with other stakeholders, and they are part of a system. For this particular reason, and in ITIL terminology, we say that the purpose of ITIL 4 is to “co-create” value for the business.

In the ITIL 4 model, the Four Dimensions models covers the following aspects:

  • Organizational and people
  • Information and technology products
  • Partners and suppliers
  • Value streams and processes

For people who are familiar with previous versions of ITIL, it is not hard to see that the Four Dimension Model replaces the previously known 4P model of ITIL V3 (People, Process, Partners, and Products).

ITIL 4 Four Dimensions

The Four Dimensions of ITIL 4 – Reprinted with permission from AXELOS Ltd.

By introducing the Service Value System and Four Dimension Model, ITIL 4 incorporate a more contemporary view on how services are delivered in modern organizations, whilst keeping through to its original roots of IT Service Management. Although some ITIL enthusiast claim that ITIL 4 can be used for complete digital transformations, it is still most suitable of it original purpose: to deliver quality IT services. The new ITIL 4 model accomplishes this objective.

Why ITIL 4?

Whether your organization is new to ITIL or has been working with ITIL for years, an important question is: Why ITIL? What is the business case, and why should organizations invest time, energy and resources to invest in ITIL certifications, implementation and tools?

The most important element, which also constitutes the business case, is stated above: ITIL constitutes the ecosystem for everyone in the service management industry. Service Management technology is built and designed around ITIL models. Processes and models in large organizations have been built around ITIL models. Even job roles in service management have been built around ITIL models. Someone who has never heard of ITIL, might wonder what the difference between an “Incident Manager” and “Problem Manager” might be. For people who know ITIL, this difference is abundantly clear.

And this brings us immediately to one of the most important aspects of the Business Case for ITIL 4: a common terminology and lingo for an industry just works. It reduces mistakes and improves communication between people. In doing this, it enables innovations, speed and quality of services. Although this is a highly unquantifiable aspect of ITIL, it forms a large part of the business case.

So why ITIL 4? The better question is why ITIL? ITIL represents the common principles, practices and language of service management. If you are working in this domain, it helps if you have basic understanding why processes are designed in a particular, why your ticketing systems have been designed the way they are, and why incidents are different from changes. Does it greatly matter whether this language is called ITIL V3 or ITIL 4? No, but ITIL V3 is fading out, so it just better to keep up with the latest thinking and developments in the service management industry.

What Is ITIL 4 Certification?

Very closely coupled to ITIL is the ITIL Certification Scheme. The certification scheme tests people’s knowledge about the content in the ITIL publications. It is a uniform way for organizations to drive adoption and implementation of ITIL in the organization, because they can send their people to training courses. As a result, ITIL certifications have grown to become almost mandatory requirement for people in the service management industry.

The ITIL 4 Certification Scheme | Cybiant

The ITIL 4 Certification Scheme – Reprinted with permission from AXELOS

The New ITIL 4 certification scheme consists of a number of certifications, which can be summarized in four levels:

  • ITIL 4 Foundation. The ITIL 4 Foundation course was launched in February 2019. It replaces the ITIL V3 foundation course in the ITIL certification program. The ITIL 4 Foundation course covers concepts from Lean, Agile, and DevOps, along with ITIL-specific information like the Service Value System and Four Dimension Model. Participant will learn about the fundamental aspects of service management based on the ITIL 4 Framework.
  • ITIL 4 Managing Professional. The ITIL 4 Managing Professional certification is a new designation offered by AXELOS following the release of ITIL 4. The modules for this certification were released in late 2019. ITIL practitioners who have obtained ITIL expert certification in the past will be able to obtain this designation by completing the ITIL 4 Managing Professional Transition Module. IT professionals new to ITIL must complete four modules to obtain this designation:
    • ITIL 4 Specialist: Create, Deliver and Support
    • ITIL 4 Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value
    • ITIL 4 Specialist: High Velocity IT
    • ITIL 4 Strategist: Direct Plan and Improve
  • ITIL 4 Strategic Leader. The ITIL 4 Strategic Leader designation is due for release in the first half of 2020. An IT professional who completes this certification will have demonstrated their understanding of how IT impacts and influences business strategy. There will be two required modules that candidates must complete to earn this ITIL certification:
    • ITIL 4 Strategist Direct Plan and Improve
    • ITIL 4 Leader Digital and IT Strategy.
  • ITIL 4 Master. The ITIL 4 master requirements have not yet been released. AXELOS plans to release more details on the revised requirements for ITIL 4 Master certification toward the end of 2020.

How do I move from ITIL V3 to ITIL 4?

Before we start discussing how you can move from ITIL V3 to ITIL 4, it is important to note that current ITIL V3 certifications will not expire, and that they will keep being recognized in the future. However, the intention of AXELOS is to slowly phase out ITIL V3. At this moment, it is not quite certain yet when the ITIL V3 exams will be stopped being offered, but this will definitely happen over the course of the next few years. It is therefore better to make the step to ITIL as quickly as possible.

If you have already spent quite some time (and money) to get your ITIL V3 certifications, there is a ‘fast-track’ approach for getting the ‘ITIL 4 Managing Professional’ designation, without taking all the 4 intermediate courses (and corresponding exams). Until the end of 2020 (as far as we now know), AXELOS will keep offering the ‘Managing Professional Transition’ course and examination. With this 5-day course, you will move from ITIL V3 Expert to ITIL 4 Managing Professional Transition with a single course and just one exam.

To participate in the ITIL 4 Managing Professional Transition course, you should have any of the two requirements below:

  • Either be an ITIL V3 Expert;
  • Or hold 17 ITIL V3 Credits. ITIL V3 credits are built up with individual modules. You can still take ITIL V3 exams to build up your ITIL V3 credits.

The ITIL 4 Managing Professional Transition will be available for a limited period of time, but it is currently unknown exactly for how long.

How to study for ITIL 4?

Are you aiming to get ITIL 4 certification and wonder how best to study for it? There are a number of options available, depending on your learning preferences.

  • Classroom training: attend a classroom training in a public course. Most licenced providers (of which Cybiant is one) can deliver an examination on the last day of class. For most busy professionals, this is frequently the best option.
  • E-Learning Training: attend the e-learning training to follow the course and exam in your own pace. The benefit of the online training is that you can do small bits every day and that there are over 200 sample questions available. From an efficiency point of view (time and money), this is the most effective route to certification.

If you are an avid reader, you can also just buy the book from the Axelos website and purchase an online exam voucher. In the end, the book contains all the knowledge that might be tested on the exam.