IT-enabled services have become a crucial part of our daily lives. Whether for shopping, traveling, or simply communicating with friends, there seems to be a wide choice of top-ranking services for virtually everything. Businesses are no different, with corporate services doing everything from keeping things running from day to day to meeting the ever-evolving needs and expectations of clients and customers.
In the current Digital Age, there are always new opportunities for services to be improved, such as by increasing efficiency, reducing costs, boosting reliability, enhancing quality, and so on. At the same time, customer expectations are constantly in flux, with companies rushing to meet demands for convenience, quality, and accessibility to avoid losing ground to competitors.
This has all made the management of IT services a crucial corporate discipline. A number of different IT service management (ITSM) frameworks have appeared as a result, with one of the most popular being ITIL. Formerly known as the ‘Information Technology Infrastructure Library’, ITIL offers a number of best-practice guidelines for planning, developing, deploying, and continually improving IT-enabled services, helping users to ensure that they are constantly aligned with the needs of their business or organization.
Replacing ITIL V2 in 2007, ITIL v3 was the de facto version of the framework for over a decade. The announcement of ITIL 4 in 2017 naturally raised a lot of questions, such as:
- Would v3 certifications remain valid?
- Would v3 still be relevant?
- What was it about v3 that needed to be updated?
With that in mind, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about ITIL v3!
Is ITIL v3 Still Valid?
When ITIL 4 was announced, AXELOS specified that ITIL v3 qualifications would remain valid.
However, that does not mean that studying ITIL v3 is still a viable option. AXELOS is gradually discontinuing the ITIL v3 exams, preventing new students from studying the previous framework rather than ITIL 4.
As we said, ITIL v3 qualifications will remain valid, and experienced practitioners are certainly still in high demand. For those planning to start ITIL v3 training, however, it will be better to switch to ITIL 4 Foundation.
The ITIL v3 Certification Path
The ITIL v3 certification path is fairly straightforward: students complete modules in order to earn ‘credits’, which in turn earn them the right to take higher-level examinations. The variety of topics covered in the ITIL intermediate streams is one of the framework’s greatest strengths, as it allows students to choose modules that are more relevant to them.
ITIL v3 Foundation – 2 credits
As the name suggests, the ITIL v3 Foundation module introduces users to the ITIL framework, including its terminology and key concepts. They will gain a basic understanding of the ITIL Service Lifecycle, as well as the five core ITIL volumes:
- Service Strategy
- Service Design
- Service Transition
- Service Operation
- Continual Service Improvement
All students need to start by passing the ITIL v3 Foundation exam, as this is a prerequisite for taking later exams. The Foundation syllabus enables users to contribute to ITSM teams and find opportunities in companies utilizing the ITIL framework.
After gaining the ITIL Foundation certificate, students will move on to the intermediate modules. Some candidates choose to pursue ITIL practitioner courses at this point, though this is not mandatory.
ITIL Lifecycle Modules:
- Service Strategy (SS) – 3 credits: This module helps students to learn the role that IT services play in achieving customer and business objectives. Students also learn how to assess marketplace environments and the needs of users in order to decide what services an organization should offer and which capabilities they require.
- Service Design (SD) – 3 credits: This module looks at the design of new and existing IT services, helping students to constantly maximize their value. It also addresses the documentation, processes, policies, and architectures involved in service delivery.
- Service Transition (ST) – 3 credits: This module looks at the industry practices for ITSM, including building and deploying new or improved IT services and ensuring that any desired changes for existing services are managed in a controlled manner. This is linked to a number of key processes, including change management, change evaluation, project management, and service validation and testing.
- Service Operation (SO) – 3 credits: This module moves on from service design, showing students how to coordinate and carry out the activities required for the ongoing operation of services created in previous stages. It also looks at the support and technology required to effectively deliver services as well as how to address service issues, maintenance requirements, and user requests.
- Continual Service Improvement (CSI) – 3 credits: This module covers how to strategically reassess products and services in order to create an atmosphere of continual service improvement. This is relevant not only for new services but also for existing services that customers or internal users already have access to. Students learn how to organize and execute the process. They also receive guidance on the technology and tools used for CSI. This is crucial for meeting the ever-evolving needs of customers, clients, and business users.
ITIL Capability Modules:
- Operational Support & Analysis (OSA) – 4 credits: This module shows students how to apply OSA practices for the sake of access, request, event, problem, incident, application, technical, and IT operations management. This is important to ensure that high-quality IT services can be reliably delivered. The stage also incorporates relationship, procedure, infrastructure, and people management.
- Planning, Protection & Optimization (PPO) – 4 credits: This module helps students to develop an understanding of the ITIL Service Design process. This includes making sure that different components (tools, processes, methods, metrics, measurement systems, technology architectures, services, service management systems, and so on) are in line with user requirements. The simple justification is that shaping these components early on will reduce the need to amend them later. The module also has an element of contingency planning.
- Release, Control & Validation (RCV) – 4 credits: This module focuses on developing an understanding of the ITIL Service Transition process. This allows users to effectively manage transitions, which involves testing and validating new services to ensure they meet all organizational requirements. The module also looks at service asset and configuration management, knowledge management, change management, and release and deployment management, as well as request fulfillment, testing, and service validation. There is also an element of assessing and managing knowledge in order to help with the decision-making process.
- Service Offerings & Agreements (SOA) – 4 credits: This module looks at how the five stages of the ITIL Lifecycle create value for projects and organizations. This includes the use of SOA practices for service portfolio management, as well as service catalog, service level, supplier, demand, financial, business relationship, and strategy management. The module also outlines the roles and responsibilities within SOA, as well as important considerations regarding technology and implementation.
ITIL Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) – 5 credits
Once a candidate has collected 17 credits (including the two gained from the ITIL Foundation certification), they will be eligible to sit the exam for ITIL Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC). In essence, this section bridges the previous stages of the ITIL Service Lifecycle, showing students how to combine them in order to fully support an organization’s service delivery process.
Passing the MALC exam demonstrates a candidate’s ability to use a combined approach to service management. The module also helps users understand how to amend the Lifecycle and Capability streams for individual services and environments.
Once a candidate has gained an ITIL MALC certification, they will have reached the level of ‘ITIL Expert’.
The highest ITIL certification is not one that can be achieved with credits alone. To become an ITIL Master, a candidate will not only need to have reached Expert level, but they will also require at least five years of experience in ITSM working in higher-level management, leadership, or advisory roles. They will also need to provide evidence of their ability to apply the ITIL framework in practical real-world environments.
All of this will make a candidate eligible to reach Master level. Once they meet the required criteria, they must submit an application in order to become a Master. If this is accepted, the next step will be to submit a proposal, followed by a work package.
Lastly, the candidate will need to attend an interview with several assessors. Should they pass this stage, they will officially become an ITIL Master.
Should I Study ITIL v3 or ITIL 4?
One of the first things you should know is that v3 certifications are still valid, even with the new certification path having been released. The v3 syllabus still offers a great deal of valuable insight into effective ITSM practices.
The biggest change that came with ITIL 4 was the increased involvement of the practitioner community. ITIL is globally recognized, and there is no shortage of users with practical ITSM experience. Calling on this pool of talent and experience helped AXELOS to create a framework that is more in tune with current ITSM practices, and the community will also continue to provide support for users going forward.
Another big update was an increased level of compatibility with other frameworks. As popular as ITIL is, it is not the only game in town! Soon after the new version was announced, AXELOS specified that it would be compatible with other ITSM standards, including DevOps, Agile and Lean. This will make ITIL 4 much easier for companies to incorporate into their existing ITSM practices.
Now, onto the question of whether it is still worth studying ITIL v3. If you are currently studying intermediate modules, it may be a good idea to keep going until you reach the level of ITIL Expert. This will entitle you to take the ITIL 4 Managing Professional (MP) Transition module, which will update your certification to bring it in line with ITIL 4.
If you are currently studying at Foundation level or have just achieved your Foundation certification, it may be better for you to start over from the beginning with ITIL 4. The reason for this is that there is so much new examinable content that AXELOS is not planning to introduce a Foundation-level bridging course.
Remember, AXELOS is gradually discontinuing all ITIL v3 exams. Candidates studying v3 currently have a very limited window to complete their training. For those who are just getting started, ITIL 4 Foundation is undoubtedly the better option.
How Can ITIL v3 Certification Help My Business?
Think about the digital services that you use on a daily basis. These were not developed in a vacuum; rather, they were built using an ongoing project management process that took into account not only the objectives of the service but also the potential issues in developing, delivering, and maintaining it. In short, there would have been a huge number of factors to consider.
Good IT service management is about knowing how to integrate these factors into your development process, and this is where ITIL comes in. It covers the entire development lifecycle, from identifying requirements from business and IT perspectives to designing and creating the solution to delivering and maintaining the service in a state of continual review and improvement.
Taking this strategy onboard offers a number of advantages for businesses. Perhaps most notably, it can cut back on the amount of time and money that gets wasted throughout the service development lifecycle while also raising the quality of the end product. This, in turn, can provide a huge boost to customer satisfaction once a service or product is implemented, as well as the morale of staff working on it.
By investing in a training course and implementing ITIL, you can expect to:
- Better understand your customers so that you can deliver services that suit their needs. This will help you to build long-term relationships and improve your reputation.
- Learn how to establish a guide on how to predict and react to issues with your service, incorporating multiple factors such as user experience rather than simply focusing on IT development.
- Increase productivity and improve resource management by establishing cost-effective guidelines.
- Manage risks without disrupting or unintentionally sabotaging your service.
- Create a stable service development environment that supports ongoing change.
- Ensure greater alignment between IT and other arms of your business. This can be vital for enterprise architecture development.
- Improve your risk management process by predicting and reducing service disruptions and failures.
- Create networking opportunities and ease collaboration by incorporating ITIL’s terms and general methodology into your business.
- Continually raise the value of your service portfolio.
- Quickly adapt to changes in technology, compliance, and so on in order to continue growing and maintaining your competitive advantage.
- Raise the profile of your business with a globally recognized qualification.
An important thing to keep in mind is that the individual modules of ITIL can each be highly useful for a business. They all provide actionable insight, helping to establish a clear process for ITSM development.
You do not need to gain a full Master’s certification, though this is certainly a highly-regarded achievement.
How Much Does ITIL v3 Certification Cost?
It is always important to look at the cost of corporate training courses before making an investment. However, simply looking for the cheapest option out there will not be a good idea. Many of the companies which claim to offer quick and cheap ITIL training are not accredited by AXELOS, which effectively means that any resulting certifications will not be recognized. There is also the risk of simply being given poor-quality training content for your money.
You should also consider the value of ITIL certification. According to Indeed, employees certified in ITIL can earn between $65,000 and $135,300 (or £25,000 and £70,000 in the UK). Granted, a certification alone will not entitle you to higher-paying ITSM management positions (particularly if you have only reached Foundation level), but with the right amount of experience, ITIL certification could provide a huge boost to your career. The most important thing to remember is that an official corporate certification can go a long way in validating your skills and experience, and some hiring managers may even specify ITIL qualifications as prerequisites for certain roles.