What Is the Relation Between ITIL and PRINCE2

What Is the Relation Between ITIL and PRINCE2?

Published: June 30, 2022
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Best practice frameworks are available across a range of key business functions, including IT management and project management. Based on insight and years of experience from leading industry specialists, they help organizations achieve success with greater direction, efficiency, and reliability – so much so that proven practitioners can often unlock impressive career opportunities.

Despite the competition between certain frameworks, most are actually highly complementary. Very few will ever attempt to cover every aspect of business operations and strategy, so combining frameworks under a holistic umbrella is often one of the best ways to drive optimization across different areas of a company. There can also be a degree of overlap that makes individual frameworks surprisingly compatible, or this may even have been a design choice.

‘ITIL 4’ is an ITSM framework offering best practices for the design, creation, deployment, management, and continual improvement of IT services. It has been successfully applied across a wide range of industries and sectors, not just to customer-facing services but also to those driving daily business operations.

PRINCE2 is the world’s most popular project management framework. Alongside excellent practices for planning and managing projects, it also offers the perspective to keep projects aligned with a well-defined ‘business case’. This establishes a level of strategic control that has made PRINCE2 a favourite among stakeholders.

Both frameworks are widely used, highly adaptable, and updated on a regular basis, creating active and thriving practitioner communities. However, with their prominence comes the question, ‘ITIL or PRINCE2?’ Can a business or individual benefit from utilizing both ITIL 4 and PRINCE2? Do the frameworks complement or compete with one another? 

In this article, Good e-Learning explores the relationship between ITIL 4 and PRINCE2.

Do companies use PRINCE2 and ITIL at the same time?

We should start by getting this out of the way: it is not at all uncommon for businesses to utilize both ITIL 4 and PRINCE2. For one, both frameworks are owned and maintained by AXELOS, so you would expect at least some compatibility!

To get a better idea of why they work together so well, it is important to recognize the distinct purposes of each framework:

  • ITIL is designed to focus on IT services across an organization. The use of IT goes outside of IT-focused projects, with services also supporting internal functions like Support and Finance. The framework helps businesses establish cultures of continuous improvement, and ITIL managers will regularly reevaluate existing services while also contributing to new developments.
  • PRINCE2 focuses on managing individual projects with well-defined end goals. While these projects will utilize the organization’s digital and IT capabilities, PRINCE2 will not be applied for the sake of continuous and ongoing improvements.

The two frameworks may have separate points of focus, but they also have several complementary elements. ITIL 4, for example, not only enhances IT services but also does so in a way oriented towards achieving business goals. It also utilizes Agile ways of working that can be highly valuable on a project level. Similarly, PRINCE2 practices relating to continuous business justification, modular management, learning from failure, risk management, and so on can greatly enhance individual ITIL projects. 

That is not to say that businesses utilizing ITIL and PRINCE2 need to combine them as a rule. As we said previously, the frameworks have different points of focus and will be used to different extents depending on the context. However, in areas where both project and IT-oriented expertise are required, combining the frameworks can be an excellent and streamlined solution.

Should I combine my PRINCE2 and ITIL 4 certifications?

Studying PRINCE2 and ITIL can be an excellent step for managers in business and IT. IT has evolved and expanded to the point where it is a major factor in key business decisions, as well as projects and programs. This can make having dual expertise highly valuable. A practitioner may even be able to use their perspective to encourage communication and collaboration between business and IT actors, as well as stakeholders and managers in different departments.

It can also be worth taking the current practices of your organization into account. For example, if your managers actually utilize a more Agile style for projects, you may find it more beneficial to study PRINCE2 Agile rather than the original framework. You may also want to consider whether the frameworks are actively used at your current business, in which case you may be able to ask for support in getting certified.

Remember, what really makes a practitioner stand out is their ability to tailor frameworks and best practices to suit their requirements. You will find that having more holistic knowledge and greater versatility can make a major difference not only in terms of business success but also in standing out as an ambitious practitioner. This is particularly true for those considering official certification in both PRINCE2 and ITIL. 

In short, studying frameworks that represent the heights of project management and IT service management respectively can leave a candidate far better equipped to tackle a range of challenges in business and even unlock greater career opportunities.

Studying PRINCE2 and ITIL 4

PRINCE2 and ITIL 4 both have distinct certification paths. For candidates interested in studying both, it can be a good idea to create a structured plan for doing so.

With PRINCE2, candidates can begin with either PRINCE2 Foundation or PRINCE2 Agile Foundation. Passing the certification exam for either of these qualifies a candidate to sit either the PRINCE2 Practitioner or PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner exams. 

ITIL 4 takes a less straightforward approach. Students begin with the ITIL 4 Foundation exam before moving on to the intermediate modules. These can be tackled in any order, and candidates are not required to take each and every one. Because of this, a student may choose to focus on modules more closely related to project management and strategy, such as:

  • ITIL Strategist: Direct, Plan & Improve
  • ITIL Leader: Digital & IT Strategy

There are also newer extension modules that can be relevant on a project level. For example, the new Sustainability in Digital & IT certification can help project managers utilize more future-proof green solutions for certain obstacles.

Finally, candidates also have the option of taking an Awareness course for ITIL or PRINCE2. While these courses do not involve certification exams, they still provide an overview of the essential elements of the frameworks they cover. This can both introduce candidates to the benefits of a framework and give them strong foundational knowledge that will help them work alongside practitioners. 

Interested in finding out more about studying PRINCE2 and ITIL 4? Visit the Good e-Learning website for a free certification course trail, or contact a member of our team today!