Beyond20: A ServiceNow Elite Partner Everything You Need to Know about ITIL 4 Advanced Training - Beyond20
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Everything You Need to Know about ITIL 4 Advanced Training

Written by David Crouch

Learning is like rowing upstream – not to advance is to drop back. — Proverb


Recently, our team of Senior Advisors (who also happen to be ITIL 4 authors, NBD) ran a series of events for clients and students answering their most pressing questions around how to approach ITIL 4 Advanced training after achieving their ITIL 4 Foundation certification.

We found their questions insightful, and likely universal, so we’ve compiled the best of the best here along with our experts’ answers. We’ve grouped these questions by category under the below headings, so feel free to jump around and read through what matters most to you.

Off we go!

What does the ITIL 4 Learning Path look like?

How many levels of ITIL 4 are there and what does the certification path look like?

There are two levels of ITIL 4 training: ITIL Foundation and ITIL Intermediate (with two main paths, Managing Professional and Strategic Leader). ITIL Master, though pictured below, is yet to be fully defined and has not yet been released.

There are three streams to the ITIL 4 certification path and multiple courses in each stream.

ITIL 4 Managing Professional (MP) – This stream consists of ITIL 4 Foundation (a prerequisite to all intermediate courses) and four advanced level courses. MP includes the following three Specialist courses (blue in the graphic below), which are focused on developing skills for the IT practitioner:

Direct Plan and Improve (DPI) is the fourth MP course, and a Strategist course (in yellow below), which is focused on developing skills for the IT leader. Each course has an exam associated with it.  Once all four courses and exams are completed, a candidate is automatically considered an ITIL 4 Managing Professional. The MP stream is geared to IT leaders, managers, and practitioners whose role it is to support and deliver IT products and services daily, and the courses tend to be slightly more focused on the work done at the team level.

Did you know? Beyond20 staff served as Lead Editor and co-authors of the official ITIL 4 Digital and IT Strategy publication (pictured here).

ITIL 4 Strategic Leader (SL) – This stream consists of ITIL 4 Foundation (a prerequisite as with the MP track) and two advanced level courses. This stream includes the following courses:

  • Direct, Plan, and Improve (DPI) – a Strategist course, and yes, it is the same one as listed above (so if someone is pursuing MP and SL, they do not need to take the course twice).
  • Digital and IT Strategy – the only ITIL Leader course. Both courses have exams associated with them. Once all courses and exams are completed, a candidate is automatically considered an ITIL 4 Strategic Leader. The Strategic Leader stream is tailor made for IT leaders responsible for setting the vision for IT and/or the larger organization and those with significant influence over an organization’s digital transformation.

ITIL 4 Extension modules – This is a new stream that consists of two stand-alone ITIL Specialist courses and exams – in, let’s call it burgundy, below:

Note: ITIL 4 Foundation is not a prerequisite for these extension module courses – and they do not contribute to obtaining the ITIL Managing Professional or ITIL Strategic Leader designation. They are meant to be taken by anyone in the organization with interest in either topic.

ITIL Classses Chart

ITIL 4 Certification Path

Are ITIL 4 Intermediate courses technical?  Can a non-IT person take an ITIL course?

Overall, the ITIL 4 courses are not technical in nature. They focus more on the business side of IT and the set of tools and techniques that allow us to better serve customers. In this sense, a person with little to no technical knowledge certainly benefits from any of the ITIL 4 courses and, particularly, in taking a Foundation course. Having said this, it certainly helps to have some context of working in an IT environment to obtain the full benefit of the courses, especially with some of the ITIL Intermediate courses.

In what order do ITIL 4 Intermediate classes need to be taken?

There is no particular order in which to take ITIL 4 Intermediate classes.  It really depends on what you’re looking to learn, either for yourself or your team, in an existing or future role or in collaborating with other teams.  We’re happy to talk with you and come up with a good training plan.

Are there any discounts associated with taking all the ITIL Managing Professional Courses?

For individuals or teams that are looking to take several classes and get the ITIL Managing Professional designation under their belt, we have an ITIL 4

What is covered in each of the ITIL 4 intermediate courses?

What can I (or my team) expect to learn?

Each of the ITIL 4 intermediate courses focuses on a different aspect of service management, tools, techniques, and skills. For a deeper discussion on exactly what is covered in the advanced ITIL 4 courses and who should attend each one, check out the article linked here. We’ve also created the table below to give you a high-level summary of each course for a quick view of everything all at once.

CourseTopics CoveredITIL 4 Practices CoveredLearning OutcomesRoles
Create, Deliver, and Support (CDS)• Designing IT services
• Understanding and defining Value Streams
• Identifying Requirements
• Swarming, Prioritizing, and delivering Tiered Support
• Shift-Left
• Managing Backlogs
• Service Design
• Software Development and Management
• Deployment Management
• Release Management
• Service Validation and Testing
Change Enablement (formerly known as Change Management in ITIL v3)
• Service Desk
Incident Management
Problem Management
Knowledge Management
Service Level Management
• Monitoring and Event Management
Students learn how to:
• Improve existing IT and business processes
• Manage IT teams
• Optimize workflows
• Integrate new and emerging technologies
Common roles that attend include:
• Service architects
• Service Desk Managers and agents
• Developers and testers
• Infrastructure engineers
• IT Operations Managers
• Security Managers
• Service Delivery Managers
• ITIL Process Owners
• Anyone involved in creating, delivering, or supporting IT products and services
Drive Stakeholder Value (DSV)• Customer Journey Mapping
• Minimum Viable Product
• Human-Centered Design
• Design Thinking
• Service Mindset
• Empathy
• Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle”
• Business analysis
• Capacity and performance management
• Portfolio management
Relationship management
Service catalog management
• Service desk
• Service level management
• Service request management
Supplier management
Students learn how to:
• Understand and map the customer journey
• Improve customer experiences
• Design the end-to-end customer experience
Common roles that attend include:
• Business solution architects
• Business Relationship Managers
• Account Managers
• Business Analysts
• Service Desk staff
• Portfolio, program, and project managers
• Supplier, vendor, and partner managers
• Product owners, User Experience designers
• Relationship Managers
• Service Delivery Managers
• Anyone serving in a customer-facing role
High-Velocity IT (HVIT)• Lean
• Agile
• DevSecOps
Site Reliability Engineering
• AIOps
• Dealing with Uncertainty and Ambiguity
• Fast Development
• Resilient Operations
• Assured Conformance
• Valuable Investments
• Continuous Integration
• Continuous Deployment
• Chaos Engineering
• Scrum
• Kanban
• Safety Culture
• Architecture management
• Availability management
• Business analysis
• Capacity and performance management
• Change enablement
• Deployment management
• Infrastructure and platform management
• Information security management
• Monitoring and event management
• Portfolio management
• Problem management
• Project management
• Relationship management
• Release management
• Risk management
• Service continuity management
• Service design
• Service desk
• Service validation and testing
• Software development and management
• Strategy management
Students learn how to:
• Increase the velocity of IT solution delivery to customers
• Adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and a fluid risk environment
• Create a culture that supports an HVIT environment
Common roles that attend include:
• Project, program, and portfolio managers
• Business analysts
• Cloud architects
• DevOps engineers and architects
• Scrum teams
• Product owners
• Scrum Masters
• Business Analysts
• Anyone in a role that supports a high-velocity environment or transformation
Direct, Plan, and Improve (DPI)• Strategy/Vision
• Assessment
• Planning
• Measurement and reporting
• Continual improvement
• Communication
Organizational Change Management
• Developing a service value system
• Service Management Organization
• Continual improvement
• Monitoring and reporting
• Organizational change management
• Portfolio management
• Risk management
• Strategy management
Students learn how to:
• Align plans at all levels (strategic, tactical, operational)
• Measure what matters
• Win over stakeholders
• Gradually improve everything
Common roles that attend include:
• Senior IT leaders
• IT Directors
• IT Managers
• ITSM Managers
• Consultants
• Continual improvement managers
• Continuity Managers
• Project, program, and portfolio managers
• IT operations managers
• ITIL Process Owners
• Anyone involved in leading or supporting an ITSM effort
Digital and IT Strategy (DITS)Digital Vision
Digital Positioning Model
• Parallel Operation Models
• Digital and Business Transformation
Business Model Canvas
• Digital Risks (DICE)
• Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA) responses
Innovation tools and techniques
• Wardley Maps
• Architecture Management
• Measurement and Reporting
• Continual Improvement
• Knowledge Management
• Organizational Change Management
• Portfolio Management
• Project Management
• Relationship Management
• Risk Management
• Service Financial Management
• Strategy Management
• Workforce and Talent Management
Students learn how to:
• Respond to digital disruption
• Craft a compelling digital vision
• Plan and manage a digital transformation
• Strategically manage risk
• Develop a digital strategy
Common roles that attend include:
• Chief Marketing Officer
• Chief Digital Officer
• Chief Data Officer
• Senior IT and business leaders
• Consultants
• Anyone involved in leading (or supporting) a digital transformation effort
Sustainability in Digital and IT• Sustainability Vision
• United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
• Materiality Assessment
• Triple Bottom Line
• Corporate Social Responsibility
• Circular Economy
• DERFA Sustainability Maturity Model
• SECI Model
• Impacts multiple practicesStudents learn how to:
• Embed sustainability into every aspect of the organization
• Craft a sustainability vision and plan
• Understand the relationship between successful business outcomes and sustainability
Common roles that attend include:
• Chief Sustainability Officer
• VP Corporate Social Responsibility
• Sr. IT Leadership
• IT staff
• Anyone that wants to learn about how to support overall sustainability efforts
Acquiring and Managing Cloud Services• Cloud strategy
• Cloud Strategy Positions
• Trends impacting cloud usage
• Cloud services value realization
• Impacts multiple practicesStudents learn how to:
• Define cloud strategy
• Understand cloud architecture and governance
• Identify techniques associated with cloud
Common roles that attend include:
• Infrastructure Manager
• Cloud support
• IT staff
• Anyone that wants to learn about how to effectively support Cloud efforts

What’s the right ITIL 4 course for me and/or my team?

How can I determine the best course(s) for my teams?

The “right” course depends entirely on the goals of your teams or the preferences of individuals.  It comes down to what learning outcome you want to achieve and what roles your team fulfills.  For example, service desk managers or those involved with tiered support will find a lot of value in Create Delivery, and Support (CDS) and can leverage the course to take their efforts to a new level.  Senior leaders or aspiring CIOs will enjoy the strategic nature of Digital and IT Strategy (DITS).

At the individual level, many people take courses that are most directly tied to expanding and deepening their skillsets as part of their professional development goals and career path.  We encourage all students and clients to get out of their comfort zones and explore topics that are less familiar than their current roles and teams.

Which ITIL 4 training class(es) are recommended for change agents (e.g., organizational change management practitioners, project managers, scrum or development teams, etc.) embedded in IT?

Several of the ITIL 4 courses address “the people side” of change. From the perspective of identifying key stakeholders, anticipating resistance, and getting people on your side, DPI devotes an entire section to Organizational Change Management. When it comes to reading your organizational culture and preparing your people for working in an Agile or DevOps way, HVIT does a great job of discussing the topic of safety culture and creating psychological safety within and across teams. The most disruptive changes tend to be those associated with digital transformation. DITS specifically addresses the role of the change agent in preparing the organization for doing business in significantly different ways. (For additional reading on OCM and digital transformation, this article on bringing line managers along with organization change is very good).

What ITIL 4 training course do you recommend for improving the overall customer experience?

DSV focuses directly on the customer journey and how customers interact with the IT service provider at each step in the journey.  This is a superb class for relationship managers, service level managers, marketers, service desk agents, and anybody else in a customer-facing role.  Class participants enjoy learning how to create customer journey maps and a wholistic, consistent experience for customers and users.  The graphic below depicts, at a generic and high-level, the customer journey, and forms the basis of the DSV course structure.

Customer Journey - ITIL 4 DSV

Customer Journey. © Axelos 2022, All Rights Reserved

Which ITIL 4 courses best support an Agile, DevOps, or Lean Transformation?

My teams have begun to implement Agile and are also interested in DevOps.  Which ITIL 4 class covers these topics?

If agile, DevOps, or lean are your game, HVIT is for you. One of the great things about this course is that you not only learn about a number of tools and techniques, you also learn how to prepare your culture for high velocity, which can require a big shift in mindset.

DITS is another good course for this. DITS addresses several HVIT concepts since high velocity is often a key component of digital transformation.

Can practices like Agile, DevOps, or Lean be adopted by some teams or groups if the entire organization isn’t on board yet?

Of course, in the perfect world, your whole organization fully supports your approach to work and is equally mature and capable of supporting a high-velocity IT way of working like Agile, DevOps, or Lean.  In reality, it is more likely than not that your teams are at different levels of adoption (and some may even be resistant). This is no reason to stop pursuing these ways of working.  Instead, learn what it takes to establish a safety culture (discussed in HVIT), one where people feel comfortable expressing their opinions (even dissenting ones) and being themselves. Likewise, in ITIL 4, one of the new practices is Organizational Change Management (OCM).  OCM (discussed thoroughly in DPI) addresses the people side of change – identifying stakeholders at all levels, and addressing their intellectual and emotional needs when change is afoot. These high-velocity practices fail to bring maximum organizational benefit when executed in a siloed or experimental way.  In the worst cases, they “die on the vine.” Learn how to use safety culture and OCM to win “hearts and minds” and get all your teams on board.

What do I and/or my team receive as part of an ITIL 4 advanced courses (course materials, exams, certificates, continuing credits, etc.)

Every ITIL 4 Intermediate courses includes a student coursebook, practice exam questions, activities, and a voucher for the exam itself.  An electronic copy of the relevant

ITIL 4 Books

publication is also included with each class, so students can refer to the source material at any time (pictured here).  Students also receive access to MyAxelos, where they can

download all 34 of the ITIL 4 Practice Guides. MyAxelos also contains downloadable soft copies of all the ITIL practice publications, white papers, and other knowledge articles and tools. It is probably one of the most underused tools in the ITIL portfolio, which is a shame because it is remarkably valuable.

What are the ITIL 4 Intermediate exams like?

The ITIL 4 advanced exams have a format that is a little bit different from the ITIL 4 Foundation exam and can be tricky to manage at first and taking them online can be a little stressful the first time.  However, they generally follow the same format:

  • 90 minutes
  • 40 questions
  • Closed book
  • 3 types of questions: Standard, List (with 2 correct items), Negative statement (“Which of the following is NOT…”)
  • Score of 28/40 to pass (70%)

The DITS course is a bit different as it includes practical case study exercises and a 1-hour, 30-question exam.  Once you pass the exam, you will receive an electronic certificate from PeopleCert.

Do ITIL 4 certifications expire?

No.  Once you pass an exam and earn an ITIL 4 certification, it never expires.

Do I earn continuing educational credits? Is any continuing education required to maintain an ITIL 4 certification?

With any ITIL 4 intermediate course, students earn 24 continuing educational credits (CEUs, PDUs, etc.). Unlike other courses like PMP and Certified ScrumMaster courses, no continuing education is required.

Can ITIL 4 exams be taken on paper?

No.  All ITIL 4 exams are taken online with a live proctored environment. For more details on the online ITIL 4 exam process, check out this helpful YouTube video:


Do I have to take a course to be able to take an ITIL 4 intermediate exam?

Yes. PeopleCert requires that candidates take ITIL 4 training with an accredited training organization prior to registering for an exam.

What should I look for in with an ITIL 4 training provider?

A great ITIL 4 training experience comes down to three things:

  1. Instructor Experience – One of the best things about taking any course is the ability to learn from your peers and instructor. Look for trainers who are not only deep subject matter experts in IT Service Management but also have worked “in the field,” especially in leadership positions. These are the people in the best position to describe how to actually apply ITIL theory and that understand the gaps between theory and practice. Beyond20’s full-time instructors are also working consultants and have at least fifteen years of industry experience. You should always ask an ATO to supply bios for their instructors.ITIL Course Rating, Course Conductor
  2. ATO Philosophy and Approach – Look for organizations that want your teams to not only pass the exam but also to be able to apply the concepts in a real-world setting. After all, that is the real value of any education and training. At Beyond20, we build practical exercises and case studies into every class. This not only reinforces concepts that help students pass the exam, but it also gets people thinking about how to translate ITIL 4 concepts into work life. They also happen to be a lot of fun! Second, we follow-up with clients and students after class to help them apply ITIL concepts to achieve quick wins and long-term results.
  3. ATO Thought Leadership – Parroting best practice from a textbook is one thing. Actually engaging in ongoing conversations with other practitioners and writing ITIL 4 best practice is quite another. Look for ATOs that are part of and actively engage with ITSM and ITSM-adjacent communities of practice and professional organizations (e.g., Peoplecert/Axelos, Help Desk Institute, Project Management Institute, etc.). This is where emerging practice is grown. Look for training providers that contribute to the best practice body of knowledge. Fun fact: Beyond20 staff participated in the development of the official ITIL 4 maturity model as reviewers.

Avoid contracted instructors unless you’re sure of their experience.  Finally, make sure your ATO has an exam pass guarantee – although you never want to have to use it, it takes some pressure off knowing that you and/or your team gets a second chance if they do not pass on the first try.

We hope you found these answers helpful.  If you have other questions about ITIL 4 training, let us know.  We’re happy to be of help in your IT Service Management and overall organizational improvement journey.

Learn more about ITIL 4 Intermediates

In this webinar recording, Beyond20 CEO Erika Flora and Senior Advisor David Crouch talk through the nuances of the various advanced courses and tackle some great questions. It's a great way to dig a little deeper ahead of your ITIL training journey.
Watch the webinar

Originally published August 08 2022, updated February 02 2023