ITIL 4 Update: What's New with the Framework

Written by Joe Zimmermann

As you’ve probably heard by now, Axelos is developing an update to the ITIL Framework: ITIL 4. ITIL 4 Foundation was released in February of 2019, with subsequent updates to be released over the course of the year. Here’s what you need to know about this newest iteration of ITIL.

ITIL 4 is a major revision

ITIL 4 is definitely a major update; with a lot of new material around how ITIL is organized. Instead of using the service lifecycle as an organizing framework, for example, ITIL has introduced some new concepts, including the Service Value System and Service Value Chain. While these updates are significant, the good news is ITIL 4 is backwards compatible. So, don’t worry if you’ve implemented ITIL v3 in your organization and use it as north star–you won’t have to start from scratch when incorporating ITIL 4 concepts. This new guidance can help you, but everything you’re doing is still valid and relevant.

ITIL 4 Includes an Increased focus on Agile, DevOps, and Lean

While many of us who work within ITIL know these frameworks and philosophies to be complimentary, there has been some pushback from those outside the industry who say ITIL is old fashioned and doesn’t take into account the latest developments and trends, such as Agile and DevOps. ITIL 4 is much more closely aligned with these methodologies than previous versions and folds them into the framework throughout. In short, ITIL 4 builds upon v3, taking it a step further to incorporate these proven ways of working and help organizations navigate the new technological era (think AI, nanotechnology, quantum computing, etc.).

ITIL 4 Has a Totally New Certification Scheme

ITIL v3 is laid out with a Foundation course, three intermediate course types, an Expert level, and a Master level. The intermediate course types focus on Service Lifecycle Courses—designed for management or team leaders, Service Capability Courses—designed around specialized, process-level execution of practices, and a Practitioner Course.

As a review, here’s the ITIL v3 certification scheme:

ITIL v3 Certification Scheme

ITIL 2011 Certification Scheme

ITIL 4 also starts with an ITIL Foundation course, which offers an entry-level certification by teaching the key elements, concepts and terminology used in the newest version. Like with v3, ITIL 4 Foundation is helpful for professionals looking for a basic understanding of ITIL and anyone looking to advance to further certifications.

ITIL 4 Certification Scheme

 ITIL 4 Certification Scheme

ITIL 4 offers two modular certification paths after the Foundation course. These two modules allow you to become either an ITIL Managing Professional (MP) or an ITIL Strategic Leader (SL). Each requires a different set of courses, though the ITIL Strategist Direct, Plan & Improve course is required for both tracks.

The ITIL Managing Professional certification is recommended for professionals who need practical and technical knowledge to lead IT projects and digital teams, while ITIL Strategic Leadership is aimed more at people in leadership positions looking for a clear understanding of how IT influences and directs business strategy.

For Managing Professional (MP), here’s the path:

ITIL 4 Managing Professional Certification Track

To be certified as a Managing Professional, you have to take three specialist modules (Create, Deliver & Support; Drive Stakeholder Value; and High Velocity IT) and the Direct, Plan & Approve module. The specialist modules provide useful knowledge for IT practitioners working in a variety of digital teams. Axelos plans to release more information about the launch of ITIL MP in the second half of 2019. What we know right now is that the Managing Professional Transition class will be the next course to be released later this year. This course is for people who currently hold ITIL Expert or 17 credits in v3 intermediates.

Here’s the path for Strategic Leader (SL):

ITIL 4 Strategic Leader Certification Track

The ITIL Strategic Leader option requires the same Direct, Plan & Improve module as well as the ITIL Leader Digital & IT Strategy module. Each one is valuable as a course, but you’ll need both for the certification.

Other prerequisites for the Strategic Leadership certification are three years of managerial experience and a completion of ITIL 4 Foundation. Axelos plans to release more information about the launch of ITIL SL in the second half of 2019.

Candidates who complete all five modules, becoming both an ITIL MP and ITIL SL, will be eligible for the ITIL Master (replacing ITIL Expert, the title earned upon completion of ITIL v3’s capstone course).

That’s what we know thus far! Though change tends to bring with it a certain amount of resistance, I’m looking forward to this update. Just as the update from v2 to v3 brought timely enhancements, I’m convinced ITIL 4 is right on time with this overhaul. ITIL has proven itself over the years to be an adaptable and relevant framework for aligning IT with the business and for leading IT organizations, and this newest will be no exception

Stay tuned! We’re learning more about ITIL 4 every day and will pass any news along as it becomes available.

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Originally published October 10 2018, updated August 08 2019