Beyond20: A ServiceNow Elite Partner Advanced ITIL 4 Courses Overview - Beyond20
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ITIL 4 Advanced Courses: What do They Cover and Who Should Attend?

Erika Flora
Written by Erika Flora

We receive a lot of questions (I mean a lot of questions) about the new ITIL 4 books, how they align with the format that people remember in the ITIL v3 books (spoiler: there’s no direct comparison), and who should attend each of the classes. This article will attempt to answer all of your burning questions about the advanced ITIL 4 courses and books – essentially the who, what, where, when, and why of each of the five.

Getting situated: The ITIL 4 Managing Professional and Strategic Leader Designations

Before we dig into the meat of this article – the courses themselves –  let’s briefly touch on the framework within which they’re situated. There are two designations you can achieve through completing different combinations these advanced courses: ITIL 4 Managing Professional (MP) and ITIL 4 Strategic Leader (SL). Here’s an overview of these two elite designations, the advanced certifications required to achieve each, and which roles are the best candidates to pursue each.

ITIL 4 Managing Professional

The ITIL 4 Managing Profession stream is geared towards IT practitioners and managers working on the “ground floor” of IT and leading teams that span various functions and value streams within IT.  The focus leans towards the tactical and operational aspects of IT and provides knowledge and tools to help guide technical teams that support the larger business with IT Services.  The Managing Professional Stream includes the following four courses:

  • ITIL 4 Specialist: Create, Delivery, 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 Stream expands beyond traditional IT operations and focuses on leaders both within and outside of IT who manage digitally-enabled services.  In this era of digital transformation, leaders need to have a mastery of how technology not only supports but is integral to developing business strategy.  The strategic leader plays a key role in driving IT and business innovation, controlling external volatility, and orchestrating positive internal disruption.  The target roles for this stream include the CIO, business leaders, and leaders-in-development who influence within both IT and business spheres.  The stream includes two courses:

  • ITIL 4 Strategist: Direct, Plan, and Improve (same course as for the MP stream)
  • ITIL 4 Strategist: Leader Digital and IT Strategy

An overview of the advanced ITIL 4 courses

ITIL 4 Certification Schema

ITIL 4 Certification Schema

There are two certification paths and six books, courses, and exams that make up the ITIL 4 best practice, namely:

  • ITIL Foundation
  • ITIL Specialist: Create, Deliver, and Support
  • ITIL Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value
  • ITIL Specialist: High Velocity IT
  • ITIL Leader: Digital & IT Strategy
  • ITIL Strategist: Direct, Plan, and Improve (the reason why this book/course/exam is listed twice is that it contributes to both the Managing Professional and Strategic Leader designations, shown as dark grey boxes above and described further below.)

Right off the bat, you will want to understand that these classes do not map to the v3 Service Lifecycle. Also, if you haven’t yet taken an ITIL 4 Foundation course, here’s a fun, informative infographic on What’s New in ITIL 4, which is covered as part of the 2-day ITIL 4 Foundation class.

Moving from left to right in the certification schema table above, let’s dig in with the first course, ITIL Specialist: Create, Deliver, and Support.

ITIL 4 Specialist: Create, Deliver, and Support (CDS)

The “why” behind the CDS book and course

Create, Deliver, and Support covers team management and the importance of culture; emerging technologies used in creating, delivering, and supporting products and services; managing queues and prioritizing work; and value streams. In addition to these key concepts, there’s a group of practices (formally known as processes in v3) covered in each course.

Who should attend the CDS course?

The CDS course applies to, frankly, anyone that helps to create, deliver, or support technology-enabled products or services, works with data analytics, reporting, or emerging technologies.

The topics covered in the 3-day ITIL 4 CDS course covers all five phases of the ITIL v3 Service Lifecycle: Service Strategy, Design, Transition, Operation, and Continual Service Improvement. Here is a sampling of who should attend a CDS course:

  • IT leaders (IT operations managers, security managers, service delivery managers, etc.)
  • Process owners for any of the ITIL 4 practices listed above (change managers, release and/or deployment managers, service desk staff, knowledge managers, service-level managers, etc.)
  • Service architects
  • Developers and testers
  • Infrastructure engineers

This blog article on ITIL 4 Specialist: Create, Deliver, and Support provides additional details on who should attend along with details on the CDS exam.

What’s the value of this course?

Create, Deliver, and Support is a great course for anyone who works in IT on any level. The concepts covered here are not typical topics you see in a class geared towards IT. There are some business concepts, some management concepts, as well as some “people” concepts. When you take this class, you will learn about how the culture of an organization impacts its initiatives – both in business and IT. If your organization is undergoing a digital transformation, culture is critical to success. There’s a lot that goes into making sure you have the right culture in place, including workforce management, skills and competencies, as well as employee satisfaction.

CDS also covers how emerging technologies can assist with creating, delivering, and supporting products and services. Some of these topics include an overview of advanced analytics, big data, data/text mining, natural language processing, robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning, network and cluster analysis, artificial intelligence and AIOps, as well as continuous integration, delivery, and deployment (CI/CD).

Value Streams are a concept that many folks in IT are unfamiliar with. Value streams are all the steps an organization takes to create and deliver products and services. This makes people think about the big picture. Instead of a developer writing code or a service desk technician taking a call, they can see how their work fits into the big picture. We will cover how you would go about mapping, measuring, and improving the value stream for a new or existing product or service, as well as supporting products and services. For practical details on how to create a value stream map, check out our blog article titled, “What is Value Stream Mapping?”

Everyone who is reading this knows the challenges around prioritizing work. Below you will find some techniques on how to best prioritize the work that teams handle. Service providers can influence customer demand and manage work through some of the techniques that are listed here:

  • Backlog – a list of the new features, changes to existing features, bug fixes, infrastructure changes, or other activities that a team may deliver in order to achieve a specific outcome
  • Swarming – a method of managing work in which a variety of specialist resources or stakeholders work on an item until it becomes apparent who is best suited to continue with the work, at which point, the others are freed up to move on to other work items.
  • Shift-Left approach – a term that involves moving work closer to its source (originally emerging from software testing but has expanded to ITSM and DevOps circles).

We also discuss when to “make versus buy” products, services, or components and what to consider when outsourcing. We’ll also look at a variety of service models that can be used (that of a service guardian, single provider, retained service integration, or service-integration-as-a-service).

What ITIL 4 practices (formerly called “processes”) are covered as part of the CDS course?

As part of the section on value streams, the CDS book provides a deep dive into several ITIL 4 practices (which, in ITIL v3, used to be called processes – more on that topic in our blog article, “Why ITIL 4 is shifting its focus away from ITIL processes”). Here is a list of the ITIL 4 practices covered, listed in alphabetical order:

  • Change enablement
  • Deployment management
  • Incident management
  • Knowledge management
  • Monitoring and event management
  • Problem management
  • Release management
  • Service design
  • Service desk
  • Service level management
  • Service validation and testing
  • Software development and management

Continuing to move from left to right in the ITIL 4 MP courses, let’s talk about DSV next.

ITIL 4 Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value (DSV)

The “why behind the DSV book and course

Drive Stakeholder Value is all about the customer journey. Here you will learn guidance on establishing, maintaining, and developing effective service relationships.

Who should attend the DSV course?

The target audience for the DSV course and book are:

  • Individuals responsible for managing and integrating stakeholders
  • Individuals that focus on the customer journey and experience
  • Individuals that are responsible for fostering relationships to obtain value realization

Thus, the following people are good candidates for attending a 3-day ITIL 4 DSV course:

  • Anyone that has a customer-facing role, for example, business relationship managers, account managers, service delivery managers, service-level managers, business analysts, service desk, and other IT staff
  • Enterprise, business, and solution architects
  • Portfolio, program, and project managers
  • Supplier, vendor, and partner managers
  • Product owners and UX designers

What’s the value of this course?

The value of this course is learning how to map the customer journey and enhance the customer experience (CX). Many of you have seen the abbreviations CX/UX, customer experience/user experience, and the CX is so important when we talk about customer satisfaction – some say even more important than the product or service itself.

The key concept of the DSV course is that of the Customer Journey, defined as “the complete and end-to-end experience that service customers have with one or more service providers and/or their products through touch-points and service interactions.” The seven steps in the Customer Journey include:

  1. Explore

  2. Engage

  3. Offer

  4. Agree

  5. Onboard

  6. Co-create

  7. Realize

Some interesting topics explored in this course include Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” and the importance of clearly defining and communicating our organization’s “Why,” building trust, producing a minimally viable product (MVP), ensuring human-centered design, defining Service-Level Agreements (SLAs), as well as having service empathy and a service mindset.

What ITIL 4 Practices are covered as part of the DSV course

The DSV book provides a deep dive into several ITIL 4 practices, including (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Business analysis
  • Capacity and performance management
  • Portfolio management
  • Relationship management
  • Service catalog management
  • Service desk
  • Service-level management
  • Service request management
  • Supplier management

ITIL 4 Specialist: High Velocity IT (HVIT)

The “why” behind the HVIT book and course

Before an organization can be successful in a digital transformation, they must have a high velocity IT department. Embarking on a digital transformation with the IT practices you’ve had in place for years is not going to work. This is a great place to start to learn the characteristics of a high velocity IT organization, the culture necessary for the success of high velocity, techniques (there’s not just one way) to get to high velocity, along with applying emerging technologies (required!).

Who should attend the HVIT course?

The target audience for the High Velocity IT course and book includes any individuals working in or migrating to high velocity environments. Thus, good candidates for taking a 3-day ITIL 4 HVIT course include, but are not limited to, the following people:

  • ITIL process owners for any of the practices listed above (business relationship managers, problem managers, release and deployment managers, service desk staff, etc.) and other IT staff
  • Project, program, and portfolio managers as well as business analysts
  • Cloud architects
  • DevOps engineers and architects
  • Scrum teams, including product owners and ScrumMasters

What’s the value of this course?

Every organization will eventually go through a digital transformation. It doesn’t matter if you are smack dab in the middle of one, on the verge of a transformation, or its so far on the horizon you can’t even imagine it – these concepts are necessary. Because digital transformations will become necessary for every organization eventually, this class highly recommended because it lays the foundation for your transformation.

So, how do you become a high velocity IT organization? Well, first you need to learn how to foster the key characteristics of a high velocity technology organization:

  • Lean
  • Agile
  • Resilient
  • Continuous

Culture is key for high velocity. It has to be ok to fail, along with these key behaviors:

  • Accept ambiguity and uncertainty
  • Continually raise the bar
  • Help get customers’ jobs done
  • Commit to continual learning

You will also learn some considerations and perspectives around ethics, design systems and complexity thinking (including how to apply the Cynefin framework, an overview of Toyota Kata, and OODA loops), restructuring to become more agile and lean as an organization, and creating a “safety culture.”

The five key objectives of a high velocity IT organization include:

  • Valuable investments
  • Fast development
  • Resilient operations
  • Co-created value
  • Assured conformance

Some of the key techniques in the HVIT book and course include: ways to prioritize work, creating minimally viable products and services, A/B testing, as well as several techniques seen in DevOps, DevSecOps, Lean, and Agile environments including infrastructure-as-code, micro-services and containerization, retrospectives and blameless post-mortems, continuous integration, delivery, and deployment (CI/CD), avoiding technical debt, chaos engineering, agreeing on the “definition of done”, site reliability engineering or SRE, AIOps and ChatOps, as well as Scrum and Kanban.

What ITIL 4 Practices are covered as part of the HVIT course

The HVIT book and course cover the majority of ITIL 4’s 34 practices. Here is a summary of some of the key practices discussed, listed in alphabetical order:

  • 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

ITIL Strategist: Direct, Plan, and Improve (DPI)

The “why” behind the DPI book and course

Direct, Plan and Improve is the only class that can “map” to the v3 lifecycle, covering parts of service strategy and continual improvement. This class covers governance, controls, strategy, and embedding continual improvement into an organization’s culture at every level. 

Who should attend the DPI course?

The target audience for the DPI course and book include:

  • Individuals responsible for designing, planning, reviewing and improving products and services
  • Individuals responsible for managing transitional changes, including validation and release of new services and products.

Thus, the following people are good candidates for taking the 3-day ITIL 4 DPI course:

  • ITSM managers, directors, consultants, and advisors, and other IT leaders
  • Continual improvement managers, ITIL process owners (service-level managers, change managers, continuity managers, business relationship managers, etc.), and other IT staff
  • Project, program, and portfolio managers
  • IT operations managers
  • Cloud architects and system engineers

What’s the value of this course?

Direct, Plan, and Improve covers the following topics:

  • Strategy and direction
  • Assessment and planning
  • Measurement and reporting
  • Continual improvement
  • Communication and organizational change management
  • Developing a service value system

The DPI book and course provide an overview of how to assess and plan, set direction, define a governance structure, build a business case, communicate, as well as measure and manage service management efforts. DPI also includes information around the concept of a Service Management Office (SMO), Kanban boards for managing work, as well as servant leadership and good communication.

What ITIL 4 Practices are covered as part of the DPI course

The key ITIL 4 practices that are discussed as part of the DPI course include, in alphabetical order:

  • Continual improvement
  • Monitoring and reporting
  • Organizational change management
  • Portfolio management
  • Risk management
  • Strategy management

As stated earlier, there is a lot of overlap with ITIL v3’s Service Strategy and Continual Service Improvement (CSI) phases, which include topics like: creating a SWOT analysis, performing assessments, defining Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and using the 7-step Continual Improvement Model.

ITIL Leader: Digital & IT Strategy (DITS)

Key concepts that the ITIL 4 DITS book and course covers

This publication is still currently in development. It’s sure to be an interesting read, and it’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart (fun fact: several Beyond20 staff are authors on this publication and we are currently sworn to double secret probation, so I can only share a few, high-level details at the moment). What I can tell you is that this publication, course, and resulting exam will cover topics like:

  • How do we, as leaders, help our organizations remain relevant and not only survive, but thrive in a digital world?
  • How do we create an organization and culture that is nimble, innovative, and agile?
  • How do we equip and empower our teams and overall organization to flourish?
  • What are the skills that we as leaders need to develop to be effective?

Who should attend the DITS course?

Current (and aspiring) digital leaders will find value in attending a DITS course, including:

  • CIOs, CTOs, CEOs, CMOs, chief digital officers, chief data officers, and other senior or strategic IT leaders
  • ITSM directors, IT consultants, IT and SMO managers and directors, and other IT staff

What ITIL 4 Practices are covered as part of the DITS course

The list of practices that will be covered is still in development, though you can probably guess that DITS will center on strategy-focused practices like Strategy Management.

Overall, by investing in any or all of the advanced ITIL 4 books and courses, you are sure to drastically improve your ability to perform in the world of IT service management.

Originally published March 03 2020, updated January 01 2024