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A Deep Dive into ITIL 4


ITIL 4, released in 2019, is the latest edition and fourth major update of the world’s most recognized and adopted Service Management framework. ITIL 4 builds on previous versions of ITIL but includes new content such as:

        • The Service Value System and Service Value Chain Concepts

        • 34 ITIL practices

        • Enterprise Service Management

        • Digital business and digital technology

        • High-Velocity techniques such as Agile, DevOps, Kanban, and Lean

        • A new set of courses and certification scheme

An important focus of ITIL 4 is about how to apply service management concepts beyond IT and achieve enterprise service management. It also addresses how IT is becoming an integral part of digital business by delivering products and services quicker using popular high velocity techniques such as Agile, DevOps, Kanban, and Lean.

As a “framework of frameworks,” ITIL 4 complements other frameworks such as IT4IT, VeriSM, FitSM, ITAM, SIAM, and PMBOK. ITIL 4 also teaches organizations to more effectively leverage digital technologies (such as AI, Robotic Process Automation, and Machine Learning) and IT platforms (such as ServiceNow) more effectively. Likewise, it helps IT prepare to not only support the business, but to partner with it and help drive executive decision-making. In other words, ITIL 4 raises the stakes for IT; it provides an opportunity for IT to “level-up!”

The Evolution of the ITIL Framework: ITILv1 to V3

ITIL began in the UK in the 1980s as a small collection of good practices to help IT better align with and serve customers in the government, corporate, and nonprofit sectors. Now, globally, more than 90% of Fortune500 organizations use ITIL and more than two million IT professionals are certified.

In the late 1980s, the UK’s Central Computing and Telecommunications Agency (a government organization) published the first set of ITILv1 books – more than 30 – which focused on best practice; though these tended to be technical best practices and not particularly non-IT customer friendly.

In 2000, ITILv2 was released along with some new ideas about service management. Namely, ten processes were introduced as a way to organize thought and structure around IT Service Management. These processes were: Incident Management, Problem Management, Service Level Management, Capacity Management, Availability Management, Change Management, IT Service Continuity Management, IT Financial Management, Release Management, and Configuration Management. The idea was that when work is organized into standardized and repeatable processes, it will improve efficiency and resource utilization. Additionally, ITILv2 described the Service Desk as a single point of contact between users and IT.

ITIL v3 Service Lifecycle

Just seven years later, in 2007, ITILv3 was launched along with some major additions. First, the Service Lifecycle was introduced as a way to organize ITIL processes across five phases: Strategy, Design, Transition, Operations, and Continual Improvement. Second, fifteen additional processes were introduced.

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ITIL 4: both an Evolution and a Revolution

ITIL 4 is both an evolution of the ITIL framework and a revolution. Indeed, we might call it a revolutionary evolution. On the one hand, ITIL 4 is an evolution of ITIL v3 concepts, not a replacement. The good practices from previous versions of ITIL are still valid and the Service Lifecycle concept can still be a useful way of thinking about service management. On the other hand, ITIL 4 is revolutionary in five key ways:

        1. Holistic View: ITIL 4 takes a holistic approach by considering the entire service value chain and the interconnectedness of various IT and non-IT components within an organization. Through the use of the Four Dimensions of Service Management and value stream concepts, it recognizes that value creation requires collaboration and integration across various dimensions, including people, technology, processes, and partners.

        2. Focus on Value Co-Creation: ITIL 4 emphasizes the importance of value co-creation between the IT service provider and customers. It recognizes that value cannot be “delivered” in the same way that a package is shipped, and value is not solely generated by IT. Value is created through collaborative efforts that align IT services with customer needs, outcomes, and expectations.

        3. Flexibility and Adaptability: ITIL 4 introduces a flexible and adaptable framework. Organizations can use ITIL’s seven guiding principles to “adopt and adapt” or tailor ITIL to their own environment rather than blindly applying it. Additionally, ITIL 4 provides a set of 34 practices that organizations can select and adapt based on their needs, promoting a more customized approach to ITSM.

        4. Integration with Emerging Practices: ITIL 4 integrates concepts and practices from DevOps, Agile, Lean, and Kanban methodologies, acknowledging the importance of these approaches in today’s IT landscape. It recognizes the need for faster delivery, increased collaboration, and continuous improvement.

        5. Digital Transformation and Digital Technology Focus: ITIL 4 addresses the challenges and opportunities brought about by digital transformation and what it takes to be a leader in a digital business. It provides guidance on leveraging emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, AIOps, ITOps, Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning, Predictive Monitoring and Event Management, and “single pane of glass” enterprise service management platforms such as ServiceNow.

26 Processes, organized according to the ITSM lifecycle phases listed below. 34 Practices, each of which may include several processes, loosely organized into three practice types.
ITIL Service Management Lifecycle

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement
Service Value System (SVS):

  • Guiding Principles
  • Governance
  • Service Value Chain (SVC)
  • Practices
  • Continual Improvement
4 Ps of Service Design:

  • People
  • Processes
  • Partners
  • Products
4 Dimensions of Service Management:

  • Organization and People
  • Value Streams and Processes
  • Partners and Suppliers
  • Information and Technology

How does ITIL 4 define a Service and a Product?

In ITIL 4, a service is defined as:

        • Service: The means of enabling value co-creation by facilitating outcomes that customers want to achieve, without the customer having to manage specific costs and risks.

In short, a service is about a service provider and a service consumer working together to achieve mutually beneficial results.

On the other hand, ITIL 4 defines product as:

        • Product: a configuration of resources, created by the organization, that will be potentially valuable for their customers.

ITIL suggests that services are usually based on one or more products.

What Does ITIL 4 mean by Value Co-Creation?

For many years in the ITIL universe, we used to talk about service delivery. But when it comes to service management, It is not possible to “deliver” value in the same way the postal service delivers a package to your doorstep. ITIL 4 puts a concentrated focus on the idea that service providers and service consumers must work together to create value, thereby co-creating it. Service providers cannot and should not create products and services in a vacuum. Instead, we should actively collaborate with our customers on what is of value to them. Value co-creation can take a number of different forms. It can be as simple as sending a survey to a user after resolving an incident or as complex as establishing customer focus groups when generating ideas for new products and services. One common way agile product teams co-create value with their customers is by engaging them gathering requirements, in prototype development, and in sprint reviews.




What Is the Service Relationship?

The service relationship is comprised of the service provider, on the one hand, and the service consumer, on the other. In terms of value co-creation, the service provider looks to the consumer to understand what opportunities exist in the marketplace, to gather requirements, and to learn what it takes to keep the consumer satisfied. The consumer looks to the service provider to remove cost and risk. In other words, the consumer finds value in the service provider when they reduce the total cost the consumer would need to pay to provide the service on their own (or via another service provider). The consumer also looks to the Service Provider to reduce risk or make service delivery more predictable.

What is meant by Value, Outcomes, Cost, and Risk (VOCR)?

In ITIL 4, there is a great emphasis placed on enabling customer value; and value is now defined as:

        • Value: The perceived benefits, usefulness, and importance of something.

In evaluating whether a product or service has value for a customer, they are looking at the outcomes (What does this product or service allow me to do? What costs or risks does this product or service remove?), not just the output of the work. ITIL 4 defines the difference between the two:

        • Output: a tangible or intangible deliverable of an activity (for example, an application, report, or other product of our work)

        • Outcome: results for a stakeholder enabled by one or more outputs (what that product or service allows me to do)

ITIL 4 also distinguishes cost from value. Where value is defined through the service consumer’s perception, cost is defined as:

        • Cost: the amount of money spent on a specific activity or resource.

There are two types of cost from a consumer perspective. First, there are costs that are removed from the consumer by the product or service. This might be costs associated with staff that has been outsourced, technology provided as a service (cloud services), etc. Second, there are those costs that are imposed on the consumer by the product or service. Examples include training, network or storage utilization, procurement, etc. This is commonly referred to as what a consumer must ‘invest’ to consume a service. In the end, the advantages of using a service (the removal of costs and risks) need to outweigh the disadvantages (the addition of negative outcomes, costs, or risks).

        • Risk: a possible event that could cause harm or loss or make it more difficult to achieve objectives.

Risk may also be defined as uncertainty of outcome. When assessing the value of a service, risk may be used in the context of measuring both negative and positive outcomes. So, we also describe two types of risk. The first are risks removed from a consumer by the service (positive outcomes). This might include hardware failure if the consumer is moving to a cloud model, or staff availability if a function is being outsourced. Risk may not be entirely eliminated, only reduced, but the consumer may consider such reduction sufficient to support the value proposition of the service. Second, there are risks imposed on the consumer by the service (negative outcomes). This might be realized as a data security breach of the service provider.

What are the Four Dimensions of Service Management and how can they be leveraged to assess our organization’s maturity?

The ITIL 4 framework introduces the concept of the Four Dimensions of Service Management, which is a new take on the “people, process, and technology” mantra. The Four Dimensions are four big categories of items that any service provider needs to address to provide a holistic view of service management. These dimensions highlight the interconnectedness and impact of different elements within an organization. The Four Dimensions of Service Management are as follows:

        1. Organizations and People: This dimension focuses on the structure, culture, and capabilities of the organization. It includes the roles, responsibilities, and competencies of individuals involved in the delivery of services. It also considers the governance, organizational structure, and relationships within and outside the organization that influence service management.

        2. Information and Technology: This dimension encompasses the information and technology used to support and enable service delivery. It includes the ITSM platform, artificial intelligence, digital technology, the management of data, knowledge bases, infrastructure, workflow management systems, and any other tools used to deliver and maintain services.

        3. Partners and Suppliers: This dimension recognizes the importance of external parties in the delivery of services. It involves managing relationships with suppliers, vendors, partners, and other external entities. It also deals with contract management, Legal review of agreements, and Procurement/Purchaing. This dimension also discusses the concept of service integration – orchestrating multiple suppliers that are working towards the same program or project. The major framework that focuses solely on third-party service integration is SIAM.

        4. Value Streams and Processes: This dimension focuses on any activity performed by IT, including end-to-end value streams and the processes that support the creation, delivery, and support improvement of services.

These four dimensions are interconnected and influence each other. Effective service management requires considering all four dimensions and achieving balance amongst them.

4 Dimensions of Service Management ITIL 4

When a qualified assessor conducts an ITIL maturity assessment, they use specific criteria from the four dimensions to assess any service value system or practice that is in scope. For example, if the Incident Management Practice is being reviewed, the assessor reviews the Organizations and People dimension to determine whether the organization has the right people in the right roles with the right training to support Incident Management. They also consider the Information and Technology Dimension to understand whether the ITSM platform or ticketing tool appropriately supports the practice. From the Partners and Suppliers Dimension, the assessor investigates the role that third-party vendors play in resolving specific types of incidents. Finally, the Value Streams and Processes Dimension is reviewed to ensure that appropriate value streams and processes are in place to support speedy and accurate incident resolution.

What is the ITIL 4 Service Value System?

The Service Value System (SVS) is a considered the business model of the ITIL 4 framework. It describes how the different components and activities within your organization work together to create value through the delivery of products and services. In other words, these are the elements you need to have in place to be a successful IT Service Provider.

Service Value System Diagram

The five components of the SVS are:

        1. Guiding Principles: These are recommendations (not policies!) that help  organizations make better decisions. There are seven guiding principles: Focus on Value; Start where you are; Progress iteratively with feedback; Collaborate and promote visibility; Think and work holistically; Keep it Simple and Practical, and Optimize and Automate.

        2. Governance: Governance is the means by which an organization is directed and controlled. The focus is two-fold: ensure that the organization’s IT services are aligned with business objectives and ensure that policies are being adhered to and that the organization is in compliance with laws and regulations. Governance is a big component of creating a risk aware environment.

        3. Service Value Chain: The Service Value Chain represents high-level interconnected activities that an organization performs to created valuable products and services to its customers. In layman’s terms, it speaks to how one group works with another to break down silos and how processes intersect. The Service Value Chain is borrowed (or better stated, adapted) from the world of Lean manufacturing since a key goal of the Service Value Chain is to eliminate inefficiency and waste.

        4. Practices: Practices are sets of organizational resources used to get work done and achieve specific objectives. ITIL 4 describes 34 practices.

        5. Continual Improvement: Continual Improvement is an ongoing activity that ensures that the organization’s products, services, and practices are continually assessed and improved over time to meet changing customer needs and expectations.Top of Form

What is the Service Value Chain?

The ITIL 4 Service Value Chain (SVC) is considered the operating model within the ITIL 4 framework and it sits at the heart of the Service Value Chain. It represents a series of interconnected activities that organizations perform to create valuable products and services for their customers. The Service Value Chain consists of six activities:

        1. Plan: This activity can be done at all levels of the organization and is focused on making sure that everybody in the organization understands the current state and direction for the future.

        2. Improve: Everything can be improved. The Improve activity focuses on making sure that IT stays in alignment with the customer it is serving. It is also about continually assessing and enhancing the service provider’s products, services, and practices.

        3. Engage: The Engage activity is centered around building and maintaining relationships with customers, users, and other stakeholders. It includes gathering feedback, managing communications, and fostering collaboration. It deals with all human interactions.

        4. Design & Transition: This activity encompasses the design, development, and transition to live operations of new or changed products and services. It is about designing products and services right from the start and building in flexibility to make incremental changes. Getting the foundation right helps to minimize technical debt or rework.

        5. Obtain/Build: This activity is about make/buy decisions. If you need something (hardware, software, services, etc.), you are either going to build it in-house or procure it from a third-party provider.

        6. Deliver & Support: This is the “flip side” to Design and Transition. Deliver and Support is all about making sure that live products and services are maintained and that operational activities such as incident management and service request management meet customer expectations for support.

Service Value Chain

These activities within the ITIL 4 Service Value Chain are interconnected and work together to create value for customers. They are not performed in a linear or sequential manner, but rather in a coordinated and iterative fashion. At a level below the Service Value Chain are service value streams, which connect high-level activities together. For example, many organizations struggle with the new employee onboarding value stream – knowing where to being and how many teams and processes to involve in a single automated workstream.

Service Value Stream Mapping

ITIL 4 Service Value Stream Mapping

What are the 7 ITIL Guiding Principles and Why are they important?

ITILv3 introduced nine guiding principles in 2016 and whittled that back to seven guiding principles in ITIL 4. At a basic level, the guiding principles help organizations to make better decisions about any type of work. Far from being rules or policies, following the guiding principles is not mandatory. However, ITIL suggests that organizations use the guiding principles to “adopt and adapt” service management best practices. Since the guiding principles are broad and non-prescriptive, they are often described as “universal and enduring.”

The seven ITIL Guiding Principles are:

        1. Focus on Value: This principle is primarily focused (no pun intended) on understanding the customer’s perception of value. Understanding and meeting customer needs and outcomes should be at the center of decision-making and value co-creation. Although, all the guiding principles have equal billing, this one is arguably the most important for the service provider to get right.

        2. Start Where You Are: The Bible and Elvis both had it right – “only fools rush in.” Before clamoring to make changes, examine the current situation. Even when a process is failing or technology is sub-par, there is normally a fair amount of what we do that is functioning perfectly fine.  So, as the old saying goes, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” After examining the current state, leverage what already exists (when possible). If there really is nothing about the current state that is worth keeping, we can always toss it all aside . . . just don’t start with that mentality.

        3. Progress Iteratively with Feedback: Did anybody say Agile? This Guiding Principle, more than any of the others, suggests using an agile approach. It can often be wasteful to do excessive planning, to “boil the ocean” or to wait for perfection before delivering results. Today’s world requires incremental, if imperfect results delivery. Organizations should adopt an iterative approach to service management, continuously improving and refining practices based on feedback and learning from experience. Regular feedback loops with customers allow for adjustments and enhancements to be made throughout the service lifecycle. Bonus points for the practitioner that can say “iterative” five times fast.

        4. Collaborate and Promote Visibility: They say that “two heads are better than one.” Collaboration and transparency are crucial for effective service management. When teams fail to make their work visible, work falls through the gaps and, worse, sometimes teams stop trusting each other. Organizations should encourage collaboration within teams, across departments, and with external partners. Sharing information and promoting visibility enables better decision-making and fosters a culture of trust and cooperation. This is also a key aspect of both Kanban and Lean. In Kanban, teams try to make work visible by using shared Kanban boards and backlogs and have a goal of limiting the amount of work in progress. When using Lean techniques, organizations create visible value stream maps of the current state to identify areas where there is waste and remove it to improve efficiency.

        5. Think and Work Holistically: Taking a holistic approach means considering people, processes, technology, and partners. The organizational ecosystem can be complex, and systems thinking – understanding how things are related to each other – is in order.

        6. Keep it Simple and Practical: This is the “flip side” to the previous guiding principle. Although sometimes things are complex, it makes good sense to KISS – to keep it simple and stupid. Sometimes there is a tendency to overcomplicate things, to create a rule for every exception, to start with the most complicated use case first. The only problem is that when we do that, we tend to get stuck in analysis paralysis and never get anything done. Organizations should try to keep processes, procedures, controls, metrics, and documentation as simple as possible while still meeting business and customer requirements. Complexity can hinder efficiency and effectiveness. As Teddy Roosevelt once said – “I believe in [those] who take the next step; not those who theorize about the 200th step.”

         7. Optimize and Automate: The word “Optimize” is ITIL speak for process improvement.  “Automate” is all about using technology to replace human effort when it makes sense to do so. In this way, humans are freed up to focus on higher value work like making decisions that computers still can’t do (yet) and focusing on improving customer experience. Continual optimization and automation are essential for improving efficiency and reducing waste.

Taken at face value, the seven ITIL guiding principles sound a lot like motivational posters – inspirational; but trite. Make no mistake – the guiding principles can be powerful. The way to get the most out of them is to start with the ITIL guiding principles as a source of inspiration and work with your teams to adapt them to your own environment and develop your own set of principles. Work with your teams to devise practical ways to put guiding principles into action. For example, if you want to “focus on value,” how are you going to do that? Perhaps you establish a handful of customer focus groups, rework surveys to encourage more people to complete them, and engage customers in more product and service design sessions.

What Digital Technologies Support ITIL 4?

A big focus of ITIL 4, especially in the Digital and IT Strategy publication, is how to use digital technology to do business significantly better or to do significantly different business. Digital technology goes beyond simple automation, which can help us to become more efficient. With digital technology, we are talking about being more effective. We are talking about opening up new opportunities for creating IT products and services, better understanding and engaging our internal employees and external customers, and improving IT operations in ways that were not possible in the past. While the list of digital technologies is staggering (just take a look at Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies), we have listed just a few below to give you an idea:

        • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and AIOps: Intelligent systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as speech recognition, image analysis, and decision-making. AI is embedded into a number of IT applications and is a bedrock of any digital organization. As one striking example, over the past five years, certain AI enabled monitoring and event management software (AIOps) platforms have become adept at predicting and preventing failures and downtime by conducting continuous trends analysis and pattern recognition.

        • Internet of Things (IoT): Refers to the network of physical devices embedded with sensors, software, and connectivity that enables collection and exchange of data. Examples include smart home devices, wearable fitness trackers, and industrial sensors.

        • Big Data: Involves extracting insights and patterns from large and complex datasets. It utilizes advanced analytics techniques to uncover trends, correlations, and valuable information that can drive business decisions.

        • ITOps:

        • Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Uses software robots or “bots” to automate repetitive and rule-based tasks. It can streamline business processes, reduce manual efforts, and improve efficiency. RPA is often used to automate response to incidents and fulfillment of service requests.

        • Machine Learning:

        • Blockchain: Technology that enables secure and transparent transactions and data sharing. It provides a tamper-proof and verifiable record of transactions, and is commonly used with cryptocurrency and supply chain management.

How Does ITIL 4 Compare to or Integrate with other ITSM and Project Management Frameworks?

Organizations sometimes wonder whether they should adopt ITIL or Agile, ITIL or PMI, ITIL or IT4IT, and the list goes on. The good news is that as a framework of frameworks, you do not need to make a choice. ITIL provides comprehensive best practice guidance on service management but does not provide prescriptive information regarding how to implement it. In that vein, you can think of ITIL as the “what” (is available) of the service management world and other frameworks as the more granular “how” (do we implement). We have a great article on how several of these frameworks fit with ITIL. What are some of the ITSM frameworks and ITSM adjacent bodies of knowledge that are compatible with ITIL? Here is a short list (in no particular order):

        • IT4IT: The main objective of IT4IT is to help organizations optimize their IT operations, increase efficiency, and deliver business value. IT4IT emphasizes the importance of a value chain perspective (although its value chain is structured in a slightly different way than in ITIL) and end-to-end integration of IT management processes. It promotes the use of standardized interfaces and data models to enable interoperability between different IT systems and tools.

        • COBIT: Stands for Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies and is a comprehensive framework for IT governance. ITIL and COBIT can be integrated to establish a robust governance structure and risk awareness while maintaining alignment with your organization’s service management objectives.

        • ISO/IEC 20000: Stands for the international standard for IT service management. IEC 20000 provides guidance and best practices that can help organizations meet the requirements of ITSM standards and achieve certification. While IEC 20000 has specific standards that must be met, ITIL 4 provides the broad guidance on service management best practices.

        • VeriSM: Stands for Value-driven, Evolving, Responsive, and Integrated Service Management. This framework provides guidance for managing services in a digital and increasingly complex environment. This includes principles such as “Focus on Value” (also one of the ITIL Guiding Principles). VeriSM provides a framework that allows an organization to adopt pieces of multiple frameworks.

        • SIAM: Stands for Service Integration and Management. It is a framework and approach that focuses on effectively managing and integrating multiple service providers to deliver seamless end-to-end services to customers. SIAM helps organizations coordinate and orchestrate services provided by internal IT teams as well as external suppliers or vendors. This corresponds directly to the ITIL 4 “Partners and Suppliers” Dimension as well as the Supplier Management Practice.

        • Agile: This high velocity IT technique has a primarly goal of delivering working functionality to our customers more quickly. Agile should be considered when considering ITIL practices such as Project Management, Service Design, and Service Validation and Testing, to name a few.

        • PMBOK: Stands for the Project Management Body of Knowledge and includes popular certifications such as PMP, CAPM, PMI-ACP, PgMP, PfMP, and others. The PMBOK is the most comprehensive source of information about project management. Increasingly, PMBOK has been incorporating agile concepts as well. Project Management is a common way that many of the continual improvement initiatives identified by ITIL get done.

        • DMBOK: The Data Management Body of Knowledge focuses on data management and data governance. Considering the importance of data and data-informed decisions in the digital business, DMBOK is supported by ITIL practices such as Measurement and Reporting.

        • FitSM: Stands for Framework for Integrated Service Management. FitSM is a lightweight framework for service management. It is designed to provide guidance for organizations, especially those in the public and nonprofit sectors, that require an effective and efficient approach to managing their IT services.

        • DevOps: This high-velocity IT techniques has goals that include bridging (even combining) the domains of software development and operational management and delivering working software to customers more quickly. DevOps works hand-in-glove with ITIL practice such as Software Development and Management, Release Management, Deployment Management, Change Enablement, and Infrastructure and Platform Management

        • Six Sigma: Six Sigma is both a methodology and set of tools and techniques that aims to improve quality and efficiency. It focuses on reducing process variation and eliminating defects or errors. Organizations often leverage Six Sigma as one way of implementing their Continual Improvement Practice.

        • Lean: born in the world of manufacturing, the goals are to eliminate waste, improve efficiency, and optimize processes. Lean emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement, customer value, and minimizing non-value-added activities.

        • Kanban: The goals of this technique include limiting the amount of work-in-progress and making work visible through the use of Kanban boards. Kanban is supported by ITIL guiding principles such as Collaborate and Promote Visibility and Progress Iteratively with Feedback.

        • ITAM: Stands for IT Asset Management. This framework includes a set of practices and processes that organizations manage their IT assets throughout their lifecycle. ITIL 4 includes a practice called IT Asset Management that draws inspiration from ITAM.

What is an ITIL 4 Maturity Assessment?

In 2022, Axelos released the first official ITIL maturity assessment and model (and Beyond20 is proud to have been part of the early review team and provide feedback on the initial version). Prior to the official assessment, organizations tended to conduct CMMI-inspired assessments or   The ITIL maturity assessments or self-assessments. While there was some benefit in these, the CMMI-type assessments are not focused on IT Service Management and self-assessments are inherently and notoriously biased.

By contrast, the official ITIL maturity assessment is the only objective IT Service Management (ITSM) assessment tool based on concepts developed as part of the ITIL 4 framework. Using the Four Dimensions model as a starting point, multiple areas of an organization can be assessed to ensure holistic application of service management. The ITIL maturity assessment uses objective criteria for each in-scope areas and assigns a maturity or capability rating of 1-5 to each. The results allow leadership to identify weaknesses so that resources can be prioritized and allocated to address those.

There are three basic types of assessments:

        • Comprehensive: Assesses each component of the Service Value System and at least seven ITIL practices. Continual Improvement must be one of the assessed practices.

        • High-Level Maturity: Assesses only the Service Value System or the

Service Value System and fewer than seven practices.

        • Selected Practices: Assesses only ITIL practices (the scope of practices covered is determined by both the assessor and client)

An important aspect of the ITIL Maturity Assessment is that not just anybody can perform one. Consulting organizations need to be vetted and approved by Axelos and individual assessors must be credentialed based on their extensive experience and on passing a rigorous exam. Thus, you know that your consultants are the best of the best.

What Are the ITIL 4 Certification Paths?

The ITIL 4 certification begins with an ITIL Foundation Course and associated exam.

After passing the ITIL 4 Foundation certification, there are three possible certification tracks:

• ITIL Managing Professional

        • ITIL Strategic Leader

        • ITIL Practice Manager

Let us discuss each.

In order to obtain the ITIL Managing Professional designation, you must take four advanced courses in any order you prefer. These are:

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

        • ITIL Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value

        • ITIL Specialist: High Velocity IT

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

Each of these courses has a 40-question multiple choice exam which requires a passing score of 70%. Upon successful completion of all four courses and exams, you automatically become an ITIL Managing Professional.

Another possible track is ITIL Strategic Leader, which focuses on being a leader in the context of digital business. This track is popular with CIOs and aspiring leaders. To attain this designation, you first need to pass ITIL Foundation. Then you must pass two courses:

  • ITIL Strategist: Direct, Plan, and Improve (DPI) (Yes, the same as above. You do not need to take it twice if you pursue both certification tracks.)

        • ITIL Leader: Digital & IT Strategy (Beyond20 proudly co-edited and co-authored this core publication, affectionately known as DITS.)

Once again, both of these courses require participants to pass an exam upon course completion. Digital & IT Strategy has a twist associated with it. In addition to passing an exam, participants must also work on four practical exercises in class, based on a case study. The exercises are graded by the class instructor and are submitted as part of your grade.

A third track is that of ITIL Practice Manager. Practice Manager is the newest of the ITIL tracks and focuses on fifteen core ITIL practices. Candidates can take courses for each practice individually or as a bundle of five practices. For example, the first set of five practices released includes Incident Management; Problem Management; Service Desk; Service Request Management; and Monitoring and Event Management. Once a candidate has completed exams for any five practice courses (either individually or as a bundle) and has passed the Create, Deliver, and Support exam, they are declared an ITIL Practice Manager.

The rare professional that has achieve the ITIL Managing Professional, Strategic Leader, and Practice Manager certifications is automatically considered an ITIL Master.

ITIL 4 Advanced courses are each three days in length, and there is no recommended order in which to take the courses. Students that hold PMI’s PMP designation earn 16 PDUs for the 2-day ITIL 4 Foundation course and 24 PDUs for each ITIL 4 advanced course.

ITIL Certification Scheme with Practice Manager

In addition to the certification track courses, ITIL 4 also has four extension modules:

        • Acquiring and Managing Cloud Services

        • Sustainability in Digital and IT

• Business Relationship Management

• IT Asset Management

Although these extension modules do not count towards the three major certification tracks, they each have a wealth of knowledge and a certification exam.

What is the ITIL 4 Foundation Exam Like?

The ITIL 4 Foundation exam is closed-book and has 40 multiple choice questions. The exam is taken online and is proctored live by PeopleCert. Although the exam is certainly passable (Beyond20’s first-time pass rate is industry leading at above 90%), it is challenging. Typically, all answer choices relate to a topic covered during class, so there are few easy-to-eliminate distractor choices. Additionally, the phrasing of the questions tends to throw people off. Thus, having a training partner that understands the nuances of the exam is critical to success. Here are the highlights of ITIL 4 Foundation:

• 60-minute time limit

• 40 multiple-choice questions

• 26/40 (65%) or higher is a passing score

• 4 question types:

‣ Standard

○ List of 4 options

○ Negative (include words like “not” or “except”)

○ Missing word (new for ITIL 4)

For students looking to enroll in an ITIL 4 Foundation course, this is a 2-day virtual live-instructor lead offering. At the end of the class on day 2, we provide you with a voucher so you can schedule your exam with PeopleCert. Beyond20 offers both public and private (your company only) instruction.

Students that hold PMI’s PMP designation or other certifications like CISM, CISA, and others will earn 16 PDUs.


60-minute time limit

40 multiple-choice questions

26/40 (65%) or higher is a passing score

4 question types:

  • Standard
  • List of 4 options
  • Negative (include words like “not” or “except”)
  • Missing word (new for ITIL 4)

For students looking to enroll in an ITIL 4 Foundation course, this is a 2-day offering with the in-class exam taken at the end of the second day. We should note that both the course and the exam are now available online. Students that hold PMI’s PMP designation will earn 16 PDUs.




Are there Continuing Education Requirements for ITIL certifications?

ITIL 4 does have Continuing Education requirements, introduced in 2023. The ITIL 4 renewal lifecycle includes a recertification commitment every three years, over the course of which credential holders must earn sufficient educational credit hours to maintain their ITIL certifications.  These hours can be earned a variety of ways:

        • Report Professional Development Credits– The PeopleCert point system that allows credential holders to earn points for a variety of professional development activities.

        • Take an additional ITIL Advanced Course– Taking an advanced ITIL course and exam will also help credential holders maintain their certifications. This approach is a great option that supports continuous learning, especially for those pursuing capstone certifications such as ITIL Managing Professional and/or Strategic Leader. This is also, arguably, the easiest way to maintain a credential. For example, many Beyond20 students start by taking ITIL 4 Foundation and progress to taking an advanced course a few months later to deepen skills and knowledge in a particular area of ITIL 4.

        • Take the associated exams again– This path is straightforward. When your ITIL certification expires, you can simply retake the exam. For example, let’s say that you have an ITIL 4 Foundation certificate, and it expires, you could retake and pass the exam. The same applies to any of the other ITIL 4 advanced certificates. Of course, retaking the exam is not the option that most people prefer, so the two options above are more realistic, easier paths to take.

Digital Transformation Realized

An obvious first step in getting acquainted with ITIL 4 is to enroll in an ITIL 4 Foundation class and determine the training needs of your staff. Yet, training is only a first step. The real benefit of ITIL 4 is putting it into practice in the real world – in your organization. Beyond20 offers a number of practical consulting engagements and workshops to help you leverage the full power of ITIL 4. These include:

        • ITIL Maturity Assessment

        • ITIL Practice Assessment

        • ITIL Process Workshops and Reengineering

        • Service Catalog Workshop

In today’s digital and highly disruptive world, organizations must change how they work in order to remain relevant in their industries and to their customers. That’s where ITIL 4 can help. The new version includes a wealth of information on how the most successful organizations are working, along with details on emerging technologies (including, but not limited to, Artificial Intelligence and AIOps, Robotic Process Automation, Blockchain, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing) – with recommendations on how to best leverage them, as well as modern approaches to work including Lean, Agile (with details on Scrum, Kanban, and XP techniques), DevOps (Continual Integration / Continual Development (CI/CD), etc.).

For the first time, ITIL 4 also introduces several practices outside of traditional Service Management, including Organizational Change Management, Project Management, Business Analysis, Architecture Management, and Workforce and Talent Management. It is a comprehensive look at IT Service Management and the practices that matter most today.

Originally published April 04 2020, updated January 01 2024