Studying ITIL 4 beyond Foundation level: building careers and improving business
Blog posted by: Mohammed Feisal Ismail, Principal Consultant, Sapience Consulting, 16 March 2023.
What value do IT professionals get from studying ITIL 4 Foundation?
Knowledge of IT service management (ITSM) should be “bread and butter” for technology professionals because – from working in cyber security to machine learning – you’re essentially delivering a service. And ITSM underpins value.
In many IT job descriptions, knowledge of ITSM and ITIL is either preferred or a prerequisite, providing a grounding in the concepts and the vocabulary to speak intelligently with customers or colleagues.
ITIL 4 Foundation is not unlike a hotel buffet restaurant where you walk along from start to finish viewing what’s available: it gives you a high-level walk-through and after that – depending on what you do – you can decide on what to get your teeth into!
As the name says, it sets you up with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills to make a difference in your organization – but the learning journey shouldn’t stop there.
Upskilling to ITIL 4 Managing Professional and Strategic Leader levels
So many things are happening in the world – including pervasive cloud strategies, the growing influence of AI in industries, quantum computing, agile development going mainstream – which put a strain on all technology professionals. It means they need to be adaptive and prepared to sacrifice the “sacred cows” of best practice repeatedly. Perhaps even more critical, the demands of business and customers have changed.
The next level of ITIL 4 courses and certifications (leading to either Managing Professional or Strategic Leader designation) are organized around themes, such as “Create, Deliver and Support” and “Direct, Plan and Improve”.
Having these more advanced level courses designed around themes is important because it prepares learners for the known challenges of today and the unknown challenges of tomorrow, without being prescriptive in the way they need to work. Practitioners have the room to adjust to the needs of their individual organization if they learn general strategies and approaches.
Understanding the customer journey with ITIL 4
One of the key skills, knowledge and competencies available only in ITIL 4's higher modules is the concept of the customer journey.
For many IT organizations – which are no longer serving only internal business customers, but external customers too – IT and digital services have become the business. This means technology professionals need to understand the profile of customers and how to interact with them directly through the IT or digital services they are providing.
The ITIL 4 Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value module’s focus on stakeholder value and the customer journey is – in simple terms – ensuring the business delivers a “wow factor” through its services.
Meanwhile, the ITIL 4 Leader: Digital and IT Strategy module helps enlighten practitioners on the difference between the respective strategies and how to have conversations about why and how to transform an organization. The stuff that they will be exposed to in this course, I guarantee, will be eye-opening to many. This is especially useful for professionals involved in crafting, executing and refining digital strategies.
ITIL 4: complementing other methods
When viewing IT services delivered to an organization, it’s necessary to think in terms of value streams: from ideation of a service to its final deployment and use as something valuable to the business and customer.
Several methods and frameworks – including Scrum, DevOps and ITIL – each touching different aspects of the value stream which you can expect to overlap. It’s not about one replacing another but how to take elements from the various methodologies and frameworks that are beneficial and mindfully integrating them into the value stream.
Technology professionals today recognize this confluence in different ways of working and the need for collaboration, not only within the technology organization but across the enterprise. However, in my experience training candidates, they often don’t know how or where to begin.
However, the knowledge contained within the courses that make up ITIL 4 Managing Professional and Strategic Leader designations enable and empower the evolving service management professional. And having a critical mass of people with this knowledge helps effect wider, organizational change.
Planning a learning path from ITIL Foundation
Practitioners planning to study ITIL 4’s higher level modules can approach it in two ways:
First, if you are serious about developing modern IT service management skills with ITIL 4, you need to embrace a bit of everything. The suite of courses fits together nicely and allow professionals to see the “big picture”, though modules will resonate more with specific roles. Ultimately, all the modules will contribute to the holistic development of the technology professional.
A second approach is to look at your organization’s pain points: what are the skills and knowledge needed to help overcome these from a “business needs” perspective.
So, studying higher levels of ITIL 4 best practice can make you both a better professional and help you improve your organization.
Navigating which courses to take can be a tough call for some candidates. So, reach out to your favourite ATO (Accredited Training Organization) and ask for advice. A good ATO believes in empowering the ecosystem by helping people understand what’s out there and what’s right for them.
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