ITIL Certification Helps IT Pros Implement Proven Processes
Imagine that you've built your dream house in a quiet and cozy area and you are now in the stage of designing and installing a heating system. The system will need to effectively heat your home while operating efficiently and keeping costs down. How do you begin designing your heating system?
One way is to sit down with your family and start brainstorming to figure out what you need and how to design it. While this may be interesting for some people, it has a few drawbacks. Unless you are a subject matter expert on heating systems you can plan on spending a whole lot of time learning from scratch. You also don't know if the result of this process will meet your needs. The system might be effective and efficient, or it might not. At some point in the process, you may begin to wonder if it wouldn't have been better to consult an expert.
Your second choice is to consult neighbors in your area who have successfully implemented effective and efficient heating systems and who can share the best practices that they applied in building such a system. Following their guidance, you will save time and money and receive a proven system that that meets your needs. Following a well-tested path towards a measurable goal, when you are uncertain, is often best. This is exactly what the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) provides.
What Is ITIL?
ITIL is a best practice framework for IT Service Management (ITSM) that provides best practices for organizations to align their IT services to their business needs. It advocates how to use IT tools to support business change and growth. In the heating system example, it would provide best practices and guides for building an effective and efficient system based on the past experience and knowledge of other users.
The current version of ITIL (known as ITIL 2011 edition) covers five core publications:
1) ITIL Service Strategy
2) ITIL Service Design
3) ITIL Service Transition
4) ITIL Service Operation
5) ITIL Continual Service Improvement
These publications address the IT service lifecycle in any organization adopting IT systems to support business needs. It starts with matching IT strategy with business strategy, passing through service design, implementation and operation in addition to continuous improvement to match the continuous changes in business needs. Because ITIL best practices are not organization-specific, they are successfully implemented in many different organizations across all industries.
ITIL for Organizations
ITIL describes processes, procedures, tasks and responsibilities of IT-related activities inside an organization. This allows organizations to integrate IT activities with other activities to better match their organizational strategy. With today's rapid pace of change in market needs, organizations must be quick to respond by leveraging IT services to support an organization's goals. ITIL is widely applied in many renowned international organizations such as NASA, HP, IBM, HSBC, Microsoft and others. These organizations have a proven confidence in ITIL as the framework of choice when it comes to managing IT services. Other benefits of ITIL to organizations include:
? Cost efficient use of IT services.
? Service level agreements that ensures on time delivery of IT systems.
? Effective handling of incidents which results in more productivity.
? Monitoring of IT services to ensure their availability.
? Continuous improvement for IT services to match rapidly changing business requirements.
? Managing business risks.
? Improve Return On Investment of IT.
? Improved customer satisfaction.
ITIL for Professionals
As with all other certification programs, the value to a professional is derived from the value of the technology or standard to an organization. As ITIL is widely adopted by companies around the world in different industries, and its value continuously proven, more companies are looking for professionals trained to apply ITIL's best practices. ITIL certification helps professionals prove their skills and knowledge in this field and is a significant attraction factor for companies to hire them. Many IT jobs emerged from ITIL adoption such as IT Change Management, IT Process Management, IT Service Governance and many other jobs that are in high demand in today's IT market.
There are five major benefits to ITIL for individuals:
1) Awareness of applied ITIL best practices in the company.
2) Becoming valuable resource to the company.
3) Gain IT service management skills.
4) Talking the common language of IT service management professionals.
5) Better job opportunities.
ITIL Certification Options
ITIL certification consists of four levels, each acknowledging a certain level of knowledge and proficiency in the ITIL best practices framework.
Foundation level is the entry level qualification for ITIL professionals. As an introduction to ITIL it provides general and high-level knowledge of ITIL concepts and terminology. Companies favor hiring IT professionals in different IT fields who have earned the Foundation certification to make sure they are aware of ITIL implementation inside their organization.
Intermediate level provides a deeper understanding of ITIL best practices. This level has a modular structure with two different tracks: Service Lifecycle, and Service Capability.
The Service Lifecycle track is relevant for professionals managing different areas or work across multiple teams. This track focuses on the five ITIL publications for service lifecycle mentioned above and is relevant for professionals specializing in one or more processes. It consists of four modules:
1) Operational Support and Analysis (OSA)
2) Planning, Protection and Optimization (PPO)
3) Release, Control and Validation (RCV)
5) Service Offerings and Agreements (SOA)
Although it's an option to mix between different modules in the two tracks, most professionals prefer to focus on completing all modules in one track. It is worth mentioning that Intermediate Level ITIL candidates must attend training run by one of ITIL's Accredited Training Organizations. Self-study is not an option for achieving this level.
Expert level demonstrates a deep knowledge of ITIL's scheme in its entirety. Expert level ITIL pros have a superior knowledge and skill level related to ITIL best practices. In order to achieve the Expert level certification, the professional should gain 22 Credits: two of which are from ITIL foundation module, 15 credits from Lifecycle and/or Capability modules and five credits from the "Managing across the Lifecycle (MALC)" module.
Master level is the highest certification for ITIL pros. Candidates are required to prove, through peer evaluation schemes, how they applied ITIL knowledge in a practical setting and environment. Expert level candidates should also have at least five years of practical, hands-on experience in leadership, managerial or higher management roles to be able to achieve the Master level.
ITIL certification is most useful. As organizations rely on the need to process and analyze ever increasing amounts of data, the need for highly-skilled IT pros becomes more pressing. An ITIL certification will enhance the abilities and strengths of managers, directors, analysts and corner office employees. Able to understand and access other certified individuals, ITIL certified pros are advantageously placed to assist their organizations in navigating and utilizing best practices to meet challenges. Their training allows ITIL pros to create value for an organization. This in turn allows the organization to function better, and in return, reward ITIL pros with higher salaries and more opportunities.