Obtaining an IT Service Management (ITSM) certification such as ITIL Foundation always requires an investment of time and money and begs the question: is it worth it?
ITIL Foundation gives you the opportunity to put theory into practice immediately. This is important as IT departments – in a rapidly-changing world – need to be fast, efficient and adaptable in their contact with front line business operations.
Being qualified in ITIL Foundation means practitioners are more likely to demonstrate understanding of IT processes and this is also the starting point for career advancement. The fundamental knowledge contained in ITIL becomes more and more practical as you move through the ITIL certifications, enabling you to apply it in real-life situations and become a true leader in your area of expertise. I see this in my own scenario, as I’m on my way to becoming an ITIL Expert.
Building on ITIL Foundation
Once you’re ITIL Foundation certified, you need to learn how ITIL is always connected to the needs of the business. This is about understanding the business demands of your organization and coordinate those demands with ITIL. It’s important to adopt and adapt the parts of ITIL that suit you and the organization best.
Also, ITIL Foundation practitioners need to build an interest in the service lifecycle; thinking critically, strategically and understanding how to create workflows that are easy to understand and manage. And it’s about recognizing the impact of human factors and the fact that it’s sometimes better to postpone IT changes or handle them differently.
Building on your ITIL Foundation certification might also benefit from other approaches such as agile project management or others. I see PRINCE2® as an important certification to complement ITIL Foundation with its focus – beyond services and processes – on projects and how they can be handled in different environments.
ITIL Practitioner – the logical next step
Advancing your ITIL knowledge and skills beyond Foundation level means selecting further certification and ITIL Practitioner is the logical next step.
I think you need to gather your thoughts before making the decision about the next step and figure out what your position is now and your desirable career goal. Is it going to be managerial or more linked to the technical side of strategy.
If strategy and management suits you better, then Lifecycle seems like a sound path to follow. The courses will touch upon the processes relating to organizational structure and policy. So, managers and future leaders will benefit greatly from the course. On the other hand, if you are specializing in one of the processes, you might benefit more from the Capability stream as the courses are designed especially for technical and hands-on professionals.
As the relationship between business and IT becomes more and more mature every year, it means a greater focus on continual service improvement and this approach is a major part of ITIL Practitioner. Also, the human factor in IT change is extremely important and organizational change management (OCM) is also a primary focus of the ITIL Practitioner guidance and certification.
In addition to further certifications, I would recommend ITIL Foundation-level professionals to establish development paths to build their skills and, ultimately, their careers. This can involve visiting forums, webinars, meet-ups and participating in communities and spending a few hours per week studying new articles from opinion leaders.
Blending ITIL with other IT best practice approaches
Starting and continuing your ITIL journey also helps you to embrace other approaches now becoming popular in IT. For example ITIL, with its strong service foundation, complements DevOps’ creative approach. In my experience of implementing ISO standards in different organizations, I’ve seen how ITIL and DevOps are linked – and especially within the ITIL Practitioner certification.
And so, starting with ITIL Foundation is the grounding for your knowledge and understanding of IT service management. But while it gives you an insight into organizational processes and increases your efficiency as an ITSM professional, it’s only the beginning of a much longer story.