A Comprehensive Guide to ITIL V3 Certifications

What does the ITIL v3 certification path look like? Here's our comprehensive guide to ITIL v3 qualifications!

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IT-enabled services have become a crucial part of our daily lives. Whether for shopping, traveling or simply communicating with friends, there seems to a variety of top-ranking services for virtually everything. Businesses are no different, with services doing everything from keeping things running from day to day to meeting the ever-evolving needs and expectations of clients and customers.

In the current Digital Age, there are always new opportunities for services to be improved, giving organizations opportunities to save time and money while also achieving more reliable and higher-quality results. At the same time, customer expectations are constantly in flux, with companies rushing to meet demands for convenience, quality and accessibility to avoid losing ground to competitors.

This has all made the management of IT services into a crucial corporate discipline. A number of different IT service management (ITSM) frameworks have appeared as a result over the years, with one of the most popular being ITIL. Formerly known as the ‘Information Technology Infrastructure Library’, ITIL offers a number of best-practice guidelines for planning, developing, deploying and continually improving IT-enabled services, helping users to ensure that they are constantly aligned with the needs of their business or organization.

Replacing ITIL V2 in 2007, ITIL V3 was the de facto version of the framework for over a decade. The announcement of ITIL 4 in 2017 naturally raised a lot of questions, such as:

  • Would V3 certifications remain valid?

  • Would V3 still be relevant?

  • What is it about V3 that needed to be updated?

Though ITIL 4 Foundation courses are now available, there are still many users continuing to study V3. The old syllabus is by no means outdated, and the certification program can still be followed. AXELOS has even specified that V3 certifications will remain valid.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about ITIL V3!

The ITIL V3 Certification Path

The ITIL V3 certification path is fairly straightforward: students complete modules in order to earn ‘credits’, which in turn earn them the right to take higher level examinations. The variety of topics covered in the ITIL intermediate streams is one of the framework’s greatest strengths, as it allows students to choose modules which are more relevant to them.

ITIL V3 Foundation - 2 credits

As the name suggests, the Foundation module introduces users to the ITIL framework, including its terminology and key concepts. They will gain a basic understanding of the ITIL Service Lifecycle, as well as the five core ITIL volumes:

  • Service Strategy

  • Service Design

  • Service Transition

  • Service Operation

  • Continual Service Improvement

All students will need to start by earning an ITIL V3 Foundation certification, as this is a pre-requisite for taking later exams. It will enable users to contribute to ITSM teams and find opportunities in companies utilizing the ITIL framework.

After gaining the ITIL Foundation certificate, students will move on to the intermediate modules. Some candidates choose to pursue ITIL practitioner courses at this point, though this is not mandatory.

ITIL Lifecycle modules:

  • Service Strategy (SS) - 3 credits: This module will help students to learn the role that IT services play in achieving customer and business objectives. Students will also learn how to assess marketplace environments and the needs of users in order to decide what services an organization should offer and which capabilities they will require

  • Service Design (SD) - 3 credits: This module looks at the design of new and existing IT services, helping students to constantly maximize their value. It also addresses the documentation, processes, policies and architectures involved in service delivery

  • Service Transition (ST) - 3 credits: This module looks at the industry practices for ITSM, including building and deploying new or improved IT services and ensuring that any desired changes for existing services are managed in a controlled manner. This is linked to a number of key processes, including change management, change evaluation, project management and service validation and testing

  • Service Operation (SO) - 3 credits: This module moves on from service design, showing students how to coordinate and carry out the activities required for the ongoing operation of services created in previous stages. It also looks at the support and technology required to effectively deliver services, as well as how to address service issues, maintenance requirements and user requests

  • Continual Service Improvement (CSI) - 3 credits: This module covers how to strategically reassess products and services in order to create an atmosphere of continual service improvement. This is relevant not only for new services, but also existing services which customers or internal users already have access to. Students will learn how to organize and execute the process. They will also receive guidance on the technology and tools used for CSI. This is crucial for meeting the ever-evolving needs of customers, clients and business users

ITIL Capability modules:

  • Operational Support & Analysis (OSA) - 4 credits: This module will show students how to apply OSA practices for the sake of access, request, event, problem, incident, application, technical and IT operations management. This is important to ensure that high-quality IT services can be reliably delivered. The stage also incorporates relationship, procedure, infrastructure and people management

  • Planning, Protection & Optimization (PPO) - 4 credits: This module helps students to develop an understanding of the ITIL Service Design process. This includes making sure that different components (tools, processes, methods, metrics, measurement systems, technology architectures, services, service management systems and so on) are in line with user requirements. The simple justification is that shaping these components early on will reduce the need to amend them later. The module also has an element of contingency planning

  • Release, Control & Validation (RCV) - 4 credits: This module focuses on developing an understanding of the ITIL Service Transition process. This allows users to effectively manage transitions, which involves testing and validating new services to ensure they meet all organizational requirements. The module also looks at service asset and configuration management, knowledge management, change management and release and deployment management, as well as request fulfillment, testing and service validation. There is also an element of assessing and managing knowledge in order to help with the decision-making process

  • Service Offerings & Agreements (SOA) - 4 credits: This module looks at how the five stages of the ITIL Lifecycle create value for projects and organizations. This includes the use of SOA practices for service portfolio management, as well as service catalog, service level, supplier, demand, financial, business relationship and strategy management. The module also outlines the roles and responsibilities within SOA, as well as important considerations regarding technology and implementation

ITIL Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) - 5 credits

Once a candidate has collected 17 credits (including the two gained at from the ITIL Foundation certification), they will be eligible to sit the exam for Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC). In essence, this section bridges the previous stages of the ITIL Service Lifecycle, showing students how to combine them in order to fully support an organization’s service delivery process.

Passing MALC will demonstrate a candidate’s ability to use a combined approach to service management. The module will also help users to understand how to amend the Lifecycle and Capability streams for individual services and environments.

Once a candidate has gained an ITIL MALC certification, they will have reached the level of ‘ITIL Expert’.

ITIL Master

The highest ITIL certification is not one that can be achieved with credits alone. To become an ITIL Master, a candidate will not only need to have reached Expert level, but they will also require at least five years of experience in ITSM working in higher-level management, leadership or advisory roles. They will also need to provide evidence of their ability to apply the ITIL framework in practical real-world environments.

All of this will make a candidate eligible to reach Master level. Once they meet the required criteria, they must submit an application in order to become a Master. If this is accepted, the next step will be to submit a proposal, followed by a work package. Lastly, the candidate will need to attend an interview with several assessors. Should they pass this stage, they will officially become an ITIL Master.

Should I Study ITIL V3 or ITIL 4?

When ITIL 4 was announced, students and practitioners who used ITIL V3 naturally had a lot of questions. One of the first things you should know is that V3 certifications will remain valid even once the new version of ITIL is fully released, and the V3 syllabus still offers a great deal of valuable insight into effective ITSM practices.

The biggest change that came with ITIL 4 was the increased involvement of the practitioner community. ITIL is globally recognized, and there are no shortage of users with practical ITSM experience. Calling on this pool of talent and experience helped AXELOS to create a framework which is more in-tune with current ITSM practices, and the community will also continue to provide support for users going forward.

Another big update was an increased level of compatibility with other frameworks. As popular as ITIL is, it is not the only game in town! Soon after the new version was announced, AXELOS specified that it would be compatible with other ITSM standards, including DevOps, Agile and Lean. This will make ITIL 4 much easier for companies to incorporate into their existing ITSM practices.

Now, onto the question of whether it is still worth studying ITIL V3. If you are currently studying intermediate modules, it may be a good idea to keep going until you reach the level of ITIL Expert. This will entitle you to take the ITIL 4 Managing Professional (MP) Transition module when it is released, which will update your certification to bring it in line with ITIL 4.

If you are currently studying at Foundation level, or have just achieved your Foundation certification, it may be better for you to start over from the beginning with ITIL 4. The reason for this is that there is so much new examinable content that AXELOS is not planning to introduce a Foundation-level bridging course.

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