What is the ITIL certification and why do you need it?

Find out how to improve your IT infrastructure through this certification

ITIL, formerly an acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is at the top of the list for must-have IT certifications. 

ITIL is a set of best practices for creating and improving an Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) process. Originally released as a series of books in the 1980s before becoming part of the AXELOS portfolio of certifications, it's designed to help businesses build stable IT environments for growth, scale and change.

It's is also a vital tool to help the organisation meet the requirements for ISO 20000 certification, ensuring any IT organisation can make sure their ITSM processes match the needs of the business with international best practices.

It's been brought up to date, too. ITIL 4, the most recent release of ITIL, was launched in February 2019. It's the first major update to the framework since 2007, and it's designed to keep up with recent trends in software development and IT operations. Expanding on the previous framework, ITIL V3, it provides a more flexible basis to support organisations on their digital transformation journeys. 

ITIL 4 defines four dimensions that should be considered to ensure a holistic approach to service management: organisations and people, information and technology, partners and suppliers, and value streams and processes.

Why should you use it?

ITIL can provide many benefits to your business. Perhaps the most immediate is the commonality that a single platform of support and quality brings, making it far easier for your partners to gain an understanding of how your business functions, whether they’re local or abroad.

However, ITIL also has the ability to create a far more transparent internal help desk, making it easier for employees to obtain information, ultimately saving time and boosting productivity.

Another major benefit is the extent to which it future proofs your business. Using ITIL principles, your IT infrastructure will be able to cope far better with sudden business growth and system disruption, particularly as the helpdesk will have a central role in the process.

Who uses ITIL?

ITIL is used by many organisations across the world, both large and small, and public and private. Some notable examples include Disney, Liverpool Victoria, Müller, and the UK’s HMRC

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For example, Müller made use of ITIL processes as part of an infrastructure upgrade, creating a bridge between its service desk and the rest of its IT department. The service desk’s key performance indicators (KPIs) ultimately exceeded 99% in an average week once the change was made.

At Disney, it was the executive branch that first pushed ITIL down to the rest of the business, as part of an awareness campaign to address a number of company issues. To initiate change, 250 employees were trained in ITIL Foundation, 50% of which signed up to the official ITIL certification exam.

The certification

ITIL certification has a modular approach and is made up of a series of qualifications that cover the best practices in different ways.

There are five certification levels: Foundation, Practitioner, Intermediate, Expert and MaMullerster.


This entry level certification aims to give individuals a general awareness of the key elements, concepts and terminology of the framework. It's aimed at those who need a basic understanding of the ITIL framework or who need to understand how ITIL can be used to enhance IT service management in an organisation, as well as a IT professionals who need to be informed about ITIL in their current organisation.

The one-hour exam is made up of 40 multiple choice questions and you need 26 marks out of the 40 (65% correct) in order to pass. As the name suggests, this module is the one on which the other four are built


Axelos claims that the Practitioner certification not only helps individuals speak the language of ITIL but also to "translate it and use it in practice".

This module can be taken at any stage in the ITIL certification scheme after Foundation and builds on other methodologies and frameworks, like DevOps, Agile and Lean. It also improves efficiency, productivity and collaborations between ITSM and the wider business, Axelos claims.

It covers three subjects: Organisational Change Management, Communication, and Measurements and Metrics.

The exam follows the same format as the Foundation test but needs 28 marks to pass (70% correct) and is two hours and 15 minutes long. It's also an open book exam.


This module, which you can take if you have passed the Foundation exam, has two in-depth areas of study: Service Lifecycle and Service Capability.

Service Lifecycle is relevant to people working in a management or team leader role where who need to work across multiple teams. The other part, Service Capability, is for those who want to get specific knowledge in one or more processes, such as operational support and analysis.

For this module, you will not be able to self-study and then take the exams, you must attend Axelos training to complete it.


This module is for candidates who have achieved a "well-rounded, superior knowledge and skills base in ITIL Best Practices".

It's meant to help you advance your career in the IT service management field and you will need to pass it if you expect to take the Master level the highest level of ITIL certification.

In order to study this module, you need to have earned a minimum of 17 credits from the Foundation and Intermediate modules. You then need to take the "Managing Across the Lifecycle" module too. The pass mark for the exam in this module is 35/50 (70%) and lasts for two hours.


This final level aims to see whether you can apply the principles, methods and techniques from ITIL in the workplace.

You will have to explain and justify how you used ITIL to achieve a desired business outcome in one or more assignment. There's no prescribed training, but you must have achieved Expert level and worked in IT service management for at least five years in leadership, managerial, or higher management advisory levels.

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