Is getting to ITIL Expert level worth it?

Is getting to ITIL Expert level worth it?

Is getting to ITIL Expert level worth it and why do 90% of people taking ITIL Foundation level training go no further?

ITIL® (the IT Infrastructure Library) and its associated certifications have been around since the 1980s. Hundreds of thousands of IT professionals have benefitted from the training and ITIL certifications, but has the certification and training brought similar benefits to the organisations typically sponsoring these programs?

In a survey (source: ‘The benefits of investing in ITIL Expert Certification, ITpreneurs,’) the following statistics were uncovered:

Benefits of ITIL Expert:

 79% of people who had reached ITIL Expert level indicated that training and certification helped them to develop their skills so that they could better perform their job, and be more productive, and measurably helped the IT organisation improve overall productivity.

80% of ITIL Experts say that achieving this level of ITIL expertise led to better implementation of IT Service Management processes within their organisation.

✓ 91% of ITIL Experts state that ITIL advanced certification is a competitive differentiator. They say that the certification helps them gain confidence and makes them stand out amongst non-certified people.

✓ 83% of the respondents say that their expertise is more valued by management after they became ITIL Experts. 87% say their expertise is more valued by peers inside or outside the organisation.

Almost all the ITIL Experts stressed the importance of the training that was part of the certification experience. The training allowed them to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the value of good practices and increased their capability to lead improvement initiatives.

IT Service Management is something that all IT organisations do deliberately or otherwise. If   the purpose of the IT organisation is to provide a ‘service’ to the business, then IT Service Management is something that needs to be performed anyway. And if it needs to be done, then why not do it properly through qualified ITIL professionals? Through recent research, 160 ITIL Experts explained how they make significant contributions to the success of their organisations. If the research results are anything to go by, these IT professionals attribute much of this success to their ITIL training and certification in no uncertain terms, thus revealing the significant value of taking ITIL training further than just the Foundation level.

Before ITIL Version 3, the ITIL Certification scheme was fairly simple: Foundation – Practitioner – Manager. People seemed to know implicitly that real competence was gained through the Manager’s course – the Red Badge, and that the Foundation and Practitioner courses were just stepping stones along the way. But with the V3 Certification scheme things have become much more complicated. Moving your way through the V3 scheme poses two very big challenges:

  • the number of courses you need to take to reach the 22 points that give you ITIL Expert status which means an enormous commitment in time, and
  • The cost of reaching ITIL Expert level.

Only having the ITIL Foundation level certificate is very restrictive, both for the individual and the organisation.

For the individual, they will not be able to get the better roles they may wish, and in interview situations, would not be able to demonstrate the depth of knowledge perhaps required. In my role at Pink Elephant I have interviewed many potential consultants. I can categorically state that the people with the ‘Red Badge’ qualification – the old v2 Manager’s course – stand head and shoulders above the rest. Closely followed by the new breed of ITIL Experts. People with only Foundation level are simply not in the same league – even though they may have many years ‘practical’ experience.

For the company, people with only a Foundation level qualification simply don’t have the competence to make ITIL realise all the benefits that it can give.


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Gijs-Jan Huisman

Regional Director EMEA +44 (0)7850 776 090