Five Reasons to get ITIL 4 Certification

ITIL 4 is here: to date, there are a foundation book and examination package, with more being released and higher-level books and examinations promised soon (late 2019 or early 2020). The organizations behind ITIL are encouraging everyone to take the training and sit for the new exam. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? – revenue from those exams is their major income source, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in becoming certified. As ITIL 4 emphasizes, we co-create value now, so there should be value for every stakeholder, candidates and exam suppliers. Exactly what that value is for you, of course, you must decide. We can explore some reasons why learning about ITIL 4 now might be a good idea.


Certified, trained, or both?

Some background first: strictly speaking “certification” is the result of passing the examination. Training isn’t a compulsory pre-cursor to the exam – as it is for some higher-level exams. Nonetheless, however, for most people, it makes sense to take the training, learn about the topics, practice with the sample papers and then sit for the actual exam. For most of this blog, I will refer to certification as that package: training + examination, but for some – and in some circumstances – doing one without the other might make sense.


Reasons, benefits and justifications

This blog post cites “five reasons,” because if you aren’t convinced after five, you probably never will be, not because there aren’t more than five (I’m sure there are). Just for balance, the last reason is why you might choose not to do training or examination (yet). For now, however, let’s be positive and pick five reasons to go for it.


1. Being noticed

Let’s address this reason first. Perhaps, it shouldn’t be important and it isn’t the noblest of reasons, but it does matter to many people. For many years (and many ITIL versions), the Foundation certification has been an initial sorting criterion in recruitment agencies. When faced with, say, 300 applications – and 300 CV’s (or résumés) – for a job, agencies must reduce those 300 to a manageable number – therefore, the CV of anyone without ITIL Foundation isn’t even read, however good he or she might be. That step in the process will continue, so if you don’t already have an ITIL foundation, then you should obtain it if you want your CV to advance your career. I suspect also that, pretty soon, it will make a difference to a recruiter that you’ve kept yourself up to date. For Windows-support engineers, recruiters will expect the latest Microsoft qualification, and for ITSM staff, they may have the same attitude – looking for a commitment to stay modern. The simplest way to show that quickly is to list the latest certification (ITIL 4 in this case) at the top of your CV.

This is an extreme example of the benefits of visibility – showing you’ve learned ITIL 4, but the certification does that at all levels. Taking and passing an exam after you’ve acquired new knowledge confirms easily, quickly and (relatively) indisputably that you’ve made the effort to keep up to date, know the stuff and understand it sufficiently to pass the exam. Now, let’s turn to the reason why acquiring all that knowledge will help.



2. Talk the talk

Those who speak just one of the many variations of English know how confusing it can be talking with a person who speaks a different one. There’s just enough in common to make you believe you understand, but enough variations to cause misunderstandings, confusion and – at its worst – mistrust and aggression. ITIL 4 has made both changes and additions to the ITIL terminology. Regardless of how experienced you are and knowledgeable about previous versions of ITIL, you simply must learn these changes and additions to maintain your ability to converse, debate and influence in your ITSM community – whether that community is your workplace or an international Internet-based forum. Without learning this new dialect of ITIL-speak, you will find yourself trapped in confusing conversations. During an argument, you might still lose unless you can show you understand the concepts. The certification might prevent your being dismissed as someone who’s just not current rather than others listening to your points and concerns.


3. Keep learning or fade away

If you work in ITSM – or anywhere else – you must be current with all changes. ITIL 4 introduces new ideas and tools for professional service managers. Everyone should be keen to be current with existing thinking in his or her work area. Of course, we all do this constantly by reading new content, opinion pieces, case studies and more – the fact that you have read to this point in this blog proves you do it. For those struggling to find time in their busy work lives to keep up to date, ITIL 4 is a gift – a packaged and organized delivery of new thinking and updated attitudes – presented in a way that helps you justify taking time to learn, certify and keep progressing. 

One of the key elements within ITIL 4 is the guiding principles. These will (note, not “can” or “could,” honestly, they actually will) help every organization whatever its situation – they are distilled common sense – the most valuable commodity for successful companies.


4. Building a basis for the future

The ITIL 4 foundation package is already being built with new documentation on each ITIL 4 practice available. Each of these documents takes – for one practice – the basis of ITIL 4 and develops the practice to be consistent with it. If you want to understand the future, then you must create a solid present on which to build that future understanding. The ITIL 4 foundation is exactly that (it’s not called “foundation” for nothing). If you wish to go a step further and contribute to the next generation of guidance (and Axelos, at the time of writing, is actively seeking input to practice documentation), then you will need ITIL 4 certification to ensure you understand the underpinning principles and are credible enough for others to listen to you. In fact, ITIL 4 has a new attitude – wanting to fit with other frameworks, where ITIL V3 seemed to try, and subsume them. ITIL 4 Foundation will help you acquire the attitude right too.



5. Open minds grow best

Last: short and simple. ITIL 4 has new ideas. We should always welcome new ideas. We don’t have to agree with them, we don’t have to adopt them. We should, however, always strive to learn about them, critically assess them and adopt what will be helpful to us. ITIL 4 Foundation is a package of new ideas, so we should not miss an opportunity to learn about it.


One small voice against?

I’ve written about why learning ITIL 4 is a good idea, and why the certification, proving both to yourself and others, that you understand it should be helpful, to you and your employers. 

Some organization might be avoiding training its staff in ITIL 4, because it will have built its ITSM procedures on previous versions and wants new staff to learn the basics on which those procedures are based – to ensure common, ITIL V3-based understanding within the organization. I understand why organizations might choose to do this, but it can only be a short-term policy. Good staff will learn new things regardless – staff members will be concerned about being up to date, and employable. Use older versions to keep you going, but plan now to transition to new ideas. How do you learn about those ideas to plan the transition? Well, you become ITIL 4-certified, of course.


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