Frequently Asked Questions: ITIL®

What is ITIL?

ITIL was originally an acronym for the IT Infrastructure Library.  It is a codification of best practice in the field of information technology and information systems.  It enables dissemination and teaching of methodologies which have been proven to underpin the most successful IT users.

How do I get ITIL qualified?

The start point for anyone interested in ITIL is the Foundation Certificate.  This demonstrates your basic understanding of the core ITIL processes.  It is usually achieved through a 3 day training course with an accredited provider - and will include the multiple choice exam.

Online learning is also an option.  

What format is the ITIL Foundation Certificate Exam?

The most popular UK examination board at present is ISEB though it is also available from EXIN and now APMG.  It is a one hour, closed book, multiple choice exam containing 40 questions.  The pass mark is 26/40.

The Foundation exam is normally taken on the final day of a three day course but it is also available independently of training via Thomson Prometric, or through quarterly central exam events organised by the ISEB. ISEB pass rates over the past two years have averaged 87%.

Test your skills with our ITIL quiz which comprises 20 ITIL Foundation style questions.

How does ITIL keep up to date with changing technology and business needs?

There is regular and structured consultation within the IT/IS community.  A major player in this respect has been the ITSMF (IT Service Management Forum) which represents the professional concerns of the IT community worldwide.  Over time ITIL has shifted from a technical to a service focus.

Is ITIL for individuals or for companies?

ITIL qualifications are specific to an individual.  However, many organisations use ITIL training to establish a common best practice approach to IT service management.  Moreover, ITIL processes are deeply embedded within corporate certifications such as ISO20000.

Is ITIL growing?

Yes - extremely fast. 

Over 300,000 ITIL exams were taken in 2012.  It is the international standard for IT service management.  There is strong adoption within the US and emerging Asian economies as well as the UK and Europe.

Version 3 facilitated further international expansion through multilingual exams and support material. The latest release was in 2011.

What are the higher level ITIL qualifications?

The Intermediate and Expert certificates have displaced the old Practitioner and Manager qualifications.

You can download a free guide - ITIL Qualifications Explained.

We offer discounted bundles for those looking to achieve ITIL Expert certification:

ITIL Expert Bundles

What is different about ITIL version 3 and ITIL 2011?

Version 3 of ITIL was launched in June 2007 following the 3 year "ITIL Refresh" project.  It shifted ITIL into the context of continuous improvement.  It built on the already well established core processes but interpreted them on a "service lifecycle basis". 

The 10 process defined books which described the framework were replaced by 5 books covering Service Strategies, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement.

There is a growing body of supporting study aid material.  In addition, Executive Briefs and Case Studies drive home the importance and relevance of the processes to non specialist personnel.

A minor refresh was undertaken in 2011 but the basic guidance and qualification structure was not significantly affected.

What is the ITIL Expert qualification?

The ITIL Expert is the high level "manager's" qualification under the ITIL v3 qualification structure.

It is obtained by accumulating 22 credits through study at Foundation and Intermediate levels.

There are also credits available for any existing v2 certificates you hold - and it is possible to "Bridge" from the v2 Manager's certificate.

What pre-reading is necessary for the ITIL Courses?

No pre-reading is required but delegates attending the Foundation course will benefit from the itSMF Introductory Overview.  Contact Focus for a free copy.

Where did ITIL come from?

ITIL has its origins in the public sector in the UK in the 1980s when government was concerned to improve the effectiveness of major IT projects. A major precursor was a set of IBM "Yellow Books" on management information systems.  ITIL was and continues to be a common sense framework that is independent of technology vendor and is based on observations of best practices within the IT service industry.

Who owns ITIL?

Ownership of the the name and copyright in materials lies with the Office for Government Commerce (the UK Government organisation which is also behind PRINCE2 and MSP).

However, the approach can be freely adopted by anyone.

Responsibility for examinations and trainer accreditation has been passed to the APMGroup.

Who uses ITIL?

ITIL is relevant to public and private sector organisations - large or small. 

Amongst larger organisations which have adopted ITIL as a basic management process are:

Barclays Bank

Boeing

British Airways

Caterpillar

Guiness

HSBC

Hewlett Packard

IBM

Microsoft

Procter & Gamble

Shell

UK Ministry of Defence

US Internal Revenue Service.

Why use ITIL?

To overcome the frequent criticisms of IT investment regarding over spend, under delivery, and lack of transparency.

Benefits can include increased productivity, higher levels of customer satisfaction, reduced costs, improved communications between the IT function and its customers, improved morale of service delivery staff, lower costs of training, and better asset utilisation. 

Savings in total costs of ownership of 48% have been reported in case studies.  P&G has attributed savings of 10% of their total IT costs to adoption of ITIL.