Service Management Blog

Training Courses for ITIL® Certifications

7 minute read
Joseph Mathenge

In the tech world, keeping abreast of the latest and greatest is a never-ending race. The global IT training market size has been valued at $68 billion in 2020. That number is expected to grow 6.2% over the next few years, as more individuals and organizations invest in skills to remain relevant in the digital age.

For the last 30 years, the ITIL® course has continued to hold its ground as the go-to reference for best practices in IT service management (ITSM). PCMag recently ranked ITIL 10th on its list of Highest Paying IT Certifications for 2021. While this rank has recently lost some popularity as other vendor-centric certifications become more valuable, ITIL still remains a favorite for its agnostic approach that is applicable regardless of organizational size, sector, or technology used.

The fourth iteration of ITIL was launched in 2019 by Axelos with much fanfare. ITIL 4 moved from the traditional process-led delivery to a more holistic approach that focuses on value in service delivery through collaboration, while being anchored on digital technology. The update also addressed challenges with previous versions such as:

  • Lack of compatibility with modern approaches such as Agile, Lean, and DevOps
  • Lack of guiding principles
  • Perceived inflexibility from a siloed lifecycle approach

This evolution resulted in a new certification scheme with four certification levels:

ITIL4 Certification Scheme

ITIL 4 Certification Scheme (Source)

Only three levels have training courses, and I’ll give a brief overview of each training course here.

(This article is part of our ITIL 4 Guide. Use the right-hand menu to navigate.)

Training for the ITIL Foundation certification

Course type: Self-study or formal course
Course length
: 3 days
Exam format: Online with 40 multiple choice questions
Pass rate: 65% (26 correct answers)

The ITIL 4 Foundation course introduces participants to the ITIL framework with a focus on the following topics:

The course publication includes a story of a fictitious car hire company that is undergoing a transformation to modernize its services and improve its customer satisfaction and retention levels through the adoption of ITIL. This story enables participants to connect the ITIL concepts with real world application and runs as a golden thread throughout the course.

The ITIL 4 Foundation course takes 3 days and can be done through self-study or a formal training course. The course has no prerequisites. To attain the certification, you will sit for a 40-question multiple choice online exam. This a closed book exam has a pass rate is 65% (26 correct answers), with the level of thinking required being Bloom’s levels 1 (recalling) and 2 (understanding).

(Prepare with our ITIL 4 Foundation study guide.)

After passing the exam, you have the option of two streams depending on your career goals: Managing Professional or Strategic Leader.

ITIL4 Foundation

Training for the ITIL Managing Professional

Course type: Accredited training course
Course length:
3 days per stream; 12 days for full 4-stream certification
Exam format: Closed book exam with 40 multiple choice questions
Pass rate: 70% (28 correct answers)

The ITIL Managing Professional stream provides practical and technical knowledge about how to run successful IT enabled services, teams, and workflows. There are four courses within this stream:

  • Create, Deliver & Support (CDS)
  • Drive Stakeholder Value (DSV)
  • High Velocity IT (HVIT)
  • Direct, Plan & Improve (DPI)

The Managing Professional stream course duration runs for 3 days per each. At the end of the course, learners sit for a closed book certification exam of 40 multiple choice questions with a pass rate of 70% (28 correct answers). The level of thinking required is Bloom’s level 2 (understanding) and 3 (application). Learners must attend an accredited training course (no self-study). One must pass all four courses to attain the ITIL Managing Professional designation.

To facilitate transition for learners of the previous ITIL v3 courses into ITIL 4, anyone who had attained ITIL Expert certification or over 17 credits in the ITIL v3 intermediate courses was eligible to sit for ITIL 4 Managing Professional Transition examination. This exam covered elements from ITIL 4 Foundation and the four Managing Professional courses.

Now, let’s look at each stream.

ITIL Specialist: Create, Deliver & Support (CDS)

This course builds on the ITIL 4 Foundation concepts by providing learners with an understanding on how to integrate different value streams and activities to create, deliver, and support IT-enabled products and services. The CDS course also covers relevant practices, methods, and tools, including methods on service performance, service quality, and improvement.

Target audience: The CDS is aimed at ITSM practitioners managing the operation of IT-enabled and digital products and services, and those responsible for the end-to-end delivery.

The topics covered in this course include:

  • How to plan and build a service value stream to create, deliver, and support services
  • How relevant ITIL practices contribute to creation, delivery, and support across the SVS and value streams
  • How to create, deliver, and support services

ITIL Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value (DSV)

This course builds on the ITIL 4 Foundation concepts by providing learners with an understanding of all types of engagement and interactions between a service provider and other stakeholders (such as customers, users, suppliers and partners). The concepts covered include communication, customer experience (CX), user experience (UX), service level agreements (SLAs), and customer journey mapping. DSV focuses on the conversion of demand into value via IT enabled services.

Target audience: The course is targeted at ITSM practitioners who interact with stakeholders, are responsible for the customer experience, and manage supplier and partner relationships.

The topics covered in this course include:

  • How customer journeys are designed
  • How to target markets and stakeholders
  • How to foster stakeholder relationships
  • How to shape demand and define service offerings
  • How to align expectations and agree details of services
  • How to onboard and offboard customers and users
  • How to act together to ensure continual value co-creation (service consumption / provisioning)
  • How to realize and validate service value

ITIL Specialist: High Velocity IT (HVIT)

This course builds on the ITIL 4 Foundation concepts by providing learners with an understanding of the ways in which digital organizations and digital operating models function in high velocity environments, focusing on rapid delivery of products and services to obtain maximum value. It also covers:

Target audience: The course targets ITSM managers and practitioners involved in digital services or digital transformation projects working within or towards high velocity environments.

The topics covered in HVIT include:

  • Concepts regarding the high-velocity nature of the digital enterprise, including the demand it places on IT
  • The digital product lifecycle in terms of the ITIL ‘operating model’
  • The importance of the ITIL Guiding Principles and other fundamental concepts for delivering high velocity IT
  • How to contribute to achieving value with digital products

ITIL Strategist: Direct, Plan & Improve (DPI)

This course builds on the ITIL 4 Foundation concepts by providing learners with the practical skills necessary to create a ‘learning and improving’ IT organization, with a strong and effective strategic direction. It covers the influence and impact of Agile and Lean ways of working, and teaches a practical and strategic method for planning and delivering continual improvement with necessary agility.

Target audience: Unlike the previous three streams, this strategic course for DPI is targeted at managers of all levels involved in shaping direction and strategy or developing a continually improving team.

The topics covered in DPI include:

  • The key concepts of Direct, Plan & Improve
  • The scope of what is to be directed and/or planned, and know how to use key principles and methods of direction and planning in that context
  • The role of GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) and know how to integrate the principles and methods into the SVS
  • How to use the key principles and methods of continual improvement for all types of improvements
  • How to use the key principles and methods of communication and Organizational Change Management to direction, planning, and improvement
  • How to use the key principles and methods of measurement and reporting in direction, planning and improvement
  • How to direct, plan, and improve value streams and practices

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Training for the ITIL 4 Strategic Leader certification

The ITIL 4 Strategic Leader stream provides learners with the understanding of how IT influences and directs business strategy. There are two modules associated with this stream:

ITIL Strategist: Direct, Plan & Improve (DPI)

This is the same course as mentioned in the ITIL Managing Professional stream.

ITIL 4 Leader: Digital & IT Strategy (DITS)

Course type: Accredited training course
Two parts: an open-book case study assessment and a closed book exam with 30 questions

This course builds on the ITIL 4 Foundation concepts by providing learners with an understanding of the alignment of digital business strategy with IT strategy. DITS also teaches the use of ITIL framework to support organizations in their digital transformation journey by providing a structured and flexible approach for addressing service management challenges and utilizing the potential of modern technology to get the most value from digital technology.

Target audience: DITS is aimed at those in top management and others who are aspiring to become leaders.

DITS covers the following topics:

  • The use of the ITIL guiding principles in Digital and IT Strategy decisions and activities
  • How to leverage digital strategy to react to digital disruption
  • The relationship between the concepts of Digital and IT Strategy, the service value system, and the service value chain, and how to utilize them to create value
  • How an organization uses Digital and IT Strategy to remain viable in environments disrupted by digital technology
  • Strategic approaches made possible by digital and information technology to achieve customer/market relevance and operational excellence
  • The risks and opportunities of Digital and IT Strategy
  • The steps and techniques involved in defining and advocating for a Digital and IT Strategy
  • How to implement a Digital and IT Strategy

The DITS certification is unique as it consists of two assessments:

  1. An open-book case study assessment with three group assignments (or four individual assignments). The total marks are 40, with 30 (75%) being the pass criteria. The level of thinking required is Bloom’s level 4 (judgement).
  2. A closed book examination containing 30 questions, with a pass rate of 21 marks (70%). The level of thinking required is Bloom’s level 2 (understanding) and 3 (application).

Related reading

ITIL 4 Best Practice e-books

These all-new ITIL e-books highlight important elements of ITIL 4 best practices so that you can quickly understand key changes and actionable concepts. Download now for free!

These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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About the author

Joseph Mathenge

Joseph is a global best practice trainer and consultant with over 14 years corporate experience. His passion is partnering with organizations around the world through training, development, adaptation, streamlining and benchmarking their strategic and operational policies and processes in line with best practice frameworks and international standards. His specialties are IT Service Management, Business Process Reengineering, Cyber Resilience and Project Management.