What Should the ITIL® Practitioner Qualification Address?

As many of you will know, AXELOS recently announced the new ITIL® Practitioner qualification to be released by the end of 2015.

This led me to ponder what challenges facing those have undertaken ITIL Foundation this new qualification should seek to address.

Whilst this could be a long list, I thought I would pick out a top five based on my experience (not in any particular order).


1. Enlightened But Not Empowered

I have seen so many Foundation students leave the training room enlightened by what they have learnt and so eager to make a difference back in the workplace. However, back in the workplace they struggle to apply what they have learnt as they are not empowered by management to drive any sort of change. Whilst this may be a management issue we should equip the practitioner with the ability to create a powerful business case for change to obtain management buy-in.

We should equip the practitioner with the ability to determine the type of business case that is required e.g. structured document or presentation and how to articulate the change they wish to make, the expected business benefits, the options and the cost of the options, a gap analysis and the expected risks.


2. The People Factor

Also referred to as Attitude, Behaviour, and Culture (ABC) of ICT, the organisational change management aspects of changing the way people work is the most overlooked when applying the ITIL learning back in the workplace.

Organisational change management (OCM) is the application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired outcome.[1]

OCM emphasises the “people side” of change and targets leadership within all levels of an organisation including executives, senior leaders, middle managers and line supervisors. When OCM is done well, people feel engaged in the organisational change process and work collectively towards a common objective, realising benefits and delivering results.

Whether the change is a change to process or supporting tools, there will be resistance to it. There always is!

Providing the practitioner with some practical approaches to surfacing resistance to change and effectively managing that resistance would be a powerful tool to equip them with.


3. Where To Start?

Another challenge is where to start. ITIL Foundation students leave their training knowing about the ITIL lifecycle from Service Strategy through Service Design, Service Transition, Service Support and Continual Service Improvement and have 26 processes for potential application back at work.

Clearly one of the first questions they will have is where best to start. Some immediately suggest that they need to do maturity assessment and will tackle the processes with the lowest maturity score.

What many ITSM maturity assessments do not do is indicate what improvement is needed to meet the needs of the business as a whole.

What are the business pain-points that ITSM process improvement needs to address?

What are the opportunities facing the business that will require ITSM process improvement in order for them to be achieved?

A maturity assessment that scores your Change Management process at 1.5, whilst your other ITSM processes are scored at 2.0, does not automatically mean that your focus should be on improvement of the Change Management process. The business could be missing marketing opportunities due to poor performance (and intermittent failure) of the CRM system resulting from a shortage of processing capacity. Therefore it could be time to take a look at the Capacity Management and Demand Management processes and determine why the processes failed to identify and/or predict the need for additional capacity to support business processing.

I believe that the practitioner should be equipped with a methodology, framework or approach to determining the business needs and how they can be met with the adoption of the ITIL framework.

You can read more about the dangers of maturity assessments in a blog I wrote back in July last year called ITSM Maturity Assessments – Handle With Care!


4. Evolution Not Revolution

Sometimes it is enthusiasm and passion that can result in trying to do too much all at once and subsequently failing to deliver anything of value.

I believe we need to teach the practitioner how to produce what I call an ITSM Journey Plan that provides a pragmatic approach to adoption of the framework.

The approach I have taken with organisations is to determine the business needs (see point 3) both with the business and IT personnel and then prioritise those needs and the ITSM process improvements that will meet those needs.

I then (in conjunction with the stakeholders) start to place those initiatives into monthly tranches (30 days, 60 days and 90 days) with a pragmatic approach to what can be achieved in those timeframes given business as usual activities to be maintained.

The practitioner should be able to create a “journey plan” that will allow initiatives to succeed as the timeframes and commitments are realistic and clearly understood.

The journey plan should also reflect the “adopt and adapt” philosophy of ITIL. It is not a revolution that is being looked for but a process of evolution – adopting and adapting the best practice guidance to meet the needs of the business.


5. And Then Keep It Going…….

One of the least well applied – and yet not the most difficult – practices within ITIL is Continual Service Improvement.

Most ITSM initiatives are kicked off as a project when something has failed or the business is kicking up a fuss.

ITSM initiatives should be driven out of an embedded approach to Continual Service Improvement.

The practitioner needs to understand the Continual Service Improvement methods and techniques and how they can become a way of life within the organisation. The practitioner needs to be equipped with the capability to continually review, analyse, measure, report and improve ITSM processes and services delivered.

I think that a lot could be leveraged from the Continual Service Improvement ITIL publication and other industry best practices for the new qualification.



I think this is a positive initiative from AXELOS and something that has been missing for a long time. It is my personal belief that although the ITIL V3 Foundation had to cover the whole lifecycle it lost something in doing so. Students were far better prepared having take the ITIL V2 Foundation to apply the learning back in the workplace because it’s focus was narrower and the trainers had more opportunity to discuss some of the things I have written about here even if it wasn’t core to the syllabus.

I am hoping that the Practitioner qualification will address the gap that has arisen.



For further information:

Press Release: ITIL® evolves with the “ITIL Practitioner” qualification from AXELOS.

ITIL Practitioner Level

ITIL Practitioner FAQs

AXELOS blog by Kaimar Karu – Taking the Next Step with ITIL®


[1] http://www.prosci.com/change-management/definition/

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