ITIL Certification And You

Direction Sign

Well, I’m pleased to say I have my ITIL Certification – well, the foundation. Hold your applause while you go surf the web to find out what the hell I’m actually talking about.

Now as everyone knows, I’m big on certifications. They show skills, they force you to study, they look good on a resume because they show commitment and knowledge. I can say in my experience that having those extra letters after my name has been great for my career (and takes a lot of effort).

When I first started looking into the ITIL at my manager’s request, I wasn’t sure what it was. Later, I found it was extremely useful, very educational, and something I wish I’d know about earlier. I wanted to share my experiences because this might be something for you.

OK, look, stop surfing, I’m going to explain it.

OK, What Is The ITIL?

The ITIL is a set of best practices for IT Service Management. It’s a set of concepts, ideas, and language centered around delivering good IT services to people, like migrations of technology or access to infrastructure. If you’ve ever sat there wondering why the person on the other end of the phone could not for the life of them get your damn printer working, you understand the value of Service Management. A shame other people don’t.

Now the ITIL itself is . . . uh, kind of enormous. There are five VOLUMES of stuff about it, so you’re not exactly going to go reading up on it here unless you’re really obsessive. And before you ask I haven’t planned to . . . yet. But I’m willing to consider it.

But there’s all sorts of condensed guides, classes, and more to give you the basics. Most people probably need just that.

So what it comes down to is “here’s the best ways to run an IT service.” I’d say if you’re in IT there’s a good chance that, in whole or in part, you work in the service area. You’re the poor schmuck making sure the financial system runs, change management works, or the cloud migration actually happened. If you’re a manager like me or in the trenches, you know this is a bit . . . complex.

So when I was told I should look into this certification, I was actually pleased . . .

The ITIL Is Pretty Cool

Look, I know I’m a management wonk. I wrote a bunch of columns about it. I will write of it in the future. I have had a love affair with multiple forms of software for organization and I’m not ashamed. But I can say that this entire ITIL thing is actually pretty neat.

IT services are a pain, which you know if you deliver them or request them. The ITIL provides an outline for how to do them, common language, and a way to improve them. It’s all so detailed that it also will help you understand just how much you don’t think of or should think of; it’s got so many best practices some are the ones you kind of forgot existed (or a lot of people on your team did).

So I can say right now that if you work in any form of IT services, you should at least grab a “Dummies” book and read up on it. You’ll probably get ideas and might also know what other people are talking about.

But, best of all you can get certified.

The Foundation Is A Good Place To Start

So I got certified on the ITIL Foundation, which is frankly the lowest rung possible. There’s two more levels that involve getting other assorted certs and elements that I haven’t even looked into and probably won’t until 2015.

Studying for the Foundation was enough to give me a good crash course in concepts and plenty of ideas and notes my co-workers will doubtlessly get tired of me talking about. The certification is pretty simple – you go take a test with an appropriately accredited tester. If you want training, there’s assorted classes an online classes (which frankly helped).

Now these classes seem to cost in the range of similar certifications like the CSM, so it might cost a grand or two (which usually includes the test). You could probably study on your own or with a group if you wanted.

Either way, the act of studying for the test really was a great introduction to ITIL. I’m a believer . . . well in that I believed I learned a lot.

Where It May Be Good For You

So, where could the ITIL cert be good for you be good for you?

  • If you work in Services for IT and want to get a boost. Frankly, if you are in services and you’re not using ITIL, look into it.
  • If you’re planning to take your career more towards service or infrastructure.
  • If you work a lot with services – I’ve recommended a tech writer I know look into this.
  • It’s a good compliment to other certifications (looks nice with my PMP and CSM).
  • It also has credits applicable to maintaing PMPs and PriSM.
  • If you want more certifications and do a lot of process work – because damn will it give you ideas.

Is it for everyone? No. It’d be useless to anyone not in IT, and useless to anyone who isn’t doing a lot of work with services. It won’t help you if you’re a game developer or a web designer, or a mobile app coder except in specific situations.


So, I’m happy to have that certification. I may well look to add more to my repertoire, and I learned a lot. It might be for you.

Let me know!

– Steven Savage