ITIL4 Foundation Training Review

ITIL4 Foundation vs ITIL2011 Foundation
Let’s compare ITIL4 Foundation and ITIL2011 Foundation!

A month ago I had a chance to get the ITIL4 Foundation training. I am lucky that I am already certified for the ITIL2011 Foundation, ITIL2011 Service Design, and ITIL2011 Service Transition. So I have the chance to compare ITIL4 Foundation training with ITIL2011 and share my comments about it. Also, I had a chance to review both ITIL4 Foundation and ITIL2011 Foundation books and training.

I hope this review will help you to have realistic expectations about the standard and the training content.

ITIL4 Foundation Tells You a Story

Both the book and training documents include a story in ITIL4. There is a company called Axle Car Hire (I liked the company name choice, it reminds me Axelos). Axle Car Hire tries to implement ITIL4 in their company. And the examples have a business perspective rather than technical.

When I got my ITIL Foundation 2011 training, both the book and the training were too technical, however, I was not a computer scientist or electrical engineer and I did not have experience in IT. This made my training process too hard because I had to learn too many technical concepts. I spent too much time on self-study to pass the exam.

In ITIL4, you learn the technical terms within the Axle Car Hire story. The story helps you to understand concepts especially if you are not a technical person. The examples are really helpful. Even you have a technical background, IT is a wide domain, so you cannot know it all.

There is also another advantage. The story and examples within makes you keep focused. The training was also supported by videos of Axle Car Hire’s story. I believe those changes in the training approach helped me to focus and understand better. Learning standards in training are mostly not fun, but in ITIL4 the story and visual aspects help the learning process.

A sample video from ITIL4 Foundation Training. Axle Car Hire

Aligning with New Concepts (Agile/Lean/Cloud/DevOps)

I got my PMP Exam according to PMBOK5, but I covered the education for PMBOK6. Also, I read the shorter version of COBIT2019. Both those standards could not satisfy my expectations of aligning with new IT concepts such as agile. Those standards almost changed nothing to align.

During my training for ITIL4, I have realized that the standard aligned with the new concepts, not completely but better than others. It clearly shows the importance of faster service delivery. Speed to market is defined as a key success factor. If you have a business idea, you should deliver it faster, otherwise, someone else will do it before you. This perspective is highly valid for today’s conditions.

Teams Become Important in ITIL4

During ITIL4, teams become more important. The customer and product owner are included more inside the practices. The silos are discouraged. The value becomes the key component of the standard.

In ITIL2011, IT teams are more isolated from the business (not completely of course). The focus was on increasing IT service performance and reliability.

Business and IT alignment is important in ITIL4.
ITIL4 believes in business and IT teams working together. Image Source: Pixabay

Service Value Chain vs Phases

In ITIL2011 and ITILv3, the service is divided into 5 phases as Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continual Service Improvement. The strategy was the core phase. Design, Transition, and Operation phases were around the strategy phase. There was a sequential rather than interrelations. Around those three phases, there was Continual Service Improvement. That phase had a relationship with all other phases. The processes were placed under those phases.

In ITIL4, the service is explained by Service Value Chain rather than phases. The value chain has the input of “demand” and the output “value”. Input and output have a continuous cycle. Within this value chain there are 6 activities as “plan”, “improve”, “engage”, “design and transition”, “obtain/build” and “deliver and support”. By using these activities you create a product or service to create value. All those value chain elements are almost related to each other rather than having a sequence. And practices are explained with the relation of those activities.

Let’s give an example. “Portfolio Management” is a process in ITIL2011 under the “Service Strategy” phase. In ITIL4 we realize it has high relation with “plan” activity in the service value chain. This is consistent with ITIL 2011. But there is more. We see that “Portfolio Management” is not only a planning phase. It has medium relationship with “engage”, “obtain/build”, “design and transition” and “improve” stages. So planning and managing a portfolio becomes a continuous activity rather than a one time work in ITIL4.

I find the service value chain approach more aligned with today’s agile perspective. However, the phased approach was easier to implement. You know where to start and how to start during implementation. The value chain seems harder to understand and implement. I have read the service value chain and also learned it during the training. I observed that I am not the only confused person during learning the service value chain. Other students in the class also seemed a bit confused.

Processes and Practices

In ITIL2011 and ITILv3 there are processes. Each process is placed under a phase. The processes are linked to other processes. Mostly those links are sequential. For example, you first create your service portfolio, then create your service catalog, then you define the service levels, etc. All those processes have their inner activities.

In ITIL4, processes are introduced as practices. The practices are not part of a single-phase, but they have a relation with service chain activities. The relationship may be high/medium/low or there may not be a relation. The inner activities are not explained sequentially, they are only defined.

During my training in ITIL2011, most of the focus was on processes, and during the exam, we were responsible for almost all of them. In ITIL4, there is less focus on practices. Some of the practices are described in detail, but most of them are only mentioned.

ITIL2011 focused more processes than ITIL4. ITIL2011 training was a lot harder due to massive content. However, after the ITIL2011 Foundation training, most of the IT professionals could start implementing the knowledge. ITIL4 seems more conceptual, and you need to further training for implementation.

Where are the Risks and Metrics in ITIL4?

There are new practices in ITIL4 that are not covered in ITIL2011 such as; “architecture management”, “organizational change management”, “project management”. Also in ITIL4, we have two new practices that were not included as processes but still existed in ITIL2011: “Risk management” and “measurement and reporting”. In this part of the post, I would like to mention “risk management” and “measurement and reporting”.

In ITIL2011 “risk management” and “measurement and reporting” were not included as processes, but they existed within all processes. Even at the foundation level, in the book they existed. How? In each process, you see a KPI list and a possible risk list associated with the process. So during the implementation of a process, you had ready to use risks and KPIs. I believe this knowledge was quite useful.

In ITIL4 risk and performance became a practice like COBIT. In this way, you can actually learn about what those practices are and why they are useful. However, after you complete ITIL4 training, you will have knowledge about what is risk management/performance, but you do not have the knowledge of your risks/KPIs.

I believe ITIL4 Foundation and ITIL2011 Foundation training complete each other. You can use the approach from ITIL4 during designing your risk and performance management processes. You can implement those two processes by using the lists in each IT service processes ITIL2011.

General Management Practices Become Visible

I started my IT career as an IT process management specialist. Today I work as an IT Governance, Risk and Compliance specialist. While learning ITIL2011, I realized that I had no specific role in IT management. My role was supporting the IT organization. All IT roles seemed only technical.

In today’s world, IT needs to align with business more than before. General management practices are the enablers of this alignment. IT governance and process management specialist’s role becomes more clear with ITIL4. Good news for non-technical IT professionals.

Let’s list the general management practices:

  • Architecture management
  • Continual improvement
  • Information security management
  • Knowledge management
  • Measurement and reporting
  • Organizational change management
  • Portfolio management
  • Project management
  • Relationship management
  • Service financial management
  • Strategy management
  • Supplier management
  • Workforce and talent management

Architecture management and information security are more technical roles than the other practices in general management practices, but still technical and non-technical teams can work together. The rest of them can be completed by non-technical teams working in IT.

Final Observations and Suggestions

From ITIL4 Foundation training and material, I observed that this standard aligns better with today’s IT’s way of working. Business is more included. On the other hand, ITIL2011 Foundation training and materials had more content. After completing ITIL2011 Foundation training and having materials you could easily start on implementation (at least on a basic level).

If you are new to the ITIL world, you may not get what you expect from ITIL4. If you have an ITIL2011 or ITILv3 knowledge, it will be easier to understand and to build your plan on implementation according to new ITIL4 concepts. If you want to have better knowledge from ITIL4 Foundation, even though you do not get certified, at least read ITIL2011 materials once.

If you are interested in ITIL, you may read my other contents on ITIL.

If you need books for ITIL here are my suggestions: