Organizations are becoming increasingly dependent on corporate IT services in order to satisfy their corporate objectives and to meet their business needs. This leads to an increased requirement for high quality IT services for organizations to maintain their competitive advantage. To mitigate those issues, ITIL provides a cohesive set of best practices, drawn from the public and private sectors worldwide.
Organizations and management systems cannot claim certification as "ITIL-compliant". An organization that has implemented ITIL guidance in IT Service Management (ITSM), may be able to achieve compliance with and seek certification under ISO/IEC 20000. However, while relatively closely aligned, ISO/IEC 20000 and ITIL Version 2 do not define identical processes. This gap has become much wider with ITIL versions 2007 and 2011. ITIL now defines twice as many ITSM processes as ISO/IEC 20000 (26 compared to 13), but there are also more subtle differences, for example:
By adopting the ITIL framework, companies ensure that their services are delivered according to a set of consistent, well-defined processes that incorporate best practices and processes, resulting in a predictable level of service for users. The benefits of ITIL include reduced cost of service development and deployment, improved customer satisfaction with service delivery, increased productivity from IT personnel, quality improvements, better management metrics of services and increased flexibility in adapting services to changing business requirements.
ITIL is used across the world and in a wide variety of industries, with internationally known companies like IBM, HBSC, and even NASA implementing ITSM strategies. For many companies, the biggest benefits of ITIL are its versatility and scalability: companies can take as little or as much as they’d like from ITIL, and they can also combine it with practices that follow other popular frameworks like Six Sigma, COBIT, and TOGAF.
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The ITIL certification scheme now offers a modular approach. Each qualification is assigned a credit value; so that upon successful completion of the module, the candidate is rewarded with both a certification and a number of credits. At the lowest level – Foundation – candidates are awarded a certification and two credits. At the Intermediate level, a total of additional 15 credits have to be earned. These credits may be accumulated in either a "Lifecycle" stream[note 1] or a "Capability" stream;[note 2] or combination thereof. Each Lifecycle module and exam is three credits. Each Capability module and corresponding exam is four credits. A candidate wanting to achieve the Expert level will have, among other requirements, to gain the required number of credits (22). That is accomplished with two from Foundations, then at least 15 from Intermediate, and finally five credits from the "Managing Across the Lifecycle" exam. Together, the total of 22 earned credits allows a person to request designation as an ITIL Expert. Advancing from the expert to the master level does not require additional credits, but does require at least five years of IT domain work experience and an extensive usage of ITIL practices.
ITIL 2007 edition (previously known as ITIL Version 3) is an extension of ITIL Version 2 and fully replaced it following the completion of the withdrawal period on 30 June 2011. ITIL 2007 provides a more holistic perspective on the full life cycle of services, covering the entire IT organization and all supporting components needed to deliver services to the customer, whereas ITIL Version 2 focused on specific activities directly related to service delivery and support. Most of the ITIL Version 2 activities remained untouched in 2007, but some significant changes in terminology were introduced in order to facilitate the expansion.