In the wake of the update to the core IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) publications last year, more details of the accompanying intermediate level qualifications have now been agreed. Helen Boddy explains.

In light of service management having evolved as a concept, the new ITIL® best practice was set out in five core books released on 30 May 2007. The accompanying qualifications, first started up in the mid-1990s, needed to be brought in line with version 3 of ITIL®, which has moved to a lifecycle approach. Close behind publication of the books, Foundation version 3 courses and examinations became available from June 2007.

What was not decided back in June, however, was the shape, syllabus and points systems for the step after Foundation, the intermediate level, and higher level. However, the ITIL® Qualifications Board approved details of the full version 3 scheme in November 2007, and training providers are now preparing materials for version 3 courses, which will start being offered once the final syllabus and exam papers are available, in 2008.

There are also bridging courses available at both foundation and intermediate level. The Foundation bridge is already available and the intermediate bridge which provides existing Manager Certificate holders the opportunity to gain the ITIL® Expert (working title) is currently available to the trainer community and should go live within the next couple of months to the general public.

The full version 3 qualification scheme is in modular format with a points system. To achieve the 'ITIL® Expert' candidates must gain a total of 22 credits, which includes 2 mandatory credits from Foundation version 3, units from intermediate modules, and a final compulsory unit called 'Managing Across The Lifecycle'.

To gain their 22 credits, candidates can either choose modules from one of two streams - Service Lifecycle and The Service Capability - or mix and match from both. Intermediate examinations will be in the format of multiple-choice, multi-part scenario-based questions.

In a detailed document about the qualifications, Sharon Taylor, the chief examiner for the ITIL® Qualifications Scheme, explains: 'The Service Lifecycle series will be of interest to candidates wishing to obtain knowledge of version 3 practices within the service lifecycle context... The Service Capability will be of interest to candidates who wish to be certified in a deep level understanding of version 3 processes and roles... the primary focus is the process activities, execution and use through the service lifecycle.'

Julian Cox, product portfolio manager at Parity, puts it another way: 'The capability modules are more like that of Practitioner version 2, while the strategy and lifecycle element are aimed at board level.'

In order to sit the examinations in lifecycle or capability modules, it is compulsory for candidates to first take a course with an approved training course, either classroom-based or via e-learning.

After candidates have achieved 17 credits from the Foundation level, and lifecycle and capability modules, they can move on to the compulsory Managing Across the Lifecycle module (worth 5 credits), which focuses on 'the ancillary knowledge required to implement and manage the necessary skills associated with the use of the lifecycle practices'.

Once candidates are successful in Managing Across the Lifecycle, and gained 22 credits, they will automatically be granted Expert certification.

Candidates who hold ITIL® version 1 and 2 qualifications can take a bridge examination to convert them to version 3. Foundation level version 1 and 2 certification is worth 1.5 credits with a Foundation bridge examination worth 0.5 credits, i.e. 2 credits in total, equating to Foundation version 3 points.

If candidates hold Practitioner version 1 or 2 certificates, valued at 12 credits, to reach Expert certification they need to take the new Managing Across the Lifecycle compulsory examinations (5 credits) and a Managers bridge course (5 credits).
A Managers version 1 or 2 certificate is worth 17 credits, which candidates can top up to ITIL® Expert certification by attending the mandatory Managers bridge course and passing the examination.

Longer term, the modular structure of the scheme should allow other related examinations to count towards the qualification, although some modules are likely to remain compulsory. In the short-term, however, all the examination institutes will be following the same syllabus which will include recommendations for study hours and attendance of accredited training.

Candidates will therefore be able to reach Expert certification via the new modular version 3 approach, once it is available, or via mainly version 2 examinations, plus a Bridge course. 'By going down this second route, candidates may not be getting the most out of the certification for their business because version 3 is more tailored to business needs,' explains Cox. 'Some people are not wanting to wait, however, for version 3 examinations, but I would only advise doing this if you want it now.'

More generally, Cox says Parity has found the take-up of version 3 certification fairly slow, but thinks companies are gradually now making the transition. 'With the Foundation level, the switchover is starting to show. Managers are starting to be convinced of its value and realise that version 2 and 3 are not incompatible. Plus, the new Foundation level is a bit more substantial in terms of understanding the business.'

Beyond Expert certification, the ITIL® Examination Panel is working on the format of advanced certification. Nothing is set in stone yet, but a key element will be candidates displaying practical application experience. 'It is also expected that the advanced level certification will be recognised by external, professional industry bodies,' said Taylor.

Details of this will not be released until much later in the year.