For years, one best practice framework has dominated the ITSM industry: ITIL, which has been described as “the most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world.”
There are various qualifications that provide a recognised training curriculum for users of ITIL. The latest of these is ITIL Practitioner, which was launched in February this year by AXELOS, the organisation that acts as the custodian for these best practice frameworks and methodologies.
The development of the new qualification followed a period of consultation with ITSM professionals from around the world. “There was a need for a practical level that rested between ITIL Foundation, and the more specialised Intermediate Level,” says Sharon Taylor, Chief Examiner for ITIL Practitioner. “So, based on the feedback and requests from the practitioner community, we designed the Practitioner qualification, which is for people who are active in ITSM, use ITIL every day, and need to have more than just a basic understanding of it. At Foundation Level, people find out what ITIL is and what its benefits are. With Practitioner, they learn how to better adopt and adapt it in order to improve services.”
“We worked with an international team of ITSM professionals on identifying the key skills and capabilities for people on Practitioner level,” explained Kaimar Karu, Head of ITSM at AXELOS. “When analysing a detailed list of more than a hundred skills, patterns started to emerge – and these are now codified in the guidance by that same team, and the skills to apply these are tested in the exam.”




Because the training community is given autonomy to design and develop ITIL courses based on the official syllabus, Practitioner course lengths are flexible and therefore vary; but, generally, these take place over two or three days. Some training organisations have also been thinking about longer workshops, to give even more time for practical assignments and exercises that prepare people to apply what they have learned in real life. As with other ITIL qualifications, Practitioner features a reference text — ITIL Practitioner Guidance — as a companion to the course; plus candidates are given a 1hr 45 minute multiple choice examination (with an extra 26 minutes for candidates who speak English as their second language).
The examination is 'open book', which means that ITIL Practitioner Guidance can be used in the exam setting. “We didn't want a qualification that simply tested a candidate's ability to memorise content,” explains Taylor. “In work situations, users would have access to the Guidance to help them. We therefore wanted them to be able to take that knowledge and apply it in the exam to a scenario, just like they would in real life.”




Like all AXELOS courses, the performance of ITIL Practitioner is continually monitored, and the feedback from trainers, examiners, and users is actively sought. “Among other feedback, we have also received questions around the difficulty of the course,” says Taylor. “ITIL itself espouses a continual improvement approach — and we apply that to how we manage our qualifications too. As we identify opportunities for improvement, these will be implemented in due time.”
Motivations for taking the course are as different as the candidates themselves, says Taylor. “Some people want to do it because they see an opportunity for increased pay or promotion. Others just want to be able to do their job better. But, at the heart of it, we wanted a qualification for people who have a desire to improve their knowledge and their skills — and so support their customers by providing more value through improved services."