What is the big deal about ITIL Manager/Expert certificate? Wait until ITSM is a degree-level course.

Certifications in the IT industry are so wimpy that ITIL Manager's looks tough. But stack it up against any undergrad or postgrad IT degree and it is just a test. Perhaps one day soon there will be plenty of ITSM-related degrees for it to compete against and it won't count for much any more.

A recent comment from Michiel talked about "ITIL is more and more part of the curriculum of universities and colleges". There is one more step for the tertiary institutes to take: from teaching awareness and general knowledge about ITIL to providing industry-recognised certification.

I'd love to see tertiary institutes emerge as accredited competitors for Expert and Advanced level training. Foundation and Practitioner are so short as to hardly count as a tertiary qualification but the higher two might - should - have enough meat to perhaps amount to one undergrad paper.

The alternative scenario is probably more likely: The existing training vendors keep their grip on governance of the qualifications and shut the tertiary institutions out. The tertiaries create their own Bachelors and Masters degrees. The industry finally realises that a year or three spent studying ITSM counts for far more than a commercial Expert or Advanced certificate and these become irrelevant or relegated to entry-level.

I can just see the university prospectus:
Batchelor of IT Operations Engineering
12 credits required
ITIL Advanced Certification: 1 first year credit.
Approved practical experience: 1 credit per year, maximum 6.

As someone who spent six years getting my own (non-IT) degree I've never quite understood the respect accorded an ITIL Manager (sorry folks). Folk say "it takes weeks of study and the exams are really hard". People who think ITIL Manager's is tough (or expensive) have either never been to university (common in IT but very rare in other engineering disciplines) or forgotten what it is like.


That's a relief

Don Tennant has realised what we already said here: Service Managment degrees are going to be meal-tickets. In his usual hyperbolic way way he sees them as the future of IT rather than just another option, but I guess we both agree they will be important.

When Don comes on board you know you have made the mainstream.

Don finds us "earnest" and "good-natured" which I guess is better than quaint. readers will be relieved to know that "the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced they're right". That was keeping me awake nights.

When Don says that "university programs in service management are rare" I guess he means between the shining seas. As we have discussed above, they are not that uncommon in Europe.

At the end, we are also in complete agreement that computer science will not be a meal-ticket in IT in the future. IT has more than enough techno-geeks and code-jockeys already.

Small side of the "Big Picture."

small side of the "Big Picture."

Unfortunately, my opinion is that a Itsm degree
will build qualifications for a job that can't be had without
work experience.

The real winners I believe are the ones that have PM experience
and realize that they might not be working on a project but a program
which is group of possibly interrelated projects.

At the end of the day this is a project and for it to but successful
it needs to be managed successfully.

With this being said,I believe the certifications are sufficient and fit for use.
For now this type of education is being given out to individuals who are
already on the job that require this as part of there understanding to perform
there job function.

* I believe this will continue to be so as the most effective in this role
are the individuals brought up to learn ITIL to apply it to the business
because they know and understand the business!

Thats why this works better in the realm of the certification world
as its going to take a good PM and some one who knows there
business to build and manage processes in order to pull this off
with best increase for successful implementation.


Vince P.

Skeptic, I suppose you never

Skeptic, I suppose you never did try to get Service Manager certified?
I did. In my group of 10, we had a broad range of qualified people both bachelor and master degree, with 5 to 20 years of experience in IT matters.
Guess what, ONE succeeded and he wasn't a master.
And if you're the type of person who doesn't mind spending 7.000 € a month for university, you're one of the lucky few...


btw. got certified after retake

What is the big deal about ITIL Manager/Expert certificate?

As a holder of the ITIL red badge, I agree with IT Skeptic. I thought i would just add an update though...

I am currently doing a Masters degree in IT Service Management at Northampton University. The ITIL red badge gets you an exemption from one module but there is still two years of further work required to get to MSc level.

In a couple of years, i think all universities will be offering these post-grad qualifications thereby slowly killing off the new "ITIL Master" scheme.

Support the Uni route

As a practitioner-scholar who can masquerade as an academic, I would welcome a further legitimisation of ITSM such as this throughout the industry, and a Masters-level accredited program sounds perfect. I, too, am spiteful of what has happened with ITIL certification. What a boondoggle, what with lazy production of courses and exams and the money-grab by vendors, our primary method of capability declaration is slowly being cheapened to the level of a flaccid MCSE or CNE. When vying for gigs as a consultant, my portfolio speaks louder than paper-certified candidates, and to boot, hiring managers are starting to discount these certs now. Godspeed, Uni!


I agree Jim, and this week I got something to back it up.

Whilst teaching a v3 Foundation course I asked if anyone had any experience or prior knowledge of ITIL. I had one response along the lines of:
"I did some at university but it didn't make any sense until I started working for a large company"

Bachelors is too soon to go into any depth beyond awareness.

Universities on the march

Interesting comment, Optimistic. I had a meeting yesterday with one of the Universities and there certainly are plans to roll out the Masters degree that Northampton initiated with support from the industry, itSMF, ISM etc. There are quite aggressive plans in place too.

Will this affect the APMG scheme? I guess so as long as it can be seen as a credible alternative. The big issue of course at any level of qualification is "are you getting the bang for your bucks". If service providers measure in terms of a certificate and intense training course for the ITIL3 scheme then I guess the answer is yes, hopefully more will see through that one though. Sending someone on days after days of training courses just isn't viable anymore for lots of SPs, a viable alternative is needed.

The difficulty I guess lies in the root of the ITIL3 syllabi and qualification scheme structure, too much in too little time. Where is the scope for the added value? Being able to apply the life experiences and discuss real life scenarios? Perhaps this will be addressed. Other schemes have emerged which can be seen as complementary or perhaps in competition with the APMG one, either way getting the real value from the ITIL3 scheme is the concern.

ITIL in Universities Downloads Costs to Individuals

I don't think business degrees should be allowed in universities, and certainly not ITIL certification. Considering that school is usually paid for by the individual and / or funded through governments, I find it appalling that workplace training occurs in our places of higher learning.

How far will we bend over to corporations downloading their costs for the right to be employed by them.

Of course we do it to ourselves... and it's that irony that makes it so much worse.

Employers pay a premium

Employers pay a premium for ready-trained employees, however they are trained. The financial advantages of a tertiary education are clear, otherwise there wouldn't be such a demand.

In most countries university is heavily subsidized

by the government, and therefore, the people. If universities offer workplace training as curriculum, then the public inherits the cost of training from the business. Of course, all the students want jobs and to be successful so they demand these courses.

Hence the guy flipping burgers at McDonald's and has a bachelors in English minoring in 18th century French history wishes he had the presence of mind to sell his soul and get into the ITIL game back at school. Now he can't even get a low level job where his company might invest in him and train him in ITIL because they can grab some schmuck who paid for the training himself at university.

I can see why a practitioner might think that the ATOs overcharge or have some demonic relationship with the dark powers, but to download training to the public by making ITIL a university degree... well - it will be you or your kids paying for training instead of your employer. Now - doesn't that give you the warm and fuzzies!

I can understand ATOs seeing universities as a threat

I repeat: nobody invests tens of thousands in a university degree unless they expect the employer to pay a premium afterwards. the employer ends up paying either way

I can understand ATOs seeing universities as a threat. After all they are professional, qualified and accountable, and they are not one-string fiddles: they can offer a fully rounded education in more than just ITSM and more than just IT

ATOs are unable to sell to universities??

Good Grief! You think an ATO would be unable to market their services to a university? This is a windfall that has (or should have) ATOs slobbering. Thousands upon thousands of impressionable students clammering for a degree in ITSM because they can't get a job without one.

Google 'University Corporate Partnership' then assume that only 1 in 10 000 of the results you get could have anything to do with a university and a corporation forming some sort of partnership.

I'm looking forward to sending my kid to the HP Princeton School of IT Service Management, or the Pink Oxford ITIL Centre of Making Damn Sure There is No Such Thing as an Arts Degree in the Future.

Hey - maybe all the douche bags at the ATOs can jump on this now. Uh oh... this hurts my cause... nevermind, listen to the skep. universities are bad for ATOs.

p.s. engineers and business students get maybe one to three course choices that sit outside their main curriculum. I don't consider that fully rounded.

narrow engineering degrees

I managed to squeeze Accountancy and Asian History into the first two years of an electrical engineering degree, and one other artyfarty one I forget now. I guess the rest was pretty narrow: only organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, optics, advanced maths, drafting (those were the days), computing, machine shop, first aid, civil and mechanical engineering, systems theory... oh and electrical engineering

The devil or the deep blue sea

Maybe my experience with my Managers certification is different from others out there. And it may also be different to those looking in on the certification without sitting through it.

Skep, I agree with your comment you made to me in NZ the other week when you said that the day you need an ITIL certification to get business is the day you give up consulting - I may be paraphrasing as we both had glasses of red wine at the time.

The industry needs some sort of professional body to perform certification and one path is through the consultancies and the Managers certificate. I am quite sure some of the training companies train people to pass the exam with 2 week live in courses though my experience is quite different. The provider I went with did not set out to teach us anything, well what I mean is they did not lecture us on how to do ITIL. Maybe I was lucky as there were some pretty experienced practitioners in the group and the whole thing was like facilitated workshops, discussing a bit of the theory and then spending a lot of time drawing on the experience of the people in the group. For me it was as important hearing what others said as it was to hear the facilitator. This is the only drawback that I can see by formalizing this as a University degree or the like.

I go back to the comment about a couple of weeks of training. Yes I am sure some trainers do this but many bring together years of experience in those 2 weeks. And the exams were hard.

Now enter V3 and the new training requirements and certification. Funnily enough the people who made up the certification committee were predominantly from training providers. There are now many more courses that need to be done and the exams are multiple choice. This I think devalues the certification as now people will get caught up in the semantics of questions instead of having to provide real life answers to detailed scenarios to prove understanding.

ITIL Master
The last lesson of a Master is simplicity

Comparison with CISA

Although it is a long time since I was an active computer auditor I took my CISA exam a few years ago just to make sure I was still in touch with the difficult technical bits of the job. There is no requirement for any formal training (though to use the letters after your name there is a requirement for logged experience) but there is an excellent training manual. Although the exam is multiple choice I still felt is was good test of relevant practical domain knowledge and came in useful a few months later when I found myself unexpectedly involved with reviewing the security of industrial process controllers.

I guess one difference from ITIL is that most of the people taking the exam are operating within a professional environment where takign the qualification is seen as the norm, and is generally linked to on the job trainign provided by working alongside other qualified staff. I certainly wouldn't take an IT auditor seriously these days if they weren't qualified.

wait until you hear

I guess the Manager's Bridge course provides us a preview of the ITIL Diploma or Expert or whatever it is called this month. if so, wait until you hear what percentage of questiosn hinge on semantics, or on a literal knowledge of the ITIL books, as compared to a grasp of ITIL principles or ITSM in general.



I've earned an Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, a law degree, an MBA in Ops and Finance, and undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Accounting. Been responsible for probably a hundred ERP implementations about 400 ITSM/ITAM implmentations.

My partner was the lead engineer of the vendor Support team for one of the products we implement. Is more productive, more innovative, and at better quality than anyone else with these products.

Yet, when we're discussing qualifications with clients - those really early on discussions - they really care most about ITIL certification and the PMP.

It's amusing. I assume it's because that's what they're focused on. They've got a checklist and they're working it - as though all people with a certain certificate are fungible.

It's even more amusing since the ITIL materials aren't really very good. The USMBOK materials taught by Ian Clayton are considerably better than anything I've seen for ITIL. Much more usable, much more in synch with the established standard, such as quality, configuration, etc.

All, no doubt, part of what Chad Betts refers to as the Human Resource lifecycle.

Cary King
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner


I'd like to apologize to Charles Betz.
I'm an admirer of Charles work, he consistently brings innovative ideas.

I know a Chad Betts, a nice guy, just had a brain cramp.

Sincere apologies.

Cary King
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner

re Yes

That's great if you have all the degrees in the world.

I am sure you understand that nothing really is a substitute for real world experience.

You will notice many of the reputable ATO's (such as Pink Elephant) give a recommended audience for their courses. The Service Manager course is not targeted to academics or intellectuals like yourself but to managers and consultants who have years of real world experience.

Of course if you think universities should offer degrees in ITSM, then they will have to conduct research. With most organizations at a below a control level in their maturity scale for their processes, I don't imagine there is much data to offer for analysis. I think it wouldn't hurt though and may be interesting to see some leadership in this regard. (See Ian Clayton's comment on the ITSM Portal)

I think the real value is in the experience of those who hold the Service Manager certification plus the experience of working with many organizations - helping them through what really amounts to organizational change and moving them through a service transformation.

ITIL V3 raises the bar

Citizen I don't think you read Cary's post. Cary is an active practitioner. I assume you missed the bit where his post claims "Been responsible for probably a hundred ERP implementations [and] about 400 ITSM/ITAM implmentations".

Your apparent contempt for "academics" and tertiary qualifications indicates to me that you don't have one: don't get a chip on your shoulder, some degrees are actually quite useful. Only some of course. The most commom graffiti in universities is written above the toilet roll where it says

Please take one

I for one would prefer to employ someone who studied for more than three weeks and knows more than one idealised model. There is a lot of context here, and ITIL3 has massively raised the bar by introducing strategy and design. SInce ITSM is a people problem not a process or - god forbid - technology one, I'd be very happy to utilise someone who had a PhD in Organisational Behaviour - i see that as very relevant.

I also see it as very threatening to the computer geeks who so often consult in ITSM, with less people skills than the Soup Nazi.

I am in wholehearted agreement that ITIL certifications should be based on practical experience. They aren't. Anyone can sit the ITIL Manager's cert. Pink can bluff all they like about the "intended audience" - I've never heard of them turning down anyone's money.

I'll blog soon (and not for the first time) on what decent professional qualifications look like. They don't look like ITIL V3 certification. It is better than nothing but worse than many alternatives.

Hit a bit of a nerve

I seemed to have hit a bit of nerve with my last post. I think my response to Skep's post will help to clairify:

- I did notice that Cary was an active practionner with too many implementations to list. I both interested and grateful for his contributions to this forum.

-Nope, I don't have any contempt for academics. Not sure how you got this impression.
My point is that if ITIL was absorbed by academia, more research would be needed. After delivering hundreds of assessments myself, I am not certain any value could come out of the the data that is produced right now. Most organizations should have implemented the Incident, Problem and Change process plus beginnings of Service Level, and ITSCM. All V3 shows us is that there is a long way to go, and the problem is, (I think I read it somewhere is this forum before) that most of ITIL comes from the bottom up, which brings me to my next point

-The demand for "ITSMers" is being met by many who are willing to step up to the plate. "IT geeks" or not, they are doing most of the grunge work which by most part is not too stimulating. Installing your favorite service management tool set, give some quick ITIL courses, write these policies, processes and procedures and voila your organization using the framework to improve their IT Services.

Point: Those who have true academic qualifications (BA's, Masters, PHD) are better served leading the cause for Service Management, not doing the grunge work. Some organizations should be so lucky to have someone with a PHD in Organizational behavior to lead the transformation.

Someone who takes the 3 week crash course can be up to speed to make sure we can show we've been "ITILized" by writing the documents and making sure the service desk does what they are supposed to.

My impression of organizations like your friendly neighbourhood ATO is that they are not too much beyond body shops, but yes they are meeting a big market demand - business savy? somewhat Intellectual? far from it.

Conclusion: Gradually we should see universities adapt ITSM into their curriculum, and as a result I think we will see more IT folks with more of a service conscious than a techinically focused one. Those who have stepped up to the plate, earned their Service Manager are here to help.

ITIL at Dutch (professional) Universities

I do agree that ITIL (any level) is far form the level of even a professinal Bachelor degree. Nevertheless I actively helped to give ITIL a place in the curriculum of Dutch Bachelors as I strongly felt it would give added "value" (yup, I'm also giving V3 training ;-) ) for our students. We even used EXIN's foundation level accreditation as one of the "exams" in the first year of study. This was and is highly appreciated by the students, especially those following the evening classes. They see it as an additional tool in their engineers toolbox.

Unfortunately the entry-level requirements for Service Manager did not allow us to do the same for that level. A 18yr old student does simply not match this entry level requirement of experience.

Universities should perhaps not study ITIL on itself but may have an interest on studying the managerial, behavioral, HRM of psychological effects of ITIL implementations in entreprises.

we don't need all graduates

Good point about the frontline troops - we don't need all graduates. The current ITIL certification program provides "cannon fodder": people who go in to battle. What it does not provide is the experts to do the high-level planning, or for the training. I think the friendly neighbourhood ATO should have someone who has a decent qualification and/or soem real experience, instead of the "kids in suits" we sometimes get now, one page ahead of the students.

So you are quite right, the current system and a tertiary system both have their place.

But just as those who build a bridge are not all engineers, I wouldn't have anyone but an engineer design the thing.

And I'd prefer that they were all trained by an engineer.

Right now ITSM has no qualified engineers.

Recognising the difference

Once ITIL moved mainstream there was no realisitic commercial option but to end up with out of the box trainers. I do wonder how they will cope with ITIL v3 though.

During my time at one of the big, non ITSM specific, consultancies I was amazed how many of my fellow consultants suddenly sold themselves as ITIL expersts with zilch experience or understanding - and even less passion. But that is the way of the world.

Looking back on my own experience I would suggets IT managers consistently fail to recognise the need to distinguish between top down and bottom up ITSM consultancy. One result of this has been the high levle experts get pushed down the food chain and end up doing operational and technical work which isn't their strong point.

Missing the point?


It seems to me that you've missed Cary's point... or maybe I have (entirely possible).

Before I start, just to be up front about it, I'll disregard any potential reading of your response to the intial post as anything which would otherwise diminish his academic qualifications, demonstrated results or professional competence. That was *my* take away from your post -- as if he were some sort of intellectual snob. That's how I took it, not an explicit accusation. If I've misunderstood, then I happily stand corrected. Enough said.

Back to the topic... From my point of view, personal certification is an important topic that can have serious career implications. Many professions have pretty tight standards about what you need to know (via standardized knowledge tests) and what you need to be able to demonstrate (via practial exam, previous experience, internship/mentoring/apprenticeship or a combo of same) to be part of "the profession".

For ITSM, I believe that it's right to expect there is a necessary blend of demonstrated capability to deliver and external validation of required knowledge for those that would consider or represent themsleves as practitioners. If you have relevant job experience and you can translate that into how it ITSM, great. First part down.

If you have completed a degree program (for sake of argument) in ITSM, great. There aren't many of them (obviously). If the institution directs that a portion of their degree requirement is ITIL-specific knowledge, so be it. I would place more trust in an academic institution to produce a balanced view of the requirement that served the intended purpose than a commercial entity (such as APMG). Maybe I'm wrong... would not be the first time.

If you didn't do the "degree thing", then having a testing mechanism in place to perform the external validation is an important element. It is a fair means of accomplishing it. It's also worth noting that some folks are just horrible at test taking. Does that mean that they don't have the knowledge? Not necessarily. That's one of the reasons that it's not the only way it can be done.

The way things are today, I don't believe that there's enough evidence to claim that completing the managers certificate is an adequate external validation of a candidate demonstrating that they have the required knowledge, as described above. I would support the view that the candidate has some sort of advanced understanding of the ITIL framework and its component parts. Anything beyond that is a stretch, in my opinion, as it all will come down to the individual.

Additionally, I believe that there's sufficient reason to doubt the quality of the certificate, if we consider the set of material covered by the "exam" and the means by which it attempts to accomplish a validation of the same.

If you have completed the ITIL managers certificate, good for you (...and, no, I don't mean that as mocking anyone). I respect your accomplishment.

Does it establish an individual as capable and qualified ("license you") to do (the IT organization equivalent of) "brain surgery"? I think not.

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