It is a great for professionals to strategically combine the related bodies of expertise. For someone involved with IT infrastructure projects, ITIL is a great complementary certification. What I find is that often the specialty knowledge drives the PRODUCT of efforts, but the project management skills drives the PROJECT that produces the PRODUCT. On solid technical teams, that second mindset is often missing.
When you get any level experience in the workplace, you realize that the world is a collection of operations and projects. We are always seeking to systematize where possible, to streamline operations, and to improve results. We are always trying to create a “business as usual”, “runs by itself” environment, although in reality the full achievement of this is elusive. We are always cognizant of change in external conditions, and of the need to be proactive in changing our operations when necessary. This intersection of operations and project management, is, I believe, where ITIL and project management come together.
The IT Infrastructure Library® (ITIL®) describes a set of best practices processes for stable, high quality IT services. Project management, as a discipline, provides the capability to implement a defined change in a controlled way, so that cost, schedule, and quality of deliverable are as expected. It would seem that awareness of ITIL in an environment where it is embedded would be an input to project management. Likewise, project management is a great skill to use in implementing and continuously improving the best practices provided by ITIL.
PRINCE2 and ITIL
PRINCE2 and ITIL originate from a single source, the OGC (The Office of Government Commerce) in the UK. While I do not have hard core statistics, ITIL seems to be more strongly on the radar screen in the United States than PRINCE2, probably in part because the PMI PMBOK is more heavily established. But the practice of ITIL does seem to draw on PRINCE2 to an extent due to its common origins, despite the fact that a project management framework such as PMBOK can, in my opinion, be just as effective.
Both ITIL and Prince2 have a mechanism for evaluating the change or project. The Post Project Review in Prince2 is the same as the ITIL Post Implementation Review. A successful review can therefore lead to the end of the project.
Where ITIL and Project Management Meet
IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is all about providing service within the operations of IT in an organization. This includes management of the Service Lifecycle, Service Strategy,
Service Design, Service Transition, and Service Operation. It also means continual improvement of the whole set of services that are in place. Management challenges within this realm include Service Desk and Incident Management, Configuration and Release Management, Service Level and Capacity Management, Problem and Change Management, Continuity and Availability Management, and Financial and Security Management.
ITIL itself, as a discipline, takes care of the operations within the defined services realm. However, any changes to that services realm can and should be handled by applying a good project management discipline. The difference is that the ongoing operations will be concerned with maintaining and improving services as an in-place, as-is process. The project management discipline will be concerned with defining the beginning of an initiative, delivering the product of that initiative, and turning over the results of that effort to be incorporated into the operation before finally closing out the project.
The two disciplines have significant differences, and using the wrong one can result in lower effectiveness. In the case of ITIL and Project Management, both disciplines will provide inputs the other. For example, ITIL will provide the current situation to a project. It also provides certain procedures, like configuration management, that must be followed within the confines of the project. The results, or “product of the project”, will become the key input to changes or improvements to be implemented within the ITIL implementation framework in the organization. The professional that understands both sides in depth will be quite valuable to the organization and will have a leg up in knowledge and credibility.
A Little about ITIL (ITIL certification, that is)
ITIL certification has 3 levels: the Foundation Certificate, the Practitioner Certificate, and the Manager’s Certificate. Project Management Training Online offers ITIL training that supports the Foundation Certificate.
In a nutshell, here is what these 3 levels are about:
The Foundation Certificate: There are no entry requirements, and the foundation test consists of a one hour long multiple choice examination testing a candidate’s basic understanding of the principles and terminology of the IT Infrastructure Library. It is designed to provide familiarity with the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices for IT Service Management.
The Practitioner Certificates: This is aimed at those who are responsible within their organization for designing specific processes within the IT Service Management discipline, and performing the activities that belong to those processes. The Practitioner’s Certificates focus on the depth of understanding and application of those subjects, treating each subject as a specialty. Prerequisites include the Foundation certificate and mandatory attendance at an accredited training course.
The Manager’s Certificate: Aimed at managers and consultants, 2 – 3 hour examinations test the practical application of the theory of ITIL, and the exam is typically preceded by a 10-day training event other assessments may also be required. Candidates must hold the Foundation certificate and mandatory attendance at an accredited training course is required.