10 Tips to Take Your ITIL Qualification and to Put It into Practice

InvGate February 20, 2019
- 4 min read

Let’s assume that you’ve just taken your ITIL Foundation Certification exam. Or, even better, you’ve still to take it and are currently pondering how best to take what you’ll learn in your studies and to apply it in the workplace. Importantly, not just in the work that you personally undertake, but also in improving the wider IT service delivery and support capabilities of your IT department.

Plus, if you took, and passed, your ITIL exam even a good few months back, then parts of this blog will still work for you. Please read on to receive our 10 tips for taking what you learned in your ITIL studies and putting it into practice. 

Note: this article was written before the release of ITIL 4, however the tips will be equally applicable for this certification too!

1. Don’t think that your ITIL learning, and qualification, are the “outcome.”

Most employers, unless they win more business though the level of their employees’ qualifications, will see little value from any new employee qualification that doesn’t get “used in anger.” You need to use your learning well and to make a difference.

2. Start with the “why(s).”

This is shamelessly stolen from Simon Sinek. You might have simply undertaken your ITIL studies to achieve an extra qualification and to further your career. That’s fine (especially if you’ve self-financed it). But, if your employer has sponsored your studies, then hopefully they’re expecting to receive some form of business benefit from your new ITIL qualification. So, what’s your “why”? Ideally, you’ll have agreed this with your boss prior to starting your studies. If not, then try to retro-fit it – by seeking to understand how your new knowledge can help your employer to improve going forward.

3. Articulate your “why(s)” in terms of business value.

And you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. Something called the “Eight-Field Model” is a proven technique for helping managers and their staff to improve the value received from their investments in training. Ideally this should be used prior to the ITIL studies, but again it can still be used retrospectively.

4. Sense check what you’ve learned before attempting to change anything.

When “cramming” for the ITIL exam, it’s easy to become focused on the ITIL processes and what they entail. Don’t worry, this is all good stuff. However, in doing so, it’s easy to be sucked into a common ITIL mistake – thinking that it’s about processes rather than better IT service delivery and support and the focus on quality services and business value creation (or co-creation). So, check that you’re focused on the “end” (the required outcomes) rather than the “means” (the processes) when seeking to deliver ITIL-based improvements.

5. Keep your ITIL study materials handy.

Don’t assume that you’ll remember everything that you learned in order to pass the exam. You won’t. And to make matters worse, you’ll probably think you’ve remembered (or even understood) something correctly when the reality is that you didn’t. Thus, it’s good to be able to refer back to the study materials as and when needed.

6. Don’t blindly follow the ITIL “learning journey” in the real world.

Instead focus on what will help your organization most. By this I mean that it’s easy to start with incident management, then progress to problem management, then change, etc. – as per the ITIL study material. This might be what your organization needs, but it probably won’t be. So, instead seek to apply what you’ve learned to the things that will make the biggest positive business impact.

7. Don’t try to bring about ITIL-based change in a vacuum.

You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last, ITIL student wanting to use what they’ve learned back in the office. So, seek to learn from the experiences of others – again, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. This might involve networking with your fellow students after the course, collaborating with colleagues, seeking out your ITSM-tool vendor’s customer successes, or something else.

8. Don’t overestimate the value of your ITIL Foundation Certification.

Okay, it’s great that you’ve passed the exam, but be realistic about what this means – you were able to understand and remember much of the ITIL Foundation syllabus. But it doesn’t make you an ITIL expert. Especially when it comes to making ITIL-based organizational change a reality. So, stay grounded and humble, and don’t be afraid to seek advice from more experienced colleagues.

9. Don’t think that you need to go it alone.

Or, flipping this, appreciate that trying to engender ITIL-based organizational change will be difficult as a “lone voice.” So, aim to get buy-in to your proposed improvements (and, ideally, help in identifying and formulating those improvements).

10. Don’t underestimate how long change can take to effect (bar ITIL-based “quick wins”).

Some of the changes you’ve planned might require organization-wide change, crossing teams and lines of reporting. So, understand that it will take time to gain buy-in, and that this might take even longer than effecting the change itself.


So, that’s our 10 tips on what to do, to bring about positive change, once you return from your ITIL exam. What would you add? Please let us know in the comments.

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