An exclusive interview with Andrew Owen, Manager – ICT at Ability Options.

What is ITIL certification?

In today's competitive marketplace, holding a professional IT certification such as the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) can help you stand out from the crowd. Recognised as the gold standard in IT practices, ITIL certification shows prospective employers that you understand how the ITIL framework fits together and how to apply it in a business environment.

ITIL started in the UK over 25 years ago as a system for managing services in a technology environment and is now the most widely accepted IT service framework in the world. It gives you the ability to design, implement and troubleshoot commonly used IT services from start to finish. For example, you might use ITIL to develop a company-wide email service or to improve the quality of your help-desk service with a clearly defined set of call centre protocols.

What are the benefits of ITIL for the company?

By having ITIL certified professionals on board, IT professionals are better able to provide consistent and reliable services to end users, saving companies time and money. Before ITIL gained widespread acceptance, a lack of well-defined procedures often led to projects going over budget, or – in some cases – failing. Instead, ITIL addresses these issues and provides a comprehensive framework for managing IT service delivery in organisations of all sizes and industries around the globe.

How is ITIL relevant to Australian IT professionals?

As things continue to change rapidly in the world of IT, the ITIL certification is no exception. Today, ITIL is highly relevant to Australian IT professionals as virtually all managed service providers (MSPs) and internal IT shops use it as the framework for managing and delivering their IT services. While not all processes may be fully implemented at every company, it would be unusual not to find at least some elements of ITIL being used within the organisation.

What does getting certified entail?

Should you decide to pursue an ITIL certification, you will be learning about the five key areas that drive the IT life cycle, including: service strategy, design, transition, operation and service improvement.

There are five different levels of ITIL certification, from Foundation to Master. The most basic level, Foundation, is a three-day course plus a certification exam. In many cases, just having the Foundation is enough to open the doors to an employer requiring certification. To get certified at the Intermediate, Expert and Master levels, you'll need to take additional courses, although some employers may pay for these.

In Australia, the cost of training varies by the type of provider and course taken and can run from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. The good news is that there are hundreds of ITIL-accredited training organisations that offer training in over 150 countries.

What are the advantages of being ITIL certified?

Like all certifications and qualifications, the ITIL certification provides clear, unbiased evidence of your skills. In the world of IT service, this kind of certification is highly desirable to hiring managers as most companies make use of ITIL. And in many large organisations, being familiar with the ITIL lingo makes it easier to understand and use their incident and change-management tools.

I’ve kept my certification current, and from a management perspective this allows me to demonstrate a level of competence in managing and delivering IT service as well as being able to assess providers against a predetermined set of criteria. It has affected my career in a positive way, and has enabled me to provide efficient service turnaround on many occasions.

In my opinion, everyone in the IT department is responsible for delivering IT service in some way, therefore everyone needs some level of awareness about ITIL, even if they do not seek to become certified. But for those seeking certification, it can definitely add value to your career.