Comparing ITIL v3 and ITIL 4: What Changed?

Taylor Karl
/ Categories: Resources, ITIL
Comparing ITIL v3 and ITIL 4: What Changed? 3898 0

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) process operating model has undergone several revisions since its inception in 1989. For those new to the world of IT service management (ITSM), or those trying to keep up with all the changes and updates, it can be a challenging experience.

The most recent iteration, ITIL 4, has been out for over two years. In this article, we'll give a brief history of the ITIL framework and look at the main differences between ITIL v3 vs 4.

What is the ITIL Framework

Since its inception in the 1980s, the IT Infrastructure Library has become one of the most widely used frameworks for delivering IT service management. The IT Infrastructure Library framework is an organization-wide framework for IT service management practice. Its purpose is to help businesses develop predictable IT environments where they can provide excellent service to their clients and consumers by standardizing procedures and spotting areas for improvement. It is widely considered the most comprehensive framework for IT service management and is used by organizations across both public and private sectors.

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The framework defines best practices and processes for planning, executing, monitoring, and evaluating IT services. It also guides how to align IT service management with business needs. The underlying concept behind the ITIL framework is that it’s impossible to get everything right all the time—so you need a systematic, repeatable process to identify problems quickly and fix them before they become serious issues.

By using the ITIL Framework, organizations can ensure that they have the right processes to deliver high-quality IT services efficiently and effectively. This approach also enables organizations to make informed decisions about the best way to address their most pressing challenges, then execute those decisions quickly and effectively.

Differences in ITIL Versions

Various versions have been produced to keep up with increasing business requirements. Here is a basic summary of each version:

ITIL v1 Framework

ITIL, first referred to as GITIM or Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management, was created in the 1980s by an agency of the British government. The UK government, as well as European governments and corporate organizations, embraced IT Infrastructure Library to improve delivery and support. ITIL included 30 books on IT best practices and transformed IT in the UK, Europe, and other nations by the early 1990s.

ITIL v2 Framework

Microsoft used IT Infrastructure Library as the basis for its Microsoft Operations Framework in 2000, marking when the first significant change occurred. ITIL V2 aimed to make the framework more accessible. The 30-volume collection was separated into nine categories. ITIL quickly became the world's most used IT service management process tool.

ITIL v3 Framework

ITIL v3, introduced in 2007, refers to the third version of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library framework which stressed IT business integration around service lifestyle structure. ITIL v3 reduced 26 processes/functions into five volumes. Over time, inconsistencies and faults were discovered, leading AXELOS Ltd. to issue an update to v3 in 2011 to fix them. ITIL v3 is widely regarded as one of the greatest IT service management frameworks. In this model, information technology is viewed as a means to an end or a service that can be used to further a company's objectives.

ITIL 4 Framework

ITIL 4 was released in February 2019 as a revised framework intended to meet the needs of both customers and IT departments. This updated version incorporated recent developments in the IT industry by making it easier to align with Agile, DevOps, and Lean. ITIL 4 is better suited to the complex systems and networks of today and focuses on usage in collaborative situations to co-create value within a business. It expands on IT Infrastructure Library's decades of evolution by applying established IT service management practices to the broader challenges of customer experience, value streams, and digital transformation.

It is crucial to properly manage these services so that they yield the highest potential returns for the company. This version acknowledges this essential idea by adding new strategic aspects to better align IT service management with business needs and by tying the work it delivers directly to the business' ultimate goal of achieving its mission.

Overview of key differences between the ITIL v3 and ITIL 4 Framework :

  • Processes are called "practices" which emphasizes the collective efforts of all organization members in fulfilling the request or completing the assignment.
  • ITIL v3’s 26 processes, which were organized into five areas of the Service Lifecycle, have been replaced with 34 Management Practices organized into three categories and include many of the initial 26 processes.
  • The ITIL Service Lifecycle is no longer included in the framework. As an alternative, the ITIL Service Value System (SVS) now defines how all elements and activities must operate as a system to enable value creation within an organization.
  • Continual Improvement now takes the place of Continual Service Improvement which provides a structured approach for the discovery and execution of various improvements implemented at different levels of the business. There are currently seven guiding principles at this stage, similar to the previous framework's nine guiding principles.
  • The four Ps of Service Design (People, Partners, Products, Processes) has been replaced with the four Dimensions of Service Management (Organizations and People, Information and Technology, Partners and Suppliers, Value Streams and Processes) to support a holistic approach to Service Management.
  • There are only four certification levels for ITIL 4 instead of the five certification levels in ITIL v3.

ITIL v3 Processes vs ITIL 4 Practices

In v3, a process is a series of tasks. In ITIL 4, a process is now referred to as a practice and denotes actions that may be carried out with the appropriate tools. ITIL v3 processes provide a sequence of steps and sequential activities, complete with suggestions for assigning responsibilities and measuring progress. ITIL 4 practices, on the other hand, are the capabilities that may be accomplished as an organization.

Many of the 26 processes from ITIL v3's Service Lifecycle have been included in the newer version's 34 Management Practices, which are divided into three groups.

ITIL v3 Processes ITIL 4 Practices

1. Service Strategy

1. Strategy Management

2. Demand Management

3. Service Portfolio Management

4. Financial Management

5. Business Relationship Management

2. Service Design

6. Service Catalog Management

7. Availability Management

8. Information Security Management

9. Service Level Management

10. Capacity Management

11. Design Coordination

12. Supplier Management

13. IT Service Continuity Management

3. Service Transition

14. Transition Planning and Support

15. Change Management

16. Change Evaluation

17. Release and Deployment Management

18. Service Assets & Configuration Management

19. Service Validation and Testing

20. Knowledge Management

4. Service Operation

21. Access Management

22. Event Management

23. Service Request Fulfillment

24. Incident Management

25. Problem Management

5. Continual Service Improvement

26. The Seven-Step Improvement

1. General Management Practices

1. Architecture Management

2. Continual Improvement

3. Information Security Management

4. Knowledge Management

5. Measurement and Reporting

6. Organizational Change Management

7. Portfolio Management

8. Project Management

9. Relationship Management

10. Risk Management

11. Service Financial Management

12. Strategy Management

13. Supplier Management

14. Workforce and Talent Management

2. Service Management Practices

15. Availability Management

16. Business Analysis

17. Capacity and Performance Management

18. Change Control

19. Incident Management

20. IT Asset Management

21. Monitoring and Event Management

22. Problem Management

23. Release Management

24. Service Catalog Management

25. Service Configuration Management

26. Service Continuity Management

27. Service Design

28. Service Desk

29. Service Level Management

30. Service Request Management

31. Service Validation and Testing

3. Technical Management Practices

32. Deployment Management

33. Infrastructure and Platform Management

34. Software Development and Management

Guiding Principles ITIL v3 vs 4

While these principles are comparable to the guiding principles from v3, the main difference is that ITIL 4 has reduced the number of principles from nine to seven. Some guiding steps have been changed, updated, and moved around to promote the addition of optimization and automation, as well as agility and value co-creation by operating as a system.

7 Guiding Principles of ITIL 4

The guiding principles encapsulate the core messages of ITIL and ITSM in general. They can be used to help organizations 'adopt' a service management strategy and ‘adapt' recommendations to their unique requirements and situations.

  1. Focus on Value: If the activity doesn't benefit the company or add to the customer experience, it should be reconsidered. Everything must be bottom-line focused. Every operation should further the company's vision.
  1. Start Where You Are: Even when building a new process, things a company has already done could assist with reaching goals. Examine the situation before starting a new project. Then, make improvements from there. It's a lot easier to improve rather than starting from scratch.
  1. Progress Iteratively with Feedback: Work iteratively to make more manageable and measurable changes. Once the changes and feedback are implemented, and their value has been determined, you can work on the next iteration.
  1. Collaborate and Promote Visibility: Trying to figure out how to improve processes or other changes without consulting the people affected by those changes is a recipe for failure. It's essential to collaborate on improvements.
  1. Think and Work Holistically: The lines between business and information technology have blurred. In a world where all services are IT-enabled, it is imperative that the work performed contributes to and forms a part of the greater business ecosystem.
  1. Keep It Simple and Practical: It's more efficient to design processes with just the most essential functions in mind and to train and encourage staff to improvise when faced with situations that don't fit neatly within established norms.
  1. Optimize and Automate: Prioritize the efficient use of limited resources. Current workflows need to be analyzed to see which, if any, may be streamlined through automation. A task that you cannot automate should be completed manually. Be sure to improve processes before automating them, as automating inefficient processes might result in negative outcomes.

How Has ITIL 4 Changed Organizations

ITIL 4 has the following benefits for businesses:

Improved Quality and Customer Service: With high-quality service, IT operations run smoothly, and consumers are more satisfied. Furthermore, it improves the service offered to consumers in IT devices and services, ensuring customer expectations are met efficiently. As a result, the biggest success of the updated framework is better quality and service.

Improved Harmony Between Business and IT: IT Infrastructure Library facilitates the use of cutting-edge methods for resolving business issues. In addition, this structure encourages more openness and cooperation between the business and IT departments.

Increased IT Cost Transparency: ITIL 4 is used effectively to manage IT products and services expenses and makes it easier for businesses to make judgments that will save money. Businesses can achieve more profits by thoroughly understanding how much each product or service costs.

Effective Risk Management: ITIL 4 answers problems with IT and business risk management. When IT and business are well aligned, problems with technology can be resolved quickly, mitigating any additional fallout. In addition, the quality of the services provided helps to lessen the likelihood of any possible risks. If any arise, the appropriate precautions are taken to deal with them.

Reduced Service Disruptions: ITIL 4 aids in preventing service failures. Change management, problem management, and service management are examples of how businesses can boost service quality and decrease the likelihood of service failure.

Increased Competitiveness: The consumer market is highly competitive, especially when working on cutting-edge technologies. Nonetheless, the quality of the service supplied to customers will increase their happiness. When businesses create great relationships with customers by exceeding their expectations, their retention rate also increases, giving them an edge over their competitors in the market.

Better Flexibility: IT Infrastructure Library is flexible, allowing it to be used in tandem with other methodologies such as Agile Project Management and DevOps. In addition, the framework is compatible with other frameworks, making it easy to use in any project or business.

Effective Service Management: Through historical analysis and real-time tracking, companies can make more effective adjustments with regular monitoring. Regular monitoring can enhance effective service management, as recommended by IT Infrastructure Library's best practices.

Enroll in a United Training ITIL 4 Foundation course to fully understand the differences between the ITIL 3 and ITIL 4 Framework.

Benefits of ITIL Certifications

Earning an ITIL certification demonstrates to employers and IT directors that you have the knowledge and expertise to use it effectively in the workplace. IT professionals may expect a high return on investment (ROI) from their certification efforts while incurring little risk.

Gaining an ITIL certification means that you will be able to:

  • Boost efficiency and effectiveness with knowledge of ITIL tools
  • Take customer-service improvement ideas back to your job
  • Reflect, gain feedback, and make improvements to your work
  • Improve communication
  • Have confidence and reassurance in the ITIL community
  • Feel confident in your work through ITIL's best practices
  • Boost your professional prospects

Are Certification Updates Required?

Certified professionals are understandably concerned about whether new versions will render their certificates obsolete or if they will be required to upgrade their certificates to the next version. The simple answer is no. However, any IT professional will benefit from upgrading to ITIL 4 certification.

IT and ITSM professionals can advance their careers by investing in training and education. Pros in the field know that to succeed in their careers, they need to do more than simply keep up with the latest technological developments; they must also modify their worldview on the role of IT in service management.

How to Transition from ITIL v3 to ITIL 4

Although the ITIL v3 test was withdrawn on June 30th, 2021, ITIL v3 certifications never expire, which is great news for everyone who has earned one. However, it is possible that ITIL 4 certifications may become increasingly required for employment soon.

AXELOS has provided suggested paths for candidates to move to ITIL 4 certification while still acquiring the expertise and knowledge necessary to grasp the underlying principles of the new recommendations.

ITIL v3 Foundation

ITIL v3 Foundation exams were withdrawn on June 30th, 2021. It is advised that candidates who have already completed ITIL v3 Foundation do ITIL 4 Foundation to make the switch to the new framework. If you are wondering about the difference between v3’s ITIL Foundation vs ITIL 4 Foundation, it introduces a substantial amount of new content, so an updated single exam is necessary to test the transitioning candidate’s comprehension of the revised Foundation publication.

ITIL v3 Intermediate or Practitioner (3-4 credits)

If you have 3 or 4 credits toward ITIL v3 Intermediate or Practitioner and want to go on to ITIL 4, you have some options. First, you can become a Specialist, Strategist, or Leader by completing ITIL 4 Foundation and one extra module. Second, you could keep working toward the ITIL v3 credits you need to attend the Managing Professional Transition module. As a result, you can skip the v3 Managing Across the Lifecycle examination process.

ITIL v3 Intermediate of Practitioner (6 or more credits)

If you have completed 6 or more v3 modules since v3 Foundation, you may find it beneficial to continue your education to get the ITIL Managing Professional certification and ensure a smooth transition to ITIL 4. To enroll in the Managing Professional Transition class, you must earn a total of 17 credits.

ITIL v3 Expert

If you have earned ITIL v3 Expert status, you can take ITIL 4’s Managing Professional Transition program and become an ITIL-certified manager. However, to move on to the Strategic Leader stream after earning the Managing Professional certification, you need to finish the ITIL Leader and Digital Strategy course. After finishing both paths, you will be qualified to take the ITIL Master test.

Pursuing the ITIL 4 Certifications

The ITIL 4 has a new certification scheme. It includes:

ITIL 4 Foundation

The ITIL 4 Foundation certification presents the framework and teaches candidates how to create, deliver, and improve tech-enabled products and services. The certification might help applicants who desire to utilize the framework to improve IT service management practices or whose organization has implemented the framework.

Successful candidates can choose between two tracks—Managing Professional or Strategic Leader—based on their professional interests and objectives.

ITIL 4 Managing Professional

The Master Professional (MP) certification is intended for IT professionals that work with technology and digital teams across the organization. It provides the knowledge required to manage IT projects, teams, and workflows using practical and technical skills.

ITIL 4 Strategic Leader

The Strategic Leader (SL) accreditation applies to all digitally enabled services inside an organization, not only IT operations. This certification focuses on how information technology drives and informs business strategy.

ITIL 4 Master

Learners will be eligible for the Master title if all the modules necessary for the MP and SL certification tracks have been completed. At least five years of experience working in ITSM as a leader, manager, or adviser is required. This certification has no set syllabus or training course. Instead, each candidate will have individual, personal experiences.

Click here to download our free Introduction to ITIL 4 certification eBook.


ITIL is constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of the ITSM industry. With a more streamlined structure and updated terminology, ITIL 4 aims to be more approachable for newcomers, more actionable for seasoned veterans, and more focused on the co-creation of value. Most importantly, the updated ITIL 4 framework will be more applicable to modern-day systems and businesses.

Contact us to discuss how United Training can assist in your ITIL adoption.