What is ITIL Foundations? A Complete Guide

Taylor Karl
/ Categories: Resources, ITIL
What is ITIL Foundations? A Complete Guide 950 0

What is ITIL Foundation & Why Does It Matter?

What is ITIL Foundations? A Complete Guide

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is an organizational framework offering best practices for delivering IT services using a systematic IT service management (ITSM) approach. For nearly 40 years, ITIL certifications have been among the most sought-after business credentials because of how they teach technology pros how to help businesses manage risk, improve customer relations, establish cost-effective practices, and create an IT environment that enables businesses to grow, scale, and change.

This blog defines ITIL and discusses ITIL certifications and their role in the IT industry. We will also offer advice for getting ITIL certified, including the ins and outs of the ITIL Foundations exam and the opportunities available to ITIL-certified IT professionals.

Understanding ITIL

ITIL is an organizational framework for IT employees. It outlines various policies and procedures that may help when assisting businesses with their IT needs. ITIL began as a set of guidelines for managing the technological systems of government agencies but is now a standardized list of IT best practices for organizations of all sizes. By following ITIL guidelines, IT employees can create checklists that help them accomplish their duties more efficiently.

Using ITIL also allows companies to keep their systems operating while reducing any downtime that can affect profits. The basic principle of ITIL is to develop repeatable, dependable processes that IT employees can use to identify issues quickly and identify potential solutions. ITIL has a service life cycle that describes five basic phases, each containing multiple supporting principles, processes, and policies.

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The History and Evolution of ITIL

First developed in the 1980s by the United Kingdom Government's Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), the ITIL framework was designed to increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of IT service management within government organizations.

The ITIL framework has become a globally recognized standard in the IT industry in the decades since it was created. Thousands of businesses and organizations have implemented ITIL and continue to hire ITIL-certified individuals. Over the years, the ITIL framework has been revised several times, including the notable release of ITIL V3 in 2007 and, more recently, the release of ITIL 4 in 2019.

AXELOS®, a joint venture company between the Government of the United Kingdom and Capita PLC, an international business process outsourcing firm headquartered in London, is responsible for managing the ITIL framework, including the personnel certification program, updates to the ITIL framework, and accrediting third-party providers of ITIL examinations Axelos plays a crucial role in the development, enhancement, and promotion of various best practice methodologies used globally by professionals in project, program, and portfolio management, IT service management, and cyber resilience.

Recently, PeopleCert acquired Axelos. As the global leader in examination and accreditation services, PeopleCert operates in over 200 countries, delivering millions of exams. Through partnerships with multinational organizations and government bodies, PeopleCert develops and delivers market-leading exams worldwide. Their mission is to empower professionals to achieve their full potential and fulfill their life ambitions through continuous learning. By combining their expertise and resources, PeopleCert and Axelos are committed to providing professionals with the tools and knowledge they need to excel in their respective fields

As more and more companies implement IT Governance Frameworks, having an ITIL Foundations certification in the de facto standard framework is obviously a plus. In fact, some companies are making it a prerequisite to have a job in their IT department.

What is ITIL Infographic

The Structure of the ITIL Framework

The ITIL framework process contains the following stages:

Service Strategy: Service strategy aligns the IT organization's actions with the business's needs. IT organizations do this by creating a strategy for effectively serving customers and collaborating with the larger business to determine what IT services and capabilities are required.

Service Design: After IT determines what services it needs to develop, it enters the Service Design stage. During Service Design, new IT services are created, and existing ones are improved to increase their value to the business.

Service Transition: Once a service has been designed, it must be built and integrated into the IT infrastructure. The Service Transition phase is meant to control how new IT services are produced and deployed so they do not disrupt existing services.

Service Operation: Service Operation ensures that operational IT services are delivered effectively and efficiently to customers. This includes completing daily tasks, user requests, fixing problems, managing infrastructure, and more.

Continual Service Improvement (CSI): IT services must always be monitored and reviewed for potential improvements. In this final stage, a CSI manager may recommend and monitor process changes to verify their impact on operational efficiency and cost.

The Roles and Responsibilities in ITIL

ITIL roles are used to define responsibilities and assign owners to the various ITIL processes. These roles and their respective responsibilities include:

  • Business Relationship Manager: Those responsible for fostering client relationships and understanding customer needs and requires regular collaboration with the Service Level Manager.
  • Demand Manager: This role is responsible for understanding, forecasting, and manipulating client service requirements and works closely with the Capacity Manager to ensure IT can fulfill consumer demands.
  • Service Strategy Manager: This role evaluates the service provider's offers, capabilities, competitors, and present and future market areas to design a customer-serving strategy.
  • Financial Manager: The Financial Manager is in charge of an IT service provider's budgeting, accounting, and pricing needs.
  • Service Portfolio Manager: This person tracks the service portfolio, ensuring a necessary mix of services is available to achieve the desired business goals.

The ITIL Foundations Certification

ITIL Foundations is the first certification IT professionals will need within the framework. With ITIL Foundations, you learn how to reduce your organization's IT costs, better define and formalize operational processes, provide a "common language" for business and IT, and improve overall customer satisfaction. ITIL Foundations introduces IT Service Management through the lens of a Service Value System (SVS), which provides a holistic end-to-end view of how to contribute to business value successfully and also how to leverage concepts from models such as Lean IT, Agile, DevOps, and Organizational Change Management.

This entry-level certification is the key starting point for current or aspiring IT professionals because its teachings immerse you in the guiding principles, dimensions, and practices of the ITIL framework. Learners discover the key elements, concepts, and terminology used in ITIL, making it ideal for technology professionals who need a basic understanding of ITIL.

While ITIL Foundations is not an advanced certification, it is often a prerequisite for employment with an IT organization. As such, it could "open doors" for those who achieve it. An ITIL certification is a worthwhile investment in your future livelihood. The exact amount ITIL Foundation experts earn depends on their location, role, and experience level. Professionals with ITIL 4 Foundation and IT service management (ITSM) certifications earn an average salary of $98,212. The top countries where ITIL 4 Foundation certified professionals can earn a competitive wage include the USA, UK, Canada, India, and Australia.

The ITIL Foundations Examination

Because ITIL Foundations is designed to be an entry-level certification, there are no prerequisites. Aspiring IT professionals must complete the ITIL Foundations exam to earn the certificate. There are two options for those interested in gaining their ITIL certification:

  1. Complete a training course with an accredited organization, such as United Training, which includes a voucher for taking the exam.
  2. Self-study using the core manual, then book an exam directly with a certified provider.

If you're interested in becoming ITIL-certified, ITIL Foundations is the perfect place to start. There are no prerequisites for taking the ITIL Foundation course, which means you can enroll anytime. The ITIL Foundations exam is 60 minutes long, closed book, and is comprised of 40 multiple-choice examination questions. Test-takers must earn 25 marks (65%) to pass and earn the certification.

If you choose to take the certification course with United Training, we offer the free Introduction to ITIL 4 eBook to help you prepare.

After you complete and pass the exam, your ITIL Foundations certification will allow you to progress to higher levels within the ITIL 4 certification scheme.

To help you pass, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the ITIL exam pattern and completing official sample papers and practice questions. Make sure to follow the time constraints when taking a practice test, as test takers often fail because they run out of time during the exam.

Passing the ITIL Foundation requires a working understanding of all the basics and stages of the ITIL lifecycle and capability modules. Study and memorize keywords and ensure you know the definitions of abbreviations, IT jargon, and other special terms.

The Impact of ITIL Foundations Certification on Your Career

The concepts and skills learned in this course reflect the fast-paced and complex environment in which we live and work. ITIL Foundations will make you aware of key IT and digital service delivery concepts, including:

  • How to examine operations in modern IT and digital service organizations
  • Increasing value stream speed and efficiency
  • Understanding commonly used service management terms and concepts

Learning the ins and outs of the ITSM framework can also be helpful for service development, customer support, etc., by acting as a stepping stone to advancing their careers. More companies are recognizing the ITIL methodology's value and requiring entire teams and departments to become certified in ITIL Foundations. It's an excellent way to boost productivity, collaboration, and communication, ensuring digital transformation success and continual service improvement.

Here are some other career benefits of obtaining the ITIL Foundations certification:

Higher salaries

Individuals with ITIL certifications better demonstrate how ITSM can realize larger business objectives. ITIL is focused on delivering value and optimizing ITSM efforts, why is why employers happily pay more for IT professionals who can help them save money.

Increased efficiency and effectiveness

The ITIL framework helps IT administrators improve service timelines and customer satisfaction. The certification also educates you on best practices to increase the IT environment's visibility and flexibility.

Better risk management

ITIL 4 emphasizes the importance of customer feedback, breaking down silos, and improving collaboration across teams. With better communication and streamlined operations, IT service delivery can more effectively anticipate risks and threats to the business.

Real-world Applications of ITIL Foundations

Data shows that over 90 percent of companies are estimated to use IT Service Management (ITSM) frameworks. An international survey of 491 firms revealed that as an ITSM framework matures in an organization, the number of realized benefits increases.

Overall, ITIL has skyrocketed in popularity over the years because it provides a flexible framework that reflects modern service management. ITIL 4 helps businesses align their IT services with business needs, manage risk effectively, strengthen their customer relations, and establish cost-effective practices. Simply put, with the ITIL framework, IT organizations provide better services and better customer support and help facilitate change and growth.


Making ITIL certification part of your career path can set you apart from your peers in IT. By taking the time to earn the certification, you establish you have the know-how to take a systematic and professional approach to ITSM. You may already know how to reduce IT costs or improve IT services, but now you have the certification to show you do so using proven best practices.

ITIL training from United Training is ideal for any technology professionals looking to create a solid foundation of IT service management in their organization or pursue ITIL certification. If you're ready to begin the next chapter of your career, we hope you will consider pursuing the ITIL Foundations certification.