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What’s Coming in ITIL 4?

By | November 6, 2018 in ITIL


Update since publication: The latest version of ITIL – ITIL 4 – was released on Monday 18th February. To find out what is covered in the latest version, along with what has changed, please read this blog also by Stuart Rance.

A new version of ITIL will be released early in 2019. Much of the detail is not yet publicly available, but here is an overview of what we know so far.

What’s ITIL?

If you’re not already familiar with ITIL then please read my blog What Is ITIL. In summary, ITIL is the world’s leading best practice framework for managing IT services.

What’s in a Name?

The next version of ITIL will be called ITIL 4. Many people think that the previous version was called ITIL V3, but that name was never in fact used. The first three releases were all just called ITIL at the time, by the publishers, but most people knew them as ITIL V1, ITIL V2, and ITIL V3.

The Previous Versions


ITIL V1 consisted of a large number of separate books, each describing a particular process. The first of these books was released in the 1980s and others came out over a period of about ten years.


ITIL V2 was released in 2000 and 2001. Most people were only familiar with the service delivery and service support publications, which covered 10 core processes and the service desk. There were also a range of other publications covering application management, infrastructure management, security, and more.

ITIL 2007 Edition

When this version was released in 2007 everyone called it ITIL V3, although the publishers later chose to call it ITIL 2007 edition. This version introduced the idea of a service lifecycle with five stages: service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation, and continual service improvement. ITIL 2007 consolidated areas such as application management and infrastructure management, which had previously been separated off into their own publications. It also introduced many new processes, whereby the previous 10 process model now had 26 (or possibly 27) processes, covering the whole lifecycle.

ITIL 2011 Edition

This was a fairly minor release compared to the previous updates. Many inconsistencies were removed, and much of the content was rewritten to make it easier to read. Probably the most significant change was the introduction of a business relationship management (BRM) process.

ITIL Practitioner

The most recent ITIL publication, released in 2016, was ITIL Practitioner. This introduced the ITIL Guiding Principles, to help people and organizations understand how to adopt ITIL ideas and adapt them to their own situations. You can read an example of how these principles can be applied to a service desk in 9 Guiding Principles That Can Help Improve Your Service Desk.

ITIL Practitioner explained the fundamental importance of the concepts of value, outcomes, costs and risks to service management, and showed how these underpin the concept of a service. It also described three essential competencies that service organizations need to develop:

  1. Continual improvement
  2. Metrics and measurement
  3. Organizational change management

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ITIL 4 Is Next

I’m proud to be one of the authors of ITIL 4, which means I know what’s coming, but I’m not permitted to describe it in detail until it’s published next year.

Meanwhile, here’s some initial information to whet your appetite:


We’ve been working hard on ITIL 4 since late 2017. We started by talking to lots of people to understand how best practice has evolved, and what they expected to see in a new version of ITIL.

Various ideas and architectures were shared with a large community of stakeholders and we incorporated lots of feedback into the final design.

The Foundation publication will be released early in 2019, but we are already working on creating the infrastructure needed to support this.  ITIL is much more than just a book or two, we have to create exams, train and accredit instructors, and more to be ready.

Training sessions for ITIL trainers started in October 2018, and there will be 18 of these ‘Train the Trainer’ courses between October and December, training 360 ITIL instructors, so that training organizations can offer ITIL courses as soon as the books are available.

ITIL Foundation will be published early in 2019, but that won’t be the whole of ITIL 4.  The next level of detail will be available about a year later. This is a different approach to previous releases of ITIL, when all the content was released at once, but it means that you can start to learn about ITIL while in-depth guidance is still being written.

Content and Structure

One thing that we heard very clearly from our stakeholders was that ITIL needed to evolve, not be totally replaced. The fundamental ideas of service management have not changed, but the context and environment have, and ITIL needs to help organizations manage services in a new, more complex, world.

The good news is that if you’ve read ITIL Practitioner, then you’ve already started on your journey to ITIL 4. The guiding principles are now core to ITIL, and will be taught on every Foundation course. This should help to ensure that people who study ITIL have a better understanding of the need to focus on:

  • Value for their organization
  • Working holistically, rather than in silos
  • Keeping things simple

…as well as following all the other guiding principles.

ITIL 4 also further develops the concepts of value, outcomes, costs, and risks, which were described in ITIL Practitioner, AND it has a very strong focus on continual improvement.

ITIL 4 still describes core ideas such as incident management, problem management, and change management. After all, this is what many people have to do when they go back to work after reading a book or studying a training course. But ITIL 4 emphasizes taking a much more holistic view – because best practice always involves understanding how everything must fit together to deliver value for customers.

Incident management, for example, is not just a process. We have to take into account:

  • People and teams, with their roles, skills, and competence
  • Processes, procedures, and value streams
  • Information and technology tools
  • Suppliers and partners

You may recognize this list from the “Four P’s of service design” in ITIL 2007 (people, process, products, and partners), but in ITIL 4 they are not just design considerations, they are essential aspects of everything we do.

ITIL Certification

The ITIL 4 certification scheme starts with ITIL Foundation, which will be available early in 2019. Further training and certification will be available about a year later. The full scheme will include the following modules:

ITIL Certification Scheme

ITIL Foundation will be a pre-requisite for any of the higher-level certifications.

The designation ITIL Managing Professional will be granted to anyone who passes the four courses: (1) Create, Deliver and Support, (2) Drive Stakeholder Value, (3) High Velocity IT; and (4) Direct, Plan, and Improve.

ITIL Strategic Leader shares the Direct, Plan and Improve module and adds Digital and IT Strategy.

ITIL Master will require proven practical experience as well as a deep knowledge of ITIL.

There will be a bridge course, for people who already have 17 or more credits in the existing ITIL certification scheme. This will allow them to achieve ITIL Managing Professional with a single training course and exam.

In Summary

So, to sum up:

  • ITIL 4 is coming soon – early 2019
  • It is an evolution of ITIL, not a revolutionary replacement
  • It builds on many of the ideas in ITIL Practitioner
  • It focusses more on how things fit together to create value, and less on process steps
  • It’s going to be released in stages, with Foundation material available early in 2019

If you want to start preparing for ITIL 4 now, then probably the best thing you can do is read the ITIL Practitioner publication or attend an ITIL Practitioner training course.

I will, of course, be updating the IT service management (ITSM) community with information as things progress – so please feel free to follow me on Twitter at @StuartRance.

Stuart Rance

About Stuart Rance

Stuart is an ITSM and security consultant, working with clients all round the world. He is one of the authors of ITIL 4, as well as an author of ITIL Practitioner, ITIL Service Transition, and Resilia: Cyber Resilience Best Practice. He is also a trainer, teaching standard and custom courses in ITSM and information security management, and an examiner helping to create ITIL and other exams. Now that his children have all left home, he has plenty of time on his hands for contributing to our blog - lucky us!

20 thoughts on “What’s Coming in ITIL 4?”

  1. Avatar Keith Sutherland

    Stuart …very nicely done. Butch sheets and I have been following you for years sir. I will be sharing this very article with a number of folks. Do you have an opinion about folks that have taken intermediate, working towards MALC, but not quite there yet? Secondly, is there the concept of a ‘bridge’ to ITIL 4. I am just now to the point of starting to research this, and I am scheduled to take ITIL4 Foundation (Donna Knapp) in January. Kind regards.


  2. Avatar Brian McKenna

    Bit of a typo Stuart – The first book of ITIL V3/2007 was Service Strategy, not Service Support.

    And I have still a copy of the “ITIL®V3 Glossary v3.1.24” dated 11 May 2007 and published by OGC. “V3” was clearly accepted back then. I first heard it called 2007 after 2011 was launched. I do admit that the V3 core books did not use that term.


      1. Avatar Ivor Macfarlane

        While we are on the petty grumbling about minor issues stage – can I post mine? ITIL V1 wasn’t process based. The process focus came form the authoring of BS15000 and was them absorbed into the then ongoing ITIL rewrite. The original version of ITIL is actually function based. And it didn’t take 10 years. First published in 1989. In 1995 I started the rewrite for the next version.


  3. Avatar Ramandeep Kaur

    Hi Stuart,

    This blog is really informative, thanks for sharing your learnings

    Can you please let us know if ITIL managing professionals is equivalent to ITIL master. Also how would it affect the folks who have done ITIL experts via MALC.

    Thanks in advance!


    1. Stuart Rance Stuart Rance

      I expect that the new ITIL Master will be equivalent to the previous ITIL Master.

      There will be a bridging course to help people convert from existing ITIL certifications to the new Managing Professional, as explained in the blog.


  4. Avatar Steve Lawless

    Hi Stuart. I Can’t get a straight answer from AXELOS at the moment, but do you think ITIL Master will just be a case of getting to both Managing Professional an Strategic Leader status, or will it require additional effort to become a ‘Jedi Master’ of ITIL?


    1. Stuart Rance Stuart Rance

      ITIL Master will NOT be just a designation for people who have passed the managing professional and strategic leader exams.

      The details aren’t available yet, but it will be equivalent to the current ITIL Master. This requires the candidate to demonstrate their practical experience.


  5. Avatar Jon Massey

    Rance, good information, my name is Jon Massey and I have been involved with ITIL since 1995 when I took an ITIL V1 Foundations class in Holland from Cap Gemini, the instructor spoke english but the content was all in Dutch. So I listened and then took and passed the original foundations test. I am currently an ITIL Master and will be interested in hearing when there is a bridge course for those of us who have been doing this a very long time.


  6. Stuart Rance Stuart Rance

    The date for the ITIL 4 Managing Professional transition course is not yet available Jon. I would be surprised if it is later than 12 months from now, I would also be surprised if it is less than 6 months from now, but this is purely conjecture on my part.

    The ITIL Master certification is not yet defined, and I have no idea whether this will be the same as the existing certification or completely different. Given the huge amount of time and effort required to achieve the current ITIL Master certification, I would be very surprised if this were not recognised in any future certification.


  7. Avatar Brett Sheffield

    Stuart, I was studying to take the ITIL certification exam before getting recently promoted to our EPMO office. I would like to get my ITIL certification as I am still involved with the CSI process. Do I need to get all new v4 books to study for the exam, or can I still use the v3 materials (I have both the Axelos books and various v3 study guides) to prepare for the exam. (I am going to have to pay out of pocket for the books and the exam). Thank you for your insight!


    1. Stuart Rance Stuart Rance

      To study for ITIL4 foundation you can take a training course, or study the ITIL4 foundation book. Managing Professtional transition is not yet available. I would guess that the training may be required, but reading the 4 books wouldn’t hurt.


  8. Avatar Jill Knapp

    Hi Stuart!
    Long time fan of your wisdom, wit, and brightly-colored ties. 🙂

    Can you help me understand the reason behind releasing the ITIL 4 Foundation book first, before the other ITIL 4 publications were written/released? In the past, it seemed logical that ITIL Foundation summarizes the important bits and highlights of the whole framework. But with ITIL 4 Foundation being written first, I’m not sure what it’s “founded” on.

    I’m a long-time ITIL Service Manager/Expert (trainer and courseware provider, too), and it feels strange to teach an ITIL 4 Foundation class when I’m only 40 questions smarter than my students. I can’t answer some of their questions because we don’t know what the rest of the ITIL 4 guidance is going to say yet.

    I have utmost respect for the ITIL 4 Architecture Team, so I’m sure the decision to publish the ITIL 4 books in this order was well-considered. Can you shed some light on that decision-making process?

    You have my gratitude, and my highest respect.


    1. Stuart Rance Stuart Rance


      I can only offer personal guesses about the reasons for ITIL 4 release plans here. You would need to contact Axelos if you wanted an official response.

      As an architecture team we worked on a design for the new version of ITIL. This was sufficient to produce the new ITIL 4 Foundation publication, with a description of the basic architecture and an overview of all the practices. I guess Axelos could have then delayed for another year or more to create the next level of detail, but there is a lot of value in what has been published, and there was no need for people to wait that long.

      I don’t agree that you are “only 40 questions smarter” than your students. Everything you learned in ITIL V3 is just as valid as it ever was. You have the knowledge and experience to talk about how to manage incidents and problems, or whatever. I am sure that ITIL will continue to release new guidance to help improve, but your existing knowledge, coupled with the new ITIL 4 Foundation, is a great step in the right direction.




      1. Avatar Jill Knapp

        Thank you so, so much, Stuart. You gave me the pep talk I’ve really been needing. I admit I’ve been pretty down about the whole thing, but I suddenly feel much better.

        I appreciate you, and am so grateful for all you’ve done for the entire ITSM community.

        Really. Thank you.


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