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What’s Coming in ITIL 4?

By | November 6, 2018 in ITIL

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 organizationi>
  • 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.

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Stuart Rance

About Stuart Rance

Stuart is an ITSM and security consultant, trainer, and author who has worked with clients in many countries, helping them create business value for themselves and their customers. He was the author of the 2011 edition of ITIL® Service Transition and lead author of RESILIA™ Cyber Resilience best practice published in June 2015. Now that his children have all left home, he has plenty of time on his hands for contributing to our blog - lucky us!

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

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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.


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