Where is fit? ITIL and project management

It is a good idea for professionals to strategically combine the related bodies of expertise. For anyone involved in IT infrastructure projects, ITIL is a great complementary certification. What I find is that specialized knowledge often drives PRODUCT for effort, but project management skills drive the PROJECT that produces the PRODUCT. On solid technical teams, the second line of thinking is often lacking.


When you get any level experience at work, you realize that the world is a collection of operations and projects. We always seek to systematize, where possible, streamline operations and improve results. We always try to create a “business as usual”, “run by themselves” environment, although in reality it is complete to achieve this. We are always aware of changes in external conditions and the need to be proactive in changing our operations when needed. This intersection between operations and project management is, I think, where ITIL and project management come together.

The IT Infrastructure Library® (ITIL®) describes a set of best-practice processes for high-quality stable IT services. Project management, as a discipline, allows for a defined change to be implemented in a controlled way, so that costs, schedule and quality of deliverables are as expected. It seems that awareness of ITIL in an environment where it is embedded would be an input into project management. Likewise, project management is a great skill to use for implementing and continuously improving the best practices provided by ITIL.


PRINCE2 and ITIL come from a single source, OGC (The Office of Government Commerce) in England. While I don’t have hard core stats, ITIL seems to be stronger on the radar screen in the US than PRINCE2, probably in part because the PMI PMBOK is more strongly established. But the practice of ITIL seems to draw on PRINCE2 to an extent because of its common origin, despite the fact that a project management framework such as PMBOK can be just as effective.

Both ITIL and Prince2 have a mechanism for evaluating the change or project. The post-project review in Prince2 is the same as the ITIL implementation review. Successful review can therefore lead to the end of the project.

Where ITIL and project management meet

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is about providing services within IT operations in an organization. This includes managing the service life cycle, service strategy,

Service design, service transition and service operation. It also means continuous improvement of the entire set of services in place. Management challenges in this area include Service Desk and Incident Management, Configuration and Release Management, Service Level and Capacity Management, Problem and Change Management, Continuity and Availability Management, and Financial and Security Management.

ITIL itself as a discipline takes care of the operations within the defined service sector. However, any changes in this service area can and should be handled by applying good project management discipline. The difference is that the ongoing operations will deal with the maintenance and improvement of services as an in-place, as-is process. The project management discipline will deal with defining the beginning of an initiative, delivering the product from that initiative and reversing the results of the effort to be incorporated into the operation before the project is finally closed.

The two disciplines have significant differences and using the wrong one can result in lower efficiency. In the case of ITIL and project management, both disciplines will provide input to the other. Eg. Will ITIL deliver the current situation to a project. It also provides certain procedures, such as configuration management, to be followed in the context of the project. The results or “product of the project” will be the central input for changes or improvements to be implemented within the ITIL implementation framework of the organization. The professional who understands both sides in depth will be quite valuable to the organization and will gain a leg up in knowledge and credibility.

A little about ITIL (ITIL certification, that is)

ITIL certification has 3 levels: Foundation Certificate, Practitioner Certificate and Manager’s Certificate. Project Management Training Online offers ITIL training that supports the Foundation Certificate.

In short, this is what these 3 levels are all about:

Basic Certificate: There are no entry requirements, and basic testing consists of an hour-long multiple-choice exam that tests a candidate’s basic understanding of IT infrastructure library principles and terminology. It is designed to provide knowledge of ITIL infrastructure (ITIL) best practices for IT Service Management.

Practitioner Certificates: This is aimed at those responsible in their organization for designing specific processes within the IT Service Management discipline and performing the activities associated with those processes. The practitioner’s certificates focus on the depth of understanding and application of these topics and treat each topic as a specialty. Prerequisites include the Foundation certificate and mandatory participation in an accredited course.

Manager’s Certificate: Targeted for managers and consultants, 2 – 3 hour exams test the practical application of the ITIL theory and the exam is preceded by a 10 day training event, other evaluations may also be required. Candidates must have basic certificate and compulsory participation in an accredited training course is required.