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Yeah, this is a niche comparison, but I’m the niche and I need to finish this one out so here goes.  First, ITIL is a service management framework for technology.  It has three levels: Foundation (1 test, no course required), Intermediate (either 4 or 5 tests and courses, depending on the type) and Expert (1 test, 1 course).  So the cheapest you get out is 5 courses, 6 tests.  There are a limited number of players in the online training market (which is the least expensive path) so that’s a good thing for comparing.  There are a myriad of ways to get the required “points” to be eligible for the Expert certification, which adds some complexity.  To figure out what you need, there is a Credit Profiler provided by the official ITIL folks.

Everyone starts with ITIL Foundation which is worth 2 points and the exam can be taken without the course for about $300.  After that there are two Intermediate tracks – lifecycle (5 courses for 3 points each) and capability (4 courses for 4 points each).  You need a total of 17 points from Foundation through Intermediate to be eligible to take the MALC (Managing Across the Life Cycle) course and exam for expert.  Once you subtract out the Foundation points, that’s 15 total points.  Ideally, you would take the ones that most applied to what you are planning to do with the certification while keeping an eye on the cost.  From a pure economic standpoint, you want to hit that 15 points in the least classes possible, so either 4 capability (16 points) or 3 capability and one lifecycle (15 points on the nose).

ITIL Credit Profiler

Yours truly has Foundation for 2 points, RCV (Release, Control and Validation) for 4 points and Service Operation for 3 points.  It’s important to note that there is overlap between the capability and lifecycle courses as well so you have to be careful not to nullify points by taking two sides of the same thing.  There are three degrees of overlap (low, medium and high) so be sure to consider those when choosing courses across different tracks.  Mine have a medium degree of overlap, so I’m good on selecting, but to hit my points on the nose without wasting a course I need two more capability (8 points).  The other option is three more lifecycle (9 points) but the cost is going to be significantly higher to do that.

On to the course and exam costs.  Financially for me, it makes the most sense to take two more capability qualifications – PPO (Planning, Protection & Optimization) and SOA (Service Operations & Agreements).  That said, I’d love to take three lifecycle qualifications – Service Strategy, Service Design and Continual Service Improvement.  So, let’s look at the math using a few different vendors.  The Art of Service offers web based training (self paced with video instructor), Global Knowledge and Pink Elephant offer virtual classroom (online with a live instructor).  We’ll use the AoS “Complete Examination Package” which includes the exam voucher since that is included in the virtual classrooms by the other vendors.  Capability courses are 5 days, Lifecycle are 4 days.  For comparison I’m using the PPO (capability) and CSI (lifecycle) courses:

  • Art of Service (Capability) – $920
  • Art of Service (Lifecycle) – $920
  • Global Knowledge (Capability) – $2995
  • Global Knowledge (Lifecycle) – $2495
  • Pink Elephant (Capability) – $2695
  • Pink Elephant (Lifecycle) – $2495

OK, so pretty significant cost difference, though there are also other considerations – live instructor for questions and a set week of training is a huge plus for many folks and you have to have self discipline to do a web based self paced course (there is a time limit for both finishing the course and taking the exam with AoS).  The instructor leds also have some additional benefits (check the vendor websites) added in for free such as exam guarantees and exam prep sessions.  One disadvantage to instructor led is that you also have to take them when they are scheduled to run.  I’m pretty good at self paced training and study, so I can afford to go for the Art of Service web based training for $920/course.  With two more capability I can be done for $1840 or three lifecycle for $2760.  I should note for folks who are just starting out that all three offer learning pass or package programs for your entire certification you may want to consider.

Once I have my 17 points, the last qualification is Managing Across the Lifecycle (5 days) for 5 points and the Expert certification (22 total points).  Again:

  • Art of Service – $920
  • Global Knowledge – $3295
  • Pink Elephant – $2695

With Art of Service I can buy a 3 pack for $894 per qualification, so I can finish out my remaining intermediates and my expert for $2682 (instead of $2760).  To do online instructor led, the cheapest I can get out without a package would be $8085.

Summary – if you are self disciplined enough to do web based video training within a time limit, AoS is a significant cost savings.  If you prefer a “live” instructor and can set aside a week to attend class online, Pink Elephant is less expensive on capability and MALC but the same as Global Knowledge on lifecycle.  Your choice will likely be limited by the scheduled dates, so plan accordingly.

Note: All prices were taken from the respective websites without any discounts or package prices applied.  They are obviously subject to a.) change, b.) sales and c.) package prices so shop around if you want to do physical or virtual classroom training.

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