Difference between ITIL® v3 and ITIL® 4

Difference between ITIL® v3 and ITIL® 4


ITIL® is the world’s number one best practice methodology for IT service management. Developed by AXELOS, ITIL® supports individuals and organisations to gain optimal value from tech-enabled services.

Meanwhile, if you want to know more about ITIL® 4, please visit our ‘What is ITIL® 4?’ page to learn more.

Table of Contents

Due to the demands of digitization and breakthroughs in emerging technologies, AXELOS, through her expert contributors, came up with a value-driven and more responsive approach to managing and delivering IT services. ITIL® 4, the most recent ITIL® update, has some striking differences between ITIL® v3.

For a good understanding of the differences, let’s discuss them under the following headings: 


Unlike ITIL® v3, ITIL® 4 provides a practical and flexible foundation for individuals and organisations to move from the old ways of doing things to the new ways of doing things. ITIL® 4 achieves this by helping organisations align their human, digital and physical resources in order to soar in the tide of digitisation. Also, ITIL® 4 provides an end-to-end digital or IT operating model that helps in the successful operation and delivery of IT-enabled products and services.

ITIL® 4 has a much wider context than ITIL® v3. It places more emphasis on the current happenings in the world of business and technology and how to address them.

Service value system

The ITIL® v3 course content is focused primarily on the delivery of services. In contrast, ITIL® 4 focuses on end-to-end value delivery. ITIL® 4 framework focuses on value creation through the Service Value System (SVS).

The SVS shows how different components and activities can work together to bring about value creation in IT-enabled services. Within the SVS is the Service Value Chain (SVC). The SVC is a set of related activities such that when arranged in the right sequence provides a model for the creation, delivery and continual improvement of services.

The SVC helps organizations to establish a number of activity sequences known as value streams. It is interesting to know that the SVC is flexible and easily adaptable to other frameworks and approaches.

ITIL Practices

What ITIL® v3 calls ‘processes’ is now called ‘practice’ in ITIL® 4. ITIL® 4 practices build on the processes described in ITIL® v3. Furthermore, ITIL® 4 incorporates other elements such as culture, technology, data management etc.

Integration with other frameworks and approaches

Unlike ITIL® v3, ITIL® 4 includes other frameworks and new ways of working. Some of them include IT governance and leadership, Lean, Agile, DevOps, etc. ITIL® 4 provides the required flexibility to adopt and adapt to what is relevant to each business.

ITIL® v3

ITIL® Foundation

The key characteristic of ITIL® v3 is that the certification is credit-based. In other words, you need to accumulate credits or points to move from one level to another.

The first step in gaining the globally-recognized ITIL® v3 certification is to take the ITIL® Foundation course.

ITIL® Practitioner

The ITIL® Practitioner is the next level after the Foundation. The Foundation is worth 2 credit points, while the Practitioner is worth 3 credit points.

ITIL® Intermediate

The next step for those who want to expand their knowledge and focus on specific areas is the ITIL® Intermediate. This level is structured into two parts – Service Lifecycle and Service Capability. Each certification in Lifecycle stream is worth 3 credit points, while each certification in the Capability stream is worth 4 credits.

The Lifecycle stream is for those who are involved in day-to-day management of IT services. There are five modules in this stream. The modules are:

  •  Service Strategy (SS);
  •  Service Design (SD);
  •  Service Transition (ST);
  •  Service Operation (SO) and
  •  Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

On the other hand, the Capability stream is for those who want to sharpen their technical competence in specific areas of IT service management. There are four modules in this stream. The modules are:

  •  Operational Support and Analysis (OSA);
  •  Planning, Protection, and Optimization (PPO);
  •  Release, Control, and Validation (RCV) and
  •  Service Offerings and Agreements (SOA)

Please, note that you can combine modules from both streams. This will help you develop strong management and technical knowledge of IT-enabled services.

ITIL® Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC)

When you have accrued at least 17 credit points from ITIL® Foundation and Intermediate/Practitioner modules, then you become eligible to take the ITIL® Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) exam. MALC, which is a pre-requisite to becoming an ITIL® Expert,  is worth 5 credits.

ITIL® Expert

Once you have successfully earned sufficient credits (a minimum of 22 credits), you then become an ITIL® Expert.

ITIL® Master

For those aiming to achieve the ITIL® Master level, they must demonstrate their technical and managerial experience in IT service management. Apart from this, they must have at least five years’ experience in managerial, leadership or management advisory roles. 

Difference between ITIL® v3 and ITIL® 4


ITIL® 4 Foundation

The ITIL® 4 certification scheme is not point-based, in contrast to ITIL® v3. ITIL® 4 Foundation is the first step in gaining the global ITSM professional designation. Apart from this, it is a pre-requisite for other levels of the new ITIL® 4 certification scheme.

ITIL® 4 streams

Just as there are streams in ITIL® v3, so also is ITIL® 4. The streams are ITIL Managing Professional (ITIL MP) and ITIL Strategic Leader (ITIL SL).

ITIL Managing Professional (ITIL MP)

To achieve the ITIL MP professional status, you must complete the following modules:

  •  ITIL 4 Foundation
  •  ITIL Specialist: Create, Deliver & Support
  •  ITIL Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value
  •  ITIL Specialist: High-Velocity IT
  •  ITIL Strategist: Direct, Plan & Improve
  •  ITIL Strategic Leader

To become an ITIL Strategic Leader, you must complete the following modules:

– ITIL 4 Foundation
– ITIL Strategist: Direct, Plan & Improve
– ITIL Leader: Digital & IT Strategy (this module mandates 3 years managerial experience as a prerequisite)

ITIL Master

To achieve this professional status, you must have the ITIL Managing Professional (ITIL MP) and ITIL Strategic Leader (ITIL SL) designations respectively.

ITIL Managing Professional (ITIL MP) Transition

This is for those who have earned 17 credits from ITIL® v3 or are ITIL® v3 Expert. This module helps ITIL v3 candidates to transit from ITIL® v3 to ITIL® 4. 

Difference between ITIL® v3 and ITIL® 4

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