How many ITIL Examination Institutes is enough?

In an announcement last week, APMG have appointed a ninth Examination Institute. Readers will recall these are the companies that are licensed by APMG and in turn accredit all the 350+ training organisations delivering ITIL training. The EIs also administer the exams using standardised question content but their own tests and their own delivery systems.

PEOPLECERT, a rapidly developing Personnel Certification Body originating from Greece, has recently been accredited as ITIL Examination Institute... delivered in 5 countries (Greece, China, Turkey, Portugal, Albania).

In many parts of the world, you now have a choice of which exam system you sit your test under (just as you did with EXIN and ISEB for ITIL V2, only more so.) In a competitive industry, with ITIL certs becoming more and more a commodity product, what are the competitive pressures on an EI? To provide higher standards? Or higher pass rates?

As EIs proliferate, so too will the geographical dispersion and sheer numbers of EIs that APMG needs to audit and control. APMG have clearly chosen an organisation of good standing in PEOPLECERT ("represents prestigious organisations such as ECDL Foundation and City & Guilds Organisation ... fully meeting the specifications of standards ISO17024, ISO9001, ISO10002, ISO14001 and ISO27001") - this isn't about the specific EIs.

I'm all for choice and competition. But we had that with two EIs. I'm left to wonder whether there is an upper limit to the useful number of EIs, and whether manageability (and hence protection of the value of ITIL certification, whatever is left) wouldn't be better served by an expansion of the existing Institutes rather than an increasing number of independent bodies and systems to be policed. Especially as ITIL extends its tendrils into some of the murkier corners of the world.


And then there were ten

APMG have added yet another Examination Institute to the list of ITIL EIs: the German company CERT-IT. Once again I ask the question: how many is enough? A year-and-a-half ago there were six. Now there are ten: APMG themselves, BCS-ISEB, CERT-IT, CSE, DANSK IT, DF Certifiering AB, EXIN, Loyalist, PEOPLECERT, and TÜV SÜD Akademie. (BTW, how did Loyalist get to be an EI with such a lowercase name?)

What Do You Care?

Really, what do you care how many EIs there are Skep? What's the point here?

Originally there was only BCS, and then EXIN. The rest of the non English-speaking world had to whistle for their certifications until EXIN (with their Dutch genes) became entrepreneurial by issuing examinations in languages other than Dutch and English. Then things got interesting as Loyalist "translated" Dutch-English into Canadian-US English. As time marched on, more dispersed EIs came on-board specializing in additional languages & different time zones (one day we may even have an EI specializing in "Kiwi" offering the first exams of the day!)

The point is - more EIs means that more people can be served in the language they need, and supported in their local time zone. That's a good thing, right? And if you were to say "But why do we need 2 German EIs or 2 North American EIs ...." well, competition is good too, right?

So what's the problem with more EIs? Bring 'em on!

BTW - If you need all the EIs to fit into some acronymic paradigm, Loyalist is actually LCS (Loyalist Certification Services).

pell-mell proliferation

I agree the current arrangement of EIs is better than the sort of monopolistic sole-rights arrangement that exists above them with APMG and TSO.

I did shape the post as a question, because I'm not sure. I just have a certain discomfort that pell-mell proliferation of EIs may not be in the best interests of ITIL professionalism and protection of the value and credibility of ITIL certifications (whatever of that is left). Especially when OGC governance is already clearly seen to be sloppy at best.

And OGC's idea of regionalisation is to allow the little locals to do all the translations as volunteers or grossly underpaid serfs, while the copyright and control remains firmly wedged in the royal rectum. "Patronising" doesn't begin to describe it. "Colonialism" is closer.

Competition For "Service", not "Product"

Right. We certainly don't want "pell-mell proliferation of EIs"!

Let me digress for a second - back to my earlier comment about "competition being a good thing". I am, of course, referring to how it's good that ATOs and students have the opportunity to chose between EIs based on level of SERVICE - not because the exams are any better or worse from one EI to another. Contrary to a popular myth, no EI's exams are any easier or tougher than any other EI's. All exams are created from a common database of questions.

So the only difference between what you get from EI "A" compared to EI "B" is the quality of service - and maybe a slight variation in pricing. I like this model!

APMG takes over ISMF UK, ISO/IEC scheme

APMG has signed an agreement with itSMF UK to acquire its ISO/IEC 20000 Certification and Qualification scheme. see .

Existing ATO's will transfer to APMG - but this may boost the EXIN qualification scheme. Certainly most ATO's were keen on the qualification side going to a "proper" EI, but be careful what you wish for..... Not sure what expertise APMG has in the Certification side.
Liz Gallacher
Freelance Trainer and Consultant

Oddly enough

Oddly enough, I'm more comfortable with the scheme being with APMG than with itSMFUK, for these reasons:

  1. itSMFUk is not itSMF - there were potential power struggles down the track not unlike other problems we've only recently overcome
  2. the closer itSMF gets to being a member-representative organisation the better, or at least industry-agnostic. Being a certification vendor took it further over the dark side.
  3. there's synergy with ITIL certification - better than creating a new situation where ITIL certification is competing with ISO20000 certification
  4. it doesn't hurt to retain an EXIN competitor

APMG certainly have

APMG certainly have expertise as an EI. itSMF were not developing the qualification scheme at all, and their website advertising it is apalling. Hopefully those things will improve as a result of this development.Time will tell whether APMG change the Consultancy exams to multiple choice -I think that would be a backward step.
itSMF never really knew what it wanted to do in this area, and should have handed it over to one or more EIs years ago.
As far as the certification scheme itself is concerned - I am not aware of any APMG experience in this area. Most people currently involved in the various committees will be time will tell

Liz Gallacher
Freelance Trainer and Consultant (and ATO rep to itsmf )

On the contrary, itSMF UK

On the contrary, itSMF UK has always know what it wanted to do with the scheme. It was in our strategic plan fully three years ago to consider our position as Exam Institute and Accreditor when the time was right and certain criteria were met. As 'Skeptic' alludes to it is not our core business and others do it much better. The management board took that decision confident in the expectation that APMG would take the scheme forward and with the full support of itSMF International with whom we liaised before finalising the deal. Both I and the UK Board believe once the full details emerge it will be seen as a tremendously positive step for the scheme, wider itSMF movement and ITSM in general.

Barry Corless

Chairman, itSMF UK

there's no shortage of testing centers

EXIN sub-contracted (franchised ... or something) to Prometric to run the foundation exams . They have a pretty wide coverage internationally. They have 11 sites in Greece that will handle English (I didn't check other languages - but it's probably the same).

I'd say you're right Skep - APMG have bought into more of a manageability problem without gaining very much in the way of increasing the availability of assessment sites.

Although - to be fair, prometric only do foundation exams

Culture and language

I believe there is a credible justification for expanding the number of EIs if they can make the qualification more accessible across cultures and languages, with the proviso that they do not weaken the global value of the qualification


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