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ITIL Lifecycle v/s Capability Courses (V3)

adminbmt November 7, 2013

Lifecycle vs. Capability Courses (V3)

A very common question many people have in their minds after doing their ITIL V3 Foundation is which stream and which intermediate exam do I choose from? Should it be the Lifecycle Stream or Capability Stream? The next question that comes to one’s mind is “what’s the difference between the two Intermediate streams?” In other words, what are the differentiating factors of the two streams that one should consider while pursuing the intermediate level certification?

Let’s have a look at the course content of the two Intermediate Streams:


  • Capability courses cover the Roles and Technology & implementation Considerations in all the following modules:
  • Release Control & Validation (RCV)
  • Operational Support & Analysis (OSA)
  • Service Offerings & Agreements (SOA)
  • Planning, Protection & Optimization (PPO)

Course Content of the Capability Stream


  • Change Management
  • Release & Deployment Management
  • Service Validation and Testing
  • Service Asset & Configuration Management
  • Knowledge Management
  • Request fulfillment
  • Service Evaluation


  • Event Management
  • Incident Management
  • Request Fulfillment
  • Problem Management
  • Access Management
  • Service Desk
  • Technical Management
  • IT Operations Management
  • Application Management


  • Service Portfolio Management
  • Service Catalogue Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Demand Management
  • Supplier Management
  • Financial Management


  • Capacity Management
  • Availability Management
  • IT Service Security Management
  • Information Security Management
  • Demand Management
  • Challenges, Critical Success Factors and Risks


Lifecycle courses cover the principles and processes in all the following phases

Service Strategy (SS)

Service Design (SD)

Service Transition (ST)

Service Operation (SO)

Continual Service Improvement (CSI)


  • Defining Services and Market Spaces
  • Conducting Strategic Assessments
  • Financial Management
  • Service Portfolio Management
  • Managing Demand
  • Driving Strategy through the Service Lifecycle
  • Critical Success Factors and Risks


  • Processes
  • Service Design technology related activities
  • Organizing for Service Design
  • Consideration of Technology
  • Implementation and improvement of Service Design


  • Service Transition related activities
  • Organizing for Service Transition
  • Consideration of Technology
  • Implementation & improvement of Service Transition


  • Common Service Operation Activities
  • Organizing Service Operation: Functions
  • Technology Considerations
  • Implementation Considerations
  • Challenges, Critical Success Factors & Risks


  • Methods & Techniques
  • Organization for CSI
  • Technology for CSI
  • Implementing CSI
  • Critical Success Factors and Risks

While the above course contents of the two streams may appear to be quite alike, the focus and target audience for each stream is, in fact, very different. And while Foundation provides a good overview of ITIL V3, it is in the Intermediate courses that the processes and stages come to life.


The Lifecycle Stream

It consists of Five Certifications; wherein each certification is based on one Service Lifecycle phase i.e. Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation & Continual Service Improvement.

Lifecycle stream focuses on executing and implementing a complete stage of Service Lifecycle. Lifecycle lays emphasis on the phase, process relationships, roles, responsibilities and implementation considerations but it pays less attention to the processes.

Lifecycle modules are meant for those that are working “on” the processes and are responsible for ITSM implementation. If one’s role is more of strategic nature i.e., setting policies, managing the processes, and organizing for processes. The target audience for Lifecycle stream includes: CIOs, CTOs, Managers, Supervisory Staff, Team Leaders, Designers, Architects, Planners, IT Consultants, IT Audit Managers, IT Security Managers and ITSM trainers involved in the ongoing management, coordination and integration of operation activities within the Service Lifecycle.

The Capability Stream

It consists of Four Certifications, which are process oriented and provide a deep understanding of the V3 processes and functions, how they are applied and how they act together.

Capability stream focuses on improving & implementing existing related processes.

The syllabus is more prescriptive and covers a detailed view of the inputs, activities, concepts, metrics and outputs of each process.

Capability modules are meant for those that work “in” the processes and are responsible in carrying out the daily process activities. The target audience for Capability stream includes: Business Process Owners, Business Managers, and Operational Staff in Service Portfolio Management; Service Catalogue Management; Service Level Management; Demand Management; Supplier Management; Financial Management and Business Relationship Management.

The final module of Lifecycle & Capability stream is Managing Across the Lifecycle Certification (MALC) that leads to achieving ITIL Expert. MALC looks at the dynamics of the Service Lifecycle with a strong emphasis on organizational change. One can pursue courses from both the streams and earn the required number of credits to pursue ITIL Expert.

So, the choice between Lifecycle and Capability courses depends on the knowledge that you require to manage your skills in order to enhance your current role, functions, responsibilities, activities and objectives, where you stand at the moment in your ITSM journey and what you are trying to achieve in the short term.


Contributed By:

Sonal P



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