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SDI Qualifications – what’s the value?

SDI Analyst (Qualified) Logo

Many years ago I was asked if SDI qualifications, or indeed, any IT support qualifications, were worth it. My answer then, as now, was: Yes, yes – a thousand times YES!

There are indeed many different types of support skills qualifications, ranging from interpersonal skills to the very technical – and all are worth having if they add value to the role of the individual and the team – and that the organisation benefits from the skills and knowledge acquired.

So – how can SDI qualifications help your team, and your organisation?

All the qualifications are based on globally-defined best practices – and believe me it takes a lot of time, discussion, thinking, re-working and re-wording to ensure that the SDI standards are a fair representation of how we should be delivering service and support across the world, taking in many different cultures and ways of working.

It’s not just a few people dreaming up what they think SDI best practice should be. The committees for the 2 levels of qualification are drawn from around the world and include service desk managers, IT managers, trainers and consultants. In other words, people who work in ITSM, who know and understand the role of service and support teams.

The qualifications are also very appropriate for not just your service desk, but any team that has interactions with customers and colleagues – the content is highly relevant for them too.

Yes, really – it is! I’ve taught many courses to an entire IT environment, including development – and with the growth of interest in DevOps, those organisations were clearly well ahead of the curve in their approach to support. The courses are also eminently suitable for staff who don’t work in IT at all.

There is a strong focus on customer service and support in both SDA and SDM, and, for the managers – SDM has exceptionally good management content that is highly relevant for any manager, team leader or supervisor.

One of the best comments I ever had from an IT Manager, who was in the process of putting all his staff through the SDI exams  was that he could see how the SDI courses and exams were ‘the practical application of theory’. Yes, they are.

‘People may forget what you said; they may forget what you did. They will NEVER forget how you made them feel.’ – Maya Angelou. In my opinion, the customer and interpersonal skills elements – which are key components of the qualifications – are reflected in this simple, but powerful quotation from a remarkable woman.

The 2 levels of qualification are SDA (Service Desk and Support Analyst) and SDM (Service Desk Manager). A candidate should sit the qualification most suited to their role and/or level of experience. There is NO mandatory requirement to sit the analyst level course before sitting the manager’s exam, although many managers opt to do so, in order that they will have a full understanding of what their staff have learned.

SDI Manager (Qualified) Logo

To answer the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)

Firstly – for the individual. Each successful candidate feels a great sense of achievement (there’s no guaranteed pass with an SDI exam; you do need to know and understand what it’s all about, and how to apply the knowledge acquired). A sense of achievement is one of the greatest motivational factors (Hertzberg’s Theory of Motivation in the Workplace).

Herzberg’s Theory 

Factors that lead to Dissatisfaction

(Hygiene Factors)

 Factors that lead to Satisfaction


  • Company policy
  • Supervision
  • Relationship with boss and peers
  • Work conditions
  • Status

·         Salary

  • Achievement
  • Recognition
  • Work itself
  • Responsibility
  • Advancement
  • Growth

From the candidate’s perspective, the qualification goes on their CV (Resume), which everyone appreciates. It also goes on that of the Service Desk or Support team.  It feels great when you can state that you hold an SDI qualification. It’s great when you can proudly state, as a business, as a manager, as a director, that all your team hold SDI qualifications. These qualifications provide evidence of solid levels of competency, knowledge and understanding of best practice, as well as evidence of a good basic understanding of ITSM.

The curriculum offers clear direction to the individual – doesn’t it help massively if you are clear about where you are going and how you are going to get there? This in itself can be a great motivator.

Secondly – for the team

  • Direction – as for the individual, the curriculum highlights remarkably effectively the areas in which the team are strong, the areas that need improvement – and can act as a remarkably effective basis for a service improvement plan.
  • Reward and recognition – being ‘sent on a training course with an exam at the end’ is NOT a punishment. Why would a manager spend money on someone if they didn’t think they were worth investing in? Because that’s what it is – an investment in the individual – for their benefit as well as that of the team.
  • Motivation – working towards something and being determined to succeed is a great motivator. Hard work pays.
  • Clarity of purpose – the curriculum for each course explains very well what the individual and the team are there to do. It helps us to identify where we are missing some key elements, and what we should be striving for. Personally, I like to know what it is I should be trying to achieve and to be given some direction as to how I can achieve it by filling in the missing bits!

And thirdly – for the organisation

  • Value for money – if the service desk and/or support teams are working to best practice you should expect to see a good return on your investment in their training. And as they continue to improve the level and quality of service and support that they provide, so your organisation will benefit.
  • Motivated staff – people who are motivated tend to work harder and more effectively. They are also enthusiastic, and enthusiasm is contagious.
  • Greater commitment – clear direction, motivation, good understanding of what the team are working towards all provide a great sense of commitment to the team and its success
  • Greater productivity and success – as a result of taking the exams the typical outcome is this – an even more productive team, working in unity towards a common goal.
  • Customer perception – the customers (or users) of the service desk /support team will genuinely notice the difference once your staff have taken a course and sat and (hopefully!) passed the exam. The only thing that could prevent this improvement is lack of support and commitment from senior and middle management.

As a result of analysts and managers sitting a course, taking and passing and exam, what can you justifiably expect to see?

A higher and more consistent quality of service and support, delivered in line with business requirements as they evolve and change.

Wish to go on a training course for one of the Service Desk Institute qualifications? Find a quality assured training provider near you – APMG accredited trainers 


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