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The Difference between Incident Management and Service Request Management

Now that we have established that there is, in fact, a difference between incident management and service request management, let’s see what they are

The difference between Incident Management and Service Request Management has been a hotly debated topic among ITIL professionals for many years now. According to some, there is basically no difference between the two. 

Is There a Difference?

In ITIL v2, all incidents and service requests were grouped into one category called Incident Management. However, when ITIL v3 was launched, Incident management was divided into two separate categories – Incident Management and Service Request Management. Today, most service desks are based on the ITIL v3 framework, so there is technically a difference between the two. 

Difference Between Incident Management and Service Request Management

Incident, Management, Service
In ITIL v2, all incidents and service requests were grouped into one category called Incident Management. Pixabay

Now that we have established that there is, in fact, a difference between incident management and service request management, let’s see what they are.

  • Definition: The first difference lies in the very definition of the two management streams. 
      • Incident: An Incident is an unplanned interruption in or a reduction in the quality of an IT service. 
      • Service Request: Service Requests are the formal submission of a request from a user for an IT service to be provided. 
  • Goal: The goal of Incident Management is to ensure that an unplanned interruption or reduced service quality is fixed as soon as possible so that normal operations can resume. The goal of Service Request Management is to provide the service requested by the user. 
  • Risk Levels: Service Requests usually carry lower risk levels as they generally include standard or pre-approved changes. On the other hand, Incidents tend to be more urgent, as the entire organization could be at risk from an interruption or a reduction in the quality of an IT service.
  • Tickets vs. Service Catalogs: When you are faced with an Incident, you are required to log a ticket. This is basically the documentation of the Incident that alerts your organization’s service desk that there is a problem. 

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A service request, on the other hand, requires you to go to your organization’s service catalog and choose the service you require. Your organization will have a predetermined list of items that chalked out in this catalog. All you need to do is click on the item you need and the IT service team’s job is to make sure you get it. 

Advantages of Segregation

There are a number of very logical reasons why the two types of management have been separated in the latest iteration of the ITIL framework

  • Efficiency

Incident, Management, Service
However, when ITIL v3 was launched, Incident management was divided into two separate categories – Incident Management. Pixabay

While your organization is small, it makes sense to have just one service desk for both Incident as well as Service Request management. However, as your organization grows, so does the complexity in managing IT services. 

When this happens, it makes more sense to separate the two functions so that your service desk can focus on the more urgent Incidents that could have a more serious impact on your organization. 

  • Easier for Users

When you have two separate categories, users will be able to submit their requests more easily. Raising a ticket requires a lot more work as the user has to input the details about the problem that he or she is facing. 

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A service request, on the other hand, can be digitized completely, with the user simply selecting the exact service they need, thereby saving them a lot of time and effort. 

  • Cleaner Reporting and More In-Depth Analysis

Ensuring that your Service Requests are separated from your Incident reports will give you cleaner reporting. Your IT team will have two clear sets of data to work with and analyze. 

When the data is segregated from the beginning, a lot of time and effort is saved by them not having to manually segregate the tons of data that comes their way. 

The segregation of the data will also mean that your IT services team will be able to assess how many Service Requests are coming in and for which services. This will in turn help them allocate IT resources better. 

Added to that, by seeing how many and which types of incidents have been reported, your IT team will be able to identify the problem areas in the organization’s IT systems and find a solution for them. This would make your organization safer and operations more efficient. 

  • Approval Reduction

When you have both Incident reports and Service Requests grouped in one category, all the requests need to be routed for approvals. This is a system that takes up a lot of time and also ties up a resource to approve or deny those requests.

When you separate the two functions, you end up making the entire process faster as the number of requests that need to be approved can dramatically drop. 

Added to that, if your IT team pre-approves and automates the entire Service Request system, it would mean reducing the turn-around time to having these service requests implemented.

Strengthening IT Services Management 

A strong Incident Management and Service Request Management system should be customer oriented and knowledge centric. The first focus of an IT services team is to provide support to their customers, both within and outside the organization. 

To do so, they need to be experts in their fields, and they should also be given the support they need to do their jobs. This means that the staff should be regularly trained so that their skills can be upgraded to meet the changing requirements of the IT environment. 

Added to that, IT systems, especially those that are related to Incident and Service Request management, should be automated as much as possible. In larger organizations, the IT services team is usually inundated with so many Service Requests that they are unable respond adequately to the users. Through automation, the team will not only help the organization reduce costs, increase efficiencies and be more effective, but also be less burdened by too many Service Requests. 

And finally, when an IT services team has a strong Incident and Service Request management framework in place, the organization as a whole is safer from malicious attacks and vulnerabilities can be fixed quickly and efficiently.

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