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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

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Incident, Management, Service
Today, most service desks are based on the ITIL v3 framework, so there is technically a difference between the two. Pixabay

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.

Next Story

No Halfway Deal in Security

In a large country like India, there are multiple agencies producing intelligence -- internal, external and technical and the system must ensure

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Deal, Security, Management
There should be no gap between 'information' and 'response'. Pixabay

There is no halfway deal in Security. Management of security works on the principle of completeness. You cannot feel satisfied if your house is half secure or if only a part of it is fully secure. The house as an integral unit is either fully secure or is insecure. The framework of security must provide for an ongoing protection of the three assets of the safeguarded entity — physical, human and information-related. Since security by definition is protection against a ‘covert’ threat — from an ‘invisible’ enemy — information on that must come in time to allow for preventive action.

As the threat scenario is never static, security is not a ‘one time event’ — the flow of information called intelligence, must keep up. There should be no gap between ‘information’ and ‘response’. In a large country like India, there are multiple agencies producing intelligence — internal, external and technical and the system must ensure that there is flow of the total information to a point at the national apex where it will be examined for determining the course of a comprehensive action.

Several wings of the government would be involved in sharing the response. A coordinated timely action to follow up on the complete assessment of threat becomes pivotal for the success of security. This coordination must flow from the top. There has been a welcome evolution of the organisational and procedural aspects of the national security set up since the creation of the position of National Security Advisor who presided over the National Security Council Secretariat and worked directly under the Prime Minister. However, there are complexities involved particularly when security, on account of the mounting threat of terrorism, compels our defence forces and the para-military to work in consonance with the civil administration to conduct counter-terror operations on our own soil. In such a situation every bit of learning from experience to improve the system becomes important.

It is in this background that the reported address of NSA at the recent conference of Anti-Terror Task Forces organised by NIA, in which he dwelt on the areas of needed improvement, deserves notice. Ajit Doval emphasised the need for neutralising the chief weapon of terrorists — their ideological appeal — and reiterated the importance of the world community isolating Pakistan as a country that used terrorism as an instrument of state policy. He praised the success of NIA in Kashmir and rightly held the sanctions of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as the most effective deterrent for Pak-instigated terrorism at the global level. The NIA conference clearly brought out the strategy of Pak ISI to further activate cross-border terrorism against India by exploring its turf in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka and bringing to the front militant groups like Jamaat-ul- Mujahideen Bangladesh(JMB) and National Tawheed Jamaat of Sri Lanka besides, making a fresh attempt to revive militancy in Punjab through Khalistan Liberation Force.

Deal, Security, Management
As the threat scenario is never static, security is not a ‘one time event’ — the flow of information called intelligence, must keep up. Pixabay

Notwithstanding the rebuff it is getting at world forums on the issue of terrorism, Pakistan will continue to find good use for the low cost ‘proxy war’ it can keep up against India. It has a core of support from within the Muslim world as the faith-based cause it is able to put forth had its takers there and the firmness of Sino-Pak military alliance gives it an underlying confidence against India. Invoking Jehad in Kashmir and churning out Mujahideen for attacking India are the concerns basically for this country and we have to find a way of countering this menace at the micro-levels in various parts of the country. Pak agencies know of the domestic situation in India and the opportunities it can create for it for sending in potential militants for a drawn out strategy of causing internal disruptions.

The NIA conference hopefully will work for greater spread of our capabilities for producing ‘Intelligence from below’ and pushing the action taking job of ATTFs closer to the ground. The Indian scene demands a centralised policy drive on terrorism on the one hand and, on the other, a spread out machinery in the states to identify and neutralise ‘sleeper’ elements being created by the hostile agencies on our soil. The national grid against terrorism has to exist totally above politics, which is not going to be easy to achieve judging from the domestic reactions to the abrogation of Art 370 and 35A relating to Kashmir.

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Pakistan is likely to continue fiddling with the affairs of the Muslim minority in India in the hope of creating disaffection that could turn a few minds towards radicalisation. Carrying intelligence to where people lived would facilitate a friendly outreach to families that had become vulnerable — this would be done best by the local administration without publicity or even bringing in the police. The Ulema and the communal elite trying to play vote bank politics are stepping up propaganda on such nebulous points as ‘majoritarianism’, ‘inclusive politics’ and ‘denial of freedom to criticise the government’ — mostly to stir up Muslim antagonism. It is time to enforce laws against communal speeches and anti-national exhortations firmly as otherwise an environ will be created in which Pak agencies will find it easier to instigate militancy out of communal schism — the rise of the Indian Mujahideen is a serving illustration of this danger. Terrorism rooted in notions of faith is particularly sinister in an India- specific way and requires to be handled in both military and socio-political spheres. (IANS)