Sunday, May 16, 2010

Incident or Service Request?

My 2 Cents...

We are often asked to conduct small workshops for IT organizations to help Service Desk agents to better understand the differences between Incidents and Service Requests. In most cases, once the differences are explained and a few example are provided, people start to get it.

However, there are some instances when simply looking at a list of examples is not an effective approach to the correct classification of Incidents. This is primarily due to the fact that no list can predict every possible user call to the service desk.

While it may be possible to capture, record and classify the most frequent system breakdowns and user requests, the possiblities are infinite. If there were such a rule, we could simply program a computer to do the work and save a lot of money.

Until then, Service Desk agents will have to use their knowledge of IT and ITIL to make the determination.

For example, sometimes the difference between an Incident and a Service Request is determined by the details. An error downloading software to a user workstation can be attributed to several different causes.

The user could lack the appropriate knowledge or skills (Service Request)or, the error could be related to a fault in the infrastructure (Incident). By asking follow-up questions, the Service Desk agent, should be able to determine to most appropriate classification and course of action.

The point, is that in many situations, it is "why" rather than "what" the user is unable to do that determines whether the ticket should be classified as an Incident or as a Service Request.

Understanding this helps the IT organization to produce more accurate reports about the health of the inftastructure. These reports are also useful in identifying areas for targeted improvement and user training opportunities.

This post was contributed by Danielle Baker, Managing Director of Red Engine Consulting. Danielle is a certified V3 Expert and has extensive experience in ITSM, Organizational Change and Project Management.

ITIL & IT Service Management

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ITIL Zealot said...

Simple: if it is your 'fault' (i.e. the IT provider should have prevented it) it is an Incident.

Otherwise, i.e. the IT Provider could not have prevented it) it is a Service Request.

The IT Skeptic said...

This is inside-out. An incident should be an interruption to service or a perceived interruption as experienced by a user. You should measure the health of the delivered service not the health of some internal infrastructure. user errors indicate a "broken" service just as much as a server down does.
Get outside-in or you're not delivering a service

Administrator said...

Thanks for your comment. However, the post was related to a specific example of a common practical challenge experienced by service desk agents.

When users call for assistance, how should calls be classified and categorized?

Of course, we consultants know the correct answer. But let's face it, most IT orgs are not very mature even with the seemingly simple and obvious difference between the two.

In fact, most times, Services have not yet been defined.

As a practical matter, the service desk should be able to differrentiate between a service request and a failure of IT and then, act accordingly. this post helps them to do so.

On day one, You cannot simply begin by talking about IT services when this basic concept is not yet understood.

We welcome your continued support and comments on any of our posts.

- Itsmspot

George Smith said...

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