Last updated on: December 8, 2021

What is a service request?

ITIL service request management

Users raise a variety of IT requests every day. It might be a request for new software, the replacement of old hardware, access to applications, or a change in the component of an asset. These requests are classified as service requests. A service request is a request made to the IT team to fulfill a need from the end user. Ideally, the request is chosen from a service request catalog, which is a repository of all IT services offered to end users.

The process of resolving a user's service request and managing the entire life cycle of a service request is called request fulfillment. The IT service desk team is responsible for fulfilling end users' requests in a way that matches business standards. Request fulfillment increases business productivity by empowering users to access and obtain the IT services that they need in their day-to-day operations.

Service request
vs. incident

Difference between incident and service request

Service request management is a key component of the ITIL® framework, and it relates to other ITSM processes such as incident, problem, and change management. Many find service request management and incident management quite similar, but they are very distinct. ITIL defines an incident as an unplanned interruption to an IT service or reduction in the quality of an IT service." In other words, an incident is an error or flaw due to which services cannot be rendered properly. Incident management provides a quick fix or a permanent solution to the issues raised.

ITIL defines a service request as a formal request from a user for something to be provided." In other words, a service request is raised when the user needs something new or replaced. The simple way to distinguish service requests from incidents is to understand that service requests are requests that the user can choose from a service catalog, such as a request for a password reset or for a new employee's onboarding.

An example of a service request is when a user wants to upgrade software to a higher version. This type of service request is low risk, so it does not need multiple approvals and the technician can take their time to fulfill the request. A common example of an incident is when the internet stops working. If the issue is system-specific, some users can troubleshoot the problem and resolve it themselves. But with an issue that is not system-specific, they will need a technician's help.

Incident Service request
An unplanned interruption to an IT service or reduction in the quality of an IT service. A formal request from a user for something to be provided.
E.g. The internet stops working and a technician's help is required. E.g. A request for software to be upgraded to a higher version.
Risk varies with the type of incident and the stage it's at. Low risk, without the need for multiple approvals.

The service request process

Service request management process

Generally, businesses that generate a large number of service requests every day need an IT service desk tool to separate the service request process from incident, problem, and change management processes. The following are the steps involved in a simple request fulfillment process. These steps can be considered a basic template for request fulfillment, over which the other service request category templates can be designed.

  • A user submits a service request through the self-service portal or another channel such as email or phone. The self-service portal is the ideal channel because the ticket template, with dynamic fields and forms, will automatically collect all the information needed from the user based on the chosen category of service request. This enables the technician to assess the entire ticket at a glance.
  • Once the ticket gets categorized, prioritized, and assigned to the technician, the technician assesses the request and checks if any approval from their superiors or people from other business functions is required. If required, it is further sent for approval. Other details such as cost estimates, user details, and service-level agreements are analyzed.
  • The technician works on fulfilling the service request, leveraging various features in the IT service desk, including a request life cycle or visual workflows that guide the technician through the status flow of that specific ticket and trigger associated tasks through integration with other ITSM processes, such as asset and purchase management.
  • Once the service request is fulfilled, the ticket gets closed. Post ticket closure, the user is sent a CSAT survey to collect additional insights and improve the service request process.

Service request workflow

Service request workflow

Best practices for service request management

Best practices for service request management

The following are some best practices that IT teams can leverage using an IT service desk tool for an efficient service request management process:

  • Prioritize tickets by leveraging automation in the service desk. With a priority matrix, IT teams can determine the priority of a request automatically based on its impact and urgency. The service desk can also automatically assign tickets with a particular priority to specific technicians using a technician auto-assign feature that's based on round-robin or load balancing algorithms.
  • Utilize the knowledge management process. Solutions to recurring service requests can be stored in a knowledge base. Using a centralized, searchable knowledge base that provides easy access to up-to-date answers, users can obtain solution articles themselves, reducing technician workload, minimizing costs, and increasing end users' self-sufficiency.
  • Create an expansive service catalog. A service catalog provides complete visibility into the various services a user can avail. IT teams can create custom service request templates with sections and resource details to collect the necessary information. Each service request template can have its own set of workflows that include a multi-stage approval process, automatic SLA application, and a set of tasks required to deliver the service. With role-based access to the service request template, service desk teams can ensure that only the right services are displayed to the intended users.
  • Integrate with other ITSM processes. Service requests often involve several departments, like procurement and billing. This can be achieved by simply integrating the service request management process with the service desk's built-in CMDB and asset, purchase, and contract management processes. Through this contextual integration, IT teams can manage the purchase of both assets and services, create different service types, and associate tickets with vendors according to the services provided.
  • Optimize the request fulfillment process with reporting and dashboards. Using dashboards and reports, IT teams can manage the life cycle of service requests and identify trends to better understand and optimize overall service desk operations. They can track resources used, technician assignments, and the cost and quality of service delivery for deeper insights into the performance of the service desk team, specifically with respect to service requests.

With an effective service request management process in place, technicians can spend their valuable time on the most crucial tasks. By using the right IT service desk and the entire gamut of ITSM capabilities, organizations can effortlessly elevate their service desk operations to new heights.

Reinforce your service desk with ITIL® best practices.

At the core of an exceptional customer support experience lies refined ITSM workflows and adherence to ITIL standards. From handling incidents the ITIL way to implementing a user-friendly IT self-service portal, set your help desk fundamentals right with our selection of free ITSM resources.

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