Posted by: buzina | June 27, 2011

What is a Service Request?


I am working on a project for an outsourcing provider for banks (as I often do). One of the multitude of tasks is to setup the request fulfillment process for the new client. To get started I had to explain what the request fulfilment process is really about, since the contract stated the following:

The goal of request fulfillment is to provide the service requests of the client to the provider and to fulfill these requests successfully in time with minimal risk for the client.

You can immediatly see that the author of this prosaic paragraph was inspired by ITIL®. So what does the original ITIL® tell me about this:

(Service Operation) A request from a User for information, or advice, or for a Standard Change or for Access to an IT Service. For example to reset a password, or to provide standard IT Services for a new User. Service Requests are usually handled by a Service Desk, and do not require an RFC to be submitted.
See Request Fulfilment.

Does this help me? Let us dissect this definition.

We have a list of possible meanings here, separated by or in the first sentence. So let’s check those:

  • Request from a user for Information
    Could be, but does not fit in with the request fulfillment idea of menu selection. Does not need financial nor other approval. So not a real good example.
  • Request for advice
    Hmmm, request for consulting? OK, but again, not a real standard product you can find on a menu. Could need some form of approval, but in my experience again not the perfect example of a standardized service request.
  • Request for a Standard Change
    Is it useful to explain on abstract term with the next similarly abstract term? Not in my opinion. If the definition is stated this way, request fulfillment is reduced to an entry point for standard changes.
  • Access to an IT Service
    This is the first entry in the list I can really live with – as an example. One type of service request is getting access to something. Often this is then fulfilled by Access Management, so request fulfillment is the entry to this.
  • Reset a Password
    This is one of the classic controversies in IT service management – is a password reset a service request or is it an incident with an inadequate authentication service? I prefer the latter since this enables you to log a problem against all those unnecessary password issues we have.

The second sentence is no better:

  • Handled by the Service Desk
    Please do not define a thing by how it is handled. This tells me nothing new.
  • Does not require an RfC
    This contradicts the “Request for a Standard Change” line above – even the smallest 3-step variety of “standard operational change” process flow starts with **artistic silence** Create RfC.

So great, ITIL® v3 does one thing right and adds a request fulfillment process and fails misreably in defining it.

OK, next: COBIT 4.1. Well, service requests are hidden in DS8 Manage Service Desk and Incidents. Great COBIT ignores the needed definition of service requests as well.

ISO 20.000? Well section 8.2 in part 1 says one the objective of incident management is to respond to service requests. Part 2 6.2.2 lists the “requests for help” as a part in a report.

So there is no generally accepted definition of service request which achieves at least a basic level of quality? Next up a personal definition of service requests.


Responses

  1. Definitions are very important to outline specific processes. Great train of thought on the issue of service request management.
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  2. So what is your personal definition of service requests?

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