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Solution planning using Service Management

Service Management includes two important modules that are involved in planning service solutions, Service Request Management and Incident Management. It is important to understand the differences between these modules, as well as the types of processes served by each one.

Service Request Management

Service Request Management (SRM) encompasses the consumer facing processes that make up the expected, day-to-day activities involved in providing a service to an individual or group.

These activities can be defined at a high level as either service requests or support requests. Service requests are the set of predefined activities that can be performed against the service itself (such as increasing the size of a standard email mailbox, requesting additional memory for a virtual machine, or resetting a password for a specific application). Service requests usually require the same type of information from the user each time (such as a user id or application name), and often lend themselves to automation.

Support requests, by contrast, encompass those requests that have not been predefined or even expected by the service owner. This can include questions, suggestions, or even complaints. For many of these, a good knowledge base will enable a consumer to self-answer and remove the need for a service desk agent to manually respond to the request. However, a support request often involves a perceived issue that a user is having with the service.

Incident Management

Incident Management (IM) encompasses the processes used by the service provider to track and resolve any issue that impacts the ability of a user to consume the service.

It is important to note that an issue that impacts the operation of a service may or may not be reported by a service consumer. For most hardware or application issues, the incident is most likely created directly by the service provider either manually or by some type of event management software. However, for those incidents that were either reported by a service consumer, or for those that affected a consumer who then reported it via a service request, both processes (IM and SRM) need to be followed.

Understanding the difference

To understand the difference between these modules, we need to consider the end goal of each process:

  • The goal of Service Request Management is to ensure that the user can consume the service to their satisfaction.
  • The goal of Incident Management is to restore normal operation of a service as quickly as possible.

Using these definitions, one of the easiest ways to clarify if an issue needs to be handled by Incident Management is simply to determine whether or not the issue could affect the availability of the service as defined in any service level agreements. While this is not the only criterion that we might use, if the answer to this question is yes, then the issue in question must be handled within Incident Management.

Here are some examples of use case scenarios and the processes that should be followed in each case:

In each case, we can use the above definitions to determine the correct process:

  • Service Request Management encompasses the consumer facing processes that make up the expected, day to day activities involved in providing a service to an individual or group. The goal of Service Request Management is to ensure that the user can consume the service to their satisfaction.
  • Incident Management encompasses the processes used by the service provider to track and resolve any issue that impacts the ability of a user to consume the service. The goal of Incident Management is to restore normal operation of a service as quickly as possible.

Applying these definitions to any incoming issue should make it apparent which process needs to be followed to ensure that the service is being provided in the most efficient way possible.

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