Why Service Request Management (SRM) Matters

Service Request Mgt Blog2

Service Request Management (SRM) - Why IT Matters

A laptop computer - by itself - provides little value.

Think about it.  At the risk of stating the obvious, without an operating system, productivity software, network connectivity, anti-virus and security software, web browser, user account, and other enablers, a laptop computer is little more than an expensive paper-weight.

But let’s take this one step further.

Unless you are purchasing a laptop computer for your personal use, you likely aren’t thinking of all of the various individual enablers that might be needed to make the use of that laptop valuable to you when making a service request.  All you have to do is register a service request with your service provider and ask for a laptop computer.  As part of fulfilling that request, all of the needed enablers are included.  

This above scenario is a simple, but great illustration of why Service Request Management (SRM) matters.  SRM is all about delivering products and performing service actions that enable service consumers to get things done.

Why is good Service Request Management so important?

Service Request Management is one of the most visible service management practices within an organization.  And whether the SRM practice is formally defined or not, every organization is practicing SRM.  The question is “how well is SRM being done?”

Done well, SRM is a “satisfier” and drives positive user and employee experiences.  Improves efficiency and efficacy, 

Done poorly, SRM is a source of cost-overruns, unmet expectations, needless bureaucracy, and damaged reputations.

Yet, in many organizations, SRM is taken for granted

Seven good reasons why good SRM matters

In many organizations, SRM could be considered the “store front” for a service provider. Many organizations develop self-service portals that are inviting, well-organized, and simple to use. But good SRM is much more than just a self-service portal.  

SRM provides a standard, consistent channel through which service consumers and service providers interact. The SRM practice provides a means for accessing and realizing value for both service consumers and service providers.

Here are seven good reasons why good SRM matters:

  • Captures and measures the demand for IT products and services.  Is IT providing the right kind of products, support, and service actions at the right levels and at the right times?  What are the trends in service requests?  Are there opportunities for improvement? Good SRM provides the means for finding the answers to these questions and more.
  • Provides the key pillar for automation.  Many organizations would like to automate routine actions, but often fall short because of a lack of understanding what needs to be automated in the first place.  Simply put, you can’t automate what you don’t understand.  Defining request models – the repeatable and consistent steps involved in fulfilling service requests – is a critical first step for enabling automation and orchestration of service requests.  
  • Provides the operational fulfillment of organizational strategy.   Senior management defines the strategy and the budget for the use of technology within the organization. This strategy then becomes the basis for the design of services and the associated service actions and products for consuming those services.  It is the SRM that provides the tangible, day-to-day means for delivering those products and service actions by which the organization realizes achievement of its business strategy.  
  • Enables positive user and employee experiences.  When users can easily and effectively request and receive the products and service actions that they need to do their jobs, that leads to positive user (UX) and employee experiences (EX).  
  • Sets good expectations – and then delivers on those expectations.  Often the source of frustration for both service consumers and service providers is that sometimes neither party is clear in regards to what they should expect when it come to service requests.  Good SRM practices clearly articulate and publicize what both the service consumer and service provider should expect with every service request. 
  • Provides the ability to demonstrate adherence to or compliance with policies.  By using the standard products and service actions delivered by the SRM practice, consumers within an organization can be assured that they will be following applicable organizational policies.  So, whether it’s a password reset, delivery of a new smartphone or laptop, or any other request, the products and service actions delivered as part of the SRM practice are designed to comply with organizational policies. 
  • Provides the basis for effective self-service.  Most service requests are well-known and occur frequently.  These kinds of service requests are ideal candidates for requesting and fulfilling via self-service – and it delivers a win-win.  Not only are consumers empowered to work at their own pace and schedule, but the service provider is also freed up to spend more time and resources on more complex issues or work on other business initiatives. 
     
    Used right your ITIL Service Desk can really simplify Service Request Management

Does your Service Request Management matter?

Service Request Management (SRM), done well, makes a huge positive impact on organizations.  But if SRM isn’t making a difference in your organization, here are three things to do. 

  • Talk to stakeholders.  The people interacting with SRM – both from the provider and consumer perspectives – are the best source of information for how SRM can be improved.  What is their experience with SRM?  Where does friction exist within SRM?  Are there any bottlenecks or gaps that providers or consumers are having to work through? 
  • Take a look at service requests from the “outside in” perspective.  Often, service providers design SRM practices from the “inside out” – only considering what is required for the provider to capture and fulfill requests.  Start with the most frequently-occurring requests from the perspective of the requester – and ensure that they are intuitive to use and reflective of the work that needs to be done.
  • Review your SRM measures – Are you measuring the parameters that indicate that SRM matters?  Yes, there are the foundational SRM measures common to all organizations (time to fulfil, number of requests, etc.), but are you measuring (and publicizing) the parameters that make SRM matter to your organization?  For example, are you capturing the measures that indicate realization of organizational strategy, policy compliance, or positive UX/EX?  

    BOSSDesk provides a great user experience making it very easy for users to manage Service Requests


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About Doug Tedder: Doug Tedder is the principal consultant of Tedder Consulting LLC, a service management and IT governance consultancy. He is a recognized ITSM thought leader and holds numerous industry certifications ranging from ITIL®, COBIT®, Lean IT, DevOps, KCS™, VeriSM™, and Organizational Change Management. Doug is an author, blogger, and frequent speaker at local industry meetings and national conventions.  

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Don’t let your organization take Service Request Management for granted!

The often-taken-for-granted Service Request Management Practice

by Doug Tedder

Service Request Mgt Graphic3

Password reset.

Order a new laptop or smartphone.

Move a workspace to a new location.

Ask a question about the ERP solution in use within the organization.

These are all common, everyday interactions between a user and an IT organization, right?

These interactions are known within service management as “service requests”. ITIL® 4 defines[1] a service request as “a request from a user…that initiates a service action which has been agreed as a normal part of service delivery”.

The act of making a service request seems to be simple enough. It’s a call to the service desk. Or perhaps, it’s a click or two on a web portal. And soon, that service request has been registered and processed…and perhaps, depending on the nature of the request, it’s even been fulfilled within just a few minutes.

Those making a service request may not appreciate what happens behind the scenes. But that is what a well-planned, designed, and implemented service request management practice does for an organization, its service consumers, and its service providers. It makes requesting and managing service requests simple enough.

But the importance of an effective service request management (SRM) practice is often overlooked…even taken for granted.

Behind the scenes

The Service Request Management practice provides a standard way for users to make requests of a service provider to provide resources or take actions that are an agreed part of the normal delivery of a service. SRM is one of the most visible service management practices within an organization.

Service requests all follow the same basic structure. First, the requester’s identity is confirmed to ensure that only those that are permitted to make a service request can make a request. The specifics of the particular request are then analyzed. Some requests are quite simple and require minimal effort for fulfillment, while other requests may be more complex, requiring contributions from several teams or involving several systems. As part of that analysis, what the requester is entitled to request is confirmed, along with any needed authorization (from a security perspective) or approvals (from a budget perspective). Finally, the request is fulfilled.

For example, a service request involving software may have to confirm that there are sufficient unassigned licenses available for fulfilling the request, and if not, trigger procurement of additional licenses. A service request for hardware, like a laptop or smartphone, may involve third parties to fulfill the request. A request for system access requires that SRM confirm that the requester is in fact authorized to access that system, and if so, provide only the type of access to which the requester is entitled.

So, regardless of whether it’s asking for a new smartphone, resetting a password, or asking a question, the basic structure of a service request is always the same. But that’s just the basics. The fact is that not all service requests are the same.

How to make it look simple

There’s so much going on behind the scenes than what may meet the eye when it comes to service requests. Behind the scenes, even the simplest service requests often involve several steps. What is the key to making it look simple?

The answer is request models.

A request model is a pre-defined method for fulfilling a specific type of service request.   In other words, for any request, there should be a pre-defined and agreed approach, or model, for fulfillment. This means that a request model must:

  • Define the inputs and outputs of the model – What information is needed to fulfill the request? What outputs result from processing the request?
  • Define what information is needed from the requester – In addition to a name and userid, additional information may be required, such as location, manager name, or contact information.
  • Identify what individuals or teams are involved – Who takes the actions required for fulfilling the request?
  • Define the time frames for fulfilling the request – How much time is needed to fulfill the request? What should be done if it’s taking longer than defined for fulfilling the request?
  • Define and design how the request may impact other service management practices, such as supplier management, access management, change enablement, or others – No service management practice can be successful by existing in a vacuum. A service request may trigger an action to order a new laptop from a supplier or cause the execution of a standard change. Performance targets and expectations for SRM should be defined and agreed in Service Level Agreements (SLA). Recognizing how service requests interact with other service management practices prevents unanticipated delays with fulfilling requests.
  • Specifically define how the output will be delivered to the requester – Some outputs can be delivered electronically, like software. Other outputs require a physical installation. Some may require both.
  • Consider if automation can be used to fulfill the request – Many service requests can be fulfilled without direct human interaction.

     With BOSSDesk you can design forms and set up workflows to simplify and automate Service Request Management

A little planning and design goes a long way

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? The fact is that to deliver the outcomes from a SRM practice that seems simple for the user does require some planning and design. There are a number of benefits that result from planning and designing of request models.

  • Improves coordination between teams – While many requests may be fulfilled by a single technician, some requests actually involve more than one team for fulfillment.
  • Delivers a better user experience – Users have confidence that they will get what they need in a timely, friction-free way.
  • Helps further identify opportunities for self-service and automation – This is a win-win for both the end-user and the fulfillment teams. The end-user gets her requests fulfilled on a near-real time basis. The providing organization, no longer needed to manually fulfill such requests, can devote more time to fulfilling requests that are more complex.
  • Provides measurability – One of the results of defining is that fulfilling such requests becomes consistently measurable. The ability to measure then opens possibilities for continual improvement, as well as the ability to set reasonable expectations regarding fulfillment – for both the end-user and fulfillment teams.

Don’t take service request management for granted!

It can be easy to take service request management for granted. But SRM is a way to illustrate the business value of the service provider. Here are some things to do to ensure that SRM isn’t being taken for granted, while continually improving the value of SRM.

  • Regularly publish performance reports – Illustrate just how much work is being done by SRM. Capture and publish agreed key performance indicators, or KPIs, such as the number of requests and the average time for fulfillment of requests being managed through the practice. By doing so, both the user community and the IT organization will have a shared understanding of the value that SRM provides.
  • Identify top 5 requests logged by service desk agents – This will help identify further opportunities for improvement and potentially automation.
  • Periodically audit current request models – Do existing request models accurately represent the current criteria for approvals and authorizations?

 BOSSDesk offers the capability to measure the utilization of Service Catalogs and feedback on services delivered for continuous improvement

 

Service Request Management may seem simple to the user and to the organization. But having a well-designed and effective SRM practice is not only critical for service management implementations, but it is also important for the performance of the overall organization. Don’t let your organization take SRM for granted!

Get Free BOSSDesk Demo

[1] ITIL Foundation, ITIL 4 Edition, p 195

About Doug Tedder: Doug Tedder is the principal consultant of Tedder Consulting LLC, a service management and IT governance consultancy. He is a recognized ITSM thought leader and holds numerous industry certifications ranging from ITIL®, COBIT®, Lean IT, DevOps, KCS™, VeriSM™, and Organizational Change Management. Doug is an author, blogger, and frequent speaker at local industry meetings and national conventions.  

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