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ITSM questions that keep me up at night

Michael Pott (michael_pott) ‎02-25-2013 01:58 AM - edited ‎09-27-2015 08:02 PM

Is an incident the same as a service request? What is the function of a service portal? And why do I need a change management and a request fulfillment process? Can I connect my change management process with the service portal? How do I implement a service portal and request fulfillment? Discussions like the above have finally led me to write this blog post … (and have caused me many sleepless nights)


Does ITIL® provide answers here?


Let’s see - I looked at ITIL® (the initial V3 version) in the hope to find an answer. I know that ITIL® does not talk about the “how” but at least it provides a good starting point for the discussion:


  • It says a service request is a request from a user for information or advice, for a standard change or for access to an IT Service. Service requests are usually (!?) handled by a service desk, and do not require a request for change (RFC) to be submitted.
  • An incident (in contrast) is an unplanned interruption to an IT service or reduction in the quality of an IT service. Failure of a configuration item that has not yet affected service is also an incident.
  • An RFC is a formal proposal for a change to be made.
  • Request fulfillment is the process for dealing with service requests - many of them actually smaller, lower-risk, changes - initially via the Service Desk, but using a separate process similar to that of incident management but with separate request fulfillment records/tables. It is normal for some prerequisites to be defined and met (e.g. needs to be proven, repeatable, pre-approved, proceduralized). Smaller, often standard, changes can be handled through a request fulfillment process; but larger, higher-risk or infrequent changes must go through a formal change management process.

In fact, in my opinion the above really provides a solid foundation. It appears to be confusing when looking at the entire picture, but it gives you the flexibility you need to integrate a service portal and request fulfillment with your existing process landscape. Also, do not forget about other processes and functions, like procurement (asset management) and service level management to name two.


Another perspective - the user

Does a business user know what a standard change is? Should the user know?  I don’t think the user should know—and often the user does not care. According to ITIL there is a service desk function that classifies what an incident versus a service request is in addition to other functions.


A typical day-to-day case: Is a “request” for a password reset an incident? Maybe—but I am also sure there are cases where the loss of a password has some level of service disruption going with it that impacts service quality. Think about someone being responsible to kick off a payroll process at the end of the month. Ok, the password reset could be achieved via self-service. Oops … what was the name of my favorite singer again (I entered this answer for a password reset five years ago, but just changed my password two days ago)? I guess I need to open an incident.


What does this mean?

One conclusion I draw from this, like often (always?) in life - there is no single, simple answer to the introductory questions. And by no means do I claim to have a solution to the challenges outlined above (that I can share in a brief blog post like this anyway).


Besides these questions and discussions, there is another thing I took away from talking to customers about service request management: A portal in front of your service desk (service portal, service request catalog). For example, consolidating multiple entry points into one, and providing the single point of contact for your users for any service related requests can be a good base, regardless of your backend process flows. This pragmatic approach can result in benefits like standardization of the services and a higher degree of user satisfaction. Just so you know, standardization assumes you know and manage your service portfolio, which is yet another story.


Do you want to see how HP ITSM solutions can help you with implementing service request management and a service catalog portal supporting your implementation approach? Visit the HP ITSM web for datasheets, white papers, videos and more.


Have a nice day,

Michael Pott


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About the Author


Michael Pott is a Product Marketing Manager for HPE ITSM Solutions. Responsibilities include out-bound marketing and sales enablement. Michael joined HP in 1989 and has held various positions in HP Software since 1996. In product marketing and product management Michael worked on different areas of the IT management software market, such as market analysis, sales content development and business planning for a broad range of products such as HP Operations Manager and HP Universal CMDB.

on ‎03-05-2013 03:16 PM

Michael, any further comments on when something moves from a request to change? or might be better handled as a change?


I think of "increase my email mailbox size". What about getting a new cell phone or adding a new employee? These seem like classic request examples.



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