Managed Service Requests and Incidents

An incident and a service request are two different types of events that can occur in IT service management. Here’s the difference between the two.

Incident: An incident is an unplanned interruption or reduction in the quality of an IT service. It could be caused by hardware or software failures, human errors, or external factors such as natural disasters. Incidents can impact the normal operation of a service and cause disruption to users. Examples of incidents include system crashes, network failures, or application errors.

Service request: A service request is a formal request from a user or customer for information, advice, or access to IT services. Service requests are typically pre-defined and may require authorization before they can be fulfilled. Examples of service requests include password resets, access requests, or requests for information.

The key difference between an incident and a service request is that incidents are unplanned events that cause a disruption to IT services, while service requests are pre-defined and do not necessarily involve a disruption to services. Incidents require immediate attention and resolution to restore normal service operations, while service requests can be scheduled and fulfilled based on defined service levels and priorities.

In IT service management, both incidents and service requests are typically managed through a service desk or help desk function, using a formal incident management or service request management process.

The best approach to handle incidents, with a focus on frameworks like ISF, ISO/IEC 20000, ISO/IEC 27002:2013, ITIL, and NIST, can be summarized as follows:

  • Incident identification: Incidents should be identified as soon as possible, through various methods such as user reporting, system alerts, or automated monitoring tools.
  • Incident logging: Once an incident is identified, it should be logged in a central repository, such as an incident management system, where it can be tracked and managed.
  • Incident categorization and prioritization: Incidents should be categorized based on their severity and impact on the business, and prioritized based on their urgency and importance.
  • Incident investigation and diagnosis: A thorough investigation of the incident should be conducted to determine its cause and identify potential solutions. This may involve gathering additional information, analyzing logs, and interviewing relevant parties.
  • Incident resolution: Once the cause of the incident is identified, a resolution should be developed and implemented as quickly as possible. This may involve applying a workaround, restoring a system to a previous state, or implementing a permanent fix.
  • Incident closure and documentation: Once the incident is resolved, it should be closed in the incident management system and documented for future reference. This includes documenting the cause, resolution, and any lessons learned during the incident management process.
  • Continuous improvement: Organizations should review their incident management process regularly, to identify areas for improvement and implement changes as needed. This may involve conducting regular reviews of incident data, analyzing trends, and updating incident management policies and procedures.

Overall, the key to effective incident management is to have a well-defined process in place, with clear roles and responsibilities, and to continuously review and improve the process to ensure that it remains effective over time.

There are many incident tracking applications available in the market. Some examples of incident tracking applications include:

  • Jira Service Management
  • ServiceNow Incident Management
  • Freshservice
  • Zendesk
  • PagerDuty
  • Zoho Desk
  • SolarWinds Service Desk
  • SysAid
  • BMC Helix ITSM
  • ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

These applications offer features such as incident logging, categorization, prioritization, investigation, resolution, and reporting. They also often include automation and collaboration tools to streamline the incident management process and improve communication between teams. The choice of incident tracking application will depend on the specific needs of the organization, such as the size of the IT environment, the complexity of the incidents, and the desired level of automation and integration with other IT service management tools.

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