4. Service Operation Processes
4.3 Request Fulfillment
The term 'Service Request' is used as a generic description for many varying types of demands that are placed upon the IT Department by the users. Many of these are actually small changes - low risk, frequently occurring, low cost, etc. (e.g. a request to change a password, a request to install an additional software application onto a particular workstation, a request to relocate some items of desktop equipment) or maybe just a question requesting information - but their scale and frequent, low-risk nature means that they are better handled by a separate process, rather than being allowed to congest and obstruct the normal Incident and Change Management processes.
4.3.1 Purpose, Goals and Objectives
Request Fulfillment is the processes of dealing with Service Requests from the users. The objectives of the Request Fulfillment process include:
- To provide a channel for users to request and receive standard services for which a pre-defined approval and qualification process exists
- To provide information to users and customers about the availability of services and the procedure for obtaining them
- To source and deliver the components of requested standard services (e.g. licences and software media)
- To assist with general information, complaints or comments.
The process needed to fulfil a request will vary depending upon exactly what is being requested - but can usually be broken down into a set of activities that have to be performed. Some organizations will be comfortable to let the Service Requests be handled through their Incident Management processes (and tools) - with Service Requests being handled as a particular type of 'incident' (using a high-level categorization system to identify those 'incidents' that are in fact Service Requests).
Note, however, that there is a significant difference here - an incident is usually an unplanned event whereas a Service Request is usually something that can and should be planned!
Therefore, in an organization where large numbers of Service Requests have to be handledR, and where the actions to be taken to fulfil those requests are very varied or specialized, it may be appropriate to handle Service Requests as a completely separate work stream - and to record and manage them as a separate record type.
This may be particularly appropriate if the organization has chosen to widen the scope of the Service Desk to expand upon just IT-related issues and use the desk as a focal point for other types or request for service - for example, a request to service a photocopier or even going so far as to include, for example, building management issues, such as a need to replace a light fitment or repair a leak in the plumbing.
4.3.3 Value to Business
The value of Request Fulfillment is to provide quick and effective access to standard services which business staff can use to improve their productivity or the quality of business services and products.
Request Fulfillment effectively reduces the bureaucracy involved in requesting and receiving access to existing or new services, thus also reducing the cost of providing these services. Centralizing fulfillment also increases the level of control over these services. This in turn can help reduce costs through centralized negotiation with suppliers, and can also help to reduce the cost of support.
4.3.4 Policies, Principles and Basic Concepts
Many Service Requests will be frequently recurring, so a predefined process flow (a model) can be devised to include the stages needed to fulfil the request, the individuals or support groups involved, target timescales and escalation paths. Service Requests will usually be satisfied by implementing a Standard Change (see the Service Transition publication for further details on Standard Changes). The ownership of Service Requests resides with the Service Desk, which monitors, escalates, dispatches and often fulfills the user request.
220.127.116.11 Request Models
Some Service Requests will occur frequently and will require handling in a consistent manner in order to meet agreed service levels. To assist this, many organizations will wish to create pre-defined Request Models (which typically include some form of pre-approval by Change Management). This is similar in concept to the idea of Incident Models already described in paragraph 18.104.22.168, but applied to Service Requests.
4.3.5 Process Activities, Methods And Techniques
22.214.171.124 Menu Selection
Request Fulfillment offers great opportunities for self-help practices where users can generate a Service Request using technology that links into Service Management tools. Ideally, users should be offered a 'menu'-type selection via a web interface, so that they can select and input details of Service Requests from a pre-defined list -
.appropriate expectations can be set by giving target delivery and/or implementation targets/dates (in line with SLA targets). Where organizations are offering a self-help IT support capability to the users, it would make sense to combine this with a Request Fulfillment system as described.
Specialist web tools to offer this type of 'shopping basket' experience can be used together with interfaces directly to the back-end integrated ITSM tools, or other more general business process automation or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools that may be used for management of the Request Fulfillment activities.
126.96.36.199 Financial Approval
One important extra step that is likely to be needed when dealing with a service request is that of financial approval.
Most requests will have some form of financial
implications, regardless of the type of commercial arrangements in place. The cost of fulfilling the request must first be established. It may be possible to agree fixed prices for 'standard' requests - and prior approval for such requests may be given as part of the organization's overall annual financial management. In all other cases, an estimate of the cost must be produced and submitted to the user for financial approval (the user may need to seek approval up their management/financial chain). If approval is given, in addition to fulfilling the request, the process must also include charging (billing or cross-charging) for the work done - if charging is in place.
188.8.131.52 Other Approval
In some cases further approval may be needed - such as compliance-related or wider business approval. Request Fulfillment must have the ability to define and check such approvals where needed.
The actual fulfillment activity will depend upon the nature of the Service Request. Some simpler requests may be completed by the Service Desk, acting as first-line support, while others will have to be forwarded to specialist groups and/or suppliers for fulfillment.
Some organizations may have specialist fulfillment groups (to 'pick, pack and dispatch') - or may have outsourced some fulfillment activities to a third-party supplier(s). The Service Desk should monitor and chase progress and keep users informed throughout, regardless of the actual fulfillment source.
When the Service Request has been fulfilled it must be referred back to the Service Desk for closure. The Service Desk should go through the same closure process as described earlier in paragraph 184.108.40.206 - checking that the user is satisfied with the outcome.
4.3.6 Triggers, Input And Output / Interprocess Interfaces
Most requests will be triggered through either a user calling the Service Desk or a user completing some form of self-help web-based input screen to make their request. The latter will often involve a selection from a portfolio of available request types.
The primary interfaces with Request Fulfillment include:
Where appropriate, it will be necessary to relate IT-related Service Requests to any incidents or problems that have initiated the need for the request (as would be the case for any other type of change).
- Service Desk/incident Management: Many Service Requests may come in via the Service Desk and may be initially handled through the Incident Management process. Some organizations may choose that all requests are handled via this route - but others may choose to have a separate process, for reasons already discussed earlier in this chapter.
- A strong link is also needed between Request Fulfillment, Release, Asset and Configuration Management - as some requests will be for the deployment of new or upgraded components that can be automatically deployed. In such cases the 'release' can be pre-defined, built and tested but only deployed upon request by those who want the 'release'. Upon deployment, the CMS will have to be updated to reflect the change. Where appropriate, software licence checks/updates will also be necessary.
4.3.7 Information Management
Request Fulfillment is dependent on information from the following sources:
- Service Requests will contain information about:
- What service is being requested
- Who requested and authorized the service
- Which process will be used to fulfill the request
- To whom it was assigned to and what action was taken
- The date and time when the request was logged as well as the date and time of all actions taken
- Closure details.
- Requests for Change: In some cases the Request Fulfillment process will be initiated by an RfC. This is typical where the Service Request relates to a CI
- Service Portfolio: to enable the scope of agreed Service Request to be identified
- Security Policies: prescribe any controls to be executed or adhered to when providing the service, e.g. ensuring that the requester is authorized to access the service, or that the software is licensed.
The metrics needed to judge the effectiveness and efficiency of Request Fulfillment will include the following (each metric will need to be broken down by request type, within the period):
- The total number of Service Requests (as a control measure)
- Breakdown of service requests at each stage (e.g. logged, WIP, closed, etc.)
- The size of current backlog of outstanding Service Requests
- The mean elapsed time for handling each type of Service Request
- The number and percentage of Service Requests completed within agreed target times
- The average cost per type of Service Request
- Level of client satisfaction with the handling of Service Requests (as measured in some form of satisfaction survey).
4.3.9 Challenges, Critical Success Factors and Risks
The following challenges will be faced when introducing Request Fulfillment:
- Clearly defining and documenting the type of requests that will be handled within the Request Fulfillment process (and those that will either go through the Service Desk and be handled as incidents or those that will need to go through formal Change Management) - so that all parties are absolutely clear on the scope.
- Establishing self-help front-end capabilities that allow the users to interface successfully with the Request Fulfillment process.
220.127.116.11 Critical Success Factors
Request Fulfillment depends on the following Critical Success Factors:
- Agreement of what services will be standardized and who is authorized to request them. The cost of these services must also be agreed. This may be done as part of the SLM process. Any variances of the services must also be defined.
- Publication of the services to users as part of the Service Catalogue. It is important that this part of the Service Catalogue must be easily accessed, perhaps on the Intranet, and should be recognized as the first source of information for users seeking access to a service.
- Definition of a standard fulfillment procedure for each of the services being requested. This includes all procurement policies and the ability to generate purchase orders and work orders
- A single point of contact which can be used to request the service. This is often provided by the Service Desk or through an Intranet request, but could be through an automated request directly into the Request Fulfillment or procurement system.
- Self-service tools needed to provide a front-end interface to the users. It is essential that these integrate with the back-end fulfillment tools, often managed through Incident or Change Management.
Risks that may be encountered with Request Fulfillment include:
- Poorly defined scope, where people are unclear about exactly what the process is expected to handle
- Poorly designed or implemented user interfaces so that users have difficulty raising the requests that they need
- Badly designed or operated back-end fulfillment processes that are incapable of dealing with the volume or nature of the requests being made
- Inadequate monitoring capabilities so that accurate metrics cannot be gathered.