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Why Service Request Management (SRM) 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.

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?

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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