Service request management can help your team take control over how and when you execute service requests. Learn the five steps of service request management and best practices to make it work, so you can proactively manage your team’s time instead of feeling swamped by a sea of requests.
Service teams are the unsung heroes of most organizations. They’re often in high demand, providing IT support, human resources assistance, or other essential services to keep other teams up and running.
With such high demand, it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly in reactive mode—responding to a sea of requests without a chance to step back and plan. But with service request management, it doesn’t have to be that way.
A service request is a formal request for assistance. Employees, customers, or vendors make these requests to a service team—like IT or HR—who provides a list of predefined services that are within scope for them to address. For example, your IT team might provide the following services, which employees can submit a service request for:
New equipment or software requests
Password reset requests
Lots of IT teams utilize service requests, but that’s not the only use case. Here are some other service request examples outside the realm of IT:
Business travel requests
Content creation requests
Purchase order authorization requests
New employee onboarding requests
Service request management is the process of receiving, documenting, and acting on service requests. For service teams who receive a lot of requests (like IT, HR, and workplace teams), service request management is essential to handle those requests and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Establishing a predefined service request management process can help your team offer great service even with high request volumes. It makes it easier for you to:
Quickly document, triage, and assign requests to the right team member.
Follow up on service requests to make sure employees are happy with the help they received.
Standardize requests with a service catalog, which outlines what services are available.
Track service requests from submission to completion, so you can understand what’s in progress and how long it takes for your team to handle requests.
Control and optimize how your team handles service requests.
Protect your team’s bandwidth and ensure they’re not drowning in a sea of requests.
Service request management is a principle of IT service management (ITSM)—a set of IT operations processes to help teams implement, improve, and manage IT programs. Within ITSM, the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework provides additional guidelines and best practices for service request management.
That said, you can still use service request management on its own and for other types of teams. If your team regularly handles any type of requests, service request management can help.
Service request management and incident management often go hand-in-hand, but they’re two separate processes. Incident management is how your team detects and responds to unexpected issues like software bugs, cybersecurity threats, or system failures. Incidents are often higher priority than service requests because they can disrupt business processes, impact revenue, and create major blockers for teams.
On the other hand, service requests are part of a company’s normal workflow. They don’t disrupt anything, but rather give teams a way to ask for help and pick from a predefined list of services. It’s still important for service teams to manage and follow through on requests in order to prevent blockers, but you have a bit more leeway when scheduling and assigning those requests to your team.Read: What is procurement management and why is it so important?
Service request management can seem daunting at first glance, especially if your team is swamped with requests and you haven’t set up a predefined request process before. To help you get started, we’ve broken the service request management lifecycle down into five simple steps:
The process is kicked off when an employee submits a service request. There are a few different ways employees can submit requests, depending on the size and needs of your company. Smaller companies might rely on simple email, phone, or online form submissions, while larger organizations often require more robust platforms like a help desk, service desk, or employee help portal.
Next up, the service team assesses the request in order to determine the following:
The urgency of the request—for example, a password reset request may be urgent if someone is locked out of their computer.
What resources or tools the team needs to fulfill the request—for example, a blog request may require writing, design, and publishing resources.
Whether the request requires supervisor approval or verification from another team—for example, an employee requesting a new computer might need to go through an approval process first.
Now that the team has enough contextual information, they can move on to request fulfillment. This includes assigning the request to a specific team member (or multiple team members) and providing an estimated completion date. As your team works on the request, they may need to follow up with the requester for more information.
Once your team has fulfilled the request, they can let the requester know and verify that the service works or meets expectations. For example, you should verify that an employee can successfully log in to their account if you helped them with a password reset. Afterward, close and archive the request ticket.
Just because your team completed a request doesn’t mean everyone is happy with the result. Asking for feedback is an important step to make sure your team is providing a positive customer experience and to see if there are any opportunities to improve your service request management process.Read: What is change management? 6 steps to build a successful change management process
Here are some best practices to keep in mind if you’re just getting started with service request management (or if you want to improve your current process):
Collect and manage all your service requests in one place to make sure (a) that you’re not working on any duplicate requests and (b) that employees can ask for help in one central, easy-to-find location. For example, centralizing the request process in a project management tool gives you a bird’s-eye view of all requests in one place—including the status, timeline, and owner of each request.
The more employees can help themselves, the less work your team has to do. For example, creating a knowledge base or self-service portal with how-to articles can help deflect tickets before they happen. You can also create how-to articles outlining all the required steps that employees should take before submitting a service request, like securing approvals or notifying other teams. Or, configure your request intake form to make sure you’re gathering all the required information about a request—minimizing back-and-forth conversations down the line.
Automating simple, repetitive tasks saves your team time and reduces the possibility of human error. If you receive and manage requests with a project management tool, you can set up automations to streamline your request management workflow. For example, with Asana you can automatically generate and assign new tasks when employees fill out a service request form.Free work requests template
If your team manages a lot of requests, having good records is key. Documenting all your service requests (current and closed) can help prevent work from falling through the cracks. Be sure to include key information like the type of request, completion timeline, assignee, requester, action taken, and any service-level agreements (SLAs). This information is helpful when you want to improve current processes, because you can easily see data like how long requests typically take to complete or how many stakeholders are typically looped into each user request.
In addition to documenting the requests themselves, it’s also important to keep up-to-date process documentation. That way, team members have the information they need to successfully follow team processes and go through all the required steps for each service request.
Tracking improvement over time is the key to creating a successful service request management process. Identify the metrics that indicate how well your program is performing (also known as key performance indicators), and report on those metrics regularly. For example, you could report on the average time to complete requests and customer satisfaction.
Service teams are often some of the busiest and in-demand groups within an organization. And while their day-to-day work may not be as sexy as other teams (think big product launches), it’s essential to keep everyone else’s projects running smoothly. Don’t let your team be unsung heroes. Instead, find ways to publicly show recognition for their hard work—for example, by sharing particularly impressive team stats in company-wide comms.
Equally important, be sure to help your team prioritize and schedule tasks so they’re not overworked and swamped with requests. This could mean delegating, adjusting due dates, deprioritizing certain tasks, and managing stakeholder expectations around when work will be completed. Protecting your team’s bandwidth is essential to maintain good morale and prevent burnout over time.
An effective service request management process gives your team control over how and when you execute service requests. That means you can go from reactive mode to planning mode—proactively managing your team’s time instead of feeling swamped by a sea of requests.
A project management tool like Asana can help streamline your service request management process. Create forms for employees to submit requests, centralize all your requests in one central location, and set up automations to minimize busywork and let your team focus on what really matters.Free work requests template