Recently a couple of discussions raised in social media were regarding the clarity between a Service Request and Change. For those who has the right understanding of these two terms, this discussion might look too basic – but my experience shows that many practitioners are carrying some level of confusion on these terms.

Here are the typical confusions/queries that I have seen regarding these in my training/consulting engagements as well as forum interactions:

  • How to differentiate a Service request from a Change request?

Service Requests are those requests coming from a user to the Service Desk (or in some cases, self-help channels) and fulfilled through Request fulfillment. Change requests are requests for modifications required in any part of the Services, Service management systems or underlying systems and components.

Service Requests can include requests for some changes that a user ‘is entitled to ask for’ – often defined as those forming part of ‘standard’ requests from users. To fulfill those Service requests (only those involving changes – not all), applicable change management process (or change model) need to be followed. In fact, In the fulfillment of such Service requests, two (or more) processes might work together – along with request fulfillment there could be processes such as change management, release management (where applicable), access management etc. This is very much like:  for resolving an Incident (or Problem) – you might need a change and hence has to follow change management process.

However, it is also important to note that the changes that can be requested by users will be those minor, operational changes (installation of desktop software/hardware, user id/password changes etc) – and hence will typically fall under Standard Change model (in other words, pre-authorized). So, for fulfilling of those requests, there is no change approval and such detailed change management process is not usually required.

  • Are all standard changes handled through Request fulfillment process?

No. Only the standard changes ‘requested by users’ (in the form of Service Requests) are initiated/ handled through request fulfillment process. Other standard changes (triggered within IT – such as: antivirus updates and other such frequents, routine operational standard changes etc) will be handled through appropriate standard change models.

  • Are all service requests linked to change management process?

Again, No. Only the those requests that require changes for fulfillment will be interfaced/linked with change management process. Service requests could also be request for: information (queries), standard tasks etc which doesn’t include any changes.

  • Are all changes requested by business/customer/users treated as Service requests?

No. Only the standard changes ‘requested by users’ are service requests. Any significant changes required by business (new services, changes in services/service levels, functionalities etc) will be formal change requests channeled through Service Level management/Business relationship management processes. Usually ‘customers’ are entitled to raise such change requests and not a normal ‘user’.

Hope this helps in clarifying the basic overlap and differentiation between Service Requests in an ITSM/ITIL context. Any feedbacks/further discussions are welcome…