A lot of good things have been said in this discussion to help distinguish incidents from service requests. That includes the fact that it is ultimately your own organization that determines whether for instance a password reset is an incident or a service request. In most other cases the distinction is crystal clear.
When reading some questions in this thread and especially the following quote, I realized some people do not have a fundamental understanding of the difference between a service
, a process
, and a function
A service request aka an incident could be about fixing something which is broken and a new service request is about providing something which was never there.
I hope the following example will make clear what the difference is between those three concepts, which will then give a much better understanding of incident versus service request.
WebMagic is a (fictive) company that hosts websites for their customers. They take care of all the infrastructure and software needed to provide the service
of 'web hosting'. They offer several flavors of this service, for instance with different amounts of storage: 1GB, 10GB, and 100GB. As their customer I am not interested in their infrastructure. The only thing that matters to me is that my website is available and performs well in accordance with the service levels agreed upon between me and WebMagic. To support the service they provide WebMagic has a number of internal processes
in place to help ensure they can provide the service their customers are paying for. Examples of processes are Change Management and Incident Management. They also have a part of their organization that handles a wide variety of customer contacts, the Service Desk, which is a function
. If my website is unavailable, I can call this Service Desk to let them know and tell them to fix the darn thing as quickly as possible. In this situation I am not
asking them to provide me a service
; I am telling them to restore a service
I am already paying for. On another occasion I might be calling the Service Desk and ask them to upgrade my 1GB website to a 10GB website. In this case I am asking for a different service
for which I will have to pay extra.
It should be clear from these examples that the Service Desk function is not
provided to me. It is the function
that facilitates communication about services
between the provider and the customer. The Service Desk function
ties directly into the Incident Management and Request Fullfilment processes
that span across the provider's organization. Incident Management helps support the services
that the customers are already paying for. Request Fulfillment sets up new services
for customers that have been selected from a predefined offering, the Service Catalog.
If you understand the principles of function, process, and service, then you should be able to make a good distinction between incident and service request.