Friday, July 09, 2010
Request Fulfillment Improvement Roadmap
Request Fulfillment And Its Many Moving Parts
From the dawn of IT Support the users and customers of IT services have looked to the Service Desk or at least someone who will answer a phone or monitor an email account to respond to requests for new, modified or additional services.
As of ITIL version 3 Request Fulfillment is understood to be a separate and distinct process from Incident Management. I explored this process in an earlier article.
From the ITIL v3 glossary we can find the following definitions:
Service Request: A request from a User for information, or advice, or for a Standard Change or for Access to an IT Service. For example to reset a password, or to provide standard IT Services for a new User. Service Requests are usually handled by a Service Desk, and do not require an RFC to be submitted. See Request Fulfillment.
Now that the debate over wether an Service Request is part of Incident or Change Management is over despite your personal views on the matter. Lets look at what it really means to tackle improvements around this process we have been doing for years.
First it is important to point out that making improvements to the process of managing requests is not as simple as dealing with one workflow. Like most things in life Request Fulfillment is more complicated under the surface than it may seem. Sure you can create an efficient way to submit requests without too much of a challenge. However, its what happens behind the scenes from the point of someone filling out the web form or making a call to the Service Desk until the shining new laptop is delivered fully loaded that takes the real work to figure out.
Think of the Request Fulfillment process like the two slices of bread on a sandwich, in between the top and tail of the processes are several other inter-related but separate processes. To improve the maturity of this process (make sure the new employee is productive on day one, or that that laptop comes with the right OS and software image) it is necessary to understand the approval, ordering, inventory and supply elements that support the provisioning of the request. A key understanding is that Request Fulfilllment is typically front ended by a Service Catalog or IT Portal and integrates key processes such as:
- Service Catalog
- Procurement, Cost Center Approvals
- Asset Management
- Service Asset and Configuration Management
- Service Level Management
- Access Management (On boarding / off boarding of employees)
- Image Management
Without the tight integration of these various management practices the request is received and not progressed through these process dependencies in an efficient and time sensitive manner.
For Example: You receive a request to prepare for a new employee start in 5 business days but it is several weeks before all the accounts and elements the employee requires to be productive are delivered for their use.
Since what we are describing here is the coordination of a set of variable and dependant tasks executed by many different groups it is highly recommended that this process be implemented leveraging a tool best suited to supporting the full lifecycle of the request and that supports the management of dependant and parallel work orders or tasks.
Since what I have described can be a complex task it is typical that an organization will improve Request Fulfillment as a series of maturity stages or steps. In my experience the maturity of this process can often be improved in the following steps.
Step 1: The process is managed as an extension of Incident Management and front ended by the Service Desk. There are no separate process elements or established ownership elements. The process record is differentiated from the Incident record by an attribute on the incident record that establishes it as a request. This record level differentiation supports reporting separation and different escalation policies.
Step 2: The process is understood as separate and distinct from Incident Management and has defined in relationship to both process and requestable service elements. The Request Process is managed by an ITSM tool that supports the management of complex task assignments to multiple support groups that are required to provision different aspects of the request in a parallel or set of sequential tasks.
Step 3: The Request Fulfillment process is front ended by a Portal or Service Catalog that enables the workflow and approval aspects of requesting and provisioning service elements. Integration is defined with other key processes such as procurement, asset management and various supplier-provisioning processes.
Remember that perfection is not always the goal and that incremental improvement is better than no improvement at all.
Troy’s Thoughts What Are Yours?
“Consciously or unconsciously, everyone of us does render some service or another. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and it will make not only for our own happiness, but that of the world at large.” ~Mahatma Gandhi