What is service request management?

Service request management describes the processes and tools used by organisations to address service requests from customers, employees, and vendors.

To operate effectively, modern business must provide necessary service and support—both to external customers and employees within the organisation. Unfortunately, not every service request is completely straightforward. Sometimes to take full advantage of an available service, employees require additional guidance from the service provider, as well as clearly established expectations regarding what level of service they should expect. At the same time, organisations themselves may not be fully aware of many of the details of the service requests they receive, including the origin and types of the most-common requests, specifics regarding their service request goals, and the quality and cost of fulfilling service requests.

Service request management is a key component of the ITIL framework and is designed to shine a light on important service request data, help establish customer expectations, and address employee-initiated service requests effectively and conveniently.

Used correctly, service request management supports requests from any part of an organisation or its customer base. It also empowers businesses and employees to track ongoing requests and manage expectations, while coordinating requests with finance, marketing, IT, customer service, and other functional departments throughout the enterprise.

A service request may be defined as a formal request for service from an employee, customer or vendor. These requests are necessary for initiating a pre-defined and agreed-upon service action as a normal part of service delivery. More simply put, service requests generally involve procuring or requesting access to something that is not currently available to the employee.

As previously stated, these are formal requests following an established pattern, and relate to services that are already clearly defined. Often, services are detailed in a service catalog, and employees can request access through their employee portal.

Service requests may take many different forms, depending on the services being offered by the provider. Common examples of service requests include the following:

Time-off requests

Employees that want to take holiday or otherwise schedule time off from work may make a service request to the HR department. This helps employers keep better track of work hours and fill any shifts or handle any projects that might need additional support while the employee is unavailable.

Purchase order authorisations

Businesses that rely on goods or services from third-party suppliers must request and authorise purchase orders. Purchase order service requests are made by departments or employees and go through finance to help keep track of and account for essential budgets and business expenses.

Password resets

Some of the most-common service requests, both for customers and employees, are requests for resetting passwords. Password-reset requests are fulfilled by IT departments.


In the event that a department needs content—such as for marketing efforts, advertising, internal materials, etc.—that department may make a service request to fulfil that need. The service request may be made to in-house content-creation staff or external contractors.

These are only a handful of examples; service requests include any formal request for any available service.

As established, a service request is an appeal for access to a service that exists as part of a company’s normal offerings. A service request is not a request for help or IT support if a service fails to function correctly. When an unplanned interruption to or reduction of quality in a service occurs and a employee reaches out for support in resolving the problem, this is known as an incident.

Although incidents and service requests have traditionally been grouped together, modern businesses that use ITIL make a distinction between the two. This is partly because of the urgency associated with instances as compared to service requests. Service requests are usually not as time sensitive and may be scheduled out in advance. Incidents, on the other hand, are much more urgent; they represent unexpected issues that are negatively impacting the employee experience and should be prioritised for immediate resolution.

Service request management can be an effective solution for addressing, overseeing, monitoring and executing on requests. As such, it brings with it certain advantages for businesses:

Standardization of service catalog requests

Service request management incorporates clear, employee-friendly service catalogs. These catalogs not only give employees a comprehensive view of what services are available, they can also help manage user employee expectations by including relevant information, such as expected completion times and necessary resources. In these catalogs, every service follows a standardised format, simplifying the service request process.

Complete tracking

Between submitting a service request and closing out the ticket, a lot can happen. Tracking capabilities within service request management ensure that everyone involved is fully up to date on the status of every ongoing request. Tracking can also take things further, by helping departments build and manage service targets based on historical data, improving the accuracy of time and cost estimates.

Integrated fulfilment processes

By their nature, service requests cannot exist in a vacuum; to be effectively addressed, they must be joined to the processes and fulfilment teams responsible for seeing them through to completion. Used correctly, service management transparently connects these essential points, to ensure efficient, cost-effective service delivery.

In ITIL, a service request follows a series of steps, including the following:


The service request management process begins when an employee reaches out to submit a service request. This step may be performed using a variety of media. Larger, more established organisations generally employ a service desk, customer and employee portals or mobile-powered apps to help streamline and document the submission process. That said, some companies instead rely on email, telephone or even social media to collect request submissions.


To correctly address a request, the recipient must first understand it. In this step, the relevant team or department assesses the request, determining how urgent it is, what resources or tools will be needed for fulfilment, and whether it requires supervisor approval or verification from IT, HR or the applicable business office. Assessment may require multiple employees or departments to participate.


With the request fully assessed, departments may now move on to fulfilment. Building off of the information and planning from the assessment phase, departments assign responsibilities, gather important contact information and establish estimated completion dates.


Once the request has been successfully fulfilled, the request ticket should be closed and archived. Additionally, organisations may wish to take the opportunity to review and evaluate the performance of the individuals, teams and departments involved in fulfilling the service request.

Follow up

What constitutes fulfilled on the side of the service provider does not always equate to a fulfilling experience on the side of the service use. To help bring these two points into alignment, many organisations will choose to reach out and solicit feedback from the employee once the ticket has been closed. This can be useful not only in confirming that the request has been resolved, but also in demonstrating ongoing commitment to employee success.

Service request management can be a complex undertaking. Here, we outline the top priorities that service teams may wish to focus on:

Focus on helping front-line teams

Fulfilling on service requests can be a stressful, thankless job; service requests can easily exceed time-and-resource capacity, and unhappy employees may become agitated or combative when they believe that their requests are not being fulfilled promptly.

To offset these issues, make the wellbeing and development of service teams a top priority. Set aside regular times to review and workshop potential problems or concerns, and always be on the lookout for resources, support or training opportunities that may improve and strengthen these teams.

Centralise the request experience

Businesses don’t want service requests coming in from a thousand different directions and employees certainly don’t want to have to deal with a collection of different service request routes specific to different departments or issues. Solve both concerns by centralising the request experience.

A unified, centralised portal, built for ease of use and accessibility, can significantly improve service request processes. Employees will be more satisfied knowing that whatever request they may have can be submitted through a familiar self-service portal. At the same time, fulfilment teams will enjoy the clarity and order of having all requests come from the same system.

Move fulfilment towards the front line

The more layers that exist between the employee and the fulfilment team, the longer, more expensive and more complex the service activity becomes. Cut out any go-betweens that can be safely removed, and as much as possible move request fulfilment towards the front line. When employees and fulfilment can work with each other directly, the results are faster ticket resolution, simplified processes and decreased costs.

Self-service portals may be highly effective in bringing employees and fulfilment together. With easily available resources and knowledge-base articles, many issues may be resolved before a employee ever has to make a formal service request. Likewise, gathering relevant information early in the process can eliminate unnecessary steps further down the process.

Employ automation where possible

In most cases, service request management includes many repetitive, low-effort, manual tasks. And while these tasks may be important for the fulfilment of the requests, they may also be time consuming and prone to human error. Automation is the solution, allowing service teams to reduce workloads, improve accuracy and more quickly move service requests towards completion. Use automation liberally throughout the request fulfilment process.

To ensure effective service request management, consider the following best practices:

  • Start with the easiest, most-common requests. Addressing these first provides instant customer value and gives new service teams experience they can use when building out future request processes.
  • Understand employee needs. Knowing what the employee expects, what is most important to them and how to best fulfil their requests will help organisations establish service-request priorities. Work with request management tools that allow employees to share details in their own words.

  • Document everything. Keeping a record of service requests and all relevant question fields, approval processes, procedures, team, process owners, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), etc. will help teams manage more-complex requests and provide important data for reviewing and optimising fulfilment strategies.

  • Aggregate all service request channels so that there are not multiple requests for the same service from the same employer. Ensuring that each employee may only submit one ticket per request on the front end is more cost effective and less time consuming than identifying and consolidating redundant requests after they have already been made.

  • Give employees self-service resources to help them resolve certain service requests on their own. Continually build out an easily accessible and searchable knowledge base with relevant information.

  • Identify the most-important metrics for measuring service request management success. Track and report on these metrics.

ServiceNow is revolutionising the way organisations around the world approach service requests. Part of ServiceNow ITSM and built on the AI-powered Now Platform, Request Management provides an intuitive self-service option for customers and employees to request services, products and answers—from anywhere, at any time, on any device.

Employ guided design capabilities to build a searchable, comprehensive service catalog. Embed natural language chatbots into employee portals to provide prompt answers and solutions. Create graphical workflows using drag-and-drop tools. Apply built-in automation solutions to service catalog items. And through it all, improve collaboration, break down silos and simplify the entire service request process by centralising service request management in a single platform. ServiceNow makes it all possible.

Learn more about Request Management, and let ServiceNow take your service requests further than ever before.

ServiceNow Request Management

Take service requests further than ever before, with ServiceNow.

Loading spinner