Incident Vs Service Request: A Brief Overview On Differences And Similarities

Doing business is not an easy task these days, and it is because there are many things ahead for an organization to tackle in its daily routine life. For example, issues, requests, incidents, applications, complaints, service requests, and change requests. Tackling these things is a separate story; it’s a constant headache for organizations even to differentiate them. Now, the question is, why do organizations need to distinguish them just simply take and solve them? The answer is it’s impossible to solve anything if you cannot even differentiate it.

That’s why we said that it is important for organizations to differentiate the things before they solve them. Here is another problem: sometimes, things resemble so resembling that it becomes difficult to differentiate them. For example, it isn’t easy to differentiate the service requests and incidents because any one of the service requests could be an incident, and any one form of the incident report could be a service request. That’s why we said that it is difficult to differentiate them.

The only solution is to follow the standardized mechanism to differentiate them. We have differentiated many aspects like these in our previous articles. In this article, we have focused on incident vs service requests. In fact, we have tried to explore the differences and similarities between them. We hope it will be really helpful for you. Before getting knowledge about the differences between incident & service requests, first, we should know their basic concepts. That’s why firstly, we would describe the basic concept of these two. So, let’s move forward toward it.

What Is Incident?

According to the IT Infrastructure Library version 3, an incident is defined as “an unanticipated disruption to an IT service or decline in the quality of an IT service.” When everything functions precisely as it was designed, the issue’s service runs without a hitch. On the other hand, when it doesn’t, it results in ‘unplanned interruptions’ to the service and creates an incident. Therefore, the primary objective of Incident Management is to deliver a speedy solution that puts an end to the disruption and returns the service to its previous level of functionality. These disruptions might be caused by anything from your computer failing to start up properly to the WiFi signal dropping out.

What Is A Service Request?

A Service Request, on the other hand, is described as “a formal request from a user for something to be supplied — for example, a request for information or advice.” To put it another way, a service request is submitted whenever there is a need for the organization to acquire something that it does not currently have. It may be access to the printer, or it may be an upgrade to a more recent version of the software. Both of these possibilities are possible.

The user has submitted a formal request for information or a solution to the problem that they are currently experiencing in the form of a service request. This request is related to the problem that the user is currently having. Installing a new workstation, assisting in the process of resetting a password, and other similar tasks are examples. The goal of the service request is to facilitate quality support for the user in a manner that is friendly to the user.

Incident Vs Service Request

Although the phrases incident and service request are sometimes used interchangeably, there are important distinctions between them. To begin, service requests are not nearly as critical to the firm’s operation as incidents. The processing of service requests can be postponed using a straightforward issue tracker until more time is available, but incidents require rapid attention. A request to move a printer, for instance, could not be as pressing as fixing a virus that’s infecting all of the company’s systems at once.

And secondly, service requests are pre-approved by the business and published in a service catalog, whereas incidents aren’t. Take the example of a company that allows its employees to install up to 6 GB of RAM on their machines. In this scenario, if an employee asks to have more RAM installed in his computer, the request will be processed as a service request, which the business has previously authorized. We strongly hope that the following examples will clear the whole scenario for you.

Service Requests

The printer needs to be relocated.

The server has been working slowly.  

Request to upgrade a laptop

Request to get training to use the projector.

Incident & Service Request

When we talk about the similarities between the incident & service request, it refers to the things in which they are, will or would be similar. For example, sometimes, a service request could be a base for an incident. For example, there was a service request about the slowly working server, but it was not taken seriously by the service team as the result server went down and turned into an incident. Sometimes, service requests and incidents are hidden in a single issue. For example, if it is stated that the laptop is not working in a request, it is not necessary that the laptop is out of order, but it could be the failure of the employee to understand the functions of the laptop.

Besides all other things, both the goal and scenario of the service request and incident are the same. Both are reported when employees have some trouble in fulfilling their daily routine operations, and the solution of both aims towards the normalization of the daily routine operations of an organization. Moreover, in both cases, the service team rapidly works to prevent any effect on customer experience.

Incident Vs Service Request: How To Differentiate Them

Although we have described the differences between the two in the above section, there is still a question: how could we find these differences? Or how could we differentiate incident & service requests? Following are some ways through which you can easily differentiate incident and service requests.

Determine The Normal Scenarios First

The easiest way to differentiate between these two is to determine the normal scenarios first. It means you know well about all normal scenarios, and when an abnormal or unexpected scenario has been reported, it means it is an incident. But if you did not arrange all the possible normal scenarios, then there is a possibility that a service request could be treated as an incident. So, arrange it well before implementation.

Service Catalog

An ideal service catalog could solve the entire problem. It is because, in the service catalog, all the services that an organization offers are defined. As a result, when a requester reports an issue that is not enlisted in the catalog, he knows perfectly that he is reporting an incident. And the service team also knows well that it is an incident as it reaches them. That’s why a complete service catalog is necessary to differentiate between simple service requests and incidents. So, organizations must develop an efficient service catalog. Realizing its importance, we have given a complete guide in one of our previous articles on how to build an ideal service catalog.

Efficient Risk & Problem Management

Efficient risk & problem management could also help you to differentiate the incident and service request. It is because through risk and problem management, you can easily identify the risk level and the risk level is the basic thing that draws a line between service request and incident.


When we discuss the term incident vs service request, it means we are trying to understand the differences between them. Moreover, we are also trying to know if they are opposite concepts or not. As we discussed that term in this article, we are trying to explore the two things we mentioned in upward sentences. After all the above discussion, we learned that they both are two different concepts, but they are not opposite. They are different just as compared to their categories. But they are interrelated to one. Due to this interrelation, it becomes difficult to differentiate these two without a predefined mechanism.

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