Should a service request be reopened or a new one logged

By ITIL® from Experience©

The two main reasons to reopen a service request after it has been closed are:

  1. The user modifies their order; or
  2. I.T. failed to deliver as requested.

Guidance for reopening service requests1 was introduced in the ITIL® v3 2011 Edition2 . It states that "It is wise to have predefined rules about if and when a closed service request can be reopened." The following is given as an example as "It might make sense, for example, to agree that if the request needs to be reopened within one working day then it can be reopened -- but that beyond this point a new service request must be raised." Moreover, it states that "The exact time thresholds/rules may vary between individual organizations, but clear rules should be agreed and documented and guidance given to all service desk staff so that uniformity is applied."

Identifying the point of no return3 in the request fulfillment process is an easy way to determine the rules for reopening a service request. Once the process has crossed that point it is no longer possible to simply modify or cancel the request, thus a new one must be logged.

The point of no return is not universal (e.g. within one working day) and varies from one category of service request to another. For example:

Service RequestPoint of no return
Access to an applicationAccess is granted (e.g. when the script runs or the Administrator clicks ok)
New web hostThe user clicks the “submit order” button in the shopping cart of the self-service Service Catalogue
Ordering a device- The financial transaction has been processes by the credit card company, or
- The picking/packing list has been printed, or
- The box is sealed for shipping (If it is sent in several shipments like box 1 of 2, it is when the last box is sealed for shipping)

When a service request has progressed beyond the point of no return, it is usually cheaper and more effective to log a new request and start a new fulfillment process even though the new request is to modify the original.

On the other hand, reopening the request beyond this point makes the process unnecessarily complex and increases costs as more business rules are needed. For this reason many retailers have two processes: one for ordering and another to process returns (e.g. an order number and a different tracking number for the returned goods4 ). Thus, once the customer's order has reached the point of no return, which often is when the shipping company has taken possession of the goods, no attempt is made to intercept the shipment. The customer is instructed to return the "wrong" product.

In addition, reopening a request may also breach the SLA depending on the ITSM tool used (See Should the incident be reopened or a new one logged for further discussion on this topic). Thus, logging a new request provides IT with a new SLA target. This is a fair game when the user changes their mind. However, if IT did not deliver as ordered some organizations reopen requests as it enables them to measure their process quality.

Good customer service takes time. Great customer service saves time. GM Goodwrench advertisement 2001

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More on Request Fulfillment (Service Requests)

Category: ITIL Process > Request Fulfillment


Service Request: (ITIL® Service Operation) A formal request from a user for something to be provided – for example, a request for information or advice; to reset a password; or to install a workstation for a new user. Service requests are managed by the request fulfilment process, usually in conjunction with the service desk. Service requests may be linked to a request for change as part of fulfilling the request. ITIL® Glossary 2011 https://www.axelos.com/Corporate/media/Files/Glossaries/ITIL_2011_Glossary_GB-v1-0.pdf (PDF)

2 ITIL® Service Operations, 2011 Edition, Section Rules for reopening requests, p. 94
3 Point of no return: A critical point at which turning back or reversal is not possible. Merriam-Webster http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/point%20of%20no%20return
4 This also simplifies the trace ability of the financial transaction


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