Password Reset: Is It an Incident or a Request?

What’s in a name?
Does it really matter what you call this common plea for IT help?

Yes! It absolutely matters!

Organizations must manage the activity of IT. Part of that management is to understand workloads, risks and improvement opportunities.
With these factors in mind, incidents and requests imply very different things.
• The higher the incidents, the greater the instability within your infrastructure.
• The higher the requests, the more demand on IT.
Metrics derived from Service Management measuring these factors can help as we decide whether to invest in “Automation and Innovation” or in “Fixing and Stabilizing.”

If password resets are recorded as Incidents, this will increase your Incident volume, indicating greater fragility within the infrastructure. Password resets are one of the highest volume types of service desk requests, so labeling them as “incidents” will skew the total incident counts in your reports. This could lead to warped view of the infrastructure stability, and it may even lead to a decision to spend on replacing assets.

On the other hand, if password resets are recorded as Requests, it will show, as it should, that there may be a human capital problem. The reporting and trending data might then justify an investment in automation to alleviate this type of request.

Now the exception would be, and there are always exceptions, if a system issue or other fault was programmatically causing users to be locked out, as opposed to someone forgetting the password, having their caps lock on, or otherwise PEBKAC (Problem Existing Between Keyboard and Chair). If it is the former (a system fault), it should rightfully be recorded as an Incident.

So to summarize:
• Records are kept on activities in IT to facilitate governance and decision-making.
• The proper classification ensures that data analysis during decision-making is valid.
• Password Reset Request are not Incidents, but Requests, unless a technical failure has caused the login/access issue.
• Lastly, if it has Request in the title… it’s probably a Request.

Disagree? I would love hear your thoughts. Comment below or on twitter: @VigilantGuy