The practical approach to expanding service management from IT to HR

What do IT and HR have in common? No, this isn’t a riddle. This is a real question, and the answer is—much more than you would think!

Before I get ahead of myself, I realize this is a community for IT pros. So why am I bringing up HR here? It has to do with a broader notion of Service Management. We’ve all heard about IT Service Management, so let me start with a quick overview of how an ITSM implementation could expand to become an employee-centric service management solution. Incorporating human resources into the service management platform is often the first step in consolidating the service experience for the employee.

ITSM tools have been around for over 25 years, they help IT pros like you manage IT services and provide IT support to your organization. The tools, methodologies, and processes have matured and evolved over the years to help drive consistency, efficiency, and automation into IT service delivery. 

It makes so much sense given that  IT isn’t the only service provider in your organization delivering services and support. In fact, most business functions provide a set of services to other business functions or directly to employees. This includes HR, legal, facilities, finance, engineering, security, sales, and marketing.

You don’t have to dig too deep to find that each business function mirrors many aspects of how IT serves its “customer”:

  • Requests for help
  • Requests for services 
  • Search for information

While there are potentially different people, processes, and terminology involved, this

is very similar to IT service desk operations. 

Unlike IT, however, other departments still often rely on email, post-it notes, spreadsheets, and… phone calls.

So how can you share your service delivery practices with the rest of the organization? I’ll take you through the key building blocks that might be already existing in your ITSM implementation that will help you extend it into the HR department. By doing so, it will dramatically improve the service experience for your employees, bringing them closer to the standards you’ve set on the IT side of the house.

Case Management (a.k.a. ticketing) 

The most basic function of any service desk is ticketing—the way in which we describe, manage, and track a support process to fix an issue. In the IT world we often call it incident management, following the ITIL terminology. As “incidents” have a very different meaning in the HR world, those same tickets are defined as “cases”. But other than the terminology, IT incidents and HR cases are the same. Examples for HR cases could be related to benefits, payroll, or relocation. 



Here’s a ticket relating to PTO balance mismatch.


Working this ticket, or “case” through Service Desk, we can leverage auto-classification and automation rules to automatically route it to the right team and/or person. This way, there’s no wasted time in providing service to the employee, no emails are lost in the shuffle, and no sticky notes peel off the monitor and get lost under the desk. 

Expanding ticketing capacity to HR is a great first step in embracing the service management principles outside of IT. 

Request Management

Next, after establishing a solid foundation with case management (or ticketing), we can take the HR service management implementation to the next level with request management.
Think about the top 10 issues you repeatedly run into.In the IT world, those might include the password reset and drive/folder access requests, and you likely have fully scripted solutions for those issues. Those could be easily turned into a truly automated process through request management. 

Request management formulates the intake process using a structured form, and offers an automated process to fulfil the request. Examples from the HR world include name change, PTO request, employee relocation or on-boarding. The service desk supports this through the service catalog: 


This is how the name change request form looks like for the employee. It is structured, and collects all the information required for this process. At the back end, the administrator can define the required fields, formats, and design of the form. Another key part of the catalog is the automated fulfillment and approval process: 


In this example, you can see the flow, logic, and automation around approval and execution of this process. 

Identifying the leading ticket types and turning them into catalog items, building automation around them, and making them repeatable are considerable steps forward in improving service delivery in HR. This brings us to another important element in HR service: policy documents and knowledge. 

Knowledge Management

Think about how many emails you’ve sent your HR representative asking about the PTO carry-over policy, the 401K guidelines, employee tuition reimbursement—and the list goes on and on. The answers are always the same. There’s a document somewhere - and the HR person, in case your email wasn’t lost in the shuffle, will send you a link or a copy of that document.

Knowledge Management, or “Solutions” as we call them in the service desk, is the best way of addressing this need through service management. 

You can quickly analyze the repeating knowledge question coming through your tickets, document them, and make them accessible to your employees: 


Here’s an example of a solution to a ticket title,“how to update my home address in the HR system”. 

Self-Service: Bringing in all together 

The next step in the evolution of your HR service desk is leveraging the employee service portal for HR service needs, and enabling employees to self-service. The combination of the service catalog, the knowledge base (solutions), and the ability to open and track HR cases provides employees with a highly-improved service experience, while significantly reducing the workload on the HR team. 


The Service Portal’s search bar allows your employees to search catalog items, knowledge articles, and open tickets. Let’s look for PTO related options:


Or how about instructions on how to reset your password on the payroll portal?



With this post, I took you through few of the common principles of service management that indeed start in IT, but are almost universal in nature and could be adopted in other departments in the organization. Think about the many ways employees could benefit if they had HR resources to:

  • Request for help
  • Requests for services 
  • Search for information

A service portal could go a long way in dramatically changing the service experience of your employees with HR.