An Hour in Quebec: Universal Request




In this series, I'll spend roughly an hour in a Quebec PDI discussing some features in the release notes that were interesting to me.


Honestly, this took me a couple of hours as I worked my way through my PDI and documentation to get a basic understanding of how it all worked together. This post is more of an exploratory post of this feature rather than a deep dive on how to set it up.


So what is Universal Request? Per the documentation: The ServiceNow Universal Request application enables cross-departmental reporting from the time of an initial employee request through the final issue resolution. You can map various departmental ticket states and activity streams into a unified and simplified experience for your employees and agents.


Universal Request vs Interactions


I love that ServiceNow has this already documented for those of us that had the same thought. When I originally saw Universal Request, my mind went straight to Interactions, and the New Call application. Here's a quick summary:


Interaction/New Call - Used by agents to take notes and determine next steps during a chat or phone call. The agent can then either associated the Interaction to an existing record, or create a new record such as Incident/Case or they can create a Universal Request from an Interaction.


Universal Request - Is created from an Interaction or New Call record by an agent when they determine a new record type should be created. Agents can either resolve the Universal Request, or transfer it to another department such as an Incident or HR Case.


In a nutshell:

  1. Interactions/New Calls are temporary, i.e. just a place to capture those important details, perhaps document time. Remember, all Service Desk calls/chats aren't necessarily converted into an Incident, Request, HR Case, etc. but the time/record of contact still needs to be recorded.

  2. Interactions/New Calls are not customer-facing in nature, though I have seen New Call used in that respect before.

  3. Interactions/New Calls aren't task type records, meaning they aren't meant to be worked and don't get all of the goodies in ServiceNow that other task type records get. You can't report SLAs off an Interaction/New Call.

  4. Universal Requests get all of the goodies, they are customer-facing, and serve as the parent record for other associated task type records such as Incident, HR Case, etc. I'm envisioning the power of reporting off a single Universal Request SLA rather than trying to calculate combined SLAs for Incident, HR Case, etc.


Integrating Universal Request with other applications


There are some plugins to download if you want to use UR with ITSM and HR. There's the Universal Request Integration - Incident Management plugin that can be installed, or HR Service Delivery integration with Universal Request with the Human Resources Scoped App: Core, and Employee Service Center plugins.


At a high level, once you install the Incident plugin, a Create Incident UI Action appears on the Universal Request form.


A couple things to note about Incident:

  1. You can configure the Incident record producer to create a Universal Request instead.

  2. Incidents that are associated with Universal Requests no longer show under Self-Service > Incident on the platform, they show under Self-Service > Universal Request. Same for the Service Portal, the Incident records themselves will not show under Service Portal > Requests, rather the Universal Request records will show.

  3. ServiceNow automatically suppresses Incident notifications when an Incident is associated to a Universal Request.

  4. The Requester Actions on the Service Portal seem pretty handy for changing the state of a Universal Request with a Primary Task of Incident.

HR Case is pretty much the same concept, some things to note:

  1. When transferring an HR Case, it can be transferred to a Universal Request.

  2. Notifications from the HR Case are sent when a state change occurs, but it contains the Universal Request number instead of the HR Case number.

  3. Universal Requests associated to HR Cases are found under HR Case Management > All in the platform, and Employee Service Center > Requests in the Service Portal.

I noticed once I created an Incident for the Universal Request, the ability to create an HR Case disappeared and vice versa, and in order to create a new task type from a Universal Request, you must transfer the Primary Ticket back, transfers take some configuration. I'm not sure if you can create multiple ticket types on a Universal Request at one time, but as I go through Universal Request more I'm sure I'll find out.


Setup


There is a Guided Setup for Universal Request, after my own poking around and reading the docs, I recommend going through it when setting up Universal Request. There are actually two Guided Setups:

  1. Guided Setup for UR - Configure the app, probably want to do this first.

  2. Guided Setup for Services - Configure your departmental apps to UR, pretty explanatory.

I won't go into setup in this blog post since this is more of an overview, but definitely start going through the documentation as well as there are a lot of pieces to Universal Request.


Universal Request Form


I'll highlight some fields here and just some general things I noticed clicking around. To learn more about the data model visit the documentation.


Primary Ticket: Houses the record that is currently active under the Universal Request. This field also controls the UR state and how the requester sees the ticket. There can only be one primary ticket at a time on a UR.


Restricted: There's a UI Action that controls this boolean, and it can be set to restrict access to tickets that have sensitive data so only users who have the access can view it.


Assignment Group: There's a Script Include as a Reference Qualifier on the Assignment Group field, UniversalRequestUtils that checks if a Group has the Universal Request group type, so make sure you have that setup.


Standard Ticket Page


I wanted to highlight this feature because it's customer-facing. During the Guided Setup, there's a step to create a Page Route Map from ticket to standard_ticket. Here's the documentation for more information.


I associated an Incident to a Universal Request, and can see my Universal Request under Requests on the Service Portal. I also created a comment on the Incident and can see my comment on the Universal Request record, when I comment from the portal on the Universal Request, it also syncs to the Incident.




Universal Request Workspace



Universal Requests can be worked and created in Agent Workspace and can use Advanced Work Assignment (Pro SKU). You can configure a New Record Menu Item to create new Universal Requests from Agent Workspace, and the UI Actions that appear in the platform are also included in Agent Workspace.


Universal Task


Universal Task is also it's own plugin. I didn't get very far as it seems the documentation link is currently down for this feature. I do see modules for Universal Task Configuration and Catalog Task Configuration which look interesting. At first glance, it seems like a way to associate tasks to a Universal Request, which may be the answer to my question about having one primary task at a time. A promised future blog post on this later.


Thoughts


From my initial overview of Universal Request, it seems like a pretty powerful tool in regards of accountability, reporting, and providing a seamless experience to end users. The portal and notification features shipped out-of-the-box seem very helpful, and prevent the need to configure around Universal Request. It seems as though only Incident and HR Case can be configured to work with Universal Request at the moment, though the documentation mentioned Custom Task, this could've been something I missed or is captured by the Universal Task functionality. I'm glad ServiceNow configured Universal Request to work with multiple UIs: Agent Workspace, Mobile, Platform, and Service Portal out-of-the-box, this makes setup easier and reduces customization needed. As I end this blog post, I feel like I barely scratched the surface on Universal Request. This feature definitely needs more exploration. Originally, I thought this was going to be a table that tied into other tables on the platform, but it's much more than that. I'm definitely ending this with more questions than I had when I started, and I look forward to creating more content about this feature and content from ServiceNow/others.


Resources


ServiceNow Product Documentation: Universal Request

ServiceNow Product Documentation: Universal Request versus Interaction Records (New Call record)

ServiceNow Product Documentation: Universal Request data model

ServiceNow Product Documentation: Integrating Universal Request with other applications

ServiceNow Product Documentation: Mobile experience for Universal Request

ServiceNow Product Documentation: Universal Request Workspace




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