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Service Desk Categories & Subcategories Examples

Updated: Apr 26

a photo of a library and the categories of books

Why Have Incident Categories and Subcategories?

It's common practice to configure your Incident Management tool or ticketing system to have a list of categories and subcategories to collect and analyse the tickets that are being logged. This can offer valuable insights into trends and underlying root causes of issues.

Service Desk Categories & Subcategories Examples

The following is a list of commonly used service desk categories and subcategories examples;


  • Desktops/Laptops

  • Repair or Replacement

  • Upgrade

  • Peripheral Issues (keyboard, mouse, monitor)

  • Mobile Devices

  • Setup and Configuration

  • Repair or Replacement

  • Application Issues

  • Printers and Scanners

  • Setup and Configuration

  • Repair or Replacement

  • Connectivity Issues


  • Operating Systems

  • Installation or Upgrade

  • Performance Issues

  • Security Patches

  • Applications

  • Installation or Upgrade

  • Licensing Issues

  • Functionality Problems

  • Email

  • Account Setup

  • Performance Issues

  • Connectivity Problems


  • Connectivity

  • Wired/Wireless Access Issues

  • VPN Problems

  • Network Performance

  • Security

  • Firewall Issues

  • Unauthorized Access

  • Security Breaches

Accounts and Access

  • User Accounts

  • Creation or Termination

  • Password Resets

  • Access Rights Modifications

  • Email Accounts

  • Setup and Configuration

  • Issues with Sending/Receiving

  • Mailbox Quotas

  • File and Resource Access

  • Shared Folder Access

  • Permission Issues

  • Network Drive Problems


  • Printing Services

  • Print Queue Issues

  • Quality Problems

  • Access to Printers

  • Database Services

  • Access Issues

  • Performance Tuning

  • Backup and Recovery

  • Web Services

  • Website Accessibility

  • Content Updates

  • Domain Name Issues


  • Training and Guidance

  • Software Use

  • Security Awareness

  • Best Practices

  • Policy and Procedure Enquiries

  • IT Policies

  • Usage Guidelines

  • Compliance Issues

How to Use Service Desk Categories and Subcategories

Efficient incident resolution

By categorising incidents, the incident management team can more effectively prioritise and respond to incidents based on their severity and impact on the business.

For example, if you have a category of 'virus detected', this might be a much higher response SLA than something such as 'request for a new mouse'. By classifying the types of incidents into simple groupings, you can set up rules within most Service Desk systems to allow you to automatically set priorities for tickets.

Better resource allocation

Categorising incidents enables the team to allocate resources and expertise to resolve incidents quickly and efficiently.

If you have multiple levels of escalation or different support teams, categories and subcategories can allow you to quickly identify where the issues need to be directed. For example, if a request comes in for a new laptop, and you are lucky enough to have a hardware provisioning team, the ticket could be set to automatically forward to the team based on its category.

Or, if you have a smaller team, you might use categorisations to give you supporting data on requests vs faults and then allocate dedicated resources to address the requests while others focus on the faults.

Identifying trends and patterns

The incident management team can identify trends and patterns indicating underlying IT services or infrastructure issues by analysing incident categories and subcategories. This can help the team address the root cause of incidents and prevent similar incidents from occurring.

Data is a powerful tool which allows a Service Desk manager to gain better insights into their customers, services and staff.

By allocating categories and subcategories to different types of Service Desk incidents, you can create reports that give you powerful insights into the types of issues. For example, you might look at the data and detect that a certain application is causing most incidents and that it might need to be replaced or upgraded, which in turn would then lower the volume of incidents being recorded with the Service Desk.

Tracking incident metrics

Incident categorisation helps the team track incident metrics such as incident volume, resolution times, and customer satisfaction. These metrics can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the incident management process and make data-driven improvements.

Reporting on metrics and types of service desk issues can help move sometimes emotional arguments for additional resources with data-driven business cases. Good metrics on volumes and other measures can show senior leadership exactly why resources are needed to improve service provision.

Don’t overcomplicate it. Record what you need—no more.

My biggest piece of advice here is to start as simply as possible. You can add categories over time. However, too many may confuse the Helpdesk during the classification stage and potentially dilute valuable data when analysing it.

So, if your categories and subcategories are numerous and confusing and perhaps don't follow a logical structure, rationalising them back is a good idea. Maybe by running a top 30 call types and categories, seeing the categories that people are actually using, and building it out around that.

Too many categories will water down your reports and make it potentially quite difficult to pick up on trends. You can always adjust as you go, but if you over-complicate the options, it can be hard to get quality data out the other side regarding reporting and trend analysis.

Template for Capturing Categories

The following template can help you capture incident categories to upload into your IT help desk / ITSM system. I've already populated it with common categories, but it must be adapted to your needs and kept as simple as possible.

Categories List
Download XLSX • 25KB

Some guidance;

  • Add in common user support issues.

  • Add in any major applications. If you use any major applications, does it warrant its own type and sub-types?

  • Ensure every category has an 'Other' or 'Unable to categorise' option. This allows us to review and add in types at a later point.

  • Keep it as simple and lean as possible.

  • Ensure there aren't multiple ways to log the same issue. For example, would one analyst log something as a 'database issue' and another might log exactly the same issue as 'application - SQL'? It's fine occasionally, but if we have a complex list, it will lead to confusion and inconsistencies.

examples of incident categories
examples of incident categories


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