Documentation forSolarWinds Service Desk


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SolarWinds Service Desk (SWSD) uses categories and subcategories to classify the incidents, service requests, and changes coming through your service desk. You can categorize your Solutions in SWSD using the same list of classifications.

A look at the parent/child relationship between categories and subcategories can help you gain a deeper understanding of how classifications can help streamline your ticket assignment. A category is the parent, and the subcategory is the child of that parent. For example, for the category Computers, you can have a subcategory called Laptops.

After the parent categories and their child subcategories are set up, you can use them in tickets (an incident, service request, or change) and automatically assign a ticket to individuals or groups in your organization.


ITSM customers ESM customers
Setup > Service Desk > Categories

Service Provider > Service Desk > Categories

Benefits of categories and subcategories

Incident categorization enables your employees to specify a category for their break/fix incidents through the Service Portal. You can ensure incidents are routed to the correct group of technicians by establishing default assignees on both the category and subcategory level. Having a well-defined set of categories and subcategories will also empower you to create informative reports on the types of incidents and requests you are addressing within SWSD.

You can also organize your work according to categories and subcategories for changes and change catalog items. This lets you search for change records easily (without relying on their title), sort your change index, and slice reporting information accordingly.

Examples of out-of-the-box categories available for the change module include:

  • Applications
  • Network
  • Security
Enterprise Service Management (ESM) service providers can create their own service-provider specific categories and subcategories.

Category index page

The Categories index page contains two tabs: Incidents/Service Requests and Changes.

From the index page, you can perform inline editing by hovering over a category name and selecting the pencil icon.

The index page is customizable. See List viewfor more information on customizing.

Enterprise category settings

There are three options to review when determining the use of categorization within your service desk:

  • Categories is a mandatory field.

    Categories are the top level selection that provides information regarding the topic of the incident. As both your requesters and service agent users will be entering in categories and subcategories, you’ll want to ensure that your defined categories are clear and familiar.

    Examples of categories that can help you mdefine your organization include:

    • Applications
    • Building Maintenance
    • Hardware
    • Human Resources
  • Subcategories is a mandatory field.

    Subcategories give your employees and technicians the ability to provide another layer of granularity when describing their issue or the service request item. Examples of subcategories may be:

    • Category: Hardware

      Subcategories: Laptop, Mobile, Desktop

    • Category: Human Resources

      Subcategories: Benefits, Time Off

      Both the category and subcategory entry can be made mandatory fields, helping to ensure all incoming incidents and requests are classified.

  • Default Category

    When turned on, this feature lets you specify a default category, which is used for all new incidents submitted without a selected category.

Making any and all of these selections can help auto-route incoming incidents based on the category and subcategory your employees select in the Service Portal. SolarWinds recommends using groups as your default assignees for visibility and ease of use.

Understand incident routing

Default assignee and notifications

If you choose to have a default category, SolarWinds recommends that for all uncategorized incoming incidents you also select a default assignee. This will save time and help you meet SLAs by streamlining processes while also ensuring incidents are being addressed in a timely manner.

Default notification for all new incidents

If you decide to enable the Default Notification for All New Incidents feature, a notification for all new incidents is relayed to the selected user or group. This helps ensure that a notification is sent, even if no category or default assignee was selected for routing.

Create or edit a category

There is no limit to the number of categories and subcategories you can create. Categories can have as many subcategories as you need, but they are limited to only two levels. Subcategories cannot have their own subcategories.

  1. Navigate to Setup > Service Desk > Categories.

  2. Select the appropriate tab:
    • Incident/Service Requests
    • Changes
  3. Click Add category on the right. (To edit, hover over a specific category or subcategory and click the pencil icon. You can also add subcategories to a category by hovering over a category and clicking the + that displays.)

  4. Provide a name, select a default assignee from the dropdown list, and add comma-separated default tags.

  5. Optionally, create an email dropbox.

    An email dropbox can be used to directly route incidents to a specific email address. See Category dropbox emails for more information.
  6. Click Create.

  7. After creation is complete, refresh the Categories index page. The list of categories will automatically re-sort to alphabetical order.

Create a new subcategory

  1. Hover over a category name and select the Add icon.

  2. Provide a name, select a default assignee from the dropdown list, and comma-separated default tags.

  3. Optionally, create an email dropbox.

  4. Click Create.

    The parent category expands to display the new child subcategory under it.

Rename a category or subcategory

Renaming a category or subcategory affects previously submitted tickets and changes those labels.
  1. Hover over the category or subcategory name and select the pencil icon.

  2. In the dialog box, select Rename category in the bottom right.

Delete or archive a category or subcategory

You can also delete or archive. If you choose to delete a category or subcategory, it is removed but you can run a report for historical tickets using that category.

Hide a category or subcategory

The best way to hide a category or subcategory is through roles and permissions. See Roles and Permissions for more information.

Category settings

Category is a mandatory field

When on, the category field is mandatory when the ticket is created.

Subcategory is a mandatory field

When on, the mandatory field is mandatory when the ticket is created.

Default category

When on, the selected category is used for new tickets submitted without an category.

Default assignee and notifications

You can select a default assignee for all new tickets or a default user to receive notifications when new tickets are created.

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