Real-world experience is one of the most valuable ways to learn, and nowhere is that adage truer than when modernizing your Enterprise Service Management (ESM) operations by investing in ServiceNow. As a veteran ServiceNow implementation consultant, I’ve heard far too many horror stories about migrating off the old platform (from another vendor) to ServiceNow — challenges that stem from a lack of proper upfront planning and preparation. In all these instances, the implementation suffers from a non-compelling vision, weak business case, limited-view roadmap, lack of a comprehensive Organizational Change Management plan, and/or resource skill gaps. As a result, migration efforts flounder and flail, leaving leadership to question the investment in ServiceNow. They think it’s the platform, when in reality it’s the people, process, and planning that created the weak link to success. The good news is that the weak links can be fixed quickly with the right approach, mindset, and guidance.
ServiceNow is a powerful platform built on ESM best practices. It automates and connects all of your workflows and disconnected databases, so you’re able to work more efficiently and deliver superior service to customers and employees. At the same time, the journey to ServiceNow success is almost certainly going to be more challenging and complex than any previous technology initiative you’ve ever led. In my experience, the frustration and setbacks that most companies deal with can be traced to a handful of pain points that they just can’t seem to fully wrap their heads around. I’ve boiled down these pain points into what I call the five essential truths that every ESM leader should know when migrating to ServiceNow:
There’s no such thing as “out-of-the-box”: ServiceNow can be configured just about any way you can imagine, but that doesn’t mean it’s ready to start working for your organization from Day 1. Even before you think about the technical aspects of ServiceNow configuration, you need to develop a mastery of how your organization’s strategic priorities and objectives can be realized by implementing ServiceNow’s wide array of applications, features, and configurations. This process takes research, planning, and customization. Along the way, you’ll want to toss aside any preconceptions you may have about ServiceNow being an “out-of-the-box” solution. Remember, your ServiceNow journey will only be as successful as the time and energy you invest into it.
ServiceNow doesn’t conform to poorly conceived workflows: When organizations are planning for ServiceNow implementation, they intuitively gravitate toward making the least amount of change possible. This resistance to change is a huge mistake: Most legacy workflows are not optimized or even appropriate for ServiceNow’s highly evolved automations and features — let alone the way employees work, or how consumers engage in this digital age. Forcing any new technology to conform to poorly conceived, outdated workflows will lead to a world of hurt down the road. Instead, you want to invest in understanding how ServiceNow is designed to work and why it’s designed that way, and then adapt and evolve your workflows and your processes to conform to the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) and ESM best practices built on ServiceNow.
Your investment is going to be relentlessly scrutinized: As ServiceNow begins to transform your enterprise, you will immediately see the strategic business value to your organization — but your C-suite invariably still won’t. To many C-suite executive, ServiceNow represents just another platform to add to the IT ecosystem that translates to increased overhead costs to the enterprise. Therefore, they’re going to relentlessly scrutinize it as such. The best way to combat this skepticism is to build a strong business case for ServiceNow, and proactively educate your C-suite on the specific ways that ServiceNow will help your organization achieve its strategic business priorities and drive new profitability. You want to tout your wins every chance you get and, as you make progress, to tie all of your wins back to your ServiceNow vision. This takes a comprehensive communication plan and unwavering commitment to see it through.
Employees are innately reluctant to embrace ServiceNow: We all want to believe employees buy into every business initiative put forth by their employers, but the reality is that employees are inherently resistant to change, especially technology initiatives that come with a steep learning curve and a new set of workflows and job expectations. Given that employee buy-in is crucial to ServiceNow’s success, you need to work both hard and smart to gain your employees’ emotional and mental investment. For example, employees learn in different ways, so you want to offer different types of training opportunities. Similarly, various types of employees perceive different levels of value in ServiceNow; your IT team, for example, is far more likely to buy into the vision for ServiceNow than your sales team. Hence, you want to be cognizant of these wide-ranging perceptions and tailor your messaging to convince your various groups of skeptics. Simply put, you want to talk in their language. Finally, you want to be strategic about who you invest in initially. The best approach is to target the “movers and shakers” on each team; these are the folks whom others look up to and who can help you evangelize ServiceNow to their peers. Ultimately, the cultural shift you’re trying to make falls under your Organizational Change Management (OCM) program. (For more on OCM, check out this webinar featuring OCM expert Bimala Tullock, Director of ServiceNow’s Champion Enablement Program.)
The momentum of ServiceNow is unexpectedly fast — and unstoppable: When you’re planning for your ServiceNow transformation, you set aside a certain level of resources over a certain timeframe. No matter how many resources you budget for, assume you’ll need more. If you’re successful in implementing ServiceNow for a single department such as IT, you’ll be caught off guard by the powerful momentum that ServiceNow unleashes across your organization. Other departments and teams within your organization — from HR to operations to sales — will suddenly see the potential of ServiceNow to transform their workflows and business processes, and they’ll want in on the Enterprise Service Management revolution. When they come to you with a flurry of requests to expand and optimize ServiceNow, they’ll expect you to deliver — without delay. So when you plan out your roadmap for rapid success, you can’t just be thinking about your ServiceNow demand a month from now; you’ve got to plan for what that demand will look like three to five years from now. (For more on building a winning, vision-aligned ServiceNow roadmap, be sure to check out this webinar.)
The journey to ServiceNow success can feel overwhelming if you don’t plan properly and learn everything you can from those who have come before you. That’s why it’s so important for me to share my real-world insights with others: First, embrace the customization capabilities of ServiceNow and know that out-of-the-box may not be all you need. Second, don’t try to force ServiceNow to conform to your legacy workflows; instead, take advantage of the best practices built into the platform. Third, build a strong business case that you can associate with wins, so you can proactively combat the relentless scrutiny of your ServiceNow investment. Fourth, recognize that many of your employees will be reluctant to embrace ServiceNow; a “one size fits all” philosophy is not the right approach to rolling out ServiceNow. And finally, assume you’re going to create unexpectedly fast and unstoppable momentum on your ServiceNow journey; you’ve got to think beyond today and develop a roadmap for success that will span the next three to five years.