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Bought, paid for, and severely underused – why you should stop modifying ServiceNow applications and focus on experience

Most service management tools today perform OK, but how about the people who use them? Requirements for change are often based on processes rather than users. This leads to solutions that work well for process management and reporting, but tend to not support user productivity. To ensure the best user experience, I think companies should focus more on making use of existing features rather than modifying ServiceNow applications.

In 2020, Gartner named ServiceNow Leader in ITSM in their Magic Quadrant report for the 7th year. Among other things, the report highlights the focus on providing a single platform for many types of workflows and extending it with integration capabilities to other platforms.

ServiceNow has said that they view their product as a ‘platform of platforms, rather than a customisable ITSM ticketing system. What they mean by this definition is a platform that allows interaction with your customers regardless of who they are thanks to its omnichannel capabilities. It is built to run efficient workflows regardless of the business domain, and with the capability of integrating to your existing systems of records.

Meaning, the long-existing vision of ServiceNow has become reality. Consequently, it also means that we must not miss out on the chance to take advantage of all that innovation and to make the best use of the enabling technology they offer. Instead of being simply a development platform, ServiceNow is a mature toolset with lots of capabilities just waiting to be used.

How to make the most out of ServiceNow

Keep in mind, the technology is there and ready for you to make use of. ServiceNow has evolved into a collection of almost ready-to-use application suites. We must evolve, too.

Here are some tips on how to focus your ServiceNow improvement efforts on what really matters:

Keep reading to find out why I chose these steps in my list of things to focus on!

1. Make user experience your main driver

Traditionally, tools have been created or bought and then extensively modified by request from process people to “fit our very unique organisation, because standard processes won’t work here”. Does this sound familiar?

If so, it is time to adopt a different approach. Rather than building custom features and experience usage, focus on using standard features and building user experience.

Ask yourself would you rather spend money developing and maintaining a customised tool for what is essentially branded versions of standard processes used by support staff or facilitating the productivity and success of your business users and customers?

Target your improvement efforts on the users and customers directly. The process people will benefit indirectly. Doing it the other way around rarely has the same effect on productivity, and usually has quite the opposite effect on user experience.

Shift your primary efforts to: 

Offer clean and simple interfaces for the end-users and customers in Service Portal. Provide support for mobile devices, chat, and Virtual Agent. Build a simple-to-navigate Request Catalog, relevant knowledge available at their fingertips.

Help end-users and customers interact with your business just like they are used to interact with the rest of the world by offering them workspaces, intuitive dashboards, and so on. Relevant information in a pretty package, which facilitates and results in desired process behavior.

For administration and management, ServiceNow offers built-in functionalities that support data-driven configurations. There are more of these functionalities than many are aware of. To avoid doing the same work twice – or paying for the same thing twice – it is a good idea to take a good look into what ServiceNow has to offer before developing any new features yourself.

What’s new in the ServiceNow Quebec release? Our expert shares his top picks on new features.

2. Avoid the process

Make a shift from producing process and report data to produce helpful user information, and make it easily available. The goal is to help the user before triggering the traditional support process. This way, you can make sure support resources are used more wisely and minimise waiting and lead times, for example. This is often an appealing scenario for users and support functions alike.

So, focus your efforts on trying to avoid the process.

You should also make sure to identify and drive improvements from the holistic and collaborative workflow perspective, rather than in each individual process. Focus on providing all relevant information and knowledge through your self-service solution and automate as much of it as possible.

Make use of the workflow concept to coordinate and orchestrate cross-function collaboration when self-service is not enough. Consider domain-specific processes simply as sub-flows in any arbitrary flow of fulfillment and provide simple ways of connecting teams and people in the support and delivery organisation. ServiceNow offers several means of doing this, in many cases with little or no coding.

Leader, are you familiar with low-code/no-code? Here’s why you should be.

3. Build ServiceNow integrations sensibly

To make the most out of ServiceNow, you should drive  integrations from a user experience perspective and with Single Point of Interaction as your goal. It is helpful to state clear requirements on the master sources and use pre-built methods as you go.

Why? Consider this statement:

“The primary goal of integrations is to minimise the number of user interfaces and places to go, for any given user.”

Several people or roles in different teams and organisations might be required to each fulfill their part in order to deliver the desired result within a workflow. It is your job – not the end-users or customers – to facilitate and coordinate this. Systems are integrated to share and consolidate data and information. Prioritise and build those integrations based on the benefit to your users. Use existing connectors, plugins, spokes whenever available and state clear requirements on those master sources for data quality. And again, apply user experience as the driver for having correct information available in the right place at the right time to the right people.

4. Measure user satisfaction

For best results, it is a good idea to identify improvement indicators by measuring productivity and satisfaction, rather than just ticket trends and resolution times. You should also aim to understand your users, their types of work, and how you currently enable – or obstruct – their performance. It can be helpful to consult experienced soft-skilled people to define the methods of measurement.

Last, but not least:

Measure what you do, don’t try to do what you measure.

Having adopted user experience as the primary driver and focus, it is also what you should measure in terms of user satisfaction and productivity. It can be tricky to find the relevant metrics and the methods, but when done right measuring this way provides a much more relevant view on how you are doing than looking at simply the number of tickets, for example.

Standard process KPI’s are still useful but in this context, they are not the primary source of improvement indicators. You should treat process adherence, KPI’s and traditional process reports as results, and as byproducts of what people do. Address any shortcomings with feedback, coaching, and training.

When considering a tool or process modification, think usability first: will this make it easier for people to do the correct thing? Even a complex process should still be simple to perform. With every improvement, find the thing that would increase user satisfaction. Measure continuously to find where to improve next.

5. Ask for feedback from users

Whether you are a service manager, platform owner, architect/developer, or process owner, your main area of interest should be to understand all of that, and work to remove usability obstacles and minimise manual steps.

Asking users what to improve in their daily work-life also gives them a sense of being seen and listened to. Both experiences are key components in people satisfaction and engagement. How do your users feel about the service or tool you provide? Are they happy? Do they feel safe and secure? Do they feel seen, heard, and confirmed? Do they get the support and enablement they need to be productive?

Find the quick-wins with help from ServiceNow experts

With the extensive collection of features available in tools like ServiceNow, you might find it difficult to choose the right path to quickly gain leverage. Here’s where we can help.

With our knowledge and experience of the features, we can assess your needs and maturity levels to help you define your path. Success often relies on meeting the right demand at the right time, and being able to quickly identify and understand those demands and implement the best matching solutions is key.

With us having the experience of knowing how to identify, implement, and gain adoption – including agile coaching and organisational change management – you achieve quick results and benefit from simplicity, efficiency, and happiness.