ServiceNow Implementation Plan: Top Considerations

By Gregg Spivack

Vice President of Client Services, NPI

June 27, 2019

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Congratulations! You’ve purchased ServiceNow. Now it’s time to make its broad suite of capabilities work for your organization. That takes us to the topic of ServiceNow implementation. What’s the right approach to ensure success? What can you do to make sure your investment and effort doesn’t turn into shelfware? And, of critical importance, which implementation partner is best for you?

Given the expanse of service management in the enterprise and its numerous applications, these considerations are very real. Aside from making sure ServiceNow pricing is at or below fair market value, the most important cost aspect of your ServiceNow investment will be implementation. The way you handle implementation will have significant bearing on the ROI you receive.

In this post, we’ll discuss several considerations that will lead to a successful ServiceNow implementation, higher adoption across the enterprise, and – ultimately – greater ROI.

ServiceNow Implementation Plan Checklist: Preparation is Key

There are a few things you can do to make sure your ServiceNow investment delivers value and savings for the long-term:

  • Have a plan. You bought ServiceNow for a reason. Formulate an implementation plan based on your top use cases. The goal is to get the tool implemented and adopted. Stick to the next 6 months’ timeframe to get the foundation set, then expand from there.
  • Time to value. ServiceNow and its partners encourage Agile-style implementation to achieve quick user adoption. This is a proven methodology and much more effective than an elongated, boil-the-ocean approach. A side bonus is that if your organization is not experienced with Agile implementations, this is a great way to gain exposure and training.
  • Decide where ServiceNow ownership will reside. Where ServiceNow oversight resides and who is on the team will greatly affect adoption within your organization. The team should have direct exposure to lines of business because it’s an enterprise service management platform, not just an IT operations tool. The team should be comprised of people that have scripting capability and can work not only with IT but also with business areas to identify how existing processes can be easily automated.
  • Start with the basics – the common approach. Companies buy ServiceNow for different reasons, and even though it’s an enterprise service management suite, the typical initial use case still centers around replacing an outdated, cumbersome legacy IT service management (ITSM) application. By taking this approach, your organization will focus on first getting the IT organization right, enabling you to then replicate the process to other business areas such as HR, finance or customer service. Our advice is to become familiar with the typical ServiceNow implementation roadmap that will set the core functionality in place during the first 4 to 6 months.

Which ServiceNow Implementation Partner is Best for You?

Using an experienced implementation vendor is a must. So what are your options? They fall into two buckets – ServiceNow Professional Services or a vendor partner. How do you know which one is the right fit for your implementation? Let’s take a look at both options.

OPTION #1: ServiceNow Professional Services (PS)

ServiceNow PS is the gold standard of implementations. They are the ultimate ServiceNow product authority, often leveraging resources that have been involved with new product releases and features since their development stage.

Option 1 Benefits

ServiceNow PS employs a QuickStart, Agile-oriented methodology focused on time-to-value and knowledge transfer for the customer. Simply put, the concept focuses on short development sprints comprised of a few weeks rather than months, and embraces a “we do, we do together, then you do” model to ensure that the customer can support their ServiceNow environment post-implementation.

Who’s Option 1 Good for?

First-time, basic implementation of Service Management Suite functionality such as Incident-Problem-Change, Knowledge Base build out and migration, Service Catalog build out, and Asset Management.

Option 1 Drawbacks

Because ServiceNow PS resources are the ultimate authority and scarce in availability, they will be highly priced. ServiceNow PS staff is limited, so they tend to focus on core functionality versus projects that require a high degree of customization, ServiceNow niche product implementation, or specific industry or product use cases. Because of this, ServiceNow PS availability can also be limited based on the timing of your implementation.

OPTION #2: Vendor Partners

More so than many software companies, ServiceNow runs a tight implementation vendor ecosystem that promotes deep knowledge sharing and training across the ServiceNow Community. ServiceNow is very transparent about recommending when a vendor partner may be the best approach depending on the customer’s timing and goals, especially if cost is a large consideration. There are four types of partners in the ServiceNow ecosystem:

  • Generalists: These partners handle the basics (Incident-Problem-Change, Knowledge Base and Service Catalog build out, Asset Management), are an extension of ServiceNow out in the field, have a lot of implementation experience, and bill at a lower cost. Generalists typically have resell capability as well.
  • Global System Integrators (GSIs): These are typically integrators that have large ServiceNow practices as well as business area domain knowledge. They are heavily invested in ServiceNow globally, involved in customizing certain modules and have deep business process expertise. What they lack in volume, they make up for in depth. As such, they come at a significantly higher cost than a generalist. GSIs will have resell capability.
  • ServiceNow Product Specialists:These partners tend to focus on a specific ServiceNow product niche such as ITOM, PPM, GRC, etc. They may also have experience integrating these ServiceNow products with other related products in that space such as Splunk for ITOM or MS Project for PPM, for example.
  • ServiceNow Application Builders: Some partners have developed a custom ServiceNow application to address use cases specific to a business function or industry. Examples are HR onboarding and case management solutions, healthcare device asset management applications, and time-reporting solutions.

Option 2 Benefits

ServiceNow’s implementation partners typically adopt a similar QuickStart, Agile-oriented methodology and provide their services at a fraction of the cost of ServiceNow PS. An added bonus is they often have more all-around implementation experience than ServiceNow PS. In other situations, a partner is highly recommended for niche-oriented projects that ServiceNow PS will not have the bandwidth or experience to handle.

Who’s Option 2 Good for?

First time, basic implementation of Service Management Suite functionality as well as niche product implementations.

Option 2 Drawbacks

The evaluation process can be a little cumbersome especially if you are comparing a GSI against a smaller generalist or niche partner. Resource availability can be an issue for smaller and niche partners. There is also more of a quality risk when going with a non-ServiceNow entity simply because they are not ServiceNow.

Remember: It’s Not a One-and-Done Event

Once you’ve implemented the basics, you’re only just getting started. Schedule a roadmap planning session with key members of IT and business senior leadership – and revisit the roadmap every 6 months. This will enable you to expose the organization to how ServiceNow can automate key pain areas within the organization and prioritize your ServiceNow projects. By taking these steps, you will maximize your success with the solution, increase adoption and time to value, and be in the driver’s seat for future ServiceNow investments and renewals.

This blog post was originally published on March 31, 2017 but has been updated to reflect the latest changes to ServiceNow’s solutions and implementation best practices.