ServiceNow Runbook Automation: Top 5 Use Cases

Thought Leadership for
IT Service Management Professionals

ServiceNow Runbook Automation: Top 5 Use Cases

Posted by Steph Velte

Tue, Nov 27, 2012

In talking to customers there seems to be a general belief that automation tools are too expensive and take too much effort to configure to truly derive value. Sure, there are some automation tools out there that are not cheap and have complexity to them – but the ServiceNow Runbook Automation solution is not one of these. This is especially true if you are targeting your automation to a small number of high-value use cases. Between this week and next, I will cover a total of five of these high-value automation use cases that we believe all ServiceNow customers should be looking to employ:

Automation Use Case #1 – Account Lockouts & Password Resets

Recent research shows that in most organizations more than 30% of helpdesk activity is caused by account lockout issues. This is largely the result of organizations employing strong security requirements. Time spent by IT personnel to support lockout issues is only part of the cost equation; you also need to account for the lost productivity of the user and any service downtime. 

It may be challenging to calculate the true cost of account lockouts, but if you can calculate the amount you pay per call x the number of calls you receive, you could have a "back of the napkin" calculation for the cost of providing this service. We have seen some companies paying upward of $250K annually to reset passwords. 

Another cost calculation can depend on the account and the services impacted, but given the volume of occurrences and the typical costs of an IT incident, there should be some real cost savings in automating this use case. Instead of trying to bend on security requirements to aid customers and reduce the burden on IT helpdesks, we should look to technology solutions such as ServiceNow to automate the actions performed to resolve these account lockout issues.

Automation Use Case #2 – Diagnosis and Remediation of Common Incidents

Time spent reacting to and solving problems still consumes a large chunk of IT's time and detracts from being able to better serve the business with value-added services. Creating knowledge base articles and incident resolution scripts are great aids to IT in quickly being able to diagnose and resolve issues – but why not take it a step further and leverage automation to perform the diagnostic tests and, if possible, resolve the issue? This way IT only needs to invest its time resolving the unique and uncommon type of issues. 

We are regularly asked what specific automation activities we should target because there are hundreds of different types of incident causes and actions. The first part of the answer is to target the high-impact services being provided to customers so that improvements in incident resolution times can have the greatest value to the organization as a whole. The second part of the answer is to interrogate the monitoring strategy for the service. This tends to tell us what components of the service should be running and what symptoms should be detected so that IT can proactively respond to service degradations. 

For example, if a user of an application starts to get error messages or performance is suffering they could go into the ServiceNow application and report an incident against this application. The process of reporting an incident could trigger an automation routine to look at various aspects of the application, and if something is not performing as expected, the automation workflow can perform the appropriate actions needed to resolve the issue without ever engaging the IT organization. 

Check back next week when I discuss the 3 remaining use cases:

  • Employee or contractor on-boarding
  • Cloud Provisioning
  • Deployment of standard changes

By the way... if you are interested in ServiceNow, be sure to register for the live webinar I will be hosting on December 12 at 1pm EST: "How to Build a Successful Service Catalog that Delivers on the Promise of ITIL and Automation."

Leveraging ServiceNow, ITIL best practices and Automation, IT can do something it has struggled to do for over a decade: Deliver on the promise of excellent service faster! With the ServiceNow platform, technology no longer prevents us from creating a great portal that allows IT to work with its customers like never before.

Join me as I explore what goes into creating a portfolio of IT services and a successful Service Catalog. Pre-registration is required: 


About the Author

Jeff Benedict, Practice Manager, Evergreen Systems
Jeff has more than 15 years of experience working in IT and consulting. He is ITIL and ServiceNOW implementation certified and has managed and implemented countless ITSM tool implementations. Prior to joining Evergreen Jeff managed a delivery organization for a Managed Service Provider.



Topics: Service Catalog, ServiceNow, Runbook Automation, Automation Use Case


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