Why you need a Phased Strategy and Roadmap, Service Portfolio Mentality, and Service Portfolio “Factory” Thinking.
Think about ServiceNow and how it has truly changed things: it provides agility, flexibility and wide-ranging capability, and makes it easier than ever before to create new and enhanced solutions very quickly. This is VERY different than ITSM solutions of the past. The "problem" for customers I’ve talked to is that keeping up with the demand for new services is a big challenge, and it keeps growing.In my previous post, “Four Factors Behind the ServiceNow Demand Problem,” I described the challenge every ServiceNow customer faces: meeting demand. In this post, I offer insights on proven tools and best practices, and share a 3-step approach for better ServiceNow demand management.
- Step 1 – Start with a Strategy and Roadmap for the ServiceNow portfolio.
In this step, you’ll get clarity on the “why” and “what,” thinking from the future, end state back. You design for manageability, and logically combine people, policy, process and technology. You’ll benefit from a strategy that everyone can understand and a clear plan with measurable goals. Most importantly – for each phase be serious about defining and measuring the customer and business value outcomes. These will serve you later as true guiding lights. When communicated broadly across constituents with a common language, you’ll lay the foundation for good tradeoff decision-making. And, you’ll be able to invest energy where it makes the most sense.
- Step 2 – Adopt a Service Portfolio way of thinking about what we are doing in IT.
Here’s what we are NOT doing in this step: creating technical outcomes. What we ARE doing in this step is creating and delivering services. For optimal results, it is important to think of these services across their useful lives – from cradle to grave. An evolution in the way we think about service delivery is essential – not as a technical outcome producer, but rather as an end-to-end service provider over a service’s useful life.
- Step 3 – Think of the Service Portfolio as a Service Factory.
It is often helpful to think of the Service Portfolio as a Service Factory that we want to build and run; to use it to manage “services” over their useful lives. There are four stages in the factory workflow: Consider, Build, Modify and Retire.
An overview of the Service Factory stages
Consider, the first stage, is at the front end of the process. The Consider stage is your demand or intake funnel. In other words, it is here where demands are made, and assessed.
If you are successful it is quite possible that you will get more requests for new services than you can deliver. So be sure to ask the questions to decide on which requests to fulfill.
- Which are most important?
- Which have the greatest value to the company?
- How do we communicate this fairly to the customers asking for new services?
- How do we define value – is it a balance of customer outcome, cost to create, complexity and risk?
You can see it is important to have a consistent basis for ranking and managing new service requests.
The next stage is Build. Here, we construct a service. Though it sounds strange, instead of aiming to build a service, our goal should be to NOT build a service. The more unique services we have, for more and different customers, the more complex our service catalog / portfolio becomes.
Complexity, and the ability to control and manage complexity, has become a challenge for many industries. Mostly a result of increased interconnectivity due to wide-ranging use of mobile devices and rapid adoption of IoT (Internet of Things) technologies, we are more connected than ever, and convenience is something we all benefit from. But it has also made things a bit more technically complex.
When it comes to ServiceNow, accepting every request for new services is certainly possible, but it can be dangerous as it makes processes more complex. Adding new services just because you can, and without thinking of its actual value, has the potential of making your service catalog / portfolio so difficult to understand and navigate, that people simply stop using it. Beyond that, every service you create has ongoing lifetime support costs which may not be trivial – integrations, support, upgrades, etc. Given that, it is important to establish a basis for determining which services are worth building (and maintaining) and which are not.
Let’s move onto the next stage, Modify. Here we update or make changes to a service during its useful life. This is self-explanatory. What is important to note here is that you ask the same questions in this stage as we you ask in the Build stage. Here, you make sure any modifications go through the same quality assurance and change control processes to validate that we don’t break existing functionality people are relying upon, and that we don’t make things more complex than they have to be.
At the end of the lifecycle is Retire – the service no longer adds value and is removed from your active service catalog. An example of this for some might be a pager provisioning service; perhaps you don’t need this service any more. Interesting to note, while this “service” may be retired, it may be made up of several services building blocks that are actively in use across the enterprise. It is only this unique combination of these building blocks that is being retired.
In my next post, we’ll take a deep look at the Consider stage.
P.S. Coming up with a ServiceNow Strategy and Roadmap requires work across all constituencies of a service. If you aren’t sure how to create one, we can help build one specifically for your business needs with our Evergreen Evolve services.
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About the Author: Don Casson is CEO of Evergreen Systems, an IT consulting firm helping medium to enterprise public and private sector organizations to dramatically transform their IT operations. Don is a frequent writer, blogger and presenter, and has delivered over 60 webinars on topics in Service Management, including IT and shared services.