Every ServiceNow customer faces this issue: you can build anything, and fast, but meeting demand remains a challenge.
“If you build it, they will come.” This line is used in business to illustrate how building something new – whether a product or service – can deliver value and growth to a company. It is an adaptation of the line used in the 1989 film, “Field of Dreams.” While this post is not about the movie or baseball, the notion of “build it” or “build for” helps to illustrate the ServiceNow demand problem, which is the topic of this article.
The ServiceNow platform is great, and it has been disrupting the way IT service is delivered for some time now. In the past, solutions like HP and BMC were client server, monolithic, slow and expensive to create and maintain. They were implemented and configured for a specific, narrow purpose. And they lacked the power and broad development platform essential for updates or enhancements. After a while, since it was expensive and hard, any development on these platforms slowed to a trickle, then stopped. Other than some major upgrade every 3-4 years, things didn’t change very much.
ServiceNow has changed everything, dramatically. If you can think of it, you can create it almost as fast as the idea enters your mind.
Build for effective delivery of end-to-end IT (and non-IT) services
In short, the ServiceNow demand problem is that IT cannot keep up with the demand. Because it is flexible and fast, customers soon learn they can actually get changes and enhancement done quickly (for the first time) which leads them to think more and more about what they would LIKE to do – and so the floodgates open. Every ServiceNow customer I have ever spoken to faces this challenge and has yet to find a great way to address it. Many customers we talk with have shared that they actively avoid conversations that might create new requests for services because they can’t meet them!
And there’s an even bigger problem. Many companies are beginning to see ServiceNow as a strategic platform for the enterprise – for delivery and automation of services across their companies – and not just for IT. ServiceNow becomes a critical enabling technology underpinning digital transformation plans and demand begins to come from shared services like HR, Facilities, Contracts, Legal and Customer Support – for the same reasons demand grew so quickly in IT. The inability to meet this demand is now limiting the ability to deliver on a strategic business need, which employees and executives alike are clamoring for.
The evolution of ITSM systems development
Because of the ServiceNow demand problem, we need to replace the package implementation skills of the past with true development skills – in IT Operations! Today, we are actually running an app dev capability inside IT Operations because of ServiceNow.
Because of the nature of ServiceNow, a fast, modern SaaS application, development can no longer be done in a slow, methodical Waterfall process. Instead it must be done in Agile. Agile is fast, flexible, iterative – and entirely different. Few IT operations organizations (where ServiceNow resides) have much practical experience with Agile or an Agile compatible implementation methodology, and how to use them effectively.
Figure 1: How prepared are we? ITSM of the past versus the ServiceNow platform.
As you can see from the summary above, the amount of change that organization owners of the ServiceNow platform are experiencing is quite dramatic. What’s the result of all this change? The combination of rising demand and inability to meet it can create a steadily increasing backlog of unmet needs, with the platform owners seen as increasingly unresponsive.
ServiceNow moves fast, making it difficult to keep up with changes
Major ServiceNow releases happen every six months, across a platform with dozens of applications. New applications are released, and existing ones are enhanced, sometimes significantly. While upgrades are not technically as challenging as in the past due to ServiceNow’s single data model / single code base, a new upgrade challenge has arisen – functionality based.
As organizations implement and enhance the platform for their specific needs they create modifications of the functionality, which can run into the hundreds. When upgrading, they must compare the new release functionality with what they have created, deciding whether to keep one or the other, combine both, or create further customizations or combinations. This can be problematic and time consuming, given that they generally have limited knowledge of, or firsthand experience with the new release.
In summary, here are four factors contributing to the ServiceNow demand challenge:
- ServiceNow is different: It is built on modern, advanced standards-based technologies, and not on limited proprietary solutions of the past. This makes ServiceNow easier to extend and simpler to interact with other functionalities.
- ServiceNow is fast: With ServiceNow, you can quickly create both new and enhanced functionality. This is because it is a single data model, and a single code base – there are no integrations or foreign code inside the platform – a lot like Apple. What we have thought of as applications are more like applets, whatever functionality / data we want, we easily can bring it to the “application.”
- ServiceNow is changing our development process: Because ServiceNow is so fast, we really must use Agile – a different methodology – to keep up with it as we create solutions.
- ServiceNow is not an ITSM solution: Probably the most surprising to ITSM professionals, this factor may be difficult to accept. Indeed, ServiceNow is really the only truly enterprise capable, service workflow platform in the market. Therefore, companies see it as a service delivery enabler across shared services – not just an ITSM solution.
OK, so how do we tackle the ServiceNow demand problem? In our next blog post, we’ll look at some tools and best practices for addressing these issues. Subscribe to this blog and get notified when we publish our next post.
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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.