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Overcoming ServiceNow implementation challenges: 5 lessons from a former practitioner

In the world of IT service management (ITSM) and digital transformation, ServiceNow has emerged as a leading platform, offering an array of functionalities and capabilities. The platform’s appeal lies in its power to automate workflows and streamline business processes, ultimately transforming the way businesses operate.

But a ServiceNow implementation can be a complex process with common challenges that could hinder the full potential of your investment. As such, the need for a clear roadmap, solid project management, and the right ServiceNow implementation partner becomes paramount.

In the digital transformation journey, ServiceNow implementation stands as a crucial step. Missteps during this phase could delay your transformation goals and undermine the benefits you aim to achieve. So, understanding the implementation process and challenges is critical to your success.

(As hard as we’ve looked, we haven’t found a magic “implement” button in ServiceNow that performs and sustains a perfect implementation. Have you?)

Enter Christine Morris, a ServiceNow veteran and expert from Cask. With a background as a global service management leader, an enterprise platform owner, and a service architect, Christine brings a wealth of knowledge to the table.

This acumen arises from her unique blend of user experience, project management, and deep knowledge of the ServiceNow platform. Her firsthand experience navigating the intricate world of ServiceNow, coupled with her passion for helping organizations optimize their ServiceNow instance, lends significant weight to her insights.

She’s the ServiceNow version of Sherlock Holmes but without the deerstalker hat and the ever-present pipe.

We sat with Christine to go over five lessons she’s learned about ServiceNow implementation:

Lesson 1: Governance is the implementation fairy godmother you didn’t know you needed

In the complex labyrinth of ServiceNow implementation, governance often emerges as a key component. It is the mechanism that holds the implementation process together and ensures that the IT team aligns with the business needs.

According to Christine, “When you’re starting the platform, you have to start with governance.” She acknowledges that a successful ServiceNow implementation demands a robust structure to manage the new technology.

A steering committee is instrumental in maintaining the platform’s value while managing a growing backlog. The committee is essentially a group of stakeholders who provide guidance and monitor the implementation. She advises having a steering committee and a governance framework in place so that you can prioritize the backlog that grows after the service portal launches and grows in popularity across the organization.

Lesson 2: Leave boiling the ocean to the supervillains

ServiceNow offers immense functionalities and the potential to automate and streamline various workflows. However, the temptation to unlock every functionality can be overwhelming and counterproductive.

Implementing ServiceNow isn’t about trying to solve all your problems at once or moving all legacy items in a lift-and-shift approach. Christine cautions against such common pitfalls, recommending a focus on “out-of-box configuration over customization.” She candidly admits, “I made tons of mistakes. So it’s really nice to be able to say to our clients, ‘Yeah, I did that. Don’t do that. That’s a bad idea.’”

Lesson 3: Start small with an MVP (think “more Ant-Man, less Hulk”)

Starting small and scaling up is a methodology that applies to almost any digital transformation project. It is even more relevant in the ServiceNow context, considering the extensive functionality and flexibility it offers. Start small with a minimum viable product (MVP).

For a successful implementation, you don’t need to wait six months down the line to realize the platform’s value. Christine suggests “starting with an MVP and then building on that from a best-practice perspective.” This MVP approach allows for an iterative process, providing quick wins, and maintaining momentum, all while gradually introducing end users to the new system.

Lesson 4: Break down silos in IT

IT departments are often structured in silos, each responsible for a different set of apps, systems, or tasks. This division can create hurdles during the implementation process, particularly when introducing a comprehensive platform like ServiceNow.

One significant challenge in implementing ServiceNow is dealing with these silos within IT. Christine emphasizes the need for breaking down these barriers to ensure smooth implementation. She notes, “It’s really trying to bring everyone together and get on that common process and get agreement.”

In the process of breaking down silos, the key lies in balancing the three core elements: people, process, and technology. Without the right combination of skilled people, streamlined processes, and advanced technology, your implementation may struggle to deliver the desired results. So, a focus on fostering collaboration among different IT teams and streamlining processes is fundamental for successful technology implementation.

Lesson 5: Analytics junkies rejoice—the data playground is open

In today’s data-driven world, ServiceNow offers a treasure trove of data and analytics capabilities. Yet, many ServiceNow customers fail to fully harness this potential.

ServiceNow’s extensive data capabilities, including its robust reporting features, can provide deep insights into your workflows and the effectiveness of your ServiceNow instance. But this is often overlooked during implementation. As an example, Christine offers, “Here’s how we’ve improved mean time to resolution by integrating with ‘event’ and predicting outages, before our customers are coming to us and telling us that something is broken.” She encourages companies to make the best use of this data for improved service delivery and performance measurement.

Charting a smoother course in your ServiceNow expedition

With Christine’s real-life experiences and expert insights, overcoming ServiceNow implementation challenges becomes more attainable. It’s not just about knowing the system’s capabilities: It’s about understanding the nuances of the implementation process. Christine’s lessons underscore the importance of strong governance, the need to resist over-ambition, the value of starting small, the call to break down silos, and the power of leveraging data.

It’s kind of like learning to juggle: You start with one ball, not five—unless you want a face full of clown shame.

In all these lessons, one aspect underlies successful implementation: effective organizational change management. Implementing a platform like ServiceNow is not just about introducing a new tool: It’s about bringing a significant change in how your organization operates.

Change management ensures that this transition happens smoothly, minimizing disruption and resistance from the team members. It involves preparing your organization for the new workflows and systems, training users, and managing their transition from old practices to new ones. This process, when executed correctly, results in better acceptance of the new system and maximizes the benefits of your ServiceNow implementation.

We’re with you for what comes next

You're working in a rapidly shifting environment.

Global dynamics, AI advancements, heavy competition–the only certainty is change.

We get it. And we’re here to help you harness the full potential of ServiceNow to simplify transformation.

Let's navigate the future together.


Smooth ServiceNow: Learn from experts

Master ServiceNow implementation with Cask’s insights to avoid common pitfalls and harness full potential with expert strategies. Elevate your ServiceNow journey with our proven techniques.

We’re with you for what comes next

You're working in a rapidly shifting environment.

Global dynamics, AI advancements, heavy competition–the only certainty is change.

We get it. And we’re here to help you harness the full potential of ServiceNow to simplify transformation.

Let's navigate the future together.


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Cask expertise, on tap, to understand and align to your unique challenges and desired outcomes. Our team will contact you to better understand your needs and set up a meeting with Cask advisors, aligned to your goals.


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