Your Quick Start May Be a False Start

Your Quick Start May Be a False Start

Faster, cheaper ServiceNow implementation sounds like a great idea, right?

Sure, right up until the upgrade cycle—when you find out you have to keep paying every time.

If you’re already saddled with code debt from an implementor’s update-set-based Quick Start, we feel your pain. Many a customer has traveled this hazardous route before you. Take heart, because you’ll get through it.

On the other hand, if you haven’t yet implemented ServiceNow, you can view this as a cautionary tale to the wise, or just skip the “quick” detour and get it done right the first time with Cask.

What’s the problem with Quick Start implementation?

It seems that in the rush to deliver faster, cheaper implementations, many integrators create update sets that occasionally “break” during upgrades, causing customers to incur remediation time and expense.

Here’s the deal: Many so-called “Quick Start” program-update sets are rife with code debt when you get them. Oftentimes, the program is poorly documented or never updated by the implementation partner on your system.

(Note: While Cask has never taken the Quick Start approach, some of our employees have worked for such firms and witnessed the sausage-making firsthand.)

Getting out of code debt

Keeping update sets current with each ServiceNow version while managing code debt is a real issue for partners. The challenge is that when ServiceNow versions change every six months or so, it becomes impractical to maintain the testing and documentation of the update sets.

What happens is that as code debt mounts up, Quick Start ends up being used for a smaller and smaller percentage of the implementation.

Occasional efforts to refresh Quick Start have been become infrequent because of the inherent difficulty. It’s not uncommon to see update sets used in Fuji implementations that were originally written for Calgary.

If you originally installed a Quick Start, the code used by the integrator was likely a few releases behind (at least in part). Now how far behind the platform are those update sets?

It could be that you’re fine, after all. Nevertheless, you may want to check the documentation to be sure you’re able to take advantage of new ServiceNow features, functions, and best practices as the platform continues to evolve.

C’mon, is Quick Start really such a problem?

Yes. It’s BIG. There are hundreds of customers out there with this code hanging like a “sword of Damocles” over their ServiceNow instances.

Many large implementation partners have used update-set-based Quick Start packages to help their customers avoid configuration costs ITSM, HR Case and other modules.

In case you’re wondering if Quick Start will take down your instance, you can relax. Of course not. In most cases, it’s just a maintenance pain causing some annoyance or additional cost. But costs can add up and adverse effects mount over time.

Is there a quick solution to the Quick Start problem?

It turns out there’s more than one solution. You understand your system, your users, the teams you support, your backlog, and most importantly your budget. Now take another look to better understand your ACE report. Then talk to your implementation partner or ServiceNow about your instance.

If you have a ServiceNow Roadmap and a Platform Governance team, engage with them. If not, consult the ServiceNow/Cask eBook on Technical Governance of the ServiceNow Platform for some guidance.

Questions to ask about your ServiceNow platform and whether your configuration limits your capabilities:

  • Is my process the current best practice and is it configured correctly?
  • Has ServiceNow released a Quick Start” update set with our configuration?
  • How much time was spent in remediation due to update sets in our last upgrade?

By leveraging your governance model you can examine your update sets holistically to determine whether the problem is small enough to handle incrementally (as a part of a backlog of enhancements) or a larger problem.

In the event of a larger problem with real impact, try looking for a related initiative that could include reimplementation within it, or find economies of scale to make the resolution less costly.

Concluding the search for a solution

The idea of “Good, Fast, or Cheap has become a kind of Holy Grail that everyone chases when looking for a solution to enhance our businesses. After your ServiceNow platform has in place for a few years, the goal should be to run it efficiently (cheap) and effectively (good).

If you have multiple issues (like old update sets that bog you down with every upgrade) you may want to consider a fresh restart with greenfield solution of reimplementation, rather than trying to tackle each issue piecemeal. Troubleshooting each problem individually can turn into a squishy cleanup project that never ends.

Make the kind of impact that turns heads and allows you to show your ServiceNow implementation as a business asset instead of a cost. Try scoped applications and a clean, new ServiceNow Portal as a partial reimplementation. Use your efforts to become a catalyst and reap benefits across the entire platform.


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  • Required baseline processes for success
  • Technical best practices and tips
  • Links to related documents and articles

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