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Prototyping – build functional platform on ServiceNow


14 September 2018 / ServiceNow UX & UI

Authors: Steven Ormston - ServiceNow Account Manager, Agnieszka Milecka - Marketing Manager

Prototyping is a development stage to enhance the development of your ServiceNow instance or any other piece of software with a visualization of a target feature, dashboard or entire system. Proved to do wonders in the automotive industry, it’s does the same in software development projects, where it helps to:

  • Define the business need that underlies your new development project (a new feature implementation),
  • Identify available fixes to the existing feature handicaps.

ServiceNow prototyping – when your feature needs it

ServiceNow features are a great example where prototyping comes in handy. Examples?

Case

Consider an organisation struggling to manage the process of recording time cards for employees. Their team is working from several locations on a number of different contracts or tasks. Historically, this business handled these on paper and manually.

Superficial improvements

As time and technology progressed, the company favored an Excel-based approach for collecting the data. The process required to calculate costs for the associated employee wages and/or customer invoices. Now a much more sophisticated solution is in place that integrates with the payroll system and CRM systems for invoicing.

The past process

The use of a technological solution doesn’t mean that the process is efficient and effective:

  1. The individual employees use excel to record the hours worked,
  2. A data analyst inputs this information into an application for assigning the hours to the relevant contract,
  3. Once complete, the finance department gets an email with the hours for the worker’s wages that require processing,
  4. They’re always waiting for the input, putting pressure on each department. There is too much room for human error and dependency on individual people. In addition, the excel sheets become incorrectly formatted and version control is often difficult to manage.

On the way to a new solution

The organisation wants to streamline and automate this process. After gathering the requirements and understanding the existing process, the project team starts to get a clearer picture of the AS IS and the TO BE processes. The gap in the middle is going to be the project for a new solution.

The challenge

The team seems to have an understanding of this gap and the requirements, but they don’t know exactly how the new solution should look like and how it will perform.

The solution – prototyping or PoC

A prototype or proof of concept (PoC) can be a suitable way to communicate this to a customer. By creating an interactive and clickable visualization of the system based on the the requirements, the project team can demonstrate how it can look like, how users interact with the interface etc.

This visualization means that the customer will find it much easier to provide feedback. The suggestions shared will be a recipe for a better end product.

Prototyping pros & cons in the ServiceNow environment

Prototyping is an additional stage to include in your delivery process and takes time and costs. However, this one is only a superficial cost, and as at the end of the day prototyping facilitates the development process, helps reduce the number of iterations, prevents nonfunctional delivery and poor user experience.

Yet, either in the ServiceNow environment or any other, prototypes don’t suit every project or business objectives. Here are pros and cons of using this tool.

PROS
  • Great for visualization,
  • Effective for finalizing UI design,
  • Useful if stakeholder’s requirements are ambiguous or vague,
  • Support brand-new concepts,
  • Smaller investment to test if an idea is worth an investment,
  • Demonstrates the solution possibilities.
CONS
  • Requires additional resources,
  • Its limited functionality could alter the perception of the finished solution,
  • Can increase expectations for the project delivery schedule (Users see something working after a few days, so they expect the implementation to follow the same pace),
  • The project team can focus too much on one aspect and miss the main objective, or the bigger picture.

Prototype ServiceNow features or not

Overall, prototyping is a useful stage to assist a project team during the design phase. It can be very effective for the agreement of the design elements. The added layer of visualization is perfect for showing users what they can expect from a new solution. However, it shouldn’t be automatically included for every project as it can absorb unnecessary time and budget.

If the requirements are functional and clearly understood, it’s useless to spend additional time on prototyping. One of the advantages of developing on a platform like ServiceNow, is the configuration and time spent producing a prototype isn’t wasted. This work can often be reused and just extended during the main project.

 

Learn more about prototyping

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