5 practical tips for effective ServiceNow implementation

6 June 2022| 4 min|Michał Sadowski - Senior ServiceNow Solution Consultant


Before implementation

ServiceNow is a powerful technology platform that can drive digital transformation and process automation in large organizations. But implementation can also be frustrating and cumbersome. Based on my experience as an implementation consultant, you need to do these 5 things if you want to increase the odds of ServiceNow project success. Here are 5 tips for successful implementation of ServiceNow – the best practices you need to think about before starting your journey with ServiceNow platform.

Set clear business goals 

It’s time to begin, and let’s do it with the first step – business goals. When I join new ServiceNow implementation engagements, I like to ask myself some questions, and the most important ones are: “We need to consider, what are we doing here”? What do we want to accomplish by investing everybody’s time and effort into the project that will likely take months and cost millions? 

You have to answer this and the funny thing is, it is not always clear how.  

What is not so funny is that when it comes to a successful ServiceNow implementation, without clear business goals everybody involved in the project – without a single exception – struggles. And this is to be expected. The truth based on many case studies is: you don’t know where you’re going (at least roughly), you will (most likely) never get there. 

Before thinking about implementing ServiceNow, it’s time to approach what you want and what you have to accomplish. Think out of the box. Answering this question, ideally in measurable ways, makes it easier to select the ServiceNow product and services, including the right license package, assemble the team that is fit for the job, plan timelines and distribute tasks, destined to ensure a successful ServiceNow implementation.

Put boundaries on the scope

Scope creep is a real thing. It doesn’t come out of nowhere. It drains resources. It derails and frustrates teams. It delays go-lives. You don’t want to have these struggles in your project, definitely not in a major way. 

That’s why scope boundaries are needed. Ideally, they should flow from clear business goals. But they are more specific.  Your business goal may be migrating from your legacy ticketing solution to IT Service Management in ServiceNow within 3 months.  

Your scope should specify whether migrating existing tickets from a ServiceNow implementation of the old tool to the ServiceNow is part of the project. Or which ITSM processes (incident, change, problem, service request) will be part of implementing ServiceNow. Or whether Knowledge management is in scope too. And so on. 

The more you explicitly include and exclude from the scope, the easier it will be for everybody, including your ServiceNow implementation vendor and platform support team, to estimate their effort and manage ServiceNow delivery without drama. 

Put together the team  

I guess this is my personal favorite from all best practices to ensure the right ServiceNow implementation. IT systems are about technology, about the platform, but, out of the question, they are also the people.  People who collaborate to define business goals and scope. People who bring technical expertise to configure, customize and test your ServiceNow instance. People who drive and embed the change in your organization. People from the IT department, responsible for IT processes. And finally people who will be using ITSM applications, Customer Service Management, Project Portfolio Management, GRC, HR Service Delivery, Safe Workplace Suite, Event Management or whatever ServiceNow solution or product that you are planning to roll out. 

The quality of the team that you put together on your side (especially process owners and product owners) and the quality of the team your ServiceNow implementation vendor will bring to the table will to a large degree define the quality of a ServiceNow implementation. 

One fatal mistake I’ve seen is dismissing this good old human aspect of technical implementations based on the assumption that “technology will simply take care of itself” or “developers will just do it”. As disappointing as it sounds, we’re not there yet, not even close, and strong teams are key to successful ServiceNow projects.  

You’ll find even more practical tips how to avoid pitfalls in implementing ITSM ServiceNow here.

Follow the implementation process 

And strong teams work much more effectively if they operate within some framework. Let’s call it the implementation process of ServiceNow. It’s simply a sequence of steps, to some degree predictable and repeatable across ServiceNow projects, that provide guardrails for everyone involved, from business stakeholders to solution architects to quality assurance engineers. 

ServiceNow is promoting its own methodology called Now Create, based on years of the most important customer experiences, best practices, successes and failures of the platform.  

The most successful implementation of the platform vendors embrace it but also enhance it with a lower-level process for SDLC (software development lifecycle), team collaboration mechanisms (like Agile) and other practices that provide structure to what is often a very dynamic, non-linear process of implementation and embedding ServiceNow as an ITSM, ESM, CSM, ITOM, PPM, GRC or HR solution.

Embed this change 

One of the halves of the battle is getting the technical part. We need to think about what the other half is. The right answer is: getting the intended users to make the new tool – ServiceNow – their own.  
One thing to consider is if employees really visit the new Service Portal and use the Service Catalog. Do they see value in ServiceNow? Do business approvers log in to the mobile app to approve requests, changes or contracts on the go? Do team leads pay attention to SLAs to drive efficiency of their teams? Are support agents more productive and less frustrated now that they have dashboards, reports and Performance Analytics to make their work easier? Are their business needs completely fulfilled? Are they satisfied with usage of the platform?

It’s not enough to say that these things work – technically. Well, it may be enough to sign off the completion of the project. You know – tick this box. But in the bigger picture, for the ServiceNow product, like ITSM, PPM or a custom app, to be successfully implemented, it needs to be backed up with organizational change management.

How to do it? This means user adoption support, training and communication, documentation and sharing, usage monitoring, feedback management and continuous improvement. All this is needed to make the platform truly transform the organization. And the best value is that this job is never complete (or easy) as organizations evolve and so should their people, processes, services and tools, including ServiceNow.

Another thing worth your consideration is platform’s user experience. We gathered in ebook 7 tips that you should take a closer look at while improving your platform UX.

Prepare for ServiceNow implementation

To sum up, 5 things you should remember when implementing ServiceNow: make sure people will use it, build realistic scope, set clear business goals, gather a strong team of people who will be project ambassadors across your organization. Don’t forget that you don’t have to know it all. We are here to prepare you for the journey and make this process smooth and successful. Prepare for implementation with a partner who cares.