Governing your ServiceNow platform

Building and managing your production pipeline

Adam Hutton

Adam Hutton

Director, ServiceNow Certified Master Architect, KPMG LLP

+1 646-265-4350

Part two in a multipart series on governing your ServiceNow platform.

While a seemingly simple task, defining what you want to govern and identifying your customers, understanding what they want, and deciphering how to provide it is a significant accomplishment. Knowing that this process will require continual monitoring and updating, it’s now time to plan for and manage the demand it will create and centralize the architecture through a center of excellence (COE). Although these are different in nature and focus, it is critical to implement them together, as they rely on one another.

Channel and prioritize demand

For applications already on the ServiceNow platform, you will need to manage their enhancements, defects, and bug reports.

For ideation, including new features, enhancements, process changes, and more, prioritizing the intake will be critical, as it will most likely be a big part of the overall demand flow.

For new services being offered, there will be additional demands including developing completely new applications, replacing legacy tools while re-envisioning how they add value to their respective business processes, designing workflows that help with specific business demands, and so on. Ultimately, it will mean requests from a whole new set of business stakeholders.

So, how do you vet and manage all of this?

Start by developing a plan that prioritizes all of the different competing demands. This is especially important when you have fixed capacity that takes time to ramp up. Then prioritize, funnel, and manage work using ServiceNow Information Technology (IT) Business Management. It provides a formal demand channel that enables you to size projects based on value, build return-on-investment requirements, know what’s in the pipeline, and manage ideation. It also includes a starter portal where stakeholders can submit ideas, which can be expanded on as the process matures.

Demand management design factor: Funding and building applications

There’s a real tendency for organizations to secure budget funding with this mindset: “When I get the budget, I’m going to build out every available feature because I don’t know if there will be budget for it again.”

There’s a better way—dynamic investment in the technology portfolio. By funding enterprise initiatives in a value-based, agile way, enterprise software apps can be built, maintained, and evolved over time, bringing further value to the business. It means taking a minimal viable product approach. Where and when Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are met, funding is made available to make continued enhancements to the product. To read more about dynamic investment planning, click here.

Centralize and consolidate architecture and design

An integral part of analyzing demand is knowing what has already been built, what solutions are complimentary, and which need to be enabled by a core capability.

As a common platform, ServiceNow brings many benefits to the table. First and foremost is sharing key data and use cases across applications. By linking applications, you can achieve a better, broader business outcome, reduce redundant efforts, and ideally deliver higher-quality solutions for users.

As individuals make requests on the ServiceNow platform, be sure you take advantage of this. Avoid the “short order cook” method of software development—building everything as a one off. It results in point solutions that can’t interact and take advantage of each other.

This is where a focused COE comes into play. A dedicated COE can oversee this demand from a functional and technical perspective and set governing criteria, policies, and standards for how the platform will be used. It can also set the standard for how instances are used, security is managed, operational activities are monitored, and own the technical relationship with ServiceNow, when coordination with or escalations to operations is needed.

COE: Setting standards for development, documentation, testing

Your COE can also set standards for how solutions are built and where the information about them is produced and maintained, making maintenance easier. One way to do this is with the native components of the ServiceNow platform. A knowledge base can record documentation; the configuration management database can record information about each custom application created—its ownership, dependencies, integrations, and support paths. The deployment pipeline can even be automated with hooks for automated test coverage.

The COE can provide information and incentives for development teams to use and have the enforcement authority to reject out-of-guidance solutions. The aim is to enforce just enough supporting artifacts to ensure high-quality solutions meet their espoused value and maintain it over time.

Communication and transparency are key to managing demand and an effective COE

Attempting to manage incoming demand with unclear decision-making methods invites alternative solutions or management escalation paths to implement a must-have feature. Clearly documenting how demand management decision-making is done enables requestors to see how decisions are made. Yes, there is always the risk of someone “juking the stats” to make their feature demands rise above others, but these can quickly be mitigated by peer reviews and easy-to-track metrics tied to outcomes—such as those defined in OKRs.

For a COE, their communication path comes in their definition of available services, clear and easy to find and follow governance standards, and documentation. A readily searchable knowledge base of technical practices and requirements, a framework for developers to follow, and clarity in where and how these will be enforced all serve to communicate what the COE provides and expects.

Governance key; time to get started on yours

By defining the ServiceNow platform governance beyond IT service management, you can expand its use, plan for demand, consistently architect and design apps and features for reusability, identify common features and components, and centralize the linking of apps for a broader business outcome.

For further insights, visit our Powered solutions to learn how KPMG can help govern your ServiceNow platform. 

In my next blog, we’ll discuss test coverage, deployment, release, go-lives, and operational support on the ServiceNow platform.