Governing your ServiceNow platform: How to get started

Discover ways organizations must define their ServiceNow governance

Adam Hutton

Adam Hutton

Director, ServiceNow Certified Master Architect, KPMG LLP

+1 646-265-4350

From business operations, to HR service delivery, enterprise service portals, and customer support delivery, enterprises are looking for new ways to solve business workflow problems using the ServiceNow platform.

With this increase in demand, ServiceNow platform teams are faced with scaling up to meet those needs—or risk having multiple deployments spin up when the business can’t wait. To address this, organizations must define their ServiceNow governance as it relates to what they want to govern, how they will support it, and deciding what services will be provided.

Define where ServiceNow fits in your enterprise

The first step is to identify how the ServiceNow platform fits into your organization—where it’s used today and the potential it can play in your organization’s future.

Since systems and technology platforms don’t live in isolation, they must interact with, compete against, and complement what is often a web of other platforms that make up a company’s technology ecosystem. Adding to that complexity, many adopters of ServiceNow view it only in the context of their silo—IT, human resources, asset management, customer service, and others.

Regardless of the scenario, for the ServiceNow platform to support any or all of these areas, it needs to be positioned in the context of the other solutions that drive the organization’s application technology landscape across the enterprise. Understanding this is key to positioning ServiceNow, including where it is fit for use and what breadth of services are needed to support it.

Convincing technology owners of the benefits may take some work. However, by finding and engaging the right senior sponsors, enterprise architecture organizations, and IT leadership—who see the potential for an integrated platform—they can empower a platform owner and add influence to winning over technology owners.

This step is essential for your team to outline what it should govern. Components of ServiceNow, including Application Portfolio Management, can help document, track, and maintain this information. The ServiceNow Common Service Data Model (CSDM) provides a reference for how the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) tracks business capabilities tied to the applications supporting them—and any associated capability gaps. 

Define the services you will offer on the platform

Based on where there are the gaps in your current technology landscape and where ServiceNow is a fit, your organization will need to define how much the team wants to support and is able to take on. For example, will you:

  • Provide only production run support or development, testing, and release coordination and execution roles?
  • Staff a group of ServiceNow business analysts and offer internal consulting services?
  • Play an integration or support role for technologies not on but integrated with the ServiceNow platform?

In making these decisions, it’s critical to be realistic in available budget, time, and personnel. You do not want to overcommit to the business what eventually cannot be supported. It’s key to have leadership’s buy-in for a single platform, including involvement in and understanding of the cost and effort. Without it, the net results can be negative—overselling the platform, overcommitting on what the current team can deliver, and missing set expectations.

Once decisions and commitments are made about what your organization will deliver to the business on the ServiceNow platform, it must be transparent about what they will provide based on their knowledge and resourcing and where there will be a gap, which the business will have to support on its own.

Define your service delivery strategy

Most organizations don’t maintain a retainer of ServiceNow business architects, developers, testers, or release coordinators that can be dynamically scaled up and down based on business demand. To deliver the platform in a way that won’t become a “who shouts the loudest gets their app done first,” the method of delivering and scaling must be defined and demand management, business relationship analysts, and project management must be aligned. Access to a network of trusted service providers, which aligns key skills to the services you intend to offer, will be key.

By leveraging capabilities and class models in the ServiceNow CMDB, you can further describe and manage these defined services. As the CMDB is just as much about service design and definition as it is about servers, storage, and other physical service assets in operation.

Moving forward

Governance on the ServiceNow platform starts with being honest about what you want to govern and understanding what you’re delivering, who your customer is, what they want, and how you can provide it.  Once you can articulate this, document it, and publish it to those in the business demanding solutions for their platform needs, you can begin the process of planning and managing the demand.

In my next blog, we’ll discuss how to decipher and define governance scope, once you’ve decided what to offer your enterprise on the ServiceNow platform.