Using ServiceNow to support non-ITIL processes – a practical sample

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ServiceNow – is it the process or the platform?

ServiceNow is sexy! ServiceNow is flexible! ServiceNow can do everything!

ServiceNow sells. ServiceNow is magic…..

ServiceNow is booming: it is growing very rapidly and with such an ease, that it looks as if the sky is the limit. How is that possible? What is it with ServiceNow that allows customers to think that they can do ‘everything’ and that the benefit over any other product is huge? Is it the process? The ‘not so sexy’ and ‘we always complain’ area we call Service Management with the very well known and rather strict ‘ITIL’ process? I think that would be impossible. Is it something else?

I think it is not the process that we put in the tool. One could even argue that other products have a better grip on process.
I think that it is the platform.
And that platform can be used to harness a lot more than only Service Management processes.

I will try to give you a short overview of the possibilities to expand the use of ServiceNow, or better said: the Glide Platform.
This Glide Platform is the basis of all possibilities within ServiceNow, the marketed product.
Effectively, ServiceNow is the Glide Platform with many useful ‘pre-configured’ applications in it and can be used to drive your Service Management organization.

The Glide Platform allows you to create any table with any kind of customization you want.

You can use this to register stuff and information and you can automate everything around it. The engines used to send email, schedule processing, control form behavior and lay-out give the setup a very rich feeling.
If you would add to that the fact that this can all (!) be done from within the web browser GUI, you understand that it is almost too good to be true.

Some examples should complete this plea.

Custom process

The ITIL process has a pre-defined approach, with certain ticket types (incident, problem, change) and this process is in ServiceNow in the out of the box setup.
Now, if you would want to follow a custom process for a different focus area (production problem follow up instead of IT issues), you could follow the standard setup, but you could just as well create your own!
One customer I work with uses ServiceNow to support their own Problem Solving Disciplines – which in fact is like a derivative of the 8D Problem Solving method.

It is much like a main “Problem” with separate process steps, being a small process in itself.
The process followed 8 steps and the outcome would be a monitored solution to the problem. It was called the “PCCSTRAIM” process, because of the different phases.

  1. Problem;
  2. Containment;
  3. Cause;
  4. Solution;
  5. Test;
  6. Release;
  7. Available;
  8. Implement;
  9. Monitor.

For this, we used the basic ‘task’ table and created various overflow tables. We then related all the ‘sub-process’ tickets to the ‘header’ and allowed flexible switching from active tasks.
Only if all steps were ‘closed’, the ‘header’ could be closed. Together with date control, notifications and reporting, this process was put in ServiceNow in a 3 month project, servicing around 3000 users with their production issues.

Not ITIL at all, but running really smooth and providing great business support!

Custom registration

Not only process tickets, but also (configuration) items can be stored. This is also something currently illustrated in pre-configured tables (cmdb_ci).
75% of the implementations I have done allow the cmdb tables to be changed and add a few overflow tables to the already impressive portfolio.

Most of the time we think of cmdb items as stuff we can touch (PC, Desk, Airco) or maybe relate to IT (software, script), but what about other ‘things’ (yes, anything/everything)!

We have recently started an initiative to load SAP rules into ServiceNow and maintain them in ServiceNow.
For the customer this is ideal – the SAP control environment doesn’t offer the flexibility ServiceNow offers, and we can now use the Service Catalog and other areas to ‘control’ and ‘validate’ and even change the rules.
This means that ServiceNow is the administration tool for SAP rules and helps processing them against the actual SAP rows!
With ‘normal’ tasks and reporting the irregularities found are communicated to the assignee and corrected.
‘Standard’ ServiceNow meets custom ServiceNow in this setup.

Is it the process or the platform?

I think that it is first the entire platform and, after that, the process.
The platform allows us to do everything we want and the existing process makes it usable, often within a minimal amount of time.
There are many things that you could do with the Glide Platform, the out of the box ServiceNow setup is just an example……

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
You can reach me at rik.burgering@2e2.nl.

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