Reporting – Average Time Metrics

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For reporting purposes, averages are always good. They can help you find out if you are performing at a reasonable level and hitting your SLA goals or if you’re missing your SLA goals. Out-of-the-box, Service Now provides some nice metrics and the ability to create custom metric definitions.
However, sometimes they just don’t cut it.
For example, the average time spent per change phase could be a very nice metric.
Unfortunately, the standard “Field value duration” method that ServiceNow provides out-of-the-box, does not always perform the way you’d like. For instance, when you want to measure the average time per change phase and the record returns to phase 1 after moving to phase 2, a second metric instance will be created for phase 1. This effectively lowers the average time spent in phase 1 and thus results in a false average. A second concern with the “Field value duration” method is that you can’t measure the time spent in the last phase (because the last phase is never closed).
In order to measure the average time, we need to create two separate metrics.
We start with the first metric. Please note that if you choose type “Script calculation”, you should still carefully consider which field you use. The metric will only be triggered when the selected field is changed and the selected field has to be audited.


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ServiceNow and Nolio, a match made in Heaven?

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A few months ago, a customer told me about Nolio and what it can do. This was related to a study they were doing to try to find a way to automate all pre-defined tasks in their Change Management and Request Management catalogue. They tried to find this possibility in ServiceNow Runbook and compared it with Nolio, but they found Nolio to be an alternative providing them with capabilities even beyond the automation they wanted to achieve!

I thought this was worth some further investigation and below you will find a short introduction of Nolio and the product:

1. Nolio ASAP

ASAP is the ‘development’ area of Nolio, where the design of the ‘release’ process will take place. Any pre-defined process to release, change, create or better said: “do something” will be put in a worklflow process. The process is totally disconnected from the actual machines it has to run on, it will only focus on the kind or type of machine that is used (e.g. MySQL database or Active Directory etc).

2. Nolio Release Operation Center

Operation Center is where engineers can select, start and control the pre-defined scenarios from the ASAP area. Here they can select against which machines they might want to run scenarios and what kind of input they would like to give (parameters, software versions etc).

These two parts are run via a Nolio server.
This is also where the scenarios are stored and where they are run from.

In a ‘default setup’ this already sounds as a powerful tool, but what is possible if we bring ServiceNow in the game?
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Adding meta tags on task records

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On the Knowledge base form in SNC you are able to put META data in Knowledge item without being visible for the ESS user, by making the meta field visible. This is handy if you want to be able to use search words. From the WIKI: “Meta tags are hidden from the end user and are not part of the text of the article itself, but they return a positive “hit” in a search. For example, if you added the word ” computer” as a meta tag in a particular article, then a search for computer would find the article even if the word never actually appears in the article’s text.

In my opinion, meta tags are not only handy in the knowledge base but in incident, change, problem (task level) etc, as well. As I experienced myself that searching in incidents, problems and changes might be helpful.

The solution is quite simple.

Step 1: Add a string text field on task level

Adding a field to the task table is the first step. Call it ‘Meta’ or whatever you like.

Now the task form looks like this:


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Reference qualifiers

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When you start making changes in ServiceNow you’ll run into something called a reference qualifier.

We are all familiar with the standard and advanced reference qualifiers. The other day I ran into a situation where I needed to generate a different query string based on the value returned by a script include. And thus the complex reference qualifier was born.

1. Standard reference qualifier
This is used when the filter criteria are fixed.
Example:
active=true

2. Advanced reference qualifier
This is used when the filtering has to be dynamic and is usually combined with a script include that returns an encoded query string.
Example:
[cc lang=”javascript”]
javascript:BackfillAssignmentGroup()
[/cc]

3. Complex reference qualifier
Uses the power of javascript evaluation with the functionality of a script include.

Example:
[cc lang=”javascript”]
javascript:var a = myFunction(); “active=true”+ (a ? ‘^sys_idIN’+a : ”)
[/cc]

The function myFunction() returns an array of sys_ids that the current user has access to. The result is stored in variable ‘a’. The next line, after the semi colon, creates the encoded query string. The brackets around the ternary operator are needed here.

With a = ‘’, the query becomes: “active=true”
With a = ‘id1,id2’, the query becomes: “active=true^sys_idINid1,id2”

You can easily add more logic to this script, as long as the last line of your script creates the encoded query string. Have fun with your own complex reference qualifiers.

Final thoughts: I realise that when creating an application “simple” rules over “complex” and in this case I had the choice to create a new script include to return the correctly formatted output, but that also meant more code to maintain.

If you have any questions you can reach me on .img[at].img.