IT Portfolio Management: what has ServiceNow to offer?

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I’m currently implementing a form of IT Portfolio Management for a customer. Unfortunately this is not done in ServiceNow but with another tool. As my previous experience with ServiceNow was very positive, I was curious how this tool would perform out-of-the-box (OOB) for IT Portfolio Management.

What is IT Portfolio Management?

There are a lot of definitions out there that describe IT Portfolio Management.
Gartner: Gartner defines portfolio management as a shift from the practice of using a single integrated application for the support of business requirements to using a collection of applications, technologies and services to create a system that addresses the unique requirements of an organization and leverages best-of-breed opportunities.
Wikipedia: IT portfolio management is the application of systematic management to large classes of items managed by enterprise Information Technology (IT) capabilities. Examples of IT portfolios would be planned initiatives, projects, and ongoing IT services (such as application support).
To me IT Portfolio Management deals with making sure investments in IT are supporting the needs of the business. This should be done by focusing on areas as planning, delivering and evaluating the IT Assets that are used by the business. IT assets typically are Services, Applications and Technologies.

What has ServiceNow to offer?

Searching the ServiceNow Wiki on portfolio management I encountered two areas dealing with portfolio management: Service Portfolio Management.

Project Portfolio Management

The Project Portfolio Management functionality provides the ability to create projects which can be linked to tasks and resources. When linking multiple tasks to a project it is useful to use a Gantt chart to understand the possible complexity of the project and dependencies between tasks. ServiceNow is able to provide this in a very user friendly way, including the possibility to drill-down to lower levers within the data.


A Project Portfolio can be created to combine and manage a set of projects. Based on a pre defined set of variables it is possible to see the status of the projects within the portfolio. With this information it should be possible to move a project into the right direction. These variables need to be maintained manually.

Service Portfolio Management

The Service Portfolio Management functionality enables the creation of Business services, tracking its availability and reporting on their status.
Service offerings can be created to provide different service levels of business service. For example two types of desktop support, one for standard and the other for non-standard systems. You can track the availability of these services by defining Service Commitments to the offerings. Based on service outages the availability of the Business Services is automatically calculated by the system.

What could still be missing?

ServiceNow does provide functionality that can be used to perform parts of IT Portfolio Management.

  • The Project Portfolio Management functionality covers most of the delivery of IT Assets to the Business. Adding some functionality around the tracking of benefit realization after a project has been closed would be beneficial. At the beginning of a project you define some benefits in your Business Case you want to achieve with the project. After the realization of a project you want to know if you have fulfilled the benefits you defined at the start of the project.
  • The evaluation part of Portfolio Management is covered by the Service Portfolio Management functionality which does provide a good base to track the performance of Business Services. As ServiceNow is highly adaptable this functionality might also be usable to track the performance of applications.
  • From a planning perspective you want to prioritize your IT investments. Typically you want to know when and how new business capabilities, required by the business (like the support of a new Business Process) need to be supported by IT. This is currently not possible in ServiceNow. A Roadmap is a piece of functionality that can be very useful in this situation. It provides an overview of new functionality/services that will be delivered over the coming years. Input is coming from Business Requirements or from Vendor Roadmaps (for example: when a new version of Oracle Primavera is available and with which functionality). This overview will be the input for your project planning based on the priorities set.

You can argue if IT Portfolio Management should be part of ServiceNow. I think it should as it determines the lifecycle of the IT Assets you manage in ServiceNow by investing and disinvesting in them. In that why ServiceNow already deals with part of IT Portfolio Management.

Any experience out their?

As this is my first dive in the Portfolio Management functionality in ServiceNow I wonder if people are using ServiceNow to support their IT Portfolio Management process and what their experiences are. Is it done by heavy customizing the tool or by using its OOB functionality in a clever way.

Please contact me if you have any experience or thoughts on this matter on .img[at].img.

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