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5 tips for a successful ServiceNow project

Readying yourself ahead of a new ServiceNow project? Here are the key steps to take to ensure your project is a soaring success.

The success of a technology project or, indeed, any project lies in doing your homework. Without the proper planning and preparation, you’re unlikely to see the full return on your investment no matter the power of your chosen platform or solution.

We’ve completed over 500 ServiceNow implementations at FlyForm, and time and again we see the same problems scupper or seriously slow the best-intended projects.

To ensure your upcoming ServiceNow project is a success, we’ve compiled our learnings into five steps to help you prepare for – and keep pace – during your implementation so you get the best results possible.

Getting ready for ServiceNow: A cheat sheet

1. Identify your key players

Isolated projects yield isolated results. Where IT projects were once the domain of the IT team, organisations are quickly discovering that gaining buy-in and stakeholder support from across affected departments makes for much more comprehensive and effective results.

Identifying early on who your key players are is an essential component for success. Ask yourself:

  • Who needs to be involved and from which teams or departments?
  • Which subject matter experts will be part of the project team?
  • Who owns the overall success of the project?
  • Who’s the decision-maker who will provide sign-off to keep things moving?

It’s important to account for things like availability and resourcing so that anyone committed to the project has the time to consistently support it.

‘Consistently’ is the key word here. Projects are often conducted alongside business-as-usual responsibilities – so, if your senior sponsor or SMEs are regularly getting pulled into other work, your project momentum is likely to suffer.

When it comes to who owns the overall success of a project, the assumption is often that this needs to be someone in a technical role. In reality, they don’t need to be technical – they just need the responsibility and authority to issue approvals and avoid any unnecessary slowdown.

2. Do your homework

If you’re to get the most out of ServiceNow, it pays to take the time to understand it, even at a basic level.

Doing so will help your team get to grips with what the platform can do, how it’s best used and how ServiceNow’s terminology relates to your existing processes and project aims.

Every ServiceNow implementation comes with learning credits to help get you started. We recommend getting your project team to complete the Certified System Administrator training as a minimum.

Even if you don’t get the certification, the training will help you understand the terminology and scope of the NOW Platform – which will lead to more informed decisions, better execution and better results.

3. Understand your data landscape

Before you can start to effectively change the way you work, you need to understand the state of your current data landscape.

What assets do you have,? Where are they located/stored? How are they presented and managed, i.e., are they in spreadsheets, stored in the cloud or even written down on good ol’ pen and paper?

Also, consider how your request process works, how data moves within it – and how you’d like it to work in future.

Some things to think about here are:

  • How does the request process work currently?
  • Where do users go to submit a request?
  • What happens after submission?
  • Who needs to approve the request? Is it one person or several and at what stage?
  • What action(s) does an approver need to take?

Our advice: Prepare all your data ahead of the project start date in an Excel spreadsheet so it's ready it for upload into ServiceNow. This will save you A LOT of time vs. coming to project kick-off and then beginning to examine your requirements and the state of your foundational data.

4. Prepare for change

There’s a reason 70% of projects fail to achieve their goals – and it’s poor change management.

If you fail to plan for how people will interact with ServiceNow and support them in adopting new ways of working, then the overall success of your implementation will be limited.

There are three key factors for good change management in a successful project:

  1. There’s strong sponsorship to ensure that the momentum and motivation to change flows from the top and that the right resources are aligned (this ties back into our first point in this blog).
  2. You have strong project management to deliver the technical elements to the timeline and budget.
  3. You have a focus on your people and the way they work.

That last point means you have an understanding of how your people actually work rather than how you think they work. Hence why it’s important to have input from a range of key players early on so you can be confident that the changes are both meaningful AND communicated effectively.

So, think about:

  • Who owns the organisational change in the project? Is it the overall owner or someone else?
  • How will the project and any associated impact be communicated to the affected users?
  • How frequent do these comms need to be?

Understanding how your people use your existing systems will help you better prepare for how ServiceNow’s processes will reflect and integrate with the way you work.

It also helps account for any processes that need to be factored into the implementation, such as any blackout windows where no changes are permitted, or any additional change advisory board approvals that may be required, etc.

5. Think about data migration

Finally, think about your data and what’s going to happen to it during the implementation.

It’s important to note that your ServiceNow partner (ourselves included) likely won’t migrate your data for you, so you need to account for the fact that you’ll have two systems running in tandem for a while.

We recommend taking into account the three key types of data:

  • Transactional data: This is your IT service management data, i.e., incidents, changes, requests, etc.
  • Foundational data: This will be any data related to users, groups, companies, locations, departments as well as group roles and permissions.
  • IT estate data: This covers the software and hardware elements that make up your IT estate. This information is typically recorded and managed in the CMDB (configuration management database).

For each of these, consider:

  • What data do you have?
  • What needs to be migrated?
  • What can be kept or cleaned out?
  • Or are you simply starting afresh?

Understanding your data and what needs to happen to it will help you prepare it accordingly so that when the project gets underway you already know what you’ve got, where, as well as what needs to happen to it.

This will save you a lot of time and effort to do it in advance vs. trying to do it in a hurry because systems are being swapped over.

Got our 5 tips ticked off? Time for the fun to begin…

If you follow the five steps outlined in this blog, we promise you’ll be glad you did.

Having your ducks in a row before a project begins will make for a much smoother workshop experience (as you’ll have all the answers to hand and look super prepared).

It also means you’ll go into the whole process with clear requirements and outcomes that, ultimately, deliver the results and value you want to achieve.

Trust us – it’s much easier to think about what you really want up-front than to try and add it in once the project is underway, or worse, completed.

Like any good relationship, the more you put into it now, the more you’ll get out of it at the end. So, take the time, do your homework and let’s work together to make ServiceNow deliver for your organisation.

By Linda Plant
30th Jan 2024