ServiceNow Governance – Air Traffic Control

ServiceNow Governance – Air Traffic Control

Managing an infinitely configurable platform, which has the capability to meet a significant amount of business and IT requirements, can feel like the job of an air traffic controller. Everyone wants their new application NOW. There are a lot of moving pieces, schedules are tight, and the stress is HIGH.

So how do you move forward? Easy enough! Go crazy, roll out every application you can, as fast as you can, and hope you don’t end up with a poorly managed instance of SharePoint, right?


The notion of citizen developer is stressed as something IT needs to embrace. However, it’s difficult enough to manage your own development, let alone juggle ad-hoc applications that ‘need’ to go to production (Yesterday!), from our citizen developer community.  The answer? That ugly ‘G’ word…Governance.

The sooner you put governance in place in ServiceNow, the less resistance and chaos you will have to endure.

The ServiceNow Platform needs Governance too

“But mom, it’s just a configuration change.”

For some unknown reason, IT tends to treat business applications with more formality than their own internal IT tools. ServiceNow belongs to IT, so IT should be able to just go in and make changes, right?

On the other hand, IT would never make changes to a financially significant business application, without following the correct change management policy and procedure. This fundamental, which has been ingrained into 99% of IT employees, should also be followed when managing ITSM applications, like ServiceNow.

By not having governance around your ServiceNow platform, you can create significant confusion in your organization, from both IT employees and end users. If you make changes directly to your production environment, you could break something in another part of the application, and impact efficiency for that day or even longer. Your ServiceNow platform still has end users, “power users,” and is critical to supporting your business processes. As ServiceNow adoption gains momentum in your organization, it will become equally as important as enterprise email, if not more so.

Think about the configuration change you just made in production. It was just a minor tweak to the incident form right? Try again.

Was that change communicated to all stakeholders? Oops.

Were people trained on that new functionality?  Oops.

Have you had a clone wipe out your citizen developer’s app that she invested her Saturday configuring?  Oops.

It’s time to put some air traffic control in place.


Benefits of Building ServiceNow Governance

Once you have defined these items, you will realize the following benefits:

1. Ease of pain around demand management for the application.  Having defined schedules allows you to easily slot and identify when you can do new development, host internal hack-a-thons, etc.  It’s an awesome product; you’ll always have a demand ‘issue,’ but at least it won’t be as painful as pure chaos and lack of structure. You should be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

2. The ability to say no.  I’ve seen ticket queues with hundreds of aging enhancements, and here’s how this conversation goes down:

Me: Why so many?
Client: We aren’t going to go do ‘that.’
Me: Oh, so why not go close those tickets?
Client: We are afraid of telling the business ‘no.’
Me: Oh, so just leave them hanging?

Better to have governance that people buy into and owners who say yay or nay on things that move forward and things that don’t.  Makes life easy for your ServiceNow queue and your metrics.

3. Maintain Best Practices.  We see clients who are two or even three releases behind.  (You know who you are, and we love you, but let’s upgrade already….You are paying for that functionality).  Your environments will mirror production AND be current.  You will have application owners identified and can reach out to them to do regression testing for the upgrade, define testing schedules, and make commitments to take those upgrades.  Imagine how nice that would be to say: “Yes, Mr. CIO. We are scheduled to take all of that new functionality that Fred Luddy showed you at Knowledge in June.”


4 Steps for Achieving ServiceNow Governance

1. A coordinated effort and formality around ServiceNow administration will go a long way. Start by looking at the ServiceNow release cycle, then determine the level of effort required for regression testing, and the methodology you will utilize to finally upgrade production. During a release cycle, development and configuration activities need to be frozen, update sets should be exported, and a clone of your production environment should be made.

2. Next, you can upgrade your development environment with the latest release. Coordination is critical to the success of managing ServiceNow. By simply planning around the release cycle, you can then plan out new development activities, continuous service improvement projects to existing functionality, and coordinating your citizen developer community.

3. For all of your business line of applications, identify an owner. Establishing an owner for the individual applications will allow you to leverage a decision maker on enhancement requests or process changes specific to that application.

In addition, identify a platform owner. This person will be responsible for making platform related decisions. For example, the branding and coloring of the instances need an independent decision owner. I have seen several end users put in tickets to change their ServiceNow branding colors (one was even a request to turn the instance pink). What would be your rejection path to that ticket, if you didn’t have a single platform owner? Do you just go and make the change? What document says you can’t?  Trust me, it’s ugly when the instance isn’t your approved color.

4. Enter the importance of establishing a ServiceNow Admin guide, the cherry on top of an awesome product, ServiceNow.

    • Establish upfront application release schedules, clone schedules, and upgrade/regression testing schedules.
    • Identify who owns what applications
    • Determine who needs to approve what for enhancements,
    • Define “take and bake” periods, a period in which the end users are able to provide feedback post roll-out of new applications/modules before changes or enhancements are made

Need help creating governance or process guide for ServiceNow?  Hate starting with a blank piece of paper? Call Intreis.  We’ve been there, done that, and are here to help!

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“Life is too short to not say Cheers!” - nicole tate

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Nicole Tate

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