This blog post focusses on ensuring that the foundations put in place during the ServiceNow Initiation and Examination phases remain intact as the project moves to Implementation.
Having invested the time to set up a governance framework and completed informed requirements workshops and design, it’s important to not then lose this advantage as you move into configuring the platform.
Much has already been written about implementation methodologies and there are many approaches that can be taken. The reality is that an implementation is going to be a hybrid of agile and waterfall, usually because there is a fixed deadline or budget where an outcome needs to be delivered but that requirements may not be fully known from the start and will need to be iterated through the implementation.
However, this ability to iterate and be ‘agile’ also brings a risk of scope creep and to lose sight of the expected outcomes set out at the beginning of the project.
Throughout the configuration, the Architect (or a Technical Board) should be assessing new demands and project enhancement based on their alignment with the strategic ServiceNow platform direction and roadmap. Through this function, consideration can also given to benefits realization and the verification of the value that these demands and enhancements will bring to the business.
Additionally, the Architect (and Project Team) can benefit from using ServiceNow system health checks to monitor development against best practice and to check for early signs of customisation and accumulation of technical debt. ServiceNow offer their HealthScan and Quality Clouds also offer their ServiceNow review application and can be used on a regular basis throughout the configuration phase.
By having a mechanism to capture, analyse and agree enhancements coming from the business it will be easier to prevent unexpected increases in technical debt and ensure that any customization to meet a business requirement is thoroughly checked and challenged before being accepted.
User stories are the source of truth of requirements given by the business and the acceptance criteria form the basis of ‘what good looks like’. For the Development Team it is essential that they not only track progress (adopting appropriate agile ceremonies) but also document the details of what has been developed and tested in order to ‘prove’ that the development is consistent with the User Stories. This can include notes of how the unit testing was completed and conversations with stakeholders.
By having this audit trail it is possible to track back through the development and use this as a point of reference if challenged around why the requirement has been configured in a particular way and also to demonstrate that the configuration has been fully tested prior to handing over for any Integration or User Testing.
Once configuration is underway and stakeholders are busy with their day jobs, it can be easy to lose track of the development progress and not everyone will be up to date with what the finished product is starting to look like. This can create gaps in understanding and potentially lead to delays at the user acceptance test (UAT) stage, when the Business will see ServiceNow potentially for the first time and find that it doesn’t meet expectations.
Keeping a high level of engagement, with frequent playbacks and attendance of Sprint Reviews give the ability to ‘fail fast’ and establish if there are genuine gaps to meet a business need. These can be managed and mitigated as required using the support of the Governance Frameworks and Sponsor and whilst might cause short term pain, will protect the integrity of the implementation.
The strength of a great ServiceNow implementation is the drive to change to existing ways of working as enabled by the use of the out of the box workflows and data models. Once requirements are agreed, then efforts need to be quickly turned to ensuring that the required business change takes place in time for the overall ServiceNow go-live.
As part of the project or programme planning, owners and tasks need to be assigned to support user group familiarisation, alignment with the ‘to be’ policies and processes, training and communications. These can be interlinked with the planned configuration activities, with stakeholders being invited to join the Sprint Reviews, attending Demos and ensuring that there are clear communications around progress, dates and expected outcomes.
The objective is to ensure that all stakeholders understand what the new reality is starting to look like from a tool perspective and to gather momentum from within the business to prepare and be ready for the new ways of working.
It’s very difficult to prescribe a perfect ServiceNow configuration. There will always be enhancements and defects to consider as well as incorporating the wider impacts of changes in the business environment, changes in personnel and changes in expectations around what good looks like.
However, some of these points can help overcome some common challenges with ServiceNow implementations and ensure that not only is the configuration aligned with development best practice but the business is also able to make a shift to potentially very different ways of working.
To find out how NWT can help support you on your ServiceNow implementation journey, or if you would like to hear more about our practice. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org we would love to hear from you.
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