ServiceNow Implementations Done Right Part 2: Gaining Business Insight with CMDB

5.25.17 By John Duchock

What happens when you build an IT system that doesn't contribute to your business? Nothing. No one uses it, and the part of the business it was intended to improve remains stagnant (as does your investment). 


Today, we're going to elaborate on aligning ServiceNow with your business so you can achieve a faster return.


My name is John. Over the following weeks, I’m going to help you make better choices when implementing ServiceNow. Because when you plan for months, and reallocate your IT budget around a new ITSM cloud system - it better work.

In part one, we discussed what I wish I knew from the start about implementing ServiceNow, framed around a question: How can we be certain that we're building the right instance for our business? We explored the change advisory board (CAB), establishing critical success factors (CSFs), how to avoid snowflakes, and what to expect from an implementation partner. Check out part one here.



Why do we bring it up, as if you wouldn't align the system to your business?


Because it's easy to fall off the rails when building a system that affects so many people and departments. If one person decides to build out ServiceNow according to their specific vision, or if your technology partner forges ahead without considering the business impact, you end up with an instance that no one wants to use, or have no insight into how it's used.


In 2014, at Knowledge14, Sony Pictures Entertainment presented two ServiceNow implementations. The first failed because the CMDB was “fast-tracked without proper stakeholder engagement, project planning, design and data cleanup.” Sony learned from the experience to deliver a successful implementation the second time around; the lesson being to plan ahead to align the instance with their business needs.


When defined, Sony’s critical success factors had nothing to do with technology. They had everything to do with timing, adoption, and planning, which included:  

  • Stakeholder engagement and Change Management
  • Securing adequate funding
  • Structured processes
  • Defining the long-term support model

How did Sony eventually drive a successful implementation? When implementing ServiceNow (we’ll be addressing first-time implementations and fixing failed ones), you deal with mothballing legacy systems, change management, data management, and cultural buy-in. 


With the right plan and advice, you enter a world where IT projects go right, where decisions are based on facts, and where IT and the business move forward at the same pace, and on budget. By deploying a feedback cycle, and establishing a proven implementation process, you will have ServiceNow implemented faster, and working on your terms.


But you still need to make a business case for ServiceNow, which is why it's important to ask:



How can I Detect Which Change Caused a Spike in Incidents?


Two ITSM principles, incident management and change management, are the back bone of any successful IT organization. Incidents and changes are linked, but determining causality is difficult.


People often find themselves having to implement changes to resolve multiple incidents, and scramble to figure out the connection. It’s usually after the realization that they can’t connect the dots when someone asks, “what change caused a spike in incidents?” The question is always asked. It could be during the first implementation or a year later, but it’s asked.


The answer is an often-overlooked ITSM practice; configuration management, and setting up a configuration management database (CMDB). CMDB shows the relationship between changes and incidents. It enables you to start quantifying services and (let’s not forget about the CFO) attach dollars to them.


This is where you can start relating how incidents and service activities affect your business line.


You can start to connect everything with CMDB. It’s important to know, “if I reboot a server tonight to install a patch, what else will it affect?” When an application depends on a certain database and server, you know that all your maintenance is tied together.



Aligning Business with IT During an Implementation – It’s Never Too Late


Rarely did I ever see an implementation partner try to align the IT solution with the way the business is being driven, or the strategic direction the business is going in. They were sometimes in conflict with each other.


It could take years after that initial engagement to align everything. “How much down time on this service is going to cost my business?”


The construction of a CMDB shows which pieces of hardware support which business service. The business service is key in identifying what they do.


An airline, for example, can have twenty business services including boarding a plane and selling a ticket. These activities support the business, and have nothing to do with IT.


IT’s role is transformed to facilitate business services. They begin to associate hardware/software components with business services. Through CMDB, we understand how the tech directly supports a business objective or service. CMDB provides leaders with a bigger picture, and helps determine if one is building a snowflake, or providing true value to the business.



The Power of Co-Authorship


Leadership teams need to empower employees to co-author the solution, make decisions, and structure checkpoints. Through co-authorship, you get cultural buy-in, and reduce onboarding friction. It’s going to appear to the employees, that “management cares enough to bring me into these conversations, and that my input is valued.” Cultural buy-in is inherent when you co-author the final product. Once the solution is built, you have the foundation established to define a level of ownership and accountability for managing the platform. Here are a few ways to involve your service desk manager in ServiceNow meetings:

  • Designing forms
  • Designing dashboards and functions
  • Determining what scheduled reports should be sent to which people

You can easily identify process owners (such as service desk managers for support processes) because they have most of the input into processes that make you successful. If the process is not successful, the owner is available to explain why.


Establish ownership and accountability early, through the build time, to make sure it’s sustained through run time.


In our next post, we'll discuss how to champion the internal expansion and onboarding effort.


Don't want to wait? Download your free copy of the full white paper now:

How to Build (or Fix) a ServiceNow Instance That's Right for Your Business 

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