ServiceNow Implementations Done Right Part 3: How to Champion Onboarding with SMEs & SPOC

6.30.17 By John Duchock


You have an instance defined and are building it, but now you need to sell it. Lean on these key people to move your ServiceNow agenda forward, faster.

Hi there,

My name is John. I'm here 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 CAB, establishing critical success factors (CSFs), how to avoid snowflakes, and what to expect from an implementation partner. Check out part one here.


In the last post, we discussed the power of co-authorship, and aligning your instance to the business via CMDB. Employees need to have a say in building your instance in order for them to embrace it. Through co-authorship, you get cultural buy-in, and reduce onboarding friction.

Process owners, like service desk managers, make the best candidates for co-authorship, and often form a vital part of the change advisory board (CAB).

After you’ve defined your ServiceNow-specific team, you still need people to champion the expansion and onboarding efforts. You will also need people to continue to manage internal and partner communications.

This is where SMEs and a SPOC come in.



Leveraging SME’s as Agenda Champions

Let’s not meet for the sake of meeting. To push your ServiceNow agenda forward, certain people should be represented.

You’ll need people who are empowered to make decisions. You’ll also need people who understand processes. The people you absolutely must include are subject matter experts, or SME’s.

SME’s win over your user base.

These project champions aren’t afraid to get up, make a little wave, and make a change towards adoption. After adoption reaches a certain point, people feel alienated if they don’t take part in the movement. You’ll find that, without causing a scene, most SME’s are that person.


4 Ways to Spot the Right Subject Matter Expert for the ServiceNow Team

How can you determine who’s there to help you streamline instance-building and onboarding, and who’s likely block it? Find the right kind of SME using this basic set of criteria:


1. They don’t resist change

A SME will have a vested interest in the benefits wrought by ServiceNow. They tend to see the bigger picture, and the ease of workflow operations and streamlined practices to result. Given this, they tend to embrace change, and are committed to the success of future projects. Be cognizant of their time, and ensure your roadmap and goals are clearly defined, or you risk losing them.


2. They don’t like bells and whistles

Neither do you. But it’s easy to get caught up in a lofty idea. A SME will often speak up as the voice of reason, and will help you stay grounded.


3. They know a lot

Their vast system knowledge and many years of experience make them the great candidates for the CAB. They also know a lot of people, and can lead others in change.


4. They’re easy to find

People tend to gravitate to good Subject Matter Experts for advice and leadership. For larger companies, it might take some inquiring to find the right SME, but when you do, they'll be well positioned to give advice.

There are, of course, Subject Matter Experts who will fight you tooth-and-nail to keep things the way they are. A good SME balances flexibility, know-how, and influence to sell your instance internally. 



SPOC & Project Managers

I’ve seen implementations that have left out the run team. And I’ve seen implementations where you have so many people at the table that every fifteen minutes there is an argument for internal resources and you’re not making much traction.

The top resource we need from a customer is a SPOC – a single point of contact – with some level of authority.

If I, the implementation partner, must set up a meeting and I can’t identify who needs to be in attendance, I need to go to one person on the customer side and say, “I need these 3 people in a meeting,” leaving it up to them to find those resources.

If a role isn’t defined, we can work with you to find an equivalent.

Here’s an example of a conversation I typically have with customers:

“How about your change manager?”

“We don’t have a change manager.”

“Okay give me three people who are authorized to approve changes.”

You may not have certain roles defined with your organizational structure, but we can help translate it to “the person that does this.” Expect your implementation partner to help you define key roles.



Avoid the Dreaded Project Manager Shuffle

Too many ServiceNow projects go through more than one Project Manager – both internally and on the implementation partner’s side.

That is the worst place a partner can put a customer, and customers (rightfully) hate it.

There are reasons why a PM needs to bow out sometimes – which are the same extreme situations anyone would need to take a leave of absence. It’s totally understandable if there’s an illness or personal issue to take care of.

But to get someone in a meeting saying, “Hey we’d like to introduce the new Project Manager.” My question is, “what happened to the old one?”

“Oh he got pulled off on another project.”

That’s unacceptable. It’s basically saying that there’s another customer who’s more important than you are, leaving you to ask, “Where am I on your priority scale, exactly?”

I know how it feels to have that PM shuffled out from under you. You have to stop, reprioritize, and explain where the project currently stands.

You know a good IT company when they do everything they can to prevent PM shuffle.


Good Project Managers Are Always in Demand.

Find a reliable Project Manager, and dedicate that person to the role within the ServiceNow engagement. The project will heavily rely on this person to ensure that proper meetings are scheduled (resource availability coordination) with the proper resources (as identified by the implementation partner).

Delegates are often acceptable if a PM isn’t available, provided they are empowered to make key decisions.


For small and mid-sized businesses who want to experience the streamlining of work tasks and processes, but don't have people to manage it all internally, domain separation is a fantastic option. 

You can learn more about domain separation here.


In the next post, we’ll discuss how to find the right partner fit, including the value of cultural buy-in and training.


Don't want to wait? Grab a free copy of the full guide now:

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

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