When organizations implement ServiceNow, they’re seeking to dramatically improve efficiencies and bottom-line profitability. This enterprise-wide transformation doesn’t happen, however, simply by implementing the core ServiceNow platform in isolation. A core value of ServiceNow lies with the platform’s ability to integrate with other systems across the enterprise, bridging workflows and syncing data from multiple disconnected departments. From Salesforce to SCCM to Team Foundation Server and JIRA, every department’s preferred systems can be integrated with ServiceNow.
At its most basic level, the ServiceNow platform is designed with dynamic, service-oriented architecture, where all data objects are web services capable. Although integrations are designed to be implemented as simply and intuitively as possible, organizations still need to know what they’re doing to avoid costly setbacks, outsized risks, and disappointing adoption rates. Let’s explore the five most common mistakes that organizations make when integrating ServiceNow and the best-practice solutions for avoiding them:
1. Bringing in too much data: Organizations understandably tend to be ambitious when embarking on their ServiceNow integrations. They think about the entire universe of data that is available to integrate with ServiceNow. The biggest problem with importing this entire universe of data is that there often isn’t a plan in place for using ServiceNow to manage all of this data throughout its entire lifecycle. Consequently, this data can quickly become stale and obsolete, which, in turn, puts the output of your entire ServiceNow platform at risk of serving up inaccurate and unreliable information.
Best-practices solution: You want to only bring in data for which there is a clear plan in place for using ServiceNow to manage that data throughout its lifecycle. It is far more prudent to limit the scope of what you intend to transfer. Once you’ve leveraged that data, determine a need for additional information, and have a solid plan for how to manage the additional data; it’s easy to scale up and import additional data over time.
2. Building too many functionalities no one asked for: When organizations are planning for their ServiceNow integrations, they tend to want to solve every problem and user pain point all at once. The problem with this approach is that the integration can quickly become complex and unwieldy. Moreover, the elaborate functionalities that are developed often do not directly address the pain points identified by your end users.
Best-practices solution: You never want to get ahead of where your end users are; they are the primary beneficiary of the integration, and they need to feel comfortable with all of its functionalities and take ownership of it. To ensure you get buy-in at every milestone, be sure to involve users at key stages of your integration roadmap. The most strategic thing you can do is carefully listen to what your end users are asking for, and design your integration around those needs and priorities. Even if you recognize that your end users’ suggestions won’t solve their long-term needs, you still want to be deferential to them. The process of building your integration can and should be iterative; you want to produce multiple versions before you arrive at your final, finished integration.
3. Over-engineering and over-customizing the platform: It’s common for a rising star in an organization to seize total control of an integration, to the point that it becomes their pet project that no one else touches. When integrations are developed in a silo, these integrations often become over-engineered and over-customized. The end users, however, aren’t necessarily aware of these problems and, to the contrary, come to view the architect as a genius and a personal hero. This path is dangerous for two reasons: The underlying design will be fundamentally flawed (even if end users don’t notice these flaws right away), and when the architect eventually leaves, the integration will be so over-customized that no one else will be able to take over its maintenance.
Best-practices solution: You want to avoid letting a single architect take control of developing and maintaining an integration. A collaborative approach will help ensure that the amount of custom engineering work is minimized, and that you take maximum advantage of out-of-the-box functionality. When you take this approach, you are dramatically increasing the chances that as your original development team turns over, their replacements are able to understand and maintain the integration.
4. Not giving enough credence to your ServiceNow integration consultant: When organizations retain the services of a ServiceNow consultant to oversee an integration, they tend to view the consultant’s role as the implementer, not the leader. Their logic seems sound: The consultant, coming in from the outside, cannot possibly understand the needs and priorities of the organization as well as its internal leaders can. But the reality is that while ServiceNow integrations can be customized in almost limitless ways, it is rarely a smart idea to do so. Integration consultants are trained to identify when the customizations are unnecessarily complex, by leveraging years of experience implementing integrations for other companies that have had similar challenges and objectives. Indeed, the best consultants will aggressively push back against poorly conceived plans.
Best-practices solution: When you work with a ServiceNow integration consultant, you want to take their recommendations and advice to heart. Moreover, even when you fundamentally disagree with your integration consultant’s recommendations, you should aim to find a compromise that you both can get behind. Implementation consultants have worked with many other organizations in similar situations, and they intuitively know when you’re heading down an unsustainable or risky path. They also are optimally positioned to assess the long-term viability of your integration. In other words, an over-engineered and over-customized integration may be feasible to build and maintain in the short term, but years from now, it could become a source of headache and frustration. Your integration consultant will alert you to these pitfalls at the upfront.
5. Failing to properly vet your integration consultant: When organizations hire an integration consultant, the preferred candidate is often the same consultant who oversaw the organization’s original ServiceNow implementation. Unfortunately, if your implementation consultant isn’t also an experienced integration consultant, this is a costly mistake. Implementing ServiceNow within an organization requires a very different skill set than integrating ServiceNow with other systems in the organization. A consultant with extensive integration experience is a must.
Best-practices solution: When you retain a ServiceNow integration consultant, it’s essential that you make sure your consultant has experience doing integrations—not just implementations. Real-life experience doing integrations is what makes a consultant able to make informed, strategic recommendations and help you achieve long-term success. They can also help to roadmap the right path forward, ensuring that current system integration needs are met and that the foundation for future integrations is solid and flexible enough to adapt to what comes next.
Too many organizations flounder and fail when integrating ServiceNow, resulting in unnecessary budget spend and burning through time. Fortunately, Crossfuze understands best-practices solutions for avoiding these mistakes. It’s essential that you remember these essential truths: bring in only as much data as you plan to actually manage in ServiceNow, don’t get ahead of your end users when developing your integrations, maximize out-of-the-box functionalities and minimize customizations, show some deference to the recommendations of your ServiceNow integration consultant, and properly vet your integration consultant. All this will set you up for ServiceNow integration wins from Day 1.
Vice President, Partnerships & Platform Integration at Crossfuze
Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/jakeandersen/