All you need to know about ServiceNow

Let’s start with a critical question: What is ServiceNow? 

ServiceNow is a PaaS software composed of several applications. Designed to simplify the orchestration of business workflows, it used to be just a ticketing system in the beginning. Yet, it has grown into a comprehensive toolkit that can boost the efficiency of all the departments and in various domains.

ServiceNow is used for the needs of IT, marketing, sales, and after-sales services, HR, finance and accounting, everything legal, R&D, procurement, manufacturing, and logistics.

It includes rich functionality for managing and monitoring the performance of the business as a whole. The toolkit also comprises chatbots and survey data for self-service. The platform keeps evolving and has even covered risk management capabilities recently.

The abundance of tools under one roof lets ServiceNow clients stop switching between multiple software systems and organize most business processes in a single environment. 

Yet, such digital transformation is definitely a huge step for a business, so consider trying the IT service management first and go further after you see the benefits.  

Who ServiceNow can give more than others

ServiceNow is more appropriate for medium-sized and larger companies and organizations. The main reason for that is the ServiceNow’s rich set of functions to support complex business processes. If your company has at least 500 employees, you are the right candidate. This means that your organization can gain enough savings by using ServiceNow.

The explanation of this size limit is simple. If your company is smaller, your processes are simple, and so is the hierarchy involved. You won’t benefit as much as a bigger organization. If you do have the size necessary to make the most of ServiceNow, it can give you pretty much anything you need and want. 

Of course, some industries naturally tend to use ServiceNow more than others, such as those related to the field of information technology, finance, banking and accounting, aviation and transportation, and hospitality. 

Organizations involved in the fields of healthcare, retail, oil and energy, real estate, marketing, manufacturing, and legal services can also gain substantial benefits.

What benefits ServiceNow can give you

Let’s mention some of the most important benefits that you and your IT team will enjoy with this platform. In short, ServiceNow brings in:

On the financial side:

  • Decrease downtimes and hence operational costs
  • Reduce IT expenses

On the business side: 

  • Improve user experience
  • Simplify the management of the IT team

Financial Benefits of ServiceNow

Decrease downtimes and operational costs. An extended outage does not only hinder the productivity of workers but also comes at a horrible cost. If a network is out of service for only 5 minutes per month, a business can lose thousands of dollars in one month. ServiceNow can decrease these losses by accelerating ticket resolution. 

Reduce IT expenses. Automating the work of the IT department can help businesses save much more because of an increase in productivity. With ServiceNow, an IT team can sort ticket forms, manage them, properly distribute the assets, and keep a close watch on IT service provision. ServiceNow will also help users eliminate tasks that are typically repeated many times within a short timeframe, such as passwords resetting or providing access rights. According to the ServiceNow cost tracker, these measures can bring approximately half a million dollars per year in saved costs. 

Business Benefits of ServiceNow

Improve user experience. By reducing the time for the ticket settlements only by a tiny bit, you increase the satisfaction of the users in a meaningful way. ServiceNow organizes and changes the culture and behavior of your IT staff and organization in order to deliver the best customer service. 

This results in a steady stream of positive feedback from the clients or employees. They find it very comforting that there are multiple ways of receiving updates on their tickets whenever necessary, ranging from e-mails and phone calls to web-forms.

Simplify the management of the IT team. ServiceNow helps IT managers to organize work and get better visibility of the operations. It also makes employee onboarding and training more efficient. 

ServiceNow reports and responsive tracking features assist managers in monitoring and orchestrating the performance of the entire IT department. The included analytics module allows the organization to analyze the output itself and its effect on clients.

How ServiceNow works

Gartner rated ServiceNow as the number 1 ITSM system. Let’s take a look at the technical side of its work that makes it unique.

Service Now’s ticket types

There are several different kinds of tickets used by ServiceNow. This enables IT experts to quickly understand what sort of issue they’re dealing with. These types are:

  • Incidents, unplanned events that affect an IT service or its quality;
  • Problems, significant errors that cause several malfunctions;
  • Requests, the services that the clients want to get from the tech support or another department of the firm;
  • Changes, suggestions for changes of the IT services (e.g., add, tweak, or exclude).

The handling of an incident is completely different from the management of a problem. Incident handling aims to return the processes to their normal form as fast as possible. Managing a problem involves finding a common reason behind several malfunctions and eliminating that cause. This differentiation ensures that the support staff concentrates on the right task with the right priority. This way, threats to all crucial IT operations are resolved first.

How the ticket types are connected

In real life, there is a typical sequence of events that lead to transforming one ticket into another:

  1. ServiceNow receives a user’s ticket and creates an incident.
  2. Similar tickets nad hence incidents are gathered.
  3. The system administrator notices a pattern and changes the ticket’s status to a problem.
  4. The IT team starts looking for the causes of these incidents. This could be a faulty IP phone network.
  5. In case it is considered necessary to change the system in order to solve the problem, a change is created. In our example, this might involve selecting new firmware.
  6. The change will be analyzed, evaluated, applied, and subsequently reviewed. Thereby, the main cause behind the issue and incidents is eliminated, and normal workflow can be restored.
  7. All events related to that change are closed.

Similar processes are possible in an environment that is not related to IT. The manager can create an incident for any inefficient process, and the result is a reform that boosts performance.

The Life Cycle of a Ticket

If a user reports an issue, say, a CRM system error, it is represented in the form of a ticket in ServiceNow. Now the problem can be managed: classified, assigned, and investigated. At the end stands the solution. All these steps together represent the ticket life cycle. Let’s review them one by one.

Step 1. Create an incident

Let’s assume there’s an issue. The problem itself can be as trivial as no dial tone in a phone. Users can report it according to their roles in the organization. To give a few examples, 

  • A member of the IT staff can send an issue straight to ServiceNow. 
  • An employee can report via e-mail, by phone, and through a form on the corporate service portal. 
  • A 3rd-party service provider can also be involved in reporting incidents. For instance, in case they notice a particular phone model’s penchant for changing dial tone, they can report the issue in the same manner as an employee.

More than that, ServiceNow is now fully automated, so when it detects any failure during a routine check, it can create a ticket.

Step 2. Handle the incident

ServiceNow uses these measures to deal with incidents.

Assessment. Admins assess (a) the negative effect (how the issue can damage operation) and (b) its severity (how quickly it should be dealt with). The system immediately begins prioritizing when the incident happens in line with the parameters mentioned above.

Assignment. Using the summary of the incident, the system will automatically find an IT specialist who has the needed skills to handle it. The system will then alert the assigned person over the phone. Naturally, IT workers can delegate issues in a non-automated way, but automatic assigning helps the staff concentrate on more challenging work.

Checking. The issue is examined to find ways to enable the uninterrupted flow of daily processes.

The incident reporting system allows the users to monitor the whole process without the need to use a phone or talk to someone. Every activity is transparent. Should the phone start working without the need for further assistance, the user can cancel the incident and save the time of the support staff.

Step 3. Resolve the incident

To handle an issue, the tech team has to act. They can specify the resolution in the record of the incident, but they cannot close the ticket by themselves. The only one who can mark an issue as resolved is the consumer.

There is one exception. 

If the consumer fails to act on a ticket or mark it as resolved within a certain time frame, ServiceNow will automatically change its status to resolved. Based on that, you can understand that the activity of the consumer is monitored as well and is used to check the status of an issue. 

This also relates to the actions of tech workers. If they fail to respond appropriately, ServiceNow can suggest ways to resolve an issue or change its importance status. This ensures the highest quality of service and adherence to acceptable response time.

What is the downside of using ServiceNow? 

ServiceNow, its functionality and processes are always configured to the requirements of a certain customer. Thereby, the disadvantages might be unique. However, there are some general drawbacks that one needs to think over before using ServiceNow.

  • Prices. The pricing policy is rather vague, so it might be hard to figure out the exact costs. One can safely say that licenses are costly. Besides, you need to add more to the initial cost, like the payments for setup and maintenance. However, the savings might easily outweigh the costs.
  • Reporting. ServiceNow reporting can be good for basic tasks, while an in-depth analysis of the prolem causes requires a specialized Service Now solution, aka Performance Analytics.
  • Updates. While it makes a lot of sense to tailor ServiceNow to meet your particular needs, customized solutions always require maintenance and support.

What are your other choices?

There are several alternatives to ServiceNow, which have all their advantages and disadvantages. 

Spiceworks

Spiceworks is free and offers ticketing and tracking of inventory. It also comes with Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and it is possible to create a custom portal for your brand. The downside is that there are advertisements in the system and that it does not always perform reliably. Also, the options for fine-tuning are rather limited.

Jira Service Desk

This software is customizable. It comes with ITIL functionality that allows the reporting of incidents, problems, and Ccanges. Jira Service Desk also covers workflow automation, SLAs, and a knowledge base. However, poor bug fixing and limited functionality make it a less competitive solution that ServiceNow.  

Zendesk

This one works well for medium-sized companies. It provides a good IT service management functionality. Incidents, problems, and changes are well covered. You can also establish a self-service portal and have your real-time chats. The tickets can be routed automatically. What is missing are the SLAs. Furthermore, the alerts to all users involved in one process are not well configured.

BMC Helix Remedy

For medium-sized and bigger companies, there is BMC Helix Remedy. This platform can be customized and has various innovative ITSM functions. They include incidents, changes, assets, knowledge management, and more. However, this functionality comes at a price. Furthermore, there are difficulties with performance and integration with other systems.

Conclusion

ServiceNow is the right choice for you if your company is at least mid-sized, has complex IT processes, uses ticketing, has a considerable budget, and wants to optimize the processes in the whole organization. If none of the above applies to your business, you might want to look for a different solution. However, if ServiceNow fits your organization well, you will recover the costs fast with the savings that ServiceNow will bring you.