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ServiceNow Back to Box: Reducing the Technical Debt on Service Management

Enterprises are going through a phase of digitization. CIO, CTO and business leaders are investing in modernizing Service Management to reduce TCO, reduce the technical debt and build an intuitive marketplace to drastically improve IT and business user experience. Service Management modernization is gaining traction in every industry with clients using ServiceNow as an enabler of business and digital transformation, investing in massive technology transformation programs along with organizational change management to drive positive business impact.

However, often enough, ServiceNow deployments result in higher platform customization due to lack of program governance, poor architecture design, complex business requirements and push from users to replicate legacy platform capabilities. This results in poor ROI realization, increased upgrade cycle, poor platform performance, and increased TCO.

There is an opportunity for organizations to simplify their existing ServiceNow deployments and establish controls to enable simplified processes and harness the true power of the platform.

Customization can get Complex

Imagine you ordered a DIY furniture kit from a home accessory store. You open the box and find the instructions to assemble a simple chair. While you put together the parts, you realize it would be nice to have arm rests that could be folded based on the user preference or perhaps feature a cup holder. So you go ahead and modify the existing arm rests using your own tools and skills and build the chair of your choice.

Down the years, you realize your chair does not offer ergonomics for height or seat back tilt. You find that the store now offers new DIY kits that allow you to make ergonomic chairs. So the choice is you either invest in the new DIY kit or someone helps you figure out what was the original design of the chair, what changes did you make to it, what are the changes you need to make now to align it with the specification of an ergonomic chair. Basically you ensure that you bring back the existing chair to resemble the new DIY kit. This is the gist of what we call ‘Back-to-Box’.

Why do we need to go ‘Back-to-Box’

ServiceNow has been around for several years. It began as a simple platform that supported the management of IT services and allowed users to build applications on top of it. This encouraged customers to bring in more functionalities, build more applications and go beyond IT services. They began to code and build custom applications deviating from core platform specifications and industry practices, thus unsettling the ServiceNow implementation roadmap.

Over a period of years, the ServiceNow platform in several organizations became unstable and complex because of implementation of these excessive customizations. While ServiceNow began to come up with new versions every six months, companies could not keep pace with the upgrades. Clients now needed someone to do a complete reassessment of their existing processes and platforms, and enable “Back-to-Box” capabilities to drive efficiency.

One of our client, a leading retail firm in the United States, where the ServiceNow Service Management tool is the ERP for IT, was not able to harness the true capabilities of ServiceNow Platform as it was heavily customized. These customizations were having an adverse impact in the following ways:

  • Upgrades were taking several weeks, making it difficult for users to utilize latest platform features
  • Higher platform support cost due to custom solutions and features, that were available out of box in future ServiceNow releases
  • Customizations impacted the performance, resiliency and agility of the platform
  • Increased time in building new integrations and solutions
  • Too much spent in functional, system and regression testing

Infosys helped the client by simplifying ServiceNow deployment and bringing the platform Back-to-Box. Infosys did this by rapidly establishing a baseline, removing complexity from the platform and enabling simplified processes. This resulted in 5X faster platform upgrades, 50-60% reduction in operational cost and improved employee productivity.

ServiceNow Then and Now

For the past several years, ServiceNow has been at the center of transformation for enterprises as a Service Management platform to drive infrastructure, application, cloud and business transformation. These early adopters of ServiceNow built a stack of custom solutions, added layers of complexity and technical debt on the platform to meet their business requirements and goals. However, this is no longer sustainable. ServiceNow has invested a lot to simplify the platform, adding newer capabilities with every release but unfortunately enterprises are unable to implement these solutions efficiently due to the complexities mentioned above.

With the new and evolved ServiceNow and the futuristic roadmap the product promises to bring, there is definitely a lot of business value in implementing the platform “Back-to-Box” and be on the latest release to maximize the utilization of the platform. Enterprises can make their digital transformation journey a smooth ride by simplifying the process, increasing product awareness, building technical governance, aligning IT and business towards a common goal and keeping the platform as an Out of the Box (OOB) solution.

This would also help organizations with the following advantages:

  • Enable DevOps to reduce complexity within the ecosystem to make it easy and inexpensive to support, speed up innovation and drive end to end automation with ease. Enterprises can promote CI / CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Development) to meet the growing needs of business.
  • Bring in business agility by having a robust service management landscape that enables the organization to rapidly adopt the changes in internal and external environment. Our clients are adopting cloud technologies to reduce on premise footprint, drive infrastructure and application transformation by implementing ServiceNow.
  • Optimize speed to market by leveraging the new ServiceNow solutions to build a competitive edge by reaching out to users and businesses faster, enabling quicker onboarding of users, and enabling faster product launches etc.

How does ‘Back-to-Box’ work

Infosys has developed “Back-to-Box” offering within its widely acclaimed Enterprise Service Management (ESM) Café solution to help keep the customer’s platform close to OOB and accelerate business value realization from ServiceNow deployments. This offering rapidly baselines the platform complexity, measures the deviation from best practices, and provides a structured methodology to simplify ServiceNow deployments.

Some of the key highlights of this offering are:

  • For new deployments - 2X faster deployments by limiting customization to < 10%
  • For existing deployments - optimize services TCO by 40-50% by reducing 50-80% of existing customization
    • 70-80% faster upgrades
    • 1.5-2X optimized system performance
    • 50-60% reduction in support FTEs cost
  • Enable technical governance and key controls

ServiceNow will continue to evolve bringing path breaking solutions. Infosys’ recommendation is to look at a controlled and efficient technology transformation without impacting the future upgradability and without adding heaps of technical debt on the ServiceNow platform. “Back-to-Box” helps you do just that.