ServiceNow & Application Portfolio Management

By Len, Beniva Partner

First Thoughts

ServiceNow’s capabilities for IT Business Management are continually improving to better enable IT’s ability to manage Projects, Finances & Applications. 

For clients that are running the more traditional IT Service Management modules of ServiceNow, there is substantial growing market interest from these clients to enable stronger Configuration, Asset and APM functionality.  We are seeing that many new clients to ServiceNow are examining, not just standard ITSM basic functionality set as part of an implementation, but want a more robust feature set to gain deeper understanding and visibility into their environment and IT costs in general.

Deeper Perspectives

APM In General

Many companies do not yet have a sustaining Application Portfolio Management practice to begin with.  Many CIO’s remain unclear on how many applications they actually have, and cannot, with confidence, give a total cost view of their application portfolio.  However, lacking a formal APM practice doesn’t need to be a roadblock to implementing ServiceNow ITBO APM and/or Software Asset Management Plugins.  However, APM is not a “buy a tool to solve a problem”kind of project.  Rather, a corresponding project related to processes, data gathering and analysis is needed hand in hand with a ServiceNow tool implementation.  APM processes need’t be complex, but they are definitely needed.   

Here is a deeper read on APM and where it can lead.

ServiceNow Specific APM Insights

To be fair, there are some considerations.  For clients not using the ServiceNow Portal for a significantly improved user experience, the traditional click-heavy user interface gives some departments pause for embedding too much functionality with the core solution… just yet.  Additionally, emerging functionality in the tool-set is expected to grow with each new release, but may not currently offer the full solution set to run an automated workflow with adequate reporting insights. 

To illustrate, we analyzed ServiceNow’s Config, Asset (and Software Asset Management Plug-In), and ITBO APM out-of-the-box data tables against Beniva Consulting Group’s Application Portfolio Optimization service.  Our analysis shows that of the core data needed to effectively optimize an IT environment, 55% of those data elements were out-of-the-box data elements of the Jakarta release.  This in of itself is not a substantial concern as adding data fields is a very straight-forward process to enable effective data load.   The implication though comes from time needed to enable better custom reporting for insights into your APM environment compared to what the out-of-the-box Asset and APM modules include.

To be sure, the solution set is promising.  We predict that ServiceNow, especially considering their product roadmap, will soon be positioned to start capturing market share from some of the smaller Enterprise Architecture modelling tool-sets as capabilities such as its Application to Business Capability Modelling functionality becomes more and more robust. 

Your Challenge.  And Your Opportunity.

Today, IT is all about the Big Buzzwords.  Digital, Cloud, Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning.  To be sure, the world around us today is increasingly captivating and visionary.  And yet.  We caution that IT Leaders need to be ever and ever aware and in control of their base operating environments and costs.  None of these emerging technologies negate the need for IT leadership to understand the IT assets and costs they are stewarding on behalf of the enterprise. 

Unfortunately, because grinding through data collection related to contract renewal terms, licence types and counts, and reconciling vendor invoices to existing application portfolio product names is, quite frankly, exceptionally boring and tedious – many IT departments simply don’t make it a focus. 

And that is a huge problem.

We have seen over and over again how a poor understanding of one’s applications, their mapping to infrastructure, and how invoice costs relate to actual assets result in literally millions of real annual G&A dollars being spent on incorrect licensing, erroneous application development outsourcing support costs, application functionality duplication and other problems.

A correct implementation of ServiceNow Config, Sofware Asset Management and APM will help, as long the needed supporting processes and workflows are also implemented in a fit-for-purpose way and in conjunction with your culture.    

A Typical Project

The good news is, that setting up an effective APM practice with ServiceNow doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.   

Beniva’s ServiceNow projects that include a focus on a Config, Software Asset Management and/or APM practice include:

  • Facilitated session(s) to understanding of the strategic goals and desired outcomes of the implementation that align to your desired process maturity
  • Scope confirmation and service procurement
  • An initial focus on data capture, cleaning and mapping. This is a one-time lift and non-recurring cost.  We accelerate this traditionally tedious phase of the project with proven templates and delivery techniques 
  • Application Portfolio Management high level process, reporting requirements and roles design
  • Implementing and configuring ServiceNow modules and data tables to accept and include necessary data
  • Data load
  • Detailed workflow development, training and warrenty period
  • Developing required custom system or manual reporting

Final Thoughts

We get it, At the onset of these projects, these initiatives are viewed as more necessary than exciting.  However, there has not been one of our clients that hasn’t felt a huge “win” was delivered with substantial good internal press about the tangible benefits and real dollar savings delivered.   Let’s talk.