ServiceNow APM: A deeper perspective on enabling a simpler implementation

Gaining clearer insight into seemingly foundational IT cost questions isn’t always easy.  ServiceNow Application Portfolio Management (APM) module helps an organization to answer questions such as the common ones listed below, and is very much focused on helping organizations inventory, analyze, clean-up and sustain a streamlined application portfolio in a sustainable way… IF supporting departmental processes and roles are setup properly as well.  ServiceNow APM can help you answer:

  • How many applications do I have?

  • What is my annual software support cost and do we have a true Cloud business case?

  • How much duplication of functionality across our business units & geographies could be rationalized?

  • What synergy targets from M&A are feasible?

  • How do I maintain a lower-cost application portfolio over time?

In a previous white paper, we discussed how ServiceNow APM isn’t a “implement a tool to fix a problem” kind of initiative.  We stay true to those words.  Application Portfolio Management as an IT practice starts with data, process & people and only leverages underlying technology as an enabler. 

For this whitepaper then, we look at foundational APM processes and determine the Pro’s and Con’s of ServiceNow’s APM module in matching these core APM practices.  We felt this was a needed topic as, unfortunately, ServiceNow APM does not have a reputation for being heavily scalable to meet your needs, but we think this is an unwarranted market perception.  ServiceNow APM can be configured to fit a variety of levels of desired maturity for an APM practice, as illustrated below. 

Figure 1 - How mature do you want your APM practice to be? ServiceNow APM can get you there:

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 11.27.54 AM.png

 The above figure shows how a “Foundational” and/or “Mature” level of functionality can be enabled that would still constitute a successful APM module “stand-up”. 

As ServiceNow can meet a wide variety of APM requirement sets and maturity levels in mind, the default position of this whitepaper is “Yes, you could make things more complicated, but let’s consider a slightly deeper dive into how to implement ServiceNow APM in a pragmatic and streamlined way”. 

We believe these stream-lined pointers will fit 70% of ServiceNow clients’ needs out there in 2019 and 2020: 

Application Classification

Beniva’s rich history with application cost optimization and application portfolio management projects leverages a Business Capability Modelling approach, providing the bed-rock application classification schema used for duplication analysis and optimization targeting.  ServiceNow uses both A) Business Capabilities and B) Application Categories to classify applications, and both have separate use cases in their platform. 

  1. In ServiceNow, Business Capabilities really start with APQC process models, which aren’t actually Capabilities at all.  However, it is understandable for ServiceNow to leverage APQC as some kind of starting point as the library is so easily referenceable across industries.  That being said, APM clients are best served to create a real three to four layer Business Capability Model to fully enable Application Optimization analysis.  Note, we find three to four layers vastly sufficient to drive real conversations and cost reduction.  While ServiceNow Capability modelling functionality goes to 8 layers (!), we can’t imagine the practical use for driving to such a level of detail. 

    In ServiceNow, Business Capabilities are themselves scorable, and the Business Capability Model view, while not overly attractive, allows for a good analytical framework for viewing applications supporting Business Capabilities in the model’s hierarchy for portfolio idea generation.  The visual style ServiceNow adopted is necessary due to the depth of layering they permit. 

  2. Application Categories are used by ServiceNow to drive all of the Performance Analytic Dashboards.  We’ll keep this thought brief.  Only the most robust of companies require two such robust application categorization schemas (both “Capabilities” and “Categories”.   We recommend that, for most organizations, mirroring the Business Capabilities into the Application Categories to enable as robust of functionality that 90% of organizations would need.  This way, your Performance Analytics dashboards mirror your Business Capability naming convention and drives greater visibility & adoption of your Business Capability model across the enterprise, and it saves you the headache of maintaining two major categorization structures.

Some organizations may wish to do more detailed Process Mapping, or have differences in Capability vs Application Categorization.  If this level of complexity is desired, ServiceNow certainly gives clients the tools to employ both robust categorization frameworks as needed. 

Application Scoring & Assessment
(& Comments on TPM)

ServiceNow APM’s ability to shine really comes through with performance indicators, whether out of the box or custom built.  This is where enterprise platforms in general really sing compared to point solutions, as clients can bring in many relevant data sources from across the platform to enable robust application scoring & insights.  Out of the box indicators are widely sufficient for most clients, although normally there are a few unique lenses that most clients wish to view their applications through.  Configuring these custom Indicators is fairly straight-forward with how ServiceNow has set-up their Application Indicators, scoring and dashboarding for clients to configure.

It is important to view the system through the lens of your Application Assessors however. As from a process perspective, Application Assessors (whether Architects, IT Application Managers, or whoever it may be) will be using 4 or so major screens & sources of data to perform their Assessments on applications, which does require some navigating around the system to complete a major application assessment.  These 4 data sources are:

  • Business Capability Model (& application mapping)

  • Application Scoring & Dashboards

  • Customer Satisfaction Survey results (‘the details’, if desired)

  • The APM TPM Module, if Discovery & Service Mapping have been enabled and TPM has been configured.   Do clients need TPM to enable an effective APM practice or assess applications properly? Not exactly.  Don’t get us wrong, we are excited about TPM and the real enterprise insights that can be delivered by ServiceNow when TPM is enabled.  TPM allows for an organization to link underlying technical risk & obsolescence with application portfolio decisions. And that is quite brilliant. But what we are saying is that organizations can definitely get substantial value out of APM even if full TPM is not enabled in a “Phase 1” APM implementation.  Many clients will roadmap TPM as a future roadmap item and get their base APM processes and ServiceNow system set up first. And that works just great.

Clients should consider application clipping levels so as not to require full assessments to be performed on all application & software titles. A “Fast-Track” assessment process should thus be implemented, although please consider how this may affect the dash-boarding reports you maintain across your portfolio if this means that not all applications will have the same assessment data attached.

Engaging the Business & Launching Optimization Ideas

Beniva Consulting Group adheres to a collaborative business engagement component to application portfolio planning.  We typically generate Application Portfolio ScoreCards for each respective business unit (or stakeholder grouping) as a follow-up step the formal Application Assessment being complete (and “Idea” then being generated for that application, whether it be to rationalize, reduce licenses, right to use, archive, etc. as an optimization outcome).  ServiceNow does not have a great out-of-the-box mechanism for enabling engaging the business following this process step, but with some configuration ServiceNow can become an incredibly powerful business engagement vehicle. 

We recommend the following:

  1. Application Assessors create an “Idea” in the Demand Management Module after they determine their recommended course of action for that application (whether that action is further investment or optimization focused).    

  2. A custom Performance Analytics Dashboard is built leveraging ServiceNow’s “ idea data table, and this is used to dashboard potential savings and present a visually appealing business engagement “Application ScoreCard” by client grouping.  (Beniva has this built as part of our standard APM tool-kit.)

  3. The custom Performance Analytics Dashboard is printed or shown on screen during business engagement meetings where Idea’s are vetted and then moved to ServiceNow Demand Management (or other, manual demand management processes).

Application Cost Models

Application cost models and leveraging ITFM deserves its own future whitepaper as IT costing is such a large topic on its own. 

But be assured, ServiceNow APM can leverage base ITFM General Ledger information within ITFM to build fairly defensible A) application cost Scoring Indicators as well as B) application TCO models without going through the nightmarish task of a full IT Service Costing exercise. The biggest considerations here are simply:

  • How deep into total IT service costing do you have to really go to meet your APM needs?

  • Consider that the more complex the underlying costing data model, the more sustaining resource needs to be applied to maintain the data

Many organizations are put off by the ServiceNow ITFM requirement of APM, but this isn’t actually even a foundational requirement at all (note in our above diagram, we deem full TCO Cost Modelling as “Ambitious”). Beniva has run most of our merger & acquisition or general Application Portfolio Optimization projects without application TCO information, and done so very successfully with demonstrable, very defensible financial savings numbers.  If a company decided to ‘opt out’ entirely of enabling Application Cost Models, this would not materially limit their ability to stand up an Application Portfolio Management practice. 

Conclusion

We hope that we have provided some assurance that ServiceNow’s APM module can be implemented to fit a wider variety of maturity then is generally understood in the marketplace today.   Clients do not necessarily need TPM, Discovery and/or Service Mapping turned on to enable an effective APM practice - and especially not for a first release of the software and practice for a company unless your specific needs more firmly require those items.

Contact Beniva Consulting Group today to discuss your unique APM Practice requirements and how ServiceNow APM can support greater insights and real ROI in your application portfolio.