ServiceNow APM: A Deeper Perspective on Enabling A Simpler Implementation

by Feb 25, 2019Product & Service Insights

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 the following:

  • 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?

Application Portfolio Management as an IT practice starts with data, process & people and only leverages underlying technology as an enabler.

We believe that ServiceNOW APM’s reputation of not being heavily scalable to meet your needs is an unwarranted market perception. For this whitepaper, we look at foundational APM processes and determine the Pros and Cons of ServiceNow’s APM module in matching these core APM practices. 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:

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 score-able. While the Business Capability Model view is not overly attractive, it allows for a good analytical framework for viewing applications supporting Business Capabilities in the model’s hierarchy for portfolio idea generation. 

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”). 

For 90% of organizations, enabling the mirroring of the Business Capabilities into the Application Categories is enough to satisfy requirements. 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. Plus, 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 its 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. From a process perspective, Application Assessors (whether Architects, IT Application Managers, or whoever it may be) will be using four 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 four data sources are:

  1. Business Capability Model (& application mapping)
  2. Application Scoring & Dashboards
  3. Customer Satisfaction Survey results (‘the details’, if desired)
  4. 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. Organizations can 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 which works great.

Full assessments are not altogether necessary for all application and software tiles, instead clients should consider application clipping levels. A “Fast-Track” assessment process should be implemented; however, if this means that not all applications will have the same assessment data attached, then it’s important to consider how this may affect the dashboarding reports you maintain across your portfolio.

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 to the formal Application Assessment being complete. An “Idea” is then generated for that Application, whether it be to rationalize, reduce licenses, right to use, archive, etc. ServiceNow does not have a great out-of-the-box mechanism for enabling the business engagement following this step, but with custom configuration, ServiceNow becomes an incredibly powerful business engagement vehicle.

We recommend the following:

  1. Create an Idea. 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. Populate the Performance Analytics Dashboard. The Performance Analytics Dashboard is built leveraging ServiceNow’s idea data table, is which 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. Vet the Ideas to Create Demands. The custom Performance Analytics Dashboard is printed or shown on screen during business engagement meetings where Ideas 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. 

Rest 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 really have to 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 it isn’t a foundational requirement at all (note in Figure A, we deem full TCO Cost Modelling as “Ambitious”).

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.

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.  


ServiceNow’s APM module can be implemented to fit a wide variety of maturity than 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 – 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.

Contact us today to see how we can help your company.

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