Transferring knowledge is an important factor in the success of any ServiceNow project – to both facilitate inter-team communication and to effectively train new talent.
Whether your project encompasses a small set of enhancements or a multi-phase rollout, involving the right resources, at the right times, in all aspects of your project will help ensure your team’s success in ServiceNow.
Developing and maintaining quality communication on your internal team and with all of your ServiceNow partners will guarantee you can effectively maintain and enhance your ServiceNow platform at launch, especially after your paid project support period ends.
Knowledge Transfer Challenges
At Acorio, one of the most prominent conversations we have with our prospective clients and customers is how hard they find it to prepare their System Administrators to adequately support their ServiceNow solution, and then to train a team capable of enhancing an existing configuration.
Some of the challenge lies in the breadth and depth of experience needed for developing in ServiceNow. The flexibility of the platform creates a challenge in the pure extensiveness of capability, not only at a technical level, but also in business process, and functionality. Exacerbating this issue is that talent in the ServiceNow market is oft-rotating due to the limited number of skilled resources in the ecosystem.
Often, we see some teams being asked to learn programming skills for ServiceNow, skills they have never had exposure to before. A tall order in and of itself, we also find that programming skills alone will not make someone a successful ServiceNow resource.
Another big “gotcha” is that clients expect their partner to teach the breadth of the platform during the course of the project. While some training and transfer are necessary, asking a consulting partner to train that volume of skills would be a significant effort in time and cost and may put the project at risk.
This is where finding a talented internal team comes in. A combination of background training, knowledge transfer, and project involvement can provide a baseline of experience, best practice lessons, and business context for making the resource successful in their role.
The Four ServiceNow Talent Archetypes
To streamline your knowledge transfer process, it’s also helpful to know what level of skills you are starting out with. We recommend assessing your skill set needs by considering four types of ServiceNow talent archetypes.
As the use of the ServiceNow platform matures in your organization, the skills needed for these resources will grow as well. For example, the team will need to add Angular development skills if you are utilizing Service Portal. In some organizations, a resource will play both the Administrator and Developer roles. In others, these are separate.
|Type||Tasks typically handled||Background for success||When required|
|Jr. ServiceNow Administrator||Able to perform basic user, group, role administration. Can diagnose basic issues. Supports reporting, configuration of dashboards & lists.||Taken ServiceNow SysAdmin course. Limited programming skills needed.||Almost always. Sometimes a part-time position for small rollouts (under 30 fulfillers).|
|Sr. ServiceNow Administrator||Able to do all that a Jr. ServiceNow Administrator performs plus can configure fields and forms, UI action, etc. Can modify and build workflows, and maintain integrations.||Taken ServiceNow SysAdmin course. Limited programming skills needed. Typically has at least 1-2 years in ServiceNow experience.||When there are a high number of fulfillers (typically over 100) and more than 1 application is being deployed.|
With these ServiceNow talent capabilities in mind, you will better align any prospective training to the existing skill levels your team possesses.
Your Five-Step ServiceNow Knowledge Transfer Plan
As you embark on any project with a defined Knowledge Transfer plan, you will want to begin with these five critical components.
Note: As a prerequisite, all of these steps require your participants to have completed a ServiceNow System Administrator class. (Or do so immediately following your project kickoff.) Without it, they won’t have the right background to absorb the knowledge being transferred.
1. Get the entire team involved in setting requirements
The Administrator should attend all requirements discussions – or they should plan to be there as much as possible! You want your admins to get exposure to the thinking and processes they will support – something that will improve your team spirit no matter the level of your ServiceNow team (represented in the table above).
Critical to your final success is getting your entire team invested in delivering the solution (and not the inherent problems) for your project as soon as possible. To generate enthusiasm, you can consider asking your Admins to follow-up on the requirements workshops, and/or do an internal demo to another group (especially for groups who wield influence or have been hurdles in past roll-outs).
2. Vet requirements against technical capabilities and corporate goals
Requirement gathering processes typically follow a similar pattern: Admins document functional team needs (typically in stories), and the technical consultant follows up to scope the technical design that delivers those needs.
Once all the requirements are formally gathered, make sure you add a few layers of review and approval to ensure the success of your final projects.
Ask your Client ServiceNow team to formally review and ask questions about items they do not understand. Just like it took you a bit of practice to learn a new language, Jr. ServiceNow developers have a limited understanding of the platform. If they are implementing even a part of the system, however, they need to understand the working parts. Provide a venue for your whole team to review the documentation, absorb the goals, and ask two-way questions to ensure understanding on both sides.
3. Schedule formal weekly sessions throughout development
Critical to your final project outcomes, ensure collaboration and knowledge transfer happens throughout your entire project lifecycle. To accomplish that, Acorio formally schedules weekly sessions between the Acorio architect, technical consultant, and the client ServiceNow talent.
Tactically, we generally schedule these sessions to happen weekly for 1-2 hours, with the agenda to review the ongoing work and allow Q&A to go back and forth.
4. Allow for informal team discussions
At every level of the ServiceNow team, you will also want opportunities for informal team questions or discussions, to quickly solve hot issues or maintain momentum between your weekly meetings.
Look for a partner who wants to collaborate with you. At Acorio, we hammer into our consultants that they are a joint project team with the client – true collaboration is the only way to drive success in short timelines or more complex projects.
You also want to go where your teams live – and offer informal collaboration tools that work with your normal workflows. Often, we collaborate on Instant Messaging, phone frequently, and hold daily scrum meetings with our clients’ ServiceNow talent.
Even something as simple as offering a unique Slack channel will signal to your SystemAdmin or other ServiceNow Development teams that you “get” them, rather than sending email upon email – which can be like nails on a chalkboard to a more agile team. (Trust us on this one, the vehicle matters!)
5. Co-Develop on specific items
We strongly recommend that our clients’ ServiceNow team co-develop specific items with our team as the best way for our clients to learn how to be ultimately self-sufficient. Co-development forces your ServiceNow team to get their hands on the platform in a controlled environment and prompts faster learning. It also generally has the added benefit in both short and long-term cost savings.
Look for low-barrier options, and get your development team active as quickly as possible. Typically, areas around Request (creating Service Catalog items and associated workflow) is a great way to get into the ServiceNow solution early on.
Get Ready to Enable ServiceNow Success!
Following these five steps will ensure you build a team ready to maintain (and possibly) enhance your ServiceNow solution.
Remember that ServiceNow in your environment is a journey. The right partner will guide you through this journey, and help you prepare for the long term. Knowledge Transfer is just as critical to this preparation as is a roadmap, good architecture, and technical best practice development.