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Back-to-School: ServiceNow Best Practices to Optimize Your Autumn

It happens: You implement your ServiceNow Instance, have your slice of go-live cake, and get to using your instance in your day-to-day business. You make some changes here and there, but you may not remember to pay attention to the little things that may impact performance, or could use a little attention.

Why not use Fall — the season for purchasing new school supplies, brushing up on lessons, and going back to basics — to review your ServiceNow Instance?

Maintaining your instance doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Getting into the habit of reviewing your processes and data, and setting dates for larger tasks will set you up for success, and keep your instance as healthy as the day you went live.

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Clean Out the Clutter.

Just like you would go through your closet and weed out the clothes you no longer wear, it’s good to go through your ServiceNow Instance and get rid of things you’re not using. Hiding or deactivating Workflows or other saved lists you aren’t utilizing will help your users’ experience, as well as increase efficiency. Here are some places you can declutter:

  • Incident Categories. Take a look at the last three months’ Incidents, and assess if you are using all the categories (and subcategories if you’re using them). To do that, create a report that groups the Incidents by Category. Any that you’re not using can be set to Inactive. This will decrease the amount of choices your teams will have to look through, and make your entire Instance more efficient.
  • Scheduled Jobs. Review your Scheduled Jobs, and stop running processes you don’t need. Decreasing any unnecessary processes running is another optimization that’s always good for the overall performance of your Instance.
  • Inactivity Monitors. These processes run and are watching for inactive tasks, and trigger events for any inactive tasks they find. Review any monitors you’ve set up. If they are triggering events that are no longer in use, or if they are set for conditions that are no longer part of your service plan, deactivate them.
  • Update Sets. Review Update Sets that are still “In Progress.” If you aren’t planning to move those changes to Production, set them to “Ignore,” and try to revert their changes back to Default.
  • Archive Old Data. An Instance that’s been running for a few years most likely has records that are no longer relevant, but ones you still need to keep for historical purposes. Consider activating the Data Archiving plugin, and set rules for data to be archived. That way, older data will no longer be part of active list views or searches, but will be accessible within the archived tables if you need it.

Keep it Clean.

Every year in school, you get your new desk, put your books in once spot, pencils in another, and say “this year I will keep it neat.”

It’s time to use that strategy for your ServiceNow Instance. Fall is the perfect season to go through your patches, your upgrades, and maybe even complete some of the tasks above that you started, but then didn’t quite get to. This time, let’s keep that Instance running smoothly by establishing some routines.

  • Cloning Schedule. Pick an interval of time to clone your Production Instance down to your sub-production Instance(s). A good range to choose from would be monthly or quarterly, depending on how frequently you change the Instance. The longer you go between cloning, the more opportunity you leave for gaps to occur, which can will cause collision and errors when trying to promote Update Sets or any other changes.
  • Ace the ACE Report. The Automated Configuration Editor (ACE) scans your instance to ensure configurations, scripts, and everything else in your Instance adheres to ServiceNow’s configuration best practices. It’s a good idea to run this report after any major configuration project, or at least once a year. You can request it through your Support Account Manager, your Partner, or through a HI request (while they do not run the ACE report, they can direct you where to send the request.)
  • Get out the Map. Having a roadmap is a great way to stay on top of your Instance’s overall health. Developing a roadmap helps define your vision on the best way to improve your ServiceNow experience. If you already have a roadmap, revisiting your plan on a regular basis (such as quarterly with the change of the seasons) will ensure stay true to the path your team originally laid out – and by nature will remind you of some of the tips included in this blog.
  • Plan for the Upgrades. Be sure to include the regularly-released Instance Upgrades in your roadmap. Failing to keep on top of upgrades not only leaves you behind on getting the great new features, but can also cause some functionality issues if you let the versions accumulate between you and the newest “city” release. Upgrading sometimes takes a bit of work, but letting too much time elapse between released can ultimately take longer to test and resolve any legacy challenges you could have solved through upgrades.

Keeping your Instance current and up-to-date is not just for “best practice” purposes. Having a system that runs smoothly and is constantly improving is an investment in your fulfillment teams that use it every day. An efficient work space, free of performance issues or poor data availability will ensure they will continue to use ServiceNow. It also creates a consistent experience for the end users that may not frequent the instance, and has a higher expectation when they visit the site to log an Incident, or browse the Knowledge Base.

If you’d like more information on maintaining your Instances, the ServiceNow wiki has some great Best Practice articles. Additionally, the Acorio Virtual Assistanceprogram can work with you and your teams to create a roadmap and maintenance plan, as well as perform the maintenance. All that’s left is to figure out how to get another slice of cake!

(Thank you to Mike Hanrahan, Timothy Haroutunian, Ken Michelson Marci Parker, Steve Socha, Andrew Wortham, and JL Yahn for contributing to this article)

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