EXPAND: CSO Brian Murphy on Maximizing Value of the ServiceNow Platform

For this month’s EXPAND Executive Insights, I sat down with Acorio’s Chief Sales Officer, Brian Murphy, to discuss how clients can maximize the value of the ServiceNow platform. Coming out of Knowledge, this topic is front-of-mind for platform clients, and it’s important to act while internal motivation and inspiration are high.  

Keep reading to see what Brian has to say about platform investment strategy shifts, common project roadblocks, and today’s top digital transformation priorities for executives.  

Looking for quicker access to my conversation with Brian? Catch the highlights in this video, then keep reading below to get the full scoop.  

Shifting Platform Investment Strategies  

In the past 5 years, companies have worked diligently to grow their platform foundation, mirroring ServiceNow’s expansion to serve across the entire enterprise.  Among Acorio’s clients, we’ve also seen a large focus on optimizing the overall experience for employeescustomers, and the supply chain ecosystem with which they interact.  

In the past 15 months, or so, of course, we have seen an acceleration of these trends. The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted clients in a few thematic ways:  

  • Initially, we had unplanned peaks that tested clients’ ability to scale their existing workflows. As a result, this discovery prompted clients to more thoroughly review core workflows on the platform. 
  • Secondly, workflows shifted and evolved as people and their organizations adapted to new patterns of work, like transitioning to remote work, and now moving back to a safe return to work.  

These have greatly impacted platform strategy investments in the past year by reprioritizing roadmap execution, based on new and rapidly changing priorities.  

For long-time ServiceNow customers, that includes prioritizing or accelerating plans to bring prior customizations “back-to-box” now that the functionality is native to the platform. It also means shifting to CSDM so they can more rapidly leverage opportunity on the ServiceNow platform while reducing costs through consolidation and automation. 

Sidestepping Common Roadblocks to Minimize Delays  

Because of this expedited change, it’s important to address the challenges that can hinder success once budget is secured.  

Common roadblocks for clients working on digital transformation strategies stem from lack of preparation. Planning and Governance are critical components for customers who are committed to true digital transformation.  

Planning goes beyond a roadmap – it requires journey mapping (also referred to as value mapping) that connects a firm’s roadmap back to the business’ strategic priorities. In order to successfully complete this mapping, it’s best to work with a partner who has both deep and broad expertise, particularly with advisory capabilities focused on business outcomes.   

Once you have a thoughtful strategy in place, unexpected delays can still impede a project’s success. The delays we see can happen for a variety of reasons, and can stem from any piece of a project: budget issues, changes in leadership, or even miscommunications with a ServiceNow partner.  

Here are three common delays along with tips to avoid them and ensure your project stays on track and on time. 

  1. Unexpected costs can lead to budget issues. To minimize the likelihood of delays resulting from the need to seek additional funding, we recommend engaging exclusively with quality partners when budgeting for initiatives. By dealing with a partner you trust to give you the full scope the first time, you can minimize downstream surprises. Further, a strong team will prioritize working with you to help build a business case, and ensure sufficient funding is available to properly achieve your plan.  
  2. Basing executive sponsorships on authority and seniority. To enact true change, Executive sponsorships have to focus much deeper than just asserting authority.  In my experience, successful digital transformation executives prioritize partnership and collaboration. They stay engaged throughout the project and maintain regular, direct communication with their peers at the partner. This consistent line of communication helps client and partner teams remain aligned and adjust along the way as needed.  
  3. Limited Subject Matter Experts and Stakeholder availability.This is one of the biggest challenges we see in terms of delays. Balancing both their daily responsibilities and project activities can be overwhelming, leading to limited bandwidth and availability. When I was in the ERP world, customers often brought in outside temporary support for the daily operating requirements while the stakeholders focused on the project outcome and guiding temporary help as needed. 

View the slideshare on LinkedIn

Learning from Others’ Mistakes: Don’t Fall Prey to These Missteps  

In addition to those common delays, there are a few repeated mistakes that we see clients make throughout their ServiceNow journey.  

1. Customers focusing on technical items more so than focusing on process. When clients view the platform primarily as a tool with just knobs and switches, rather than recognizing it’s a strategic platform for transformation, they tend not to realize the full value of ServiceNow. This mindset also leads to challenges down the road when they want to evolve and expand use of the platform. Typically, those challenges result in customizations to replicate current state, rather than evolving, workflows around the platform.  Eventually, that cascades into a need for remediation in order to move the platform value forward.

2. Picking a partner solely based on cost or brand name recognitions. We sometimes see clients select the “safe-bet” with a big brand-name partner or an outsourcer who can just “roll it in”. These decisions often lead to the client eventually looking at other partners later on.  

For example, we have a large manufacturing client who began their journey with us after their previous efforts with big firms took too long to deliver value. We worked collaboratively with their team, adapting our business model to meet their requirements and focus on success. These adjustments led them to realize their vision of creating a modern customer engagement process across their support centers, which ultimately increased wallet share in their Maintenance programs. 

3. Allowing procurement motions to impede the selection of the right partner. Organizations whose procurement people are trained and involved in the project from the beginning of the selection process and who are not exclusively goaled on cost reduction are most successful.  

Selecting a partner is arguably one of the biggest decisions a client will make during their ServiceNow journey. It’s absolutely critical to find a partner you trust to lead you to success. Otherwise, firms can waste key budget and available time on projects that either don’t solve for their client’s business priorities or provide a solution that is faulty or difficult to maintain. When selecting a partner, base your decision on their experience, understanding of the businesses objectives and their ability to deliver high quality solutions. Cost is always going to be factor, it just shouldn’t be the top focus.  The old adage is true:  You get what you pay for.  The right partner will demonstrate flexibility, focus on their capability and demonstrated success. 

How to Keep Momentum Moving After Knowledge  

Attendees are leaving Knowledge with a lot of new information and heightened excitement to further expand their platform. In order to keep those internal planning motions moving while motivation is high, you should first ensure that you have a trusted partner who will guide you and challenge your thinking with their experience.  

Once you have a chosen partner, make sure to set up time to meet with them and discuss what you’ve learned at Knowledge. Share ideas and ask for guidance on how best to adopt, adapt or adjust.  

I connect with a lot of clients who love what they see but have been on the platform for some time, often on older SKUs. There is a lot of reticence around adjusting licensing and increasing costs.  

Many of them would need to have remediation efforts, like I mentioned before, to remove customizations that are now out of the box functionality.  Along these lines, firms should focus on shifting architecture toward CSDM with a lot of CMDB efforts in order to move forward with agility.   

Often, older clients manage the platform at 1st or 2nd line manager roles in the organization. They tend to be more technical in focus and without the right sponsorship from executives it’s challenging for them to affect change. In these cases, leveraging a partner to help make the business case would be a great first step and engage senior leadership on the opportunity. 

Top Executive Priorities for Today’s Digital Transformation Initiatives 

Executive conversations around digital transformation are constantly evolving – even more so over the past 15 months. Now more than ever, we’re seeing an increased sense of urgency for transformation.  

Furthermore, the pandemic has required agility and faster planning and decision-making from firms.  Companies have been forced to accelerate ServiceNow projects so that they can utilize the platform more extensively, on a condensed timeline.  

We’ve all personally seen the effects of supply chain disruption over the last year.  As most retailers have had to pivot to digital, supporting stores has been a real challenge for the retail industry.  

One of the best examples of this has been a client in the grocery store business, who have had to really evolve their supply chain and field service infrastructure to meet demand. In particular, they embarked on a store support effort to consolidate applications and more efficiently route challenges to the right people. Whether it be a shipment delay causing inventory issues, transaction system challenges, OSHA reporting or facility challenges, customer issue – whatever the case may be, they were able to consolidate into a single application and route it quickly to the right people. It was really exciting to see how quickly this client was able to take advantage of the solution and roll it out. 

To learn more about current ServiceNow trends, download our Executive Summary for this year’s Insight & Vision Report.