Five Things Your Service Management Process Is Probably Missing

A large national utility company (who shall remain anonymous) was feeling pretty good about its IT Service Management program. Having successfully implemented ServiceNow, they were proud of their cutting-edge ITSM operation, and happy to claim victory with their initial “go-live.”

… Unfortunately, user frustrations and new requirements started building up. Firm leadership realized that perhaps their ServiceNow instance wasn’t something they could treat in a “set-it-and-forget it” manner. To keep pace with these new user needs, they needed to go deeper into the technology to further connect their data and optimize their ITSM processes.  

They decided to implement additional core applications, including a service catalog, incident management, and request management, as well as expanding their ServiceNow instance to include HR case management apps – all designed to appease key stakeholders and solve users’ urgent issues faster. 

This ITSM expansion also required a paradigm shift on the part of the organization – moving
from an application framework, of simply looking at what the technology is capable of, to a more service-oriented mindset, where they thought about how to use their ITSM technology to solve business problems, bring clarity to their ITSM data and support processes, and improve internal customer satisfaction.ITSM_blog.jpeg

These new data standards, and an outlook towards continuous improvement, enhanced their ServiceNow experience. The IT leadership team now had a story of holistic company transformation to share, and were repeatedly hailed as heroes inside their company for figuring out a way to make all of their disconnected systems finally work together.

As this story suggests, successfully implementing IT Service Management is one thing; figuring how to prioritize changes and make consistent improvements to your processes so they work in your organization is quite another.

Many companies go through the hard work of implementing ITSM and see terrific improvements in the way they work. Unfortunately, one of the issues we hear time and time again is that once implemented, your ServiceNow leaders get so inundated with change requests, it’s hard to define the next step. Businesses that want to be competitive know they can’t afford to stay still. But how to evolve your practices with new technology, and new competitive landscapes, and new data or processes – particularly once you have uncovered additional process issues – can be a tall order.

Based on experiences such as the utility above, we pulled together the five most common ITSM benefits that companies who have already implemented ServiceNow or other ITSM programs are frequently missing out on amid the noise. If you don’t know where your practices stand, maybe it’s time to take a second look.

Here are some common ways that firms have become complacent in their implementations, and the bonus upside for those firms who opt for continuous improvement.


  1. Connect data and workflows to bring transparency to your service delivery processes.

    Advanced ITSM processes align the right data with the appropriate business owners. Among many benefits, these connected systems inevitably improve communication within IT, as well as between your IT teams and their internal stakeholders.

    Great IT Service Management processes enable their users to set clearer expectations and better predict outcomes. That happens in a few ways, including:

    • Remove confusing email threads from service delivery processes. A platform-based communication process gets your work communications out of the email inbox – where important emails can end up in junk mail or left unanswered. By housing all of the central data and tracking in one location, ITSM platforms streamline communications with customers and stakeholders and help firms avoid a lot of the misunderstandings that come from endless emails.
    • Clarify ownership of work. ITSM workflows assign owners for each step and outcome throughout a project. These assignments give everyone involved visibility into responsibilities. This avoids confusion and mismanaged expectations while improving accountability.
    • Clarify and define the workflows and steps involved in each of your ITSM processes. Making your processes tangible and traceable is one of the best ways to ensure a positive outcome.

      Without guardrails, “processes” can be ambiguous without clearly delineated steps, and a means of ensuring your team is following those steps. ITSM platforms define the steps involved in each of your IT Service processes. They set up a logical order for what  steps happen in what order, what inputs someone needs in order to move to the next step (ensuring, for example, that a new site is tested before it’s shown to internal stakeholders for review), and defines the definition of done – and what outcomes are expected from each step.

    • Define your service offerings. A huge benefit of ITSM is a clear service catalog. When users understand what’s available, they’ll make better choices and communicate needs more clearly. You’ll also be able to serve their needs faster through standardized services that allow your team to create repeatable processes around common requests or repeat issues, such HR benefit inquiries.
    • Communicate service reliability and uptime. ITSM, and ServiceNow in particular, includes several portal and site options to help your users see data on reliability and uptime. This transparency allows your team to share your wins, relieves user’s stress wondering about the status of a given ticket, which both work to gain internal credibility and confidence in your IT team.
  2. Save money with better data and better insights.

    Arguably the most important upside of ITSM programs is the cost savings that come from productive, efficient processes, and better data on your company’s assets and operations.

    It’s a pretty good bet that your first Service Management integration drove significant financial benefits. It’s also a pretty good bet that your initial ServiceNow implementation left at least some money on the table. Now that you have better data, and better visibility into your operations, it may be time to revisit your processes.

    Here are some of the ways other firms have driven additional savings by optimizing their existing ITSM instances:

    • Control your equipment spending. A major element of most ITSM initiatives are asset management modules, which aim to provide accurate data on your company’s IT assets (what you own, where your equipment is, and who’s using it).

      Put simply, accurately tracking your IT assets means you can avoid overspending by not buying new technology because you can’t find your existing assets. It also creates tools that help your teams redeploy distributed assets like software licenses when users leave the firm or shift roles. If you’re not tracking your spending in IT, you have some major opportunities to save thousands (if not tens of thousands) next year.  

    • Validate cost data for outage and downtime analysis. We all know outages cost money, but we often don’t have the data to understand root causes and impacts. Access to better downtime data gives you the ability to make fact-based decisions and run better scenario testing to improve operations and avoid future outages.
    • Improve team utilization. With visibility into what your team is working on, you can redistribute talent from unproductive activities to ones that contribute to bottom-line results. Instead of having three people triage issues or handle emails with subjects like, “My outlook isn’t working,” you can automate your ticketing processes, and focus your staff on personally responding to users with higher value questions, such as, “Is there a way to streamline our reports and get them out of Excel?”
    • Standardize and automate processes. At their core, ITSM procedures standardize business processes – allowing your business to run your core business functions faster and more accurately. This, in turn, allows your team to improve through-put and ultimately save time and money.

      A great step towards saving even more money on your ServiceNow implementation is looking for any common process that you can define, standardize and automate.

  3. Make better strategic decisions.

    Service Management gives you transparency across you entire delivery operation, letting you see the impact of changes as soon as they are made. Seeing the results of your process changes allows you to understand them better, and stack-rank new strategic priorities based on tangible data.

    This data transparency means the more you optimize your ITSM processes, the better your strategy gets. Among other strategic benefits, you can:

    • Assess risks based on facts. Instead of putting your thumb in the air and hoping your gut can guide business decisions, appropriately leveraging your ITSM technology means that you can predict and mitigate potential delivery risks based on real data – always a better idea!
    • Plan your change management. ServiceNow is a champion at facilitating change management systems. While it’s hard to fully capture all those capabilities in this bullet (learn more here!), an optimized ITSM process means management will have better control over the planning and implementation for projected changes. Further, once changes are made, you organization will be able to track the impact of those changes using real-time data.
    • Analyze the impact of changing critical services. Beyond just tracking and measuring change processes, effective IT Service Management helps you develop needs assessments and  model scenarios to understand the impact of changes before you implement them – and decide whether they are worth the process upheaval or not.
  4. Change your company culture from an application mindset to one focused on serving customers and internal users.

    When your IT team thinks about only technical applications and the solutions those tools can produce, your business can only get as good as an idea that someone else has already had, and designed a technological fix for.  When your technology is limited, your team also tends to spend their time focused on navel-gazing – worrying about specific applications, their capabilities and their limitations.

    Good data and visibility into your ITSM systems can also help transform your company culture – allowing your teams to think about outcomes, and on how to deliver the best customer service and results for internal and external clients, to drive better customer satisfaction.

    When you stop worrying about the roadblocks set up by your applications, you can focus more on the business problems you’re trying to solve and on the people you’re serving, this produces:

    • Increased customer satisfaction. A better technology, and service oriented culture sharpens your focus on internal and external customer needs. For example, ServiceNow’s change management app allows you to make user requested changes quickly and in a standardized way, and then report back to them when these updates are complete.

      The process of aligning customer needs and business capacity inevitably leads to improved customer satisfaction. Taken to the next level, our clients in next gen ServiceNow implementations also find that once the start looking at their processes through the customer lens, they have more room to improve.

    • Effective solutions for common business needs. When you start to think about customers’ needs and how to deliver services instead of applications, you think like the business. Ultimately, this means your ITSM processes better equip your firm to support your company’s broader corporate objectives. The lesson: If you are thinking about ITSM purely as a way to process simple requests, you aren’t thinking big enough.
  5. Brand (or re-brand) your operations team as a reliable and consistent partner.

    We all know that IT teams can occasionally get a bad reputation for being difficult or unresponsive. Cohesive ITSM systems facilitate a new kind of relationship with your organization by providing a service that users (and customers) can depend on.

    To take your ITSM engagement to the next level, think about which of your existing customer experiences you can make more consistent, and where you can showcase your team as a trustworthy business partner to key stakeholders. Here’s how:

    • Focus on on customer delivery via Service Level Agreements (SLAs). SLAs that measure what customers care about go a long way toward improving customer impressions and satisfaction. Once you have defined these agreements, make sure to circulate this information and celebrate successes to get the most out of your good progress.

      Offer proactive support instead of putting out fires.
      Users get frustrated when they face the same, or similar, problems over and over. ITSM helps you analyze root causes and avoid predictable incidents, allowing your people to solve productivity issues using a more proactive approach.
    • Improve continuously. When you have data on incidents, uptime, root causes, and other important service aspects, you can then in turn look for ways to improve. The key to making the most of your Service Management technology here is to embed these improvement protocols into the DNA of your ITSM technology, until it becomes a continuous part of delivery.

If your organization is already reaping the rewards of your ServiceNow implementation, congratulations! You’re well on your way to maximizing customer satisfaction and advancing your firm’s strategic capabilities. We know that this is only the beginning of your journey, and hope these suggestions helped to prioritize how best to stay on top of your users’ needs, continuously improve, and look for new and deeper benefits from expanding your ITSM efforts.