A delegated catalog – providing business benefit through innovation
The catalog, and the portal that people access it through, are rightly or wrongly perceived as the face of technology. It is the place users go to help them get their job done. This makes it a perfect place to focus effort in the age of consumerisation and digital transformation.
The catalog can help make IT an integral part of the business by enabling users, rather than slowing them down. Done correctly you can achieve a great user experience, while simultaneously reducing the complexity and duplication of services.
Ironically, when implemented well, the demand the catalog generates in terms of modifications to services can be over-whelming. This alone can quickly turn a catalog that is a success on day one into something that is out-of-date months later given the pace at which business moves today.
TESM has designed a delegated catalog, using out-of-the-box ServiceNow technology, to reduce the risk of this occurring.
What is OOTB in ServiceNow?
Before going further I wanted to talk about the functionality that ServiceNow provides out-of-the-box . The catalog and portal capability is very good. Your development team can build items, and present them to the user, via the Service Portal.
As your organisation gets bigger, you can begin to delegate that development work, using Item Designer.
This is the first step many people take to manage the demand driven by a successful catalog as mentioned before.
However, we have seen that this process can create some challenges.
- The core team still has to move the update sets around when product owners make changes, increasing time to market. So, whilst you can scale the build part of the process, you then need to scale your core team. That isn’t usually viable due to cost, or skill base, challenges. These items are deployed in work packages as part of the platform release cycle. This will result in items typically taking between 4 and 12 weeks to make it to production given the number of steps required to design, build, and deploy an item. While those numbers may seem high, it only takes an upgrade to take priority and smaller items quickly take a back seat.If you compare that to the time it takes to order something at home, you can understand why the business could get frustrated and start looking for other tool sets.
- The governance around what is built is reduced because you simply move the items the product owners build without worrying too much about their content. It wouldn’t really be a delegated model if you looked into each item! However due to the reduced feature set available in Item Designer you can get people building things in a way that impacts end-user experience through the lack of validation and scalability and having many items that do the same thing. To provide a holistic delivery mechanism, and the capability to scale and meet demand, the customer must implement ownership & governance workflows and fundamentally change how items are deployed.
So TESM have built on top of Item Designer to allow product owners to:
- Deploy new items without effort from the core team
- Ensure changes to items are governed and approved
- Allow the capability to capture accurate data through advanced fields with validation
To achieve this, we allow items to be created and edited directly in production via a versioning system. We have also improved the feature set available in questions to allow cross field for validation.
On the governance side, approvals are required at each stage from the product owners or testers. Items follow a re-certification process to ensure they aren’t stale.
These changes reduce the overall time to create or make a change – from weeks to hours! You can achieve this because the release process is separated from the core team release cycle.
This process benefits the speed of item delivery, but importantly also frees up the core team so they can focus on higher value projects. I haven’t seen a ServiceNow platform that wouldn’t benefit from more hands. Using the delegated model, you are able to therefore reduce time to market and reduce costs, whilst still achieving excellent user experience.
A business and IT win-win.