Over the course of my last 12 years working with ServiceNow one subject that keeps repeating is that of Accelerators. These are typically partner provided updates added on top of the core ServiceNow offering with the stated goal of improving or speeding up the implementation of ServiceNow for a customer.
Sometimes there is confusion as people mistake going faster for better, this is not always the case. When you are travelling you have to consider both the speed and your planned destination. You wouldn’t just get on the fastest bus, you get on the fastest bus going to your place of travel. So, with ServiceNow you should consider what the accelerator does and not just how fast it enables your implementation.
In this blog I will look into the nature of these Accelerators and discuss the pros and potential cons of implementing these in your environment.
What are Accelerators?
Accelerators are changes to the out-of-the-box ServiceNow product(s) with a goal of enhancing or speeding up implementation.
They may include minor configuration changes to system properties, changes to application logic, user interfaces and to core code within ServiceNow. Accelerators would typically be used at the start of a ServiceNow implementation to set up the instance to a partner specified state including pre-configured processes. These are usually labelled as “best-practice” that are based on extensive knowledge and experience. Further customisation would typically be carried out to accommodate specific customer requirements.
Pros & Cons of Accelerators
A question to ask yourself is, “Is the ServiceNow out-of-the-box implementation not best-practice already?”
It is what ServiceNow tells us we should all aspire to use as it will be supported and upgraded easily. Accelerators are a particular company’s version of best practice – so the question is – what’s the difference and will I benefit?
Below is a non-exhaustive list of the possible pros and cons of using de-accelerators.
- Faster implementation of a partner’s version of ServiceNow
- Partner “best-practice” version of ServiceNow
- More “turnkey” implementation resulting in a reduced cost
- Divergence from ServiceNow best practice
- Tied in to a particular partner’s version of “best-practice”
- In the event Accelerator changes are unwanted, undoing them can be costlier than starting from scratch
- Possibility of impacting upgradability
- New ServiceNow functionality may be impacted
- Accelerators are not suitable for every customer due to challenges of scale and implementation specifics
- Future requirements might contradict the functionality requiring you to modify the accelerator and impacting future support
Considering an accelerator? What should you ask?
Accelerators can offer a great boost to an implementation. Good practice would feature accelerators that provide specific functionality, per installation, with the goal of meeting a specific functional requirement.
If you are considering using one, here are some questions you should ask to help determine if the Accelerator being proposed is right for you:
- Based on my company requirements what elements of the Accelerator meet my needs and will therefore directly speed up the implementation?
- What changes are included in the Accelerator?
- What are the platform changes?
- What changes have been made to ServiceNow processes?
- Is there updated documentation?
- Can I take some changes and not others to meet my needs?
- Can I make changes after I install it and still be supported?
- How will the accelerator be managed going forward?
- Is the accelerator delivered via the ServiceNow Store?
- How is the accelerator versioned?
- Which ServiceNow releases has it been tested on?
- Does it follow ServiceNow’s development standards?
- Which browser versions has it been tested on?
- Will future upgrades be tested, and certification be provided?
- Has the accelerator been tested at scale?
- How is the accelerator supported?
These questions will help you understand the overall cost of the Accelerator for the next three to five years, so you can build up a picture of the overall value that ensures the short-term benefit isn’t outweighed by the longer-term cost of maintaining it.
Typically, Accelerators are used to bring a new environment to a specific level of functionality quickly. However, you could apply Accelerators to an already customised implementation… This would need to be considered very carefully and should only be done with great care to ensure you don’t impact functionality you already have.
Accelerators are marketed as a way to fast-track implementations and in that way, they can add value and be a benefit to an implementation in the short term. For them to be the right choice they also need to be easy to maintain going forward to ensure a low TCO.
Is there an alternative? ServiceNow configuration can be fast and produce excellent results in the hands of an experienced partner. Changing specific requirements from out-of-the-box can be more effective and less risky than applying a set of generic changes because you only get what you need. Buyer beware.