Older and larger ServiceNow implementations have a tendency to become very cluttered. Abandoned projects, makeshift solutions, redundant workarounds and more can start to clog up your instance. Knowing this, we often see many organizations considering whether they should invest in cleaning up their implementation. The thought of decluttering ServiceNow scares many teams due to the effort they believe it would take. So how much effort actually needs to be invested? And what rewards can a team look forward to?
Why you Should be Decluttering ServiceNow
There are many good reasons it’s worth investing the time to clean up your instance. The most important one is improving the user experience. If your users are experiencing problems or are starting to notice a bloated platform then you have a problem. They might start thinking negatively about the platform, resulting in a possible drop in adoption rates. Worst of all this might cause measurable harm to the business with issues like data not being recorded properly or processes taking much longer than they should.
Beyond these reasons, cleaning up an instance will make the life of the ServiceNow team easier. Your platform will be easier to maintain and scale, with fewer surprises lurking around the corner that could cause issues. It will also ensure a better grasp of platform security, considered to be one of the largest threats SaaS solutions face. If you don’t know where everything is, it’s very hard to say you’re confident your system is secure.
How to Approach Decluttering
There are two main approaches to cleaning up you instance: you can clean up gradually or you can start afresh. Both approaches have their pros and cons:
Gradual – this allows you to take cleaning up at a more measured pace. If you devote a percentage of your sprints to cleaning up, then you will start to see a difference. Make sure to prioritize and align with whatever you are working on. The issues with this approach can be that you need to be very vigilant that you are not introducing more issues in trying to unpick any mess you currently have. There is also more time for issues to compound while you focus on fixing another part of the platform.
Start afresh – this is an enormous undertaking that will take a long time, but will allow you the chance to redesign the instance with the latest features and in a more sustainable way. It is often easier to design from scratch than unpick complicated connected systems. Starting from scratch is an option we have seen in platforms who get so far behind on upgrades that it is faster to start anew than to upgrade. This is a more disruptive approach on the other hand and many platform owners will leave it as a last resort.
When choosing your approach you should do an honest investigation of how long it would take you to fix what you have vs how long it would take to start afresh. You can use tools to get an idea of the current shape of your instance and highlight the different issues. Once you have this calculation and have factored in costs, you should work out whether the cost of a gradual approach makes sense, or whether it is better to simply start from scratch.
Where to Start
First, decide if you want to start fixing code or configuration. With your configuration, one excellent place to start is Quality Clouds free Field Analysis tool. It analyzes custom database table fields and let’s you see which fields are populated and which are not. Extra fields can cause a lot of visual noise and issues with data collection for your users. The tool will help identify underused fields so you can target them for elimination or redesign forms. You could consider assigning some fields as mandatory or auto-populating them if the information is of business value. Using automated solutions can eliminate the tedium of data collection, and instead allow you to focus on designing better ways for your users to get the most out of ServiceNow.
For the developers and architects, consider where you might be able to use clicks rather than code. Code can sometimes be a reflexive instinct and while there is nothing inherently wrong with coding (and some areas will require it!), it is a lot more complex to maintain and build upon than the out of the box framework ServiceNow provides. Reviewing low-quality code and code duplicates when you run across them is also highly beneficial to your platform. More than anything else, coding should always be a conscious choice vs configuration. Never an assumed default.
If nothing else, it is important to understand what is happening in your instance. This means periodic reviews are essential to maintaining a sustainable and successful platform. Really focus in on what is and isn’t needed in the platform and where there are areas that could benefit from improvement. There isn’t much of a leap from ‘mess’ to ‘broken mess’ and that can result in unhappy users and management as you scramble to find and fix whatever went wrong. An efficient instance will lead to efficient maintenance and efficient business processes. An all-around win-win scenario. Decluttering ServiceNow is worth investing your time into because you will see tangible results.
Make sure to download our free Field Analysis tool today from the ServiceNow Store to get started on improving your instance.