All aboard: What is governance?

Are you considering or new to ServiceNow and overwhelmed by the vastness of ServiceNow’s modules? Is your organization a long time ServiceNow subscriber who is lost on your voyage to instance maturity because of meandering processes and siloed resources? In ServiceNow’s ever-evolving sea of features it is imperative that you chart a course using ServiceNow Governance. This article will provide an overview of Governance and how a premier partner like Aspire can help you and your ServiceNow crew on their journey.

In its dictionary form, governance is defined as “the action or manner of governing”; Pretty straight forward, but how does this relate to the complexity involved with maintaining and growing your instance? As you manage your ServiceNow instance, there will be several different decisions you will need to make: What modules and applications do I need? Are the out of box features of a given application enough or do I need to add customizations to my backlog? First and foremost, good governance will allow you to answer these questions and streamline how your organization makes decisions about them. As a result of good governance, you will reap numerous benefits.

Strategy, Operating Model, and Governance Model

ServiceNow’s framework for governance relies on developing the following three areas: Strategy, operating model, and governance model — which are all intertwined. Let us take a look at all three in the context of implementing a custom workflow for onboarding.

In case of governance, strategy is your goal and the things you will need to achieve that goal. For example, an enterprise’s desired business outcome may be to decrease employee onboarding time using custom automated workflows to help provision software and hardware – One can think of a strategy in terms of ‘I will use X to achieve Y’.

The operating model is related to strategy. It is the process of enabling the capabilities required to achieve the strategy. Going back to the onboarding workflow, the operating model would comprise of things like what integrations will be used in the workflow or the technical resources allocated to the implementation team.

To tie it all together, the governance model serves as a mechanism for discipline and direction that helps you determine whether your operating model is on course in relation to your strategy and technical capabilities. In terms of guiding the creation of the onboarding workflow, the governance model is the framework to streamline your decision making throughout the process and helps in guiding you to ensure that your operating model is within the constraints of your strategy and capabilities. In navigation terms, the strategy is both your ship and destination port, the operating model is your plotted course, and the governance model is your compass.

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The Journey ahead: Introduction to the Phases of Establishing Governance and How we Can Help

ServiceNow’s best practice guidelines establishes a rule of three for both high-level process: Setup, Definition of Process, and Continuous Improvement.

During the Setup Phase, the primary goal is to define the scope, direction, and goals your enterprise wishes to achieve using ServiceNow. What areas do you want to automate and what features you want to deliver? What are my compliance requirements? Who will own the platform? It can sometimes be overwhelming to try and answer all this at once, and it is okay if a complete vision is not yet formed at this time. A partner like Aspire can help identify and guide you and your stakeholders through these questions. What is key at this point is establishing the following personas for governance — Platform Owner, Executive Sponsor, Service & Process Owners. For many organizations this is the easy part, as the plan. A partner like Aspire can help you identify the best people for ownership and ensure a lean decision-making team.

The Definition of Process Phase will primarily involve setting up your boards and defining the decision-making process for them such as The Executive Board, Technical Board, and Demand Board. The strategic board is headed by your executive sponsor and decides on the vision and direction for the platform. The Technical Board, often led by the platform owner or lead architect, will decide on whether certain customizations and applications in the Executive Boards’ vision are feasible in the scope of your subscription model, infrastructure, and platform best practices. Lastly, the Demand Board will make decisions for your portfolio based on the roadmap and prioritizes the vision set by the Executive Board. As a ServiceNow Partner, we have a team of technical and business process experts available to participate and drive your technology and portfolio process.

The Continuous Improvement Phase is probably the most important phase, as it is the one you will be in the longest. Once your goals, personas, and processes are in place, you will need to set metrics to measure the effectiveness of the governance you have setup. For example, how many decisions are made in each quarter and over the course of how many meetings? Are these meetings taking a lot of time? As a partner we can help review your governance polices and processes and provide consulting to improve your effectiveness and run governance audits to ensure your boards are in check and eliminate bottlenecks in the decision-making process.

Sailing into the Sunset: Final Words

By setting up proper governance and constantly reviewing your processes, your enterprise can ensure your vision will always be on the horizon. You will be able to work faster because of clear decision making, and you rest assured that technical and business risk will be minimized because of efficient planning and decision making. Although, setting up governance is no quick or easy feat, the important thing to know about the process is that you do not have to go alone. A partner like Aspire can provide consultation throughout the governance process and guide you towards success.


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