ServiceNow Change Management: A Quick and Dirty Guide

ServiceNow Change Management: A Quick and Dirty Guide
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The ServiceNow change management platform is robust, offering plenty of features for anyone working within IT services.

This platform is widely used, and offers a change framework quite similar to ITIL. Though, as we’ll see below, there are a few minor differences.

Overall, ServiceNow is one of the best choices out there for change management … but it isn’t the only one on the market.

Below, we’ll cover the basics of the program, compare it to ITIL, and explore its benefits and drawbacks, if there are any.

What Is ServiceNow?

ServiceNow is a platform that automates business processes, offering a wide range of solutions that embrace IT services management, cybersecurity, customer service, and more.

This reputable product has received top reviews from companies such as Gartner and Forrester, among others.

In this article, we will only be focusing on ServiceNow’s IT Service Management tool.

ServiceNow Change Management for IT Services

In IT services management (ITSM), change management focuses on creating streamlined, standardized procedures for enacting change.

The goal of ITSM change management is to reduce service impacts, mitigate risk, and cut costs for change implementations.

ServiceNow’s ITSM platform offers not only a change management solution, but also:

  • Incident and problem management
  • Customer request management
  • Virtual agents
  • Knowledge management
  • Performance analytics

And much more.

ServiceNow: Change and Release Management

Under the umbrella of its ITSM platform lies the change and release management tool.

This application works, like ITIL, to provide a framework for processing change requests. But, on top of that, it offers features that make ITSM professionals’ lives much easier.

For instance:

  • Service maps that allow you to visualize change impacts
  • CAB meeting management
  • Backlog analysis dashboard
  • Automated risk assessment and calculation
  • Concurrent change management with a timeline or calendar

Among others.

These robust tools offer a perfect solution for any ITSM professional, especially one working in a large, or growing, organization.

Change and Release Management: The Basics

If you are familiar with ITIL, then you will be able to understand ServiceNow’s platform.

The structure of the change management workflow is, for all intents and purposes, the same as that set forth by ITIL.

There are minor differences, in some stage names, role obligations, and so forth. However, the differences are far outweighed by the similarities.

Here is how ServiceNow’s platform operates:

Changes are requested, then processed by the appropriate parties.

This summarizes the overall workflow of ITSM change management.

One party initiates a change request, or a change proposal in ServiceNow’s case. This request is submitted to the proper authority, who reviews, then accepts or rejects the change.

If passed, the request is moved down the pipeline to the implementation team, testers, and so on, until complete.

In some cases, an advisory board, known as the Change Advisory Board (CAB), may become involved with the decision-making process, for higher-priority changes.

Requests are assigned a priority.

Not all requests carry equal weight. In ServiceNow, there are three types of requests:

  • Standard changes – These are low-risk and require no pre-authorization
  • Normal changes – These require two levels of approval before implementation and review
  • Emergency changes – These changes require immediate implementation

This schema follows ITIL’s.

Each person involved is assigned a role.

The roles available in ServiceNow’s ITSM change platform are also patterned after ITIL’s.

For instance:

  • Change Advisory Board – The committee that reviews high-priority changes
  • Change Initiator – The person making the change request
  • Change Manager – The overseer of a given change
  • Change Implementer – The person or team that implements the change

Each of these roles are assigned to a person within the ServiceNow platform.

Change requests are passed through a pipeline.

Again, this is ITIL 101 – each change request is submitted, then that request proceeds through a series of stages until closure.

ServiceNow’s platform follows ITIL’s pipeline almost to a T, though the stage names are slightly different.

They are visible at the top of every change request, in the dashboard screen:

  • New
  • Assess
  • Authorize
  • Scheduled
  • Implement
  • Review
  • Closed
  • Cancelled

Every change request follows these steps, from beginning to end. Except for, as mentioned, standard requests, which require no pre-authorization.

Other Notable Features

On top of the standard workflow detailed above, there are other benefits to using this change management solution.

For instance, the change management platform also includes a variety of analytics tools.

The performance analytics solution allows you to visualize your business processes over time, identifying weaknesses and problem areas.

In-form analytics, for example, can use historical data to populate expected closure times inside the request form.

Automated risk assessment is another perk of using this tool. After configuring criteria, the tool can perform a risk assessment for you, which will appear inside each change request.

Conclusion: ITSM Change Management Done Right

ServiceNow’s robust constellation of tools offer everything an ITSM professional could ask for.

Not only do you get a full-featured change management software application, that platform also works hand-in-hand with an enormous range of complementary applications.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, such expansive tools aren’t just helpful, they offer a competitive advantage. ServiceNow is well worth a look.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.