ServiceNow is an IT Service Management SaaS platform. In its default configuration, it’s designed to handle the entire ITIL lifecycle (and then some), providing each function with the tools they need to work on incidents, problems, requests, changes and more. A powerful admin interface provides management staff with the ability to generate detailed reports based on the status of each item, user or function.
Different users obviously have different access rights in the software. There are three roles: administrator, IT user (i.e. team member) and end user. For the purposes of this review, we’re using an administrator login.
The dashboard view
ServiceNow opens on a customisable dashboard that provides an array of menus, configuration options, diagnostic reports and charts. There are various support options via the Help button: the first video describes how to use the help system, and that probably undermines just how complex ServiceNow is. Unfortunately there’s little contextual help.
At the top of the screen, a banner frame provides search and print functionality, and a navigation bar provides links to applications and modules within ServiceNow. There are a massive amount of options in the sidebar (known as the Application Navigator); users need to invest time on learning their way around. On the right, the Content Frame contains the bulk of the functionality in Service Now, including lists, graphs, miscellaneous content pages, workflows, customisable landing pages and wizards.
There’s an option to switch to a ‘new’ layout, but this doesn’t make the screen much easier to manage initially. It introduces a left-hand sidebar menu which introduces buttons to split the screen on either a horizontal or vertical axis (marked in red on our screenshot). There’s also an option to hide the banner frame. Users can create bookmarks to jump to modules, breadcrumbs, lists and reports more easily once these are set up.
The Application Navigator
There are a vast array of features in ServiceNow – far too many to cover here. The application takes an over-arching view of the entire ITIL framework, with management of assets, configuration, cost, projects, governance, incidents, problems and the Service Catalogue. There are also options to assist in the management of facilities, HR and sales operations.
From the left hand sidebar in ServiceNow, users can access a complete list of application features, expanding and collapsing menus as required. Once a link is clicked, the item is loaded in the Content Frame. For example, under the Incident heading, an administrator can create a new incident, view incidents that are open, and map critical incidents globally.
Service Level functions allow the head of department to measure the level of service being provided today or historically as needed.
Under the Change heading, the Change Schedule provides a colour-coded timeline of planned changes.
Further down the sidebar, there are options for populating or editing the knowledge base, a task which is also available to the Service Desk team. There’s also a suite of asset management tools. The Asset Portfolio provides a basic overview of hardware purchase dates and location, and a cut-down look at software licensing. ServiceNow does a good job of automated discovery, and the feature is available as a separate tool for those who have purchased a SAM solution from another vendor.
End user self-service
Having used ServiceNow as a technician, I can vouch for its usability and powerful automation. The same applies for the vast majority of end users I dealt with: they enjoyed having some control over their own incidents. Users can update the information online or via email at any time; this is useful in cutting down on follow up calls and walk-ins. But many competing packages have caught up with ServiceNow, and the application is perhaps less innovative in this area than it once was. The live chat feature is a good development and I’m sure this will be a welcome addition for many teams.
Complexity and usability
ServiceNow can provide for almost any task ITIL could throw up, and it’s therefore logical to assume it will take time to get to know your way around. But during my review and test drive of the current version, it struck me how little the look and feel of the application has changed in the last three years.
Some customer support packages also include monitoring of social networks and auto-generation of incidents from comments. This may sound like a folly, but social media is a notoriously inefficient support channel, and I’m surprised to see the application doesn’t yet offer the ability to wrap social interaction into a usable format.
In an era of instant set up and mass adoption of SaaS support, ServiceNow holds its own at the top end of the market. But the real challengers to its position are simpler tools which are economical and attractive. This is an area where ServiceNow could lose its grip.
If you need mountains of functions at an enterprise level, ServiceNow is undoubtedly the premier provider. But there are thousands of Service Desks, IT functions and technical support departments who could never spare the time or the money to fully exploit its potential.
Category: Initial Reviews
About the AuthorClaire Broadley is a technical author and SEO copywriter. She reviews cloud applications and SaaS products for Rated Cloud.
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