What Is The Best ServiceNow Rollout Strategy For Your Business?

There certainly is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to implementing ServiceNow. Every company has unique goals, and an implementation requires careful planning and analysis. Most commonly, companies choose between a “big bang” approach while others will favour a “phased” implementation. Reality is that a hybrid model is often adopted.

A big bang rollout is typically used to describe a go-live or cutover scenario where an organisation switches from their old platform to ServiceNow at a single point in time. In contrast, a phased approach describes a scenario where the implementation happens in a series of predetermined steps. This can be achieved in several different ways. Here are three well-known techniques:

  • Phased rollout by geography – This is the most common phased rollout strategy for organisations with multiple locations. ServiceNow is introduced at one or more company locations at a time. This is also referred to as the “pilot adoption” model.
  • Phased rollout by module – ServiceNow applications and modules are implemented one at a time. Typically you begin with core functions and processes – those necessary for daily operations – then add in more modules and functionality with each phase. One typical example is the deployment of internal processes in phase 1, and rollout of the Self-Service portal for the end-users at a later phase. This allows the internal teams to get familiar with the new platform without getting the end-users involved yet.
  • Phased rollout by business unit – Under this approach implementation is carried out in one or more business units/departments at a time. For example, you begin with implementing ServiceNow in IT, then move to HR or Facilities.

But which one to choose and what are the factors to be considered to make your choice? Here are some examples:

  • What level of risk is acceptable? It is generally agreed that big bang implementations have an inherently higher level of risk. This is because the integrated nature of ServiceNow means that a failure in one part of the platform can have side effects elsewhere. The scope of a big bang can also mean that full end-to-end system testing must be thoroughly planned.
  • What budget is available? Phased implementations typically take longer to complete; this generally means more time from your implementation partner and your internal project team and therefore increased costs. The additional time and cost has to be balanced against the big bang approach, such as the ability of the business to cope with a huge level of change happening all at once as well as the increased risk of failure. Temporary interfaces between the new system and legacy systems can also increase the cost of a phased approach.
  • If a phased approach is adopted, what will this mean for integration between ServiceNow – the new system – and legacy systems during the interim period? This is potentially one of the most problematic areas for phased implementations. If you introduce ServiceNow in a stepped fashion then you have to work out how ServiceNow and old systems will work together during this period of time. This could involve creating interfaces that wouldn’t be needed if all modules were introduced at once, as well as creating user documentation and procedures that cover how processes operate in the interim period.
  • Does the implementation cover a single location/business unit or multiple locations/business units? Obviously, a big bang implementation on a single site is considerably easier to manage than a simultaneous big bang across multiple sites. But multiple locations or BUs doesn’t necessarily mean that a phased approach is the best choice. Interdependencies between locations/BUs might indeed dictate that a phased approach isn’t viable.

Fruition Partners’ rollout advisory services are designed to help you define a complete, successful rollout strategy of ServiceNow throughout your enterprise. We provide advice and share our experience of various rollout plans we adopted with our customers, taking into account your business strategy and imperatives to model the most suitable approach for your company.

This blogpost is a chapter of our ebook “Top 10 Critical Success Factors for your ServiceNow project”. You can download it for free here.

Michel is one of the co-founders of Aspediens (acquired by Fruition Partners in 2016) and now CEO, Europe at Fruition Partners. As a serial entrepreneur with strong experience in innovation, product management and solution delivery, he spots trends and writes about the future of Service Management.
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