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Pitfalls to Avoid Before Building a ServiceNow Custom Application

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If your business leverages processes that align to the out-of-the-box ServiceNow platform, that’s probably the right way to go. Trying to customize an OOTB offering can run you into greater issues and ServiceNow has worked hard to make its functionality the best in its class.

It’s just not always feasible. Use cases spanning commercial businesses to government agencies require solutions with functionality that isn’t featured out of the box. ServiceNow’s Now Platform makes it easy to launch a custom app within the ServiceNow architecture, but it’s still no easy task.  

In part one of this series, I gave three reasons why you would need to consider a ServiceNow custom app. Now, before you go down this path, make sure these five pitfalls are accounted for and a plan is in place.

Pitfall No. 1 – End-User Accessibility  

Licensing has historically been a challenge in the custom-app space. While ServiceNow did have models to allow end-users to come into portals on its platform, there was never functionality that allowed a non-employee to initiate the process within a custom app. The process is getting better, but it may still require a workaround if you need non-employee end users to have access to your app. Make sure your business case is well-defined to avoid issues here.

Pitfall No. 2 – When Paper is Still Needed  

The world is moving digitally, and ServiceNow is at the forefront as a modern cloud platform. That places an emphasis on getting rid of paper processes. However, in some industries – especially in the government space – the need for paper signatures, documents, or physical mailings still exists. A good partner can help you overcome this pitfall and accommodate for paper needs within the platform, but those use cases should be identified and planned for well in advance.

Pitfall No. 3 – Less-Common Integrations  

Similar to the paper challenge, it isn’t always as simple as cutting bait with legacy systems. ServiceNow’s Integration Hub is the best way to integrate systems into your new platform, but the spokes used are mostly for common applications. If your legacy system is homegrown or not one of the leading technologies, you may need a workaround to maintain functionality. This could range from a custom API to RPA solutions, or even a flat file transfer (as a last resort).

Pitfall No. 4 – Keeping Your Ways of Working the Same  

Companies do themselves a disservice by just lifting and shifting their current process to a new solution. This is a prime opportunity to really reflect on the ways you work and identify opportunities to improve the process or eliminate pain points (either within your organization or for your end users).

Moving to a modern platform like a ServiceNow custom app likely affords you capabilities your previous platform didn’t provide. Take the time to really question if the way you’ve always worked is the best way or if there are optimizations to make now that you have the functionality to do so.

Pitfall No. 5 – Ending at Implementation    

The project can’t be done on launch day. Not only is there the chance for bugs or breaks, but you are also likely to receive feedback from your stakeholders in the months after launch. A roadmap and improvement/change management plan are necessities for a successful custom app solution.

If you have an in-house team providing support and enhancements, make sure they are engaged with the project from day one to lessen the need for training and knowledge transferring. If not, work with a partner to provide support and enhancements at minimum for a hyper-care period, if not for a longer post-launch roadmap.

It’s time to make your case

Now you know the use cases for and pitfalls to navigate around when pursuing a custom app in ServiceNow. Dive deeper into the benefits of ServiceNow’s Now Platform and how to start building out a roadmap for success with our latest free ebook, The Case for a ServiceNow Custom App. And for government agencies, we have an agency-specific assessment for ServiceNow custom apps.