ServiceNow’s Pulse: Navigating Platform Health for Optimal Performance

Table of Contents

ServiceNow’s structure allows for customized implementations allowing it to service a diverse range of business needs — from IT operations to customer service and HR. Its user-friendly interface and powerful capabilities enable businesses to enhance efficiency, reduce operational costs, and deliver superior services to both internal and external stakeholders. 

However, ServiceNow’s ease of use may sometimes lead to over-customization, redundancies, and technical debts. This leads to the creation of complex workflows that are difficult to manage and maintain, potentially resulting in confusion, inefficiency, and increased risk of errors.

Enter the concept of platform health, which for ServiceNow users, which involves keeping the platform streamlined, secure, and adaptable to changes with minimal disruptions.

This article provides a fundamental look at platform health and how to optimize it for your ServiceNow instance.
 

What is platform health in the context of ServiceNow?

Chris Riggs, Senior Product Manager at Quality Clouds, says that the best way to think about platform health is to first understand what we mean by platform unhealthiness. 

“People are trying to keep their platform in a state such that there are no symptoms that might affect their ability to use the platform at a successful rate. If there are performance issues, security breaches, or they aren’t able to make as many changes as they used to because they’re having to test a lot — these would all be symptoms that a platform is becoming unhealthy.”

Ultimately, platform health is all about maintaining a well-optimized, secure, and scalable system. The goal is to support continual improvement and efficient operation in ServiceNow without introducing operational vulnerabilities or inefficiencies.

Why is platform health essential in ServiceNow?

The concept of platform health revolves around ensuring that a ServiceNow platform operates efficiently without encountering performance issues, security breaches, or constraints on implementing changes. It involves measuring various characteristics or metrics to assess the platform’s overall health. 

By maintaining a healthy score based on these measurements, organizations can avoid problems and ensure continued performance, security, and agility in their ServiceNow systems. 

Platform health vs digital immunity

The terms “platform health” and “digital immunity” may seem interchangeable but there is a slight difference between the two. Both serve to maintain platform stability and functionality. However, digital immunity is about taking proactive measures to safeguard against potential risks. On the other hand, platform health focuses on governance and long-term measurement. It can be thought of as a health check for a ServiceNow workflow. 

As Chris puts it, “Platform health is your health check to assess if everything working okay. If you have certain symptoms, it’s about looking into why you’re having them. But digital immunity is like going to the gym, taking vitamin tablets, eating properly, etc. with the aim of keeping yourself healthy.”

ServiceNow’s structure allows for customized implementations allowing it to service a diverse range of business needs — from IT operations to customer service and HR. Its user-friendly interface and powerful capabilities enable businesses to enhance efficiency, reduce operational costs, and deliver superior services to both internal and external stakeholders. 

However, ServiceNow’s ease of use may sometimes lead to over-customization, redundancies, and technical debts. This leads to the creation of complex workflows that are difficult to manage and maintain, potentially resulting in confusion, inefficiency, and increased risk of errors.

Enter the concept of platform health, which for ServiceNow users, which involves keeping the platform streamlined, secure, and adaptable to changes with minimal disruptions.

This article provides a fundamental look at platform health and how to optimize it for your ServiceNow instance.
 

What is platform health in the context of ServiceNow?

Chris Riggs, Senior Product Manager at Quality Clouds, says that the best way to think about platform health is to first understand what we mean by platform unhealthiness. 

“People are trying to keep their platform in a state such that there are no symptoms that might affect their ability to use the platform at a successful rate. If there are performance issues, security breaches, or they aren’t able to make as many changes as they used to because they’re having to test a lot — these would all be symptoms that a platform is becoming unhealthy.”

Ultimately, platform health is all about maintaining a well-optimized, secure, and scalable system. The goal is to support continual improvement and efficient operation in ServiceNow without introducing operational vulnerabilities or inefficiencies.

Why is platform health essential in ServiceNow?

The concept of platform health revolves around ensuring that a ServiceNow platform operates efficiently without encountering performance issues, security breaches, or constraints on implementing changes. It involves measuring various characteristics or metrics to assess the platform’s overall health. 

By maintaining a healthy score based on these measurements, organizations can avoid problems and ensure continued performance, security, and agility in their ServiceNow systems. 

Platform health vs digital immunity

The terms “platform health” and “digital immunity” may seem interchangeable but there is a slight difference between the two. Both serve to maintain platform stability and functionality. However, digital immunity is about taking proactive measures to safeguard against potential risks. On the other hand, platform health focuses on governance and long-term measurement. It can be thought of as a health check for a ServiceNow workflow. 

As Chris puts it, “Platform health is your health check to assess if everything working okay. If you have certain symptoms, it’s about looking into why you’re having them. But digital immunity is like going to the gym, taking vitamin tablets, eating properly, etc. with the aim of keeping yourself healthy.”

Common issues or actions that lead to poor platform health in ServiceNow

Issues can arise in ServiceNow systems from the temptation to customize extensively without coding knowledge, leading to incorrect configurations. Additionally, misalignment between business needs and platform capabilities can result from overreliance on pre-built solutions in this no-code environment.

Synchronous development

In some cases, ServiceNow scripts can be written to send synchronous requests. This involves waiting for data before proceeding, potentially causing screen freezes. Conversely, the modern approach to ServiceNow development favors asynchronous development, allowing users to multitask while awaiting responses, enhancing system performance and user experience. 

For the sake of platform health, it’s better to implement techniques like asynchronous client scripts (ACEs) or asynchronous commercial requests. Overall, prioritizing asynchronous development minimizes user disruption and optimizes system functionality, thereby aligning with ServiceNow’s focus on enhancing performance and user satisfaction.

Improper set-up of scheduled processes

A common reason for issues in ServiceNow is not setting up scheduled processes with proper technical accounts. Using personal accounts instead of dedicated technical ones poses security risks. In some cases, individuals gain control over critical processes, potentially impacting business operations and security. 

Moreover, reliance on personal accounts can disrupt operations if the individual leaves the company. By emphasizing the importance of using dedicated technical accounts for scheduled processes to its ServiceNow users, companies can significantly improve system security and operational continuity.

Hardcoded SYS IDs

Technical issues can arise due to the intricacies of hardcoded IDs within ServiceNow systems. When referencing objects, such as accessing a specific table or field, hardcoded IDs involve using unique identifiers directly rather than utilizing more dynamic and adaptable methods like properties. 

This practice poses a significant risk as these hardcoded IDs may vary across different environments, causing unexpected errors during transitions — such as from development to production. Such errors can be challenging to diagnose and rectify, potentially leading to severe disruptions in system functionality. Hence, it is important to adopt more sustainable referencing methods to ensure smoother and more reliable system operations.

How to enhance ServiceNow platform health

Now that we’ve read about the most common causes for unhealthy ServiceNow platforms, let’s look at how we can rectify them. Companies can improve the platform health of their no-code systems by following the tips below. 

Identify technical debt

Companies must address the issue of technical debt in ServiceNow systems if they want to make them more robust. ServiceNow systems must be scanned to identify and address hidden issues. Chris says, “I sometimes call it what’s hidden underneath the carpet or where all the bodies are buried.”

Utilizing tools like Quality Clouds enables customers to gain visibility into the root causes of system inefficiencies and performance issues, which essential for effective problem-solving and optimization. By first understanding the extent and location of technical debt, organizations can take targeted actions to enhance platform functionality and overall performance.

Gauge the size of the problems

Next, the aim should be to grasp the magnitude and nature of these issues. Also, the issues should be assessed and classified based on their significance and types. For instance, if security is a priority, you may wish to delve deeper into the security issues within a specific ServiceNow application area. 

Assessing and classifying issues will help focus your corrective efforts. Thus, the initial step is gaining visibility, followed by focusing on specific areas for improvement based on their importance and urgency.

Assign issues

The last crucial step is streamlining the process of allocating narrowed-down issues within the organization. For instance, within the ITSM realm, there may exist 10 development teams. It’s imperative to efficiently distribute these issues among them. 

Applications such as Quality Clouds help by enabling issue tagging and allocation to teams. Ultimately, the desired outcome is to track the resolution of these issues by the teams, leading to an improved health score from, say, 60% to 70%. This is the kind of comprehensive end-to-end process many companies want to achieve.

ServiceNow health scan vs Quality Clouds

Question: ServiceNow comes with its own Health Scan feature, so is there a need for external applications such as Quality Clouds to maintain platform health? 

Answer: Yes. 

ServiceNow’s health scan acts like an initial check-up, while Quality Clouds offers ongoing monitoring and improvement opportunities.

Here’s how Chris explains it:

“Okay, great, we’ve got healthier because we’ve fixed all these issues and we’ve managed to get it to the right teams, but now how do we put the controls in place to ensure that we’re not introducing more issues where the health score comes down again?

We understand where some of the problems are, but it doesn’t really help you to get healthier by itself. And I think that’s where Quality Clouds is really important — how do I get healthier and how do I stay healthy?”

So, while ServiceNow’s health scan provides a snapshot of the system’s current state and issues, Quality Clouds complements this by providing ongoing analysis, proactive issue prevention, and strategic recommendations to maintain and enhance platform health over time.

Examples of companies that have improved their ServiceNow platform health

Quality Clouds collaborates with organizations spanning various industries to integrate governance and best practices into their development processes. Let’s look at two companies that have worked with Quality Clouds to gain significant improvements to their ServiceNow systems. 

An oil and gas “supermajor” cuts technical debt in ServiceNow by 30%

A leading global petroleum company was struggling with code quality and technical debt in its ServiceNow platform. A lack of centralized code review processes led to software quality issues and uncontrolled technical debt accumulation. 

Quality Clouds provided automated scanning technology for rapid assessment, enabling targeted remediation plans and the implementation of best practices. 

As a result, 

     

      • technical debt decreased by 30%

      • developer productivity increased by 10%

      • incidents/outages reduced by 35%. 

    Quality Clouds’ suite of features, including LiveCheck, Debt Manager, Quality Gates, and Peer Review, ensured continuous improvement and governance, ultimately enhancing platform performance and productivity.

    500 hours of technical debt removed from a global consumer packaged goods company

    A renowned consumer packaged goods (CPG) company encountered performance issues due to accumulated technical debt across its nine ServiceNow instances, which were utilized by a team of 75 developers.

    Quality Clouds conducted a comprehensive assessment, identifying technical debt and code quality issues. By implementing Quality Clouds’ solutions, including LiveCheck, Debt Manager, Quality Gates, and Peer Review, the company achieved significant improvements. Technical debt reduced by 40% or 500 hours, while code quality and platform performance increased. 

    Quality Clouds’ tools facilitated proactive issue resolution, streamlined development processes, and enhanced platform governance. Overall, the company experienced enhanced productivity, reduced risks, and improved stability in its ServiceNow environment.

    Final words

    A platform like ServiceNow is immensely beneficial because it offers low code or citizen developer type tools that can help companies build a lot of functionality by themselves. 

    However, the platform is still innately complex and is constantly evolving. As such, the ways to measure platform health are also constantly evolving. The great thing about Quality Clouds is that it’s also going along in that journey — besides helping your platform get healthier and stay healthy. 

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    Quality Clouds
    Quality Clouds was created to address a significant gap in the tech industry: the challenge developers face with Salesforce and ServiceNow deployments. Identifying the risks of working on unknown systems, our founders sought to empower developers with essential insights for quality and governance in SaaS projects.

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