Independent Review of ServiceNow

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: July 1, 2022

Advances in technology have revolutionized the business world, providing enterprises with new tools to tap into their full potential. By improving customer experience, business agility, coordination, and collaboration, technology has made it possible for businesses to achieve more than ever before.

One of the hottest up-and-coming enterprise technology players in the marketplace today is ServiceNow. If you’ve heard about ServiceNow, you may be wondering exactly what it is and if it’s a good fit for your organization. This independent, technology-agnostic review will help to give you those answers.

Before I dive in, it's important to know that I have no affiliation for or against ServiceNow, or any other software vendor. We are an independent, unbiased consulting firm that simply has experience with a broad spectrum of ERP and other enterprise technologies, and can therefore give some perspective on the pros and cons of each software in an effort to help you make the best decision for your business.

What is ServiceNow?

You may know about ServiceNow because the former CEO of SAP is now ServiceNow’s CEO. You might also know that the company offers a very viable enterprise technology that fills not only a narrow niche but very unique needs and unmet demands in the marketplace.

ServiceNow is not your typical or traditional enterprise technology. It doesn't fit into the ERP category, or into CRM, HCM. It doesn't even fit into the business intelligence world either. It does, however, have bits and pieces of all those different types of technologies. With that, ServiceNow can fit a very important need and niche for certain organizations.

The best way to think about ServiceNow is as a workflow tool. Unlike ERP systems and other back-office systems that are focused on consolidating and capturing data and providing reports, ServiceNow is more of a customer and employee-facing technology that’s meant to automate workflows.

For example, ServiceNow is commonly used for IT help desks as a ticketing system. It helps track a ticket as it goes through a series of workflows within the platform. You can also use it to track customer complaints or inquiries in high-volume contact centers or customer service centers. You could even use it to track workflows with employees, such as a new hire that needs to go through an onboarding process or an employee who needs to follow an approval process for the acquisition of assets.

ServiceNow is commonly used in industries such as telecommunications, government and education, energy and utilities, and tech companies that manage product development workflows. It's proven to be a good fit for organizations that have a large IT department, a customer service center, or a high volume of customer interaction.

Although this platform can be a good fit for other organizations, it's not always what everyone is looking for. Let's break down the pros and cons.

Functional and Technical Strengths of ServiceNow

ServiceNow functional strengths include:

  1. It’s easy to use. ServiceNow is easy to configure. You can set up different types of workflows, especially when you compare them to some of the modern SaaS or cloud-based ERP systems that are a bit more rigid. It also offers flexibility in how you establish workflows that other ERP systems can’t handle well.
  2. It allows you to set up process flows and alerts. You can assign process flows to different people to track not just the progress of a given process, but to also see who is responsible for the next step. It automates and streamlines those processes. This is especially important for organizations dealing with high-volume environments such as customer contacts or complaints.
  3. It has visual task boards. Think of Kanban. If you’re in a manufacturing environment or are trained in Kanban concepts, you’ll like that those sorts of capabilities are available in ServiceNow.
  4. It has process mining capabilities. Most ERP and enterprise technologies don’t have this. Process mining illustrates and tracks how processes are working within the system, where the bottlenecks are, and what the volume, variations, and exceptions to that process are. It gives you greater visibility into how everything is working and where there are opportunities for improvement. This can be very effective in terms of optimizing your business processes and making sure you’re as efficient as possible.
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ServiceNow technical strengths include:

  1. It can be integrated with other tools and systems. Even though it has its core competencies such as workflow management and other customer experience capabilities, ServiceNow also recognizes that it can’t offer a complete enterprise-wide solution. For that reason, it’s designed and built to be able to integrate with various third-party systems.
  2. It’s highly customizable. ServiceNow is one of the most flexible products in the workplace. It is focused on creating workflows that fit your organization, especially in high-volume settings.
    1. Fun fact: ServiceNow once made it to our Top 10 Enterprise-Wide ERP Systems list, even though is not an ERP system, because of its flexibility and customization options that other ERP systems don’t have.

Functional and Technical Weaknesses of ServiceNow

ServiceNow functional weaknesses include:

  1. It’s not an ERP system. ServiceNow will not provide you with accounting and general ledger capabilities. It will not be a full-blown inventory, warehouse, supply chain, or manufacturing management tool. Instead, it’s meant to track general processes and workflows, so you’ll need to tie it into other products or systems to create a complete solution for your entire organization. This may not be a deal-breaker for you. Be cautioned that in order to fully optimize the integrations, you will need a level of IT sophistication on your team.
    1. Benefit within the weakness: It’s meant to be integrated. This is a platform that is meant to be integrated with other tools, so it’s easier to integrate than other solutions in the marketplace.
  2. Some of the business intelligence and reporting capabilities are less attractive than some of the other systems. If you’re looking to get good graphics and visuals showing you what’s happening in the system, that can be a challenge with ServiceNow.
  3. The setup can be complex. Setting up some of the business processes and workflows, even though they’re flexible and provide many options, can be a bit complex. For some organizations, it may even be overkill. You would need to make sure you have the right internal IT capabilities to manage this sort of solution.

ServiceNow technical weaknesses include:

  1. The technical configuration can be complex. It takes time to configure ServiceNow and it’s not as easy to set up as some of the other systems in the marketplace.
  2. Constant upgrades cause disruptions. As the software is frequently being updated, you're bound to experience downtime and disruptions when there are new patches or capabilities being introduced to the system.
  3. Performance can be slow when compared to other systems. We’re not sure if it has to do with the software itself or the infrastructure of the organizations trying to use the platform, but it’s a common issue.
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If you want to tap into automation and increased productivity by building workflows that improve your customer and employee experience, you are most likely in need of something like ServiceNow. But, with so many different options on the market, it can be difficult to know exactly which tool is the best for your business. The key is to carefully consider your unique needs and factors such as the ones mentioned above and choose a solution that helps you take your business to the next level.

If you would like to receive more information about ServiceNow or any other enterprise technologies such as ERP systems, human capital management, supply chain, financial systems, etc., feel free to reach out to us and our experts will be happy to share their knowledge.

You may also download our annual Digital Transformation Report, which includes many independent reviews and rankings of various enterprise technologies to help you find the best fit for your organization.

Disclaimer: Third Stage Consulting is not affiliated with ServiceNow or any other software vendor and we do not receive a commission from them. This is an independent and objective review of this solution.

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Author:
Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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