Careful planning can help organizations implement ServiceNow integrations faster, speeding up time-to-value and limiting the need for significant revisions post implementation.

ServiceNow integrations allow organizations to automate the transfer of data and information between systems. This helps organizations make better use of ServiceNow data, allowing them to feed it into solutions that can leverage and manipulate it in more productive ways.

With the ability to implement ServiceNow integrations faster, organizations are better able to scale the introduction of new integrations, benefitting data availability and limiting operational disruption.

This provides huge benefits to managed service providers who seek to integrate with customer organizations as part of their service delivery model, and for organizations with numerous disparate solutions seeking to improve data availability internally.

Implementing ServiceNow Integrations Faster Requires Proper Planning

Implementing ServiceNow integrations faster demands careful consideration of various factors (business requirements, integration goals, costs, etc.) and the selection of the proper integration method/vendor.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, taking more time during the planning process is key to successful and swift implementation. 

Organizations that rush the delivery of new integrations are more likely to face common ServiceNow integration challenges. Poor planning leads to overlooking important details that mean integrations require revision – or even re-implementation – increasing both the time-to-value and the total cost of ownership (TCO)

Organizations that outsource integration implementation and maintenance can speed up the planning process by leveraging the vendors expertise and resources.

Organizations that decide to build a custom ServiceNow integration, or implement a pre-built integration are required to handle the process independently. During the planning process, many organizations discover that outsourcing to an integration service provider is a more suitable approach.

A well-crafted ServiceNow integration plan includes the following factors and considerations: 

Determining business-driven integration goals

Organizations should implement integrations to meet business-driven goals. In short, instead of planning to simply connect two systems, they should consider the benefits connecting two systems seeks to introduce. 

For instance, if an organization wants to improve ServiceNow performance and offload extensive reporting requirements to a purpose-built, third-party platform, the integration team can work towards implementing a high-throughput integration solution that doesn’t impact ServiceNow’s performance. 

In contrast, if the organization considers their integration goal to be “to connect ServiceNow to our primary reporting solution” they may lose sight of the need to maintain healthy ServiceNow performance along the way. 

In this case, the rate of data transfer out of ServiceNow may be throttled by the performance of the platform, and employees that work within ServiceNow will have their other duties disrupted. 

Setting business-driven integration goals early helps avoid this dynamic, as the goals can inform the rest of the integration plan and subsequent implementation. 

Capturing the integration’s requirements 

Another best practice for implementing ServiceNow integrations faster, is to capture the requirements of the integration early on.

Requirements will vary between organizations, and even between departments within an organization. As such, it’s a best practice to develop a list of questions, shaped by the integration’s business-driven goals. 

Some standard questions to use as a starting point include:

  • Who are the stakeholders of the integration and integrated data?
  • What is the target system for the integration?
  • Is a one-directional, bi-directional or omni-directional integration required?
  • Does the integration need to deliver data in real-, or near-time?
  • Will the integrated data be transferred dynamically or in batch?
  • Will transferred data need to be modified/transformed? And where should data transformation occur? I.e. pre- or post-send.
  • What are the security considerations for the integration? I.e. is the data sensitive and subject to regulations? Does the integration have to account for existing security infrastructure such as firewalls?
  • What data volumes will the integration be required to transfer?
  • Will the integration affect performance of the source or target system? And what degree of performance impact can the organization sustain without disruption?
  • What contingencies are required to mitigate risks such as data loss?

Consider the impact of the integration on the end-user

The team(s) responsible for implementing integrations are generally not the end-user. As such, consulting the integration stakeholders throughout – including process owners, administrators, other relevant employees, and third-party vendors supporting and using the integration (if any) – is key to minimizing any potential disruption. 

Such consultations should uncover how stakeholders will use the integration and integrated data, and the resources available internally to maintain it.

With this information, those responsible for implementation are better able to ensure the integration meets the organization’s needs, and avoid the build up of technical and integration debt.

See also:

Any potential impact on operations should also be considered, such as: 

  • Will there be system downtime that adversely impacts employees’ day-to-day tasks? 
  • Will employees require training to work with the integration once implemented?

Keeping the integration’s stakeholders informed of the implementation progress and timeline helps the organization prepare for, and mitigate disruption. 

Map how the integration will work

With business-goals and requirements defined, organizations can undertake high-level process and data mapping to inform the integration’s design, or their choice of integration tool/service. 

This should include designing and documenting the workflow for the integration on a conceptual level. As well as ensuring a smooth and fast ServiceNow integration implementation, this also provides an opportunity to rethink existing processes that the integration could support and/or replace.

Determine the right integration method

After carefully considering the requirements, organizations should have a better understanding of the ideal integration approach. 

At this point, organizations should be aware of what they need from their custom built, or pre-built integration solution.

It may become apparent that the organization lacks the internal resources to effectively implement and/or maintain the integration over time. In this case, organizations should begin evaluating integration service providers to outsource implementation and subsequent maintenance to.

Implementation and testing

While careful planning can limit the potential for error, it is still recommended that organizations test, and iterate the integration based on the results of testing.

  • Create a proof of concept (POC) outlining the minimum configuration for each system.
  • Begin the data transfer by manually transferring dummy data to check if the target source can receive and process it. 
  • Run an end-to-end test across both systems using different real-life process scenarios and loop in all impacted users. 
  • Stress test the integration to ensure integrated systems can handle the maximum expected data volumes.
  • Iterate the design of the integration by making small adjustments – as opposed to large-scale changes – to effectively identify the root of any issues. 
  • Create a robust strategy for dealing with errors once the integration is in use, such as monitoring, logging and periodic evaluation.

Implement ServiceNow Integrations Faster with an Integration Service Provider

Careful planning will support organizations in implementing working ServiceNow integrations faster. However, when integrations are implemented and maintained in-house, the planning and implementation process will consume internal resources, and time-to-value is subject to the amount of resources and expertise available. 

Organizations can achieve a faster time-to-value by offloading some of the work to external vendors with expertise in creating and/or delivering integrations. This process is referred to as “integration outsourcing”.

When outsourcing integrations, external vendors can be split into two camps with varying degrees of input into the process:

  • Integration platform providers
  • Integration service providers

Integration platform providers

Integration platform providers speed up ServiceNow integration delivery by supplying pre-built ServiceNow integrations. As the vendor only provides the integration platform, the customer organization will still have to undertake the necessary planning independently. 

Typically, pre-built integrations are a no/low-code, “one-size-fits-all” approach to integrations that organizations are required to configure and tweak to meet their specific requirements. 

However, despite their no/low-code nature, configuration is still complex and time-consuming, often requiring the combination of several actions and building blocks to create an end-to-end process.

The ServiceNow Integration Hub (IH) is an example of an integration platform. While the product is pitched as being a user-friendly integration platform due to its business user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI), customization using the GUI can be time and labor-intensive.

The ServiceNow forum is also replete with questions related to troubleshooting IH integrations.

Integration service providers

Integration service providers are a fully managed approach to both implementing and maintaining integrations over time.

Some organizations opt to complete the whole process – from planning to implementation, through to maintenance – with an integration service provider. This means the organization can benefit from the additional resources and expertise of the vendor to ensure a comprehensive plan is drafted and executed.

For other organizations, it becomes apparent that an integration service provider is the best option during the planning process. In this case, the integration service provider can get involved in the planning process retrospectively, reviewing and iterating the existing plan. 

When outsourcing to an integration service provider, the whole integration process – from planning to implementation – is faster and more efficient as the customer organization is able to outsource to a vendor with expert and dedicated resources.

As the implementation itself is undertaken by an expert vendor, organizations can have greater confidence that a working integration will be delivered without requiring significant revisions. 

Subsequent testing and maintenance is also undertaken by the vendor, ensuring internal resources can be used optimally.

Achieve Fast Time-to-value Integrations with Perspectium

Perspectium is an integration service and solution provider purpose-built for ServiceNow.

The technology and service were created by David Loo – the founding developer of ServiceNow – who used his familiarity with the platform to benefit ServiceNow users.

Perspectium integrations are delivered and maintained by Perspectium, and the end-user can interact with the integration via a ServiceNow-native application. This means that Perspectium manages the integrations, but the end-user maintains full control of their data, choosing what to integrate and how frequently.

With Perspectium, integrated data is encrypted, with the end-user controlling encryption keys so that data is not exposed to the vendor and is protected against malicious intent.

Below are two case studies that highlight Perspectium’s credibility as a partner and solution provider to ServiceNow:

Big Data Integration at ServiceNow

As well as being an official ServiceNow partner, Perspectium provides integration services to ServiceNow. Despite offering their own integration platform – the ServiceNow IntegrationHub – ServiceNow opted for Perspectium’s managed service for integrating their own internal ServiceNow instances with external databases.

The Challenge:

The biggest challenge ServiceNow faced was scale. Their CRM solution is based on multiple ServiceNow instances, and needed real-time, simultaneous integration to their SAP/HANA databases.

Previous approaches relied on cumbersome web service calls, which created performance issues for the production servers, so a different approach was needed to handle the high volume of daily data transfers.

With business users relying on real-time data to make critical business decisions, ServiceNow called on Perspectium to provide an integration solution that met their needs.

The Solution:

Perspectium provided a performance-impact free integration service and solution that replicates data from 10 production instances of ServiceNow into 4 SAP/HANA databases for analysis by Sales, Marketing, Finance, and other departments.

The ServiceNow BI team can provide quick results to the business, able to turn around analytics requests in a few days thanks to the Perspectium ease of use and configuration.

In the words of Venugopal Malyala – ServiceNow Senior Director of BI, MDM & Analytics:

“Everyone loves the product. It’s very easy to manage and we are able to provide quick results to the business – that is key”

Enabling Growth and Change Through Connectivity

The Challenge:

CDW is a managed service provider and were seeking a more efficient means of creating integrations between their business and their customers.

Their previous approach was web services-based, and integrations were cumbersome, unscalable, and expensive to maintain.

CDW’s customers needed visibility into their environments so that they could make comments
and assign tickets, without relying on manual process to update and maintain multiple systems. Realtime delivery was also necessary for accurate data.

The Solution:

With Perspectium, CDW now offers customer integration solutions for a variety of platforms supporting multiple ITSM processes that satisfy these requirements: giving visibility to customers, ensuring real-time transfer for data integrity, and not requiring extra coding by the customer.

With a complete integration solution in place, CDW is well-positioned to scale their service management.

“It’s the low-code, no-code, all-configuration solution. . . . We’re just in the platform, using it as a normal user, and the developers don’t have to get involved. That’s humongous for us.” – Paul Liesse, Supervisor of Managed Service Applications.

If your organization would prefer integrations that just work, rather than fighting to make integrations work for you, talk to us!

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