Integrate IT Without Impairing Employee Well-Being

A thriving, vigorous workforce is the dream of HR and executives. Company leadership is pursuing employee well-being, especially this year when turnover is high. HR leaders rate employee well-being and mental health as the top strategic priority of 2021.

To support employee wellness, companies develop a connected IT ecosystem, enabling a focus on pertinent, meaningful, and personally rewarding work.

But risks to these goals lurk for ServiceNow integrators who have not yet developed a deep understanding of various integration methods. An ill-advised approach is self-defeating. In the process of connecting IT to support employee well-being, IT must do so without in fact impairing that employee well-being.

The Wellness Effects of Manual Integration

At some companies, the replication of ServiceNow data happens by hand. It’s just what comes to mind. After all, if data in one system must appear in another, let’s put it there. And the default method is to log into both systems, copy from ServiceNow, and paste the data in the other. Or the data is copied by hand from an automatically generated email. Though such replication could barely be called integration, the process results in data in fact being in both systems.

However, this swivel-chair replication often brings risks to employee well-being. …

  • Consumes time. For example, duplicating ServiceNow ticket information in Jira takes about 15 minutes.
  • Introduces human error. Data is left out, data is mistakenly changed, or the task is simply overlooked. Updates are especially vulnerable to being left out.
  • Offers incomplete visibility. Without instant and accurate updates, the incomplete visibility frustrates employees whose work relies on data and information.
  • Makes communication inefficient. Rather than having needed updates on a screen, manual replication prompts emails and calls for status updates. Unrecorded conversations leave others out of the loop.
  • Raises distrust. With some personnel in-the-know and others out in the cold, the lack of transparency increases the chance for employees to suspect one another.

Although manual integration is better than none, it introduces problems that impair employee well-being.

The Wellness Effects of Custom-built Integration

The next logical step for a company with a development team is to build an integration between ServiceNow and the other system via web services. After facing so many difficulties with manual duplication, personnel are begging for some automation. The integration decreases manual work by users, reduces errors, and raises visibility for employees.

These web services, however, still often threaten employee wellness.

  • Slows down ServiceNow. An integration via web services uses the same channels as ServiceNow users. So if employees use ServiceNow at the same time that the integration transfers data, the transfer can cause ServiceNow performance impacts. The extra lag slows down progress for anyone in the organization working in that ServiceNow instance.
  • Presents data out of context. Integrations via web services rarely replicate a record along with all the necessary data associated with it. Or they may load all of the data into a “description” field, requiring users to take extra time to parse it.
  • Corrodes data accuracy. Although errors may be reduced compared to the swivel-chair method, web-services integrations still often result in bad data. A transfer may fail because of a timeout or an endpoint outage. The integration team often learns of data loss only when they hear from users frustrated over missing data that failed to load.
  • Results in out-of-date data. To avoid performance impacts to ServiceNow, updates may take place only during off hours rather than in real time. This setup means that teams throughout the day work with data that is essentially obsolete.

For developers and engineers, the work can remain laborious. The integration requires monitoring and maintenance. Failed transfers require troubleshooting and recovery of lost data. And upgrading ServiceNow or the other endpoint often breaks the integration. Being responsible for the integration’s maintenance, the integration owner(s) are often tied down to an old solution rather than doing innovative work in new projects.

To avoid building the integration from scratch, ServiceNow customers sometimes turn to the integration toolkits found in iPaaS solutions (integration platform as a service). These are sold by a vendor, but the customer must still build the integration themselves, just with larger parts. Also, these customers often have to learn a proprietary language to operate the toolkit, and they are still on the hook to maintain the integration.

The Wellness of Effects of Packaged Integrations

As an as-a-service integration bundled for a ServiceNow solution, a packaged integration process (PIP) avoids the minefield of risks present in traditional ServiceNow integrations.

Because the ServiceNow customer relies on the vendor to fully monitor and maintain the PIP solution, the company reallocates the saved time. Employees can direct their efforts instead to the fulfilling, innovative work that they thrive in.

The native ServiceNow application uses push technology that preserves data accuracy. Without noticeable impacts to ServiceNow performance, the PIP’s real-time data delivery enables complete visibility for actionable insights. Rather than exchanging a confusing jumble of email and DMs that ask for and attempt to deliver status updates, colleagues can collaborate instead on meaningful projects that drive business forward.

Healthy Teams and Individuals at Work

HR is eager to preserve and improve employee wellness. And CIOs and executives are looking to retain talent.

IT has a role to play in driving these goals. When a business connects systems – without frustrating IT and company-wide personnel in the process – they support an infrastructure and a culture in which employees flourish.

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Alfredo Deambrosi