After years of experience creating custom ServiceNow applications and being recognized as the ServiceNow Global App Development Platform Partner of the Year 2021, we can righteously say we know what’s necessary to create great custom applications on the Now platform. But you might be wondering what steps it takes to create a great custom ServiceNow application with App Engine? Here’s how we approach that.
Sometimes, it is crystal clear what use case needs to be supported by an application, but often, this is less obvious. So, a few approaches to help you identify use cases for application creation in ServiceNow:
Based on the use case, define your user-centred problem statement. If needed, we can assist with inspiration sessions. Click here to request this.
Once the use case is identified, it is important to define the entire process the custom application should support.
We suggest you draw out the process through value stream mapping, Lean Process mapping, or by simply drawing out the activities on a whiteboard. The key is to understand the activities in the process. Why do we do these activities? Are they really required? How much time and effort do they require? What value do they bring?
Don’t forget to identify connections with other processes and value streams to paint the full picture. You’ll notice that these other processes are usually already supported by ServiceNow, like request fulfillment.
Defining the process will help you identify which activities can be structured, streamlined and automated. It also helps you start on the high-value / high-effort activities first.
The next step is to translate the use cases and activities into a design. Here’s how to do that:
The last step is design validation by platform experts. In the design phase, it is still easy to make changes. It’s all about laying a strong foundation that fosters maintainability, scalability and addition of new features later on.
Make sure the designs of your custom ServiceNow applications are both future-proof and fit for purpose. Don’t know how to do that? Call in an expert (like us).
TIP: Continuously cross-check and verify ideas with peers. Iterative steps and receiving feedback on a regular basis will help you make a great start for adoption. And it avoids rework down the line. One word of advice though: start simple! Suggestions can always be incorporated later on.
According to Agile principles, start with clearly defining the scope of your MVP. Ideally, it is small enough to build in a single week. Why keep it small? This will help you deliver value faster (part of Scrum methodology).
Use App Engine Studio to generate your application. Use a name that is applicable for the full scope to come. If an appropriate template is available, use a template.
Create the Tables, Experience (UI components), Automations and Security components.
If you empower your business users to do the building (aka Citizen Development), ensure they are supported by a team of experts. This will help them to quickly overcome obstacles, counsel on best practices, and support them in building more complex components.
Deploy your custom ServiceNow application to a test environment. Simultaneously, start explaining the user base how this tool supports the business. Documenting the process and use cases in a detailed way can help users understand the application quickly and validate that it works as designed.
TIP: Ensure that you stick to naming conventions and building best practices when creating components of ServiceNow applications.
The proof of the pudding is in eating it. So, the faster you have a first version in use, the faster you will be able to see how it works in practice.
Once in production, identifying bugs, enhancements and at which priority they should be solved is usually pretty straightforward. Don’t forget to set up easy and regular feedback moments for users. This will allow you to keep improving the ServiceNow applications you built.
Once live, create an overview of the features you’re planning to implement and publish this backlog. This will help the organization to understand what’s coming. Publish and spread release notes for every update too. This will engage your users and increase adoption.
Last piece of advice: share your success story widely! This will inspire people to adopt your solution or start improving processes on their own.
Ideally, the IT department of your organization facilitates each step of the way. But, the actual building of the ServiceNow applications could be done by skilled employees from your organization.
If you want to go down that route, make sure you work according to a clear and simple governance model. A clear process avoids chaos and disappointment. Part of this model can be a Center for Enablement.
If you’d like assistance in building ServiceNow applications, we can help you along every step of the way:
If needed, we can even design, build and support ServiceNow applications for you.
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