Project management for non-project managers


Project management: 4 workers collaborating around a conference table

When the pandemic hit, the pressure to adapt ServiceNow training offerings grew exponentially. An increasing number of customers from the Americas, Europe, India, and Australia wanted more virtual classes, more flexibility in scheduling, and more customization.

Answering basic project planning questions in a timely manner became more difficult for the ServiceNow custom training and adoption team. With the rising demand, our team resources—spread across the globe—had to scale.

To effectively manage custom training projects from inception through project close and post-implementation review, we needed a standard project management approach. We wanted to be able to answer questions such as:

  • What projects are in the pipeline?

  • What is our resource capacity against our future needs?

  • How do we see a project’s progress, risks, and issues?

  • Can we see our key business metrics in one dashboard?


A standardized approach

We knew a single system of record could capture the demand and resource pipeline for delivering customer projects across the team’s global portfolio and help us scale using real-time, centralized reporting. It could also help us provide a consistent customer experience.

Our team had very little experience in project management. Although unfamiliar with concepts such as project plans, risk registers, and resource plans, we were very familiar with the Now Platform®.

We decided to try Project Portfolio Management (PPM), a ServiceNow solution that provides project, program, portfolio, resource, demand, and timecard management capabilities. It’s part of Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM), which helps organizations drive business outcomes by aligning their strategy with their work across different methodologies and structures. We chose Performance Analytics, another Now Platform solution, to track our progress over time.

Adopting a feature-rich package such as PPM could have easily overwhelmed us. But we were able to start with the features we needed straight out of the box.

Tracking and managing all work from a single system of record ensures all project activities are captured and underlying financial data is instantly available.


Project management out of the box

Like many customers, we were keen to avoid a long development cycle. We wanted to reap the benefits of PPM as quickly as possible. So, we started with some basic guidelines for adoption:

  • Stick rigorously to the concept of a minimum viable product. We wanted to track projects and resources and then continue to iterate after our initial migration and go-live.

  • Remain true to out-of-the-box features and zero customization. In this way, the solution could be rapidly implemented, easily upgraded with each release, and used by other teams in the future.

  • Streamline processes to drive adoption and simplify reporting. Templates would give us a way to set up standard reports.

  • Postpone complex integrations such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM that support the seamless handover of customer data between sales and training delivery teams. We needed to get our bearings with PPM first before taking on complex integrations.


3 areas of positive impact

PPM has been a game-changer for our team. It has greatly increased our productivity and efficiency and helped us sharpen our project management skills. Here are three areas where PPM has had a positive impact:

1. Project management

We dramatically improved how we track and manage demands, customer projects, and resource usage. We can now create and manage a wide range of demands and projects, whether they involve a few small tasks or a large portfolio of projects with complex relationships and dependencies.

Tracking and managing all work from a single system of record ensures all project activities are captured and underlying financial data is instantly available. Separately, this has improved our processes for learning credit consumption and pricing. Mobile features are next on our wish list for adoption.

2. Resource management

We’re now allocating our staff more effectively by analyzing workloads and distributing tasks appropriately. Little automations, such as resource plans that autoskip scheduling someone during planned holiday time, make life much easier.

Timecards ensure we know where resources are spending their time, and we can compare that against our plan. As our program matures, we also plan to adopt a skills matrix.

Dashboard shows demand pipeline and projects closed.


3. Real-time reporting

We use dashboards to make better informed investment decisions about training initiatives. Leadership dashboards offer visibility into key business metrics such as project financials. With this information, leaders can plan for the future, create roadmaps, and make smart investment decisions.

Sales team leads can review customer training portfolios and provide proactive, targeted advice. This improves both our customer experience and sales pipeline. By aggregating customer data, we can make smarter decisions about our market offerings and price points.

To make the transition as seamless as possible, we assigned a dedicated change enablement leader to manage communications and stakeholder engagement, and to gather feedback at every step of our implementation.

On-demand training on the Now Learning platform allowed team members to familiarize themselves with PPM early in the process. We also ran process user training for different personas that included both instructor-led sessions and demo videos.

The best decision we ever made

More than a year later, our team adoption of PPM has been a greater success than we anticipated. Implementing the base functionality has drastically improved our understanding of our daily operations. We’re easily managing scope through our templated project deliverables, and a project-on-a-page dashboard drives our post-implementation review process with zero effort.

ServiceNow customers are choosing to invest in their people and processes as part of their digital transformation. With our adoption of PPM, we’re doing the same. Armed with it, the custom training and adoption team is ready and able to scale to meet customer demands more efficiently and productively to improve the customer experience.

Find out more about our internal adoption of PPM in the case study.

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