What it’s like to work on a Now Platform release

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  • 2022
October 11, 2022

Working on a Now Platform release: female Indian developer working on a laptop

In our quest to make the world work better for everyone, ServiceNow updates the Now Platform every six months. To pull that off, we’re constantly working on many innovations.

Our latest Tokyo release introduced scores of new solutions and modules to boost productivity, accelerate value, and ramp up organizational trust. Bringing those innovations together and ensuring they’re aligned with customer needs is a mindful and purpose-driven undertaking.

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It starts with a clear process

Almost all of the Now Platform Tokyo release innovations rely on significant contributions from ServiceNow India’s development center in Hyderabad, which operates as a Center of Excellence for many of ServiceNow’s security capabilities on the platform.

In the development center, teams of software developers, designers, product managers, and other specialists assemble to create and iterate the many features that make up every new release. The teams operate with the outcome in mind, according to well-defined processes that ensure product quality while supporting flexible and collegial collaboration.

“There’s a very streamlined process in ServiceNow compared to previous firms I’ve worked at,” says Sushma C., a staff technical writer who joined the India team last year and works almost exclusively remotely.

“The entire development process is clear, from guidelines and checklists to other workflows, so that even working on your first release, you can get clarity on what needs to be done,” she explains. “At the same time, the team structure makes it easy to tap others when you need to get help.”

“The process turned out to be intensely rewarding, as we kept helping one another to find, and deliver, what was best for our customers,” adds Priyanka V., a senior technical writer who works out of the Hyderabad office.

The team composition works in such a way that you’re really on this journey together. - Priyanka V., Senior Technical Writer, Hyderabad, India

Going beyond RPA

Priyanka contributed much of the technical writing for Automation Center, a solution introduced in the Tokyo release. It goes beyond ServiceNow’s previous robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities to offer complete, vendor-agnostic visibility into all automations within the customer organization.

The solution radically simplifies how customers manage and scale up automation across their businesses. Its development required the project team to wrestle with huge amounts of complexity and change.

“We were developing Automation Center and its material from scratch,” Priyanka says, “so we already expected to face big challenges along the way.”

Simplifying for customer success

Sushma works with the development team behind the ServiceNow RPA solution. Her willingness to contribute to the added capability on the platform made her a powerful asset in aligning the features of Automation Center with customer requirements.

“Whatever I’d heard from customers and partners about RPA, I was able to action while informing this new layer of automation capability,” Sushma explains. In one instance, her experience with RPA settings helped inform more intuitive documentation for similar aspects in Automation Center.

The knowledge sharing didn’t only go one way. “The team responsible for RPA would also call me to find out what we were learning from Automation Center development so that they could factor that into their own product,” Sushma notes. “It’s quite common in the India development center. Teams are in this constant friendly contest for simplification.”

Standardizing to improve the customer experience

That same ethos has underpinned the broader team’s approach to all aspects of development, including documentation. Sushma and Priyanka worked closely to standardize their writing style on Automation Center material while tapping into enterprisewide tools to draw on existing documentation that could be reused or adapted for the new solution.

Such strategies complement wider efforts to update documentation for all solutions to a single, consistent style and format, reusing the best material to make future releases even more user-friendly.

“In the Tokyo release, we’ve changed existing content, as well as aligned new content to a series of universal guidelines, which should result in a better reading experience for customers,” Priyanka says. “The more consistent your language and content structure, the easier it is to understand how the solution works and make the most of it.”

Incorporating multiple skill sets that work in fast feedback loops, project teams are organized in a way that streamlines complex, multifaceted processes.

“Since there’s a designer on every team, we’re able to plan out documentation based on wireframes and prototypes — even before the features are ready, which gives us further margin to iterate and adapt,” Priyanka explains. “The team composition works in such a way that you’re really on this journey together.”

Automation has become the hero from the inside out at ServiceNow. We’ve scaled the pace of our development by automating the work we don’t need to be hands-on with. And this translates to the product too. - Sushma C., Staff Technical Writer, Hyderabad, India

The role of automation

The same workflows and processes drive development across all ServiceNow solutions, resulting in the breadth and speed of innovation that customers expect and encounter in each semiannual release. Much of that drive happens within automation.

“Automation has become the hero from the inside out at ServiceNow,” Sushma says. “We’ve scaled the pace of our development by automating the work we don’t need to be hands-on with. And this translates to the product too.”

She adds, “With Automation Center, we’re bringing all these automations together for customers. And the pace of development is only going to speed up. What didn’t even exist last year is being leveraged by customers today.”

That speed comes in large part from the purpose-built teams, flexible working conditions, and passion to help customers that extends throughout the India Development Center.

“I’ve worked in this industry for eight years,” Priyanka says, “but the [ServiceNow] development team has been the most cooperative and most proactive I’ve experienced, from reviewing materials to helping us understand the product. Everyone just wants to help each other and make things work.”

Join a helpful, collaborative team. Browse job opportunities at ServiceNow.

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