The Now Platform Utah release expands the platform’s user experience and automation capabilities. Many of the latest enhancements originated from the minds in our India Development Center in Hyderabad. We asked some employees there how they ensure innovations hit the mark for customers around the world. Here’s what they told us.
The most obvious way to ensure a customer-centric approach is to talk to and work with customers whenever possible—and involve them in the creative process.
“Our engineers and product managers are increasingly interacting directly with customers who have offices in India,” says Sumeet M., vice president and managing director of the India Development Center.
“That’s brought better clarity to what customers need solved. It’s also helped our teams improve their decision-making skills when assessing possible ways to address customer challenges,” he adds.
This co-creative approach proved essential in developing Theme Builder, a user experience improvement in the Utah release that lets customers easily create and manage branded themes.
“When we were determining the minimum viable product (MVP) for Theme Builder, our product and design team conducted extensive customer research,” says Arijit D., director of platform engineering, who oversaw the evolution of Theme Builder.
“Throughout more than six months of development, we ran regular sessions to make sure we were aligning with customer needs and behaviors, as well as our timelines, which saw Theme Builder debut as a ServiceNow Store app in February this year.”
Involving customers is one thing; being able to deliver to their requirements is another. The India Development Center built a formidable bank of skills in developing user experience and user interface improvements.
“Our team had considerable expertise working with ServiceNow UI components like Seismic and UI Builder, as well as the back-end systems like GraphQL and Databroker,” Arijit says of the Theme Builder development process. “You couldn’t get the work done without this combination of front- and back-end expertise.”
“We have some employees with more than 15 years of experience in their domains, who’ve worked on a huge variety of releases and tech stacks over the span of their careers,” adds Rahul J., director of software engineering management. “Many of them have built a track record of graduating products from ServiceNow’s internal product incubator to inclusion on the general platform.”
Even so, the India Development Center’s leaders are quick to admit that development often requires even relatively experienced teams to pick up new skills at speed.
“For Theme Builder, working with the Now Design system and core theming infrastructure were relatively new to us—as was the process of releasing a store app itself,” Arijit acknowledges. “It’s a credit to the team that they could build those competencies and skills at the same time as creating a whole new core function for the platform.”
It helps to have a strong creative ethos throughout the development center. “We have benefited a lot from the overall incubator mindset in our team,” Rahul says. “We’re always thinking about how to deliver in short cycles and focus on the customer from start to finish. That has come to even include how we train new hires and equip them to get involved in the whole cycle as quickly as possible.”
That keenness to learn extends beyond talking to customers. The India Development Center regularly taps the ServiceNow global product management team, based in Santa Clara, California, for insights into customer research and the longer-term product roadmap.
“The global point of view helps us match local feedback with the bigger picture and think more strategically about scale and performance,” Rahul says, “which leads to more successful incubation, development, and delivery overall.”
Other teams possess deep expertise that the India Development Center can’t replicate at speed. “When working on the forecasting features, we needed help understanding the algorithms used in forecasting and how to map them to customer service use cases,” Virag says.
“We were able to call on our performance analytics and reporting teams in both India and Amsterdam, who trained us in the core concepts and advised us on how to apply them.”
For Theme Builder, the U.S. team handled the product and design while the India team took responsibility for development and quality engineering. “That collaborative process benefited a lot from the software architect in the U.S.,” Arijit says.
You can’t have that sort of collaboration, whether between customers or internal functions, without trusting people to do what it takes. “Our focus has been on building self-empowered teams,” Sumeet says. “We bring together the specific skills needed to address each challenge, then entrust them the autonomy and access to do their best work.”
This collaborative, customer-centric approach has kept the India Development Center achieving goals and growing to meet each fresh challenge.
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