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Learn customization demands

Business‑smart customization should add, not detract, from user’s service experience. Identify where customization can and should impact user experience and satisfaction at key points in the workflow, and involve service fulfillers in defining business‑smart customization.

Key insights

  • Look for the relationship between customization demands and users’ “moments of truth,” where experience and satisfaction is most strongly shaped.
  • Focus disproportionately on service fulfillers, and involve them in defining business‑smart customization.


Customization refers to business demands for custom functionality. When referring to implementation, this guide will refer to both configuration and custom development (both on ServiceNow applications and new applications).


Configuration includes capabilities and/or features on the ServiceNow platform that enable

organizations to deliver against “custom” business demands, in a safe and supported way (such as modifications to forms or table extensions). While organizations should avoid overconfiguration—for example, by adding excessive forms or UI policies—they should still use configuration as a first or preferred option to meeting business demands.

Custom development

Custom development includes custom development on both ServiceNow applications as well as the development of new applications, by changing baseline business rules or developing new applications from table extensions. Custom development is recommended only where configuration cannot meet business demands, and should employ recommended tools and methods (outlined in Step 3 of this document) as well as be supported by clear governance.

Configuration Item (CI)
A CI is one of the most important components of your CMDB. It’s simply an application, infrastructure, or service component you’re managing. It can be a physical server, an app running on a virtual server, or a business service.

Configuration Item (CI)
A CI is one of the most important components of your CMDB. It’s simply an application, infrastructure, or service component you’re managing. It can be a physical server, an app running on a virtual server, or a business service.

Look for “moments of truth” in service experience

When you evaluate custom applications or configurations, look for the relationship between customization and moments of truth—those places in the user’s workflow where their service experience and satisfaction is most strongly shaped. Customization that doesn’t add to experience and satisfaction at these points (or, worse, detracts from experience and satisfaction) may not be worth keeping, especially if the proposed configuration or custom application does not deliver additional business value.

Focus first on service fulfillers

Evaluations of service experience should disproportionately focus on service fulfillers (for example, service desk staff), given the amount of time they spend within ServiceNow on a day‑to‑day basis. Configurations or custom applications can significantly change how they perform their jobs, so support for (or resistance to) change is likely to be strongest among this group. A focus on service fulfillers should:

  • Involve learning how they currently use existing configurations and custom applications. Service fulfillers have often developed or adapted behaviors (or resorted to workarounds) as the Now Platform has evolved, for reasons that may not be clear unless you ask. This can prompt a discussion around the ideal extent of customization required for fulfillers to be effective—and which “moments of truth” in a workflow have the greatest impact on their experience and satisfaction.
  • Involve them in the development of business‑smart customization guidelines. Service fulfillers can help to frame your evaluation process for new configurations and custom applications and can help developers define and promote recommended configuration and/or development standards. This creates a sense of ownership that promotes business‑smart customization as a clearly understood set of organizational practices. Deep, personalized engagement—led by a business analyst or business relationship manager—should focus on service fulfillers who are highly influential among their peers and can play key roles in defining customization requirements and driving adoption.

Surface experience requirements at service consumer interactions

Evaluations of customization demands should include an identification of moments of truth where a new configuration or custom application changes a point of interaction with a service consumer. Where this is most likely to occur is in the Service Catalog and Service Portal, given the volume of service consumers that interact with these capabilities. Customization should not just look to serve a business demand but also focus on improving ease of navigation (for example, through collapsible menus) and process transparency (for example, in tracking requests). The effectiveness of a new configuration or custom application at a point of interaction should be measured by the effects it has on adoption—customization that is suspected of negatively impacting adoption should be reviewed, regardless of the original business case. If a backlog of experience requirements for service consumers is unavailable, you can use several scalable techniques to identify and understand moments of truth, including surveys, focus groups of power users, user acceptance testing, and even design contests.

Expert Tip


Ensure customization delivers on service experience requirements at points of consumer interaction, like the Service Catalog and Service Portal.

Explore additional phases


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