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The eight essentials for implementation success with ServiceNow


ServiceNow® implementations fundamentally change how people work, and that means implementations need careful oversight and management. In our experience with over 3,000 customers, we’ve identified the most essential elements of a successful implementation—one that brings you the most value. 

MID Server

Each MID Server is a lightweight Java process that can run on a Linux, Unix, or Windows server. During discovery, the MID Server executes probes and patterns and returns the results back to the instance for processing. It doesn’t retain any information.


Ask yourself these eight questions to ensure a successful implementation of the Now Platform™:

  1. Do we have clear, explicit, and documented business goals for our ServiceNow implementation? It’s easy for implementation to get bogged down in all of the project requirements associated with system and data migration, organizational change, and training. But implementations without a clear statement of business goals whether in terms of improving employee experience, reducing service outages, increasing speed of delivery, or something else are often challenging, because they lack a North Star that helps decision makers prioritize activities and resolve competing interests.

    What to do  Work with your executive sponsor (ideally, either a C‑level executive or someone who can reflect the C‑level “voice”) to define, document, and communicate a limited set of measureable business goals that everyone in the organization can understand.

  2. Do we have consistent engagement with an executive sponsor for the implementation? Project and/or executive sponsors can be difficult to engage, given the number of priorities on their calendars. Yet without consistent engagement and regular reviews with the project team, it’s difficult to ensure that resources are made available to address business priorities that change during implementation or risks that may surface. Often, sponsorship is less about the amount of time the sponsor spends on the project and much more about the consistency of their involvement. A key metric that organizations should track is the percentage of implementation‑related meetings the sponsor attends if the number is dropping, it could be sign of declining engagement. 

    What to do  Define a regular cadence for consistent engagement with the executive sponsor, and follow a structured agenda that captures:  

    • Progress and anticipated obstacles that may require additional resourcing 
    • Any change to business priorities that may affect implementation
    • Early warning signs or risks that could affect implementation
    • Key messages and measures of progress that should be communicated to other executives

  3. Have we defined a phased approach to implementation with an early emphasis on incremental wins? “Big bang” approaches to implementation can be problematic due to their complexity. For most organizations, it’s simply too much process change and training all at once, which limits effective adoption. Leading organizations define a phased or iterative rollout of functionality that’s focused on three things:

    • Ensuring the functionality they roll out respects end users’ and service fulfillers’ (such as service desk agents) capacity to absorb it
    • Identifying and capturing lessons learned at each phase of the rollout so they can improve subsequent phases 
    • Capturing incremental wins that can drive adoption momentum among key populations

    What to do  Divide your implementation phases into the most feasible incremental wins based on: 

    • Your overall value realization 
    • Your organization’s change capacity 
    • The lessons you can potentially learn at each phase 
  4. Have we explicitly committed to sticking to out‑of‑the‑box functionality? It can be tempting to customize functionality, especially as you roll your implementation out across different business units and geographies. While there may be some legitimate requirements for customization (for example, to support compliance), excessive customization can create downstream maintenance costs, increase the testing time requiredfor upgrades, and delay implementation. Implementation not post implementation is when is when you need to set an explicit organizational commitment to making out‑of‑the‑box (OOTB) functionality your standard, and to customize only when there is legitimate business need that you’ve, validated at the executive level.

    What to do  Before implementation begins, work with your executive sponsor to: 

    • Communicate the importance of sticking to OOTB functionality across different business lines and geographies.
    • Define the explicit criteria you must meet for customization to be approved and implemented.
    • Vest the executive sponsor with approval authority for all customizations

  5. Have we explicitly defined and documented governance rules for the implementation? Your ServiceNow implementation will involve a diverse group of stakeholders including C‑level executives funding the project process and service owners, and the technical staff responsible for integration and support. It can be easy to lose sight of responsibilities and authorities across these stakeholders, which potentially slow down key decisions as implementation moves forward. The start of implementation should come with clear rules for the road. Create a defined decision model that explicitly identifies who approves different categories of decisions and who is required to be informed or consulted about these decisions.

    What to do  Define a responsibility assignment matrix (like a RACI or OARP) for:

    • Strategic decisions, like those related to budget approvals or team resourcing 
    • Business decisions related to implementation, like process configuration
    • Technical decisions, like those related to integration or security protocols 
    • If governance is new or not strong within your organization, make sure that the partner you’re engaging has solid governance experience.
  6. Are we engaging certified and experienced partners to help lead the implementation? Initial implementations should take advantage of the experience of consultants who are familiar with implementation pitfalls and best practices. This limits your organization’s overall project risk and can save time and effort for internal staff who may be required to carry out their “day jobs” in addition to supporting implementation.  

    What to do   Identify partners with certification in the specific ServiceNow product lines you’re implementing. Review partners and consultants for a consistent, successful track record of experience (and references) with organizations similar to yours in size and industry.

  7. Do we have comprehensive training plans in place for technical staff and end users? Training is often subject to “benign neglect” in implementation. Sometimes it happens at the end of the project, and sometimes the training is delivered lightly and generically rather than comprehensively. But solid technical implementations with inadequate training are a recipe for slow adoption and a slower path to realizing value.

    Leading organizations pull training forward and ensure their training plans reflect:

    • The specific needs of different populationsThese might reflect differences across geographies or roles (for example, between service desk agents and process owners). These might bethedifferences across geographic regionsor, for example, between service desk agents and process owners.
    • The needs of end users, not just technical staffMany organizations often underestimate the training they should make available to end users, whether they’re front‑line staff or business leaders.
    • Certification needs across key technical and fulfiller roles Many organizations underestimate the role that certification can play in ensuring that critical staff are up to date on ServiceNow capabilities and how to best operationalize them.

    What to do 
     Document comprehensive, specific training requirements across technical staff and end‑user groups as you plan your implementation. As you identify these requirements, estimate the level of investment you need to support comprehensive training, and certification. Then make sure to communicate this to your executive sponsor and reflect it in your overall implementation budget.

  8. Do we have a fully budgeted plan for organizational change management? Your ServiceNow implementation will change how people work for the better but even positive change can meet with confusion, inertia, and resistance, which will delay adoption as well as seeing value from your implementation. Instead, accompany your implementation with specific organizational change management plans that aren’t generic or purely focused on top‑down messaging. Leading organizations ensure that organizational change management provides the resources for teams to make themselves confident co‑creators and champions for change.  

    What to do  Ensure that your plan and budget includes time and support for the teams most affected by the change to play a role in cocreating the change, whether in terms of workshops that elicit their voice in process change or through other mechanisms that address their most critical points of concern. Then invest in demonstration and training activities that make your teams confident they can navigate ServiceNow and provide key peer influencers with the materials that allow them to effectively champion change across the organization.


For more information, see our best practice guide, Start your implementation journey with ServiceNow, or contact your account executive. 

MID Server

Each MID Server is a lightweight Java process that can run on a Linux, Unix, or Windows server. During discovery, the MID Server executes probes and patterns and returns the results back to the instance for processing. It doesn’t retain any information.


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