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Execute on service opportunities

Pilots can be one of your most valuable tools in gaining partner support—and you can ensure the excitement becomes infectious.

  • Build and run two to three pilots to create a groundswell of influence and support.
  • Capture the pilots’ success stories to use as references to gain sponsorship.
  • Generate excitement by sharing the successes of other pilots with partners.

“Having a digital strategy will soon look as ridiculous as having an electricity strategy.” – Kay Boycott, CEO, Asthma UK

Once you’ve engaged your business partners, your focus should be on capturing opportunities and deploying POCs and pilots to demonstrate the value of ESM. You should plan to use initial use cases as showpieces to gain broader enterprise support. Identify a couple of opportunities, dig deep into those opportunities, then extend them into other areas of the enterprise.

POCs, prototypes, and pilots

To gain support for enterprise services, you must generate a track record of demonstrable, tangible success. You can create a groundswell effect when you show value through a pilot based on a use case you’ve identified with one or more of your partners.

Before you start bringing the use cases to life, you may need to explain to your business partners the difference between a POC, prototype, and pilot. Use these definitions to help you explain:

  • Proof of concept (POC) – We perform an isolated exercise with limited functionality. It might be a rough visual interpretation of the service.
  • Prototype – We simulate the whole service.
  • Pilot – We create the full service and present it to a subset of the audience that will use the service.
  • Production – We make the full service available for all its consumers.

Step 1: Develop a POC and prototype

Once you’ve identified use cases with your business partners, work with them to decide which to turn into a POC and/or prototype. Remember to look for the simplest and easiest use cases to implement that also have the potential to demonstrate high value. A POC that doesn’t drive some meaningful impact isn’t going to help you gain support.

Show them art of the possible

Without getting into initial requirements, you can demonstrate the immediate value of ESM by showing the prototypes you create during your first discussions with business partners. But proceed with caution and use your homework to make sure you have the applicable use case to show them. Keep it simple and relevant. An off‑base example could put your business partners off.

Here is some expert advice given by some ServiceNow customers for taking this approach.

“When meeting with business partners, sometimes you need to make an immediate impact on them and push past the whiteboard. During the meeting ask them about some data they need to track, and then throw the fields on a form to demonstrate instant benefits.”

“Many times, business partners may be resistant to change even after the pitch. In this scenario, ask them to send you their SharePoint sites or paper forms and then deliver back these forms within ServiceNow but with actionability, workflow, and reporting. They’re usually blown away by the difference.”

“An impactful way to show immediate value is to prepare a service prior to meeting with your partner. Then, during the meeting, ask your business partner to send an email to a designated email address with a specific tag in the subject line. They can see how quickly it goes from their computer to an incident that’s already assigned to the proper group and category, shown by a confirmation email that arrives in the partner’s inbox in seconds. Show the fulfiller view of the service in ServiceNow as well.”

“Show simple functionality like automating an email communication, survey, or generating a dashboard or report. These simple things will help your partners visualize ESM’s benefits quickly, and they often realize how little effort it will take effort to incorporate ESM in to a process.”

Approach POCs and prototypes carefully. Don’t build without a clear, precise understanding of your partner’s use case. (Refer back to Stage 1 if you need more guidance.)

This ServiceNow customer’s story demonstrates the art of starting off on the wrong track but getting it right in the end. The project involved working with HR to allow managers to onboard contractors into the system. Here’s what happened.

The story

The requirements for the project came to the team through a business analyst (middleman) who was causing a lot of churn. No one on the technical team had reviewed the requirements.

The original development to build the POC took over 200 hours. Once HR saw the POC, though the solution was what they asked for, they realized it wasn’t going to work.

During the demo, a member of the technical team bounced some ideas off the HR team, asking questions like, “How is the business using this data? Is there data we aren’t already gathering or data already in the system we can use?” HR didn’t include questions around notifications in their original requirements or around the timeliness of certain things.

The next day, the same technical team member spent about six hours mocking up what he thought was needed. He set up a meeting to show the new solution, and it was exactly what HR wanted.

The result was over 200 hours of deleted work and having to start from scratch. To create exactly what HR wanted took 30–40 hours.

The lessons they learned

  1. Bringing in technical resources late in the game and viewing those resources as technical only and not as people who can contribute to the design can cause the project to fail.
  2. Even in the initial ideation phase, investigating ServiceNow as a solution and including someone with an engineering or architecture background could create an opportunity to use work already being done in other business units.
  3. Reusing work created for another project saved the team time. They also over delivered because they reused work to complete their phase 2 goals quickly.
Expert Tip


When you create POCs and prototypes, apply consistent design principles from the beginning. Include concepts of human‑centered design and design thinking strategies upfront.

Step 2: Run pilots

After a successful POC or prototype that your business partner is happy with and has signed off on, run a pilot program (also referred to as a beta test).

Your team will then develop the requirements from the POC or prototype to bring to life the use case on the Now Platform. Running the pilot lets you roll out a new service in real‑world conditions to a small selection of users.

Here are the steps to creating a successful pilot:

  1. Set clear goals for your pilot – What does success look like? Make sure you have a clear picture.
  2. Keep the focus on usability – Remember, people need to be able to use it to see its value.
  3. Get buy‑in around the pilot’s goals – Work with your business partners to get buy‑in before you start.
  4. Don’t boil the ocean – Start small by choosing what matters most. Go after low‑hanging fruit.
  5. Understand your audience – Make sure you account for all viewpoints.
  6. Think outside the box Use this as an opportunity to try something new that may eliminate some busy work or redundancy or provide more effective communication.
  7. Keep it simple – Engineer for the 80% process and manage the 20%. Stay as close to out‑of‑the‑box (OOTB) functionality as possible when you can.
  8. Decide on a bounded timespan – For example, make it 14 days, 30 days, or longer.
  9. Choose your testing group – Between 10–20 people is ideal.
  10. Develop a plan for onboarding – Provide readily available resources and training.
  11. Get feedback – Document what worked and what didn’t.
  12. Review your metrics – Use your metrics to determine whether you achieved your goal and why.

Avoid these pitfalls when you create your pilot:

  1. Reinventing the wheel – Avoid recreating what your partners already have.
  2. Lack of collaboration – Don’t fall into the “us versus them” mentality.
  3. Lack of persistence – Remember, it’s more than “just a pilot.”
  4. Scope is too narrow to succeed – Though you’re keeping things simple, don’t limit your scope. If there are still tough issues left to solve when your pilot is complete, you need to expand.
  5. Treating it like business as usual – Make sure your pilot is about a relevant use case that will truly benefit your partner.
  6. It loses momentum – Don’t let the pilot conclude before new behaviors become habits.
  7. It only works when things are slow – If this is the case, you won’t learn much and won’t create believers.
  8. Abdicating responsibility – Make sure your leadership voices confidence.
  9. Focusing solely on the fulfillment team – When you neglect to consider how others outside the fulfillment group interact with the tool or process, they may be reluctant to use it.
  10. Focusing on engineering over process – Often, teams will try to encourage an overly complex, overly engineered solution within the tool for a very obscure use case that could otherwise be addressed through a process.

Read these key customer insights related to running pilots.

Define your team early to ensure clear roles and responsibilities are understood.”

I wasn’t really looking for success, I was looking for feedback.”

Get people from different segments of the company and at different levels of tech savviness. Encourage putting the squeakiest wheel on the beta group to get feedback early.”

In terms of our successes with running POCs and pilots, [we] were so successful at just showing the POC to users, getting their sign‑off, then getting actual product in their hands quickly. The adoption and excitement was amazing.”

Expert Tip


As you build your requirements for a pilot, focus disproportionately on fulfiller (i.e., agent or rep) experience, since they will spend the most time working in the Now Platform.

Enable early consumerized experiences

When you run a pilot, make sure you enable the users to have a great experience while gathering important learnings from the project on your end. Include enablement tools such as:

  • Baked FAQs including contacts, functionality to focus on, or anything important you want to learn from the pilot or that you need user feedback on
  • User guidance, which can be as simple as pop‑up messages with step‑by‑step instructions (This builds implicit user training.)
  • Easy access to dedicated staff to support the pilot
  • A satisfaction survey or interviews with users during and after the pilot
  • Knowledge articles if you’re using knowledge in the instance (Provide a simple info box with a link to a knowledge base article where applicable.)

Incorporate a consumer‑like design early in your implementation journey. Promoting a great experience early on will help build your group of change agents (which you’ll read more about in Stage 3) and address change management factors once you’re ready for deployment and driving adoption. Also, focus on what the pilot missed. Conduct a “lessons learned” session after the pilot and incorporate the learnings into the production deployment.

Build a scorecard with your pilot results

Use a scorecard to help demonstrate to business partners the outcomes associated with the pilots you completed.

Use these metrics as part of your ESM performance scorecard:

  • Any systems replaced and the costs, for example, “Replaced homegrown software and repurposed resources to work on the Now Platform”
  • Time saved, such as “Reduced SLA by 40%”
  • Productivity increased, like “Reduced HR cases by 50%”
  • Tasks refocused more strategically, for example, “Turned email intake off and focused resource on knowledge creation”
  • Any dollar value saved, such as, “Saved $33,000 in Phase 1 (pilot), $1.3m in Phase 2 as part of the global rollout”
  • Increased employee or customer satisfaction, for example, “Improved employee service experience rated above 95% satisfaction rate by employees”

The Now Platform provides reporting tools (including Performance Analytics) to help you generate a scorecard and deliver visibility through dashboards. Critically, the performance scorecard should directly reflect the “pain points” behind your use cases, as defined by your business partners.

Check out our best practice guide, Optimize performance with real‑time analytics. The guide provides Performance Analytics introduction templates to help your audience understand how ServiceNow drives business outcomes. You can also check out Measuring Success on the ServiceNow Champion Enablement® site for additional detail. For success guidance on proven methods for deployment, check out the Customer Success Center’s Deploy phase page.

Heads up! Don’t wait to build your scorecard until the end of the pilot, and make sure it captures more than a single point in time. Add focal points showing updates across your pilot to demonstrate progress to your partners.

Create a library of success stories

As you build out successful use cases with your business partners, capture the details and lessons learned from your pilots in reference stories. This process is analogous to having case studies and references to use in the process of “selling” ESM to other business partners. Figure 2 shows a sample reference story.

Figure 2: Example of a reference story

"Some groups are replacing an in‑house system, [they’re] so excited [about] what ServiceNow has to offer. Others [are] reluctant, happy using email and IM. They don’t always understand the benefits right off the bat. Several people said, ‘I am not looking forward to using ServiceNow. I don’t want to change.’ Then, after they get to use it, understand the value, they [say], ‘I get it and really like it.’ It’s now part of our DNA."

Expert Tip


As far as “selling” ESM, the other business units, even IT, are your customers. Make sure you view, treat, and nurture them as such.

Tools and resources

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