What can you accomplish with the right tools? 

For one thing, you can solve some long-standing Employee Experience and HR challenges with ServiceNow through the proper use of a set of tools, each with specific strengths, all without accumulating technical debt. 

ServiceNow HR Service Delivery (HRSD) organizes HR data, services, and processes in a “Center of Excellence” model, which mimics high level functions of HR. We’ll call this the HR ‘tool box’. Inside are sections (Topic Categories) and drawers (Topic Details). Laying around in the drawers are the tools: HR Services, Lifecycle Events, and the Employee Service Center.  

Like any good craftsman, it is important to understand the situation, and pick the right tool for the job. The first step is always to speak with HR users and truly understand how they’re doing work, look for opportunities to inject some Change Management, and then configure the best service (i.e. pick the right tool) to achieve the outcome 

HR Services are the best choice for the straightforward HR work that aligns with the ServiceNow COEs. Based on your customer interviews, define, and configure HR services that the employees will want and need to useAnother best practice is to design HR services to collect relevant information for a case – it is much better to have many services each with clear purpose than to combine services to keep the catalog small 

Typically requests become more complicated as multiple activities and departments are required. For example, a common request is parental leave. A leave of absence from an agency involves HR, IT, security, and other components such as transit benefitsAddressing these multifaced requires more than the configuration of an HR service and associated processes. Transforming the more complicated processes is accomplished through the automation of lifecycle events which are extremely useful as they represent an organized series of tasks and service activities with distinct phases. They are also the right tool to use when there are cross departmental workflows (e.g. provisioning user accounts with ITSM during Onboarding).  

As with HR services, the more time you put in upfront with the definition and documentation of the process(es), the smoother implementation will be. Work with your stakeholders to make sure everything is documented. Next, list them out and group activities into logical sets for each phase of the process. Be sure everyone involved in the process gets a chance to provide input, and that the input is well documented. Once the activities, triggers, and activity sets are documented, configuration and implementations are a relative breeze. 

Finally, there may be times where the only choice is to configure workflows using the App Engine. Wait, what? I did not mention App Engine being a major tool of HRSD  because it is not. Since ServiceNow makes it easy to configure workflows and applications on App Engine, too often, this is the initial approach for many teams to deliver HR services. However, App Engine should be the ‘safety net’ and only used when HR Services or Lifecycle Events absolutely fall short of solving the problem through combination of configuration and organizational change management.  

In summary, to properly configure ServiceNow rather than building a bespoke scoped application requires the business analyst and/or implementation specialist to make themselves knowledgeable of the business of HR, combine it with their knowledge and experience of what’s in HRSD (in both the current, and upcoming releases). This approach will prevent customizing an application which is costly in terms of technical debt and will complicate future upgrades. Both of these which will increase total cost of ownership over time.  

With all of your configurations and workflows reachable through the Employee Service Center, you have a winning combination — all thanks to the tools provided by ServiceNow.