The cost of ServiceNow customisation

For the last 20 years, customers of leading ITSM solutions on the market have been asking again and again the same question. What is the cost of customising my solution?

What they mean by the cost of customisation is not how much it costs them now in terms of development and implementation but how much it will cost them over the years.

Specifically, they refer to ongoing maintenance costs and – brace yourself, I am going to write something most customers don’t want to read – the cost of an upgrade!

The cost that you should not talk about….

Yes, many horror stories have been shared late in pubs and bars around the world. Someone told me once that the cost of a legacy ITSM solution upgrade in a large bank was nearing the cost of the original implementation (well over the million USD)!

I have also met customers who preferred staying on the oldest ITSM product version possible (sometimes not even supported anymore) rather than facing the cost of an upgrade!

Of course, ServiceNow has changed the game. True SaaS technology dramatically drove down the cost of upgrades. But there is still some analysis work to be done to understand what customised ServiceNow objects are impacted by the upgrade. This work often unearths some nasty surprises that must be addressed and logically incur some inevitable costs.

The cost of “back and forth”

Another source of ServiceNow customisation cost is, this time, far more ignored by customers but can be very substantial over the years. This is the all-too-familiar case when bad decisions during the project (usually to find some kind of compromise to satisfy unhappy stakeholders) come back later to haunt the application.

Frequently, this means that a customisation needs to be “undone” or “adapted” to the reality of operations once in production. Sometimes those adjustments require several iterations to reach a happy ending…

In the end, the cost is diluted in the original project and then in the ongoing maintenance budget. Being able to analyse which functional domains were incurring costs would have been useful to help keep in control this Service Management budget…

The cost of specs

I.T veterans will tell you that with a good set of technical specifications, things can be kept under control. I would tend to disagree with this because technical specs are rarely kept up to date after the go live.

Ranked #11 by InfoWorld as “developer torture”

Source: Infoworld – “Hurts so good: 20 ways to torture developers”

Writing technical specs is considered a torture by most consultants (especially when no one reads them…) but it is also extremely costly. During the project, the cost can be vastly underestimated and can negatively impact the operational margin of the I.T service company integrating the solution.

In post-production mode, project documentation is usually completely ignored or is gradually left on the side because the business cannot wait for some document to be written and validated!

It’s a sad situation for customers and application owners. They spent a significant part of their budget for a set of documentation that is often obsolete and therefore useless.

ServiceNow and Atlantic Puffin to the rescue

With ServiceNow you can directly address one part of the problem. By recording business requirements in the application as “stories” consultants will be able to formalise functional needs and describe the way it is implemented from a technical standpoint. It’s a good start. But still, you won’t know what specific objects in ServiceNow have been customised and to server which requirements.

This is why, at Atlantic Puffin, we’ve decided to resolve the issue once for all. We are launching a solution that automatically generates technical specifications, directly in ServiceNow.

The concept is simple. Business requirements recorded in ServiceNow are automatically linked to update sets. Update sets content becomes readable and version controlled.

With Atlantic Puffin’s “DoKument” (ServiceNow certified) application you can view the level of customisation of your instance through interactive dashboards, drill down to specific requirements or ServiceNow technical objects. It works retroactively whatever the size of your ServiceNow instance. It works automatically so that you won’t need to worry about it.

Because it is developed within and for ServiceNow, It is always there for your business stakeholders, application owners, consultants, administrators, etc.


Claim your 30 days free trail on the ServiceNow store. Stop spending money in specs and meaningless customisations. Take back the control of your ServiceNow instance. Have a cup of coffee.