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  • Writer's pictureOliver Nowak

Design Thinking Applied to ServiceNow: A Guide

As I have mentioned many times, in today's rapidly changing world, digital transformation is no longer a choice for businesses. It is an essential part of staying competitive and meeting the constantly evolving needs of customers. Companies only buy technology to achieve business outcomes, but this can be a complex and daunting task, particularly in the ever-changing climate we live in today. That's where design thinking comes in.

So, what is it?

Design thinking is a human-centred approach to problem-solving that can be used to create innovative solutions to achieve any organisation’s ultimate objective – creating the best possible experience for their customers. This is achieved through an iterative process that ensures collaboration across all stakeholders, most importantly, your end-users, to ensure the most user-centric solutions. Design Thinking has gained significant popularity in service design in recent years, and ServiceNow needs to be right at the heart of that.

So how does Design Thinking specifically relate to ServiceNow?

The first question is – why do you buy ServiceNow? You buy ServiceNow to transform how you deliver services in your organisation. The only way you do that successfully is by understanding the needs of your users, knowing exactly which pain points you are looking to solve, and coming up with innovative solutions.

So, let’s break this down.


Empathy is the first stage of Design Thinking. This is where you spend the time understanding the challenges your users are facing day-to-day. There are multiple methods for achieving this which include interviews, surveys, and just simple observation. From here you can work out your end-user’s specific needs. This can be anything from general working practices to technology-specific.


Next, you have to define the problems you want to solve. The more detail you have, the more confident you can be at the end that your solution is acceptable. This definition process needs to be at multiple levels. Each individual problem needs to be clear, specific and actionable, but you also need to make sure that it relates back to your business objectives. This is fundamental to ensuring you get the necessary executive support.


This is the brainstorming stage of the process. It is critical to give your designers the freedom to come up with creative, innovative solutions to the problems at hand. Nothing should be off the table at the start of this process. In the context of ServiceNow, this is where you need to empower designers to unpick and completely reimagine your business processes by manipulating the flexible workflows available to them.


In this stage your designers will come up with a working model of their solution(s). Again, in the context of ServiceNow, this might involve creating mock-ups of workflows in Personal Developer Instances or even in your Development Instance if that is available. This will tee-up the next stage, the test stage.


Once you have confirmed with the prototype that your solution works, it is essential to confirm with your end-users that the solution meets their acceptance criteria. This will allow you to circle back and refine your solution to make sure it is adding the value you were expecting. During this stage you will also likely gain an understanding of how significant the business change piece will be and if there is any training that will be required to implement and embed the solution.

Implement and Measure

Lastly, you go-live with your solution. After go-live it is important to keep a continuous feedback loop with your end-users to measure their attitude and satisfaction towards the change. Again, you may get enhancement requests to refine the solution.

So, to round off, what are the advantages of adopting this approach?

  • User-centred – It puts the user at the heart of every project and every decision you make – that’s what you buy technology for.

  • Cost Effective – It’s an iterative prototyping and testing model. Measure twice and cut once – ensure that you solution is fully fit for purpose before you implement it.

  • Collaborative – Take the time to listen to stakeholders from different departments and backgrounds to develop the most comprehensive understanding of the problem at hand before you jump into the project.

And ultimately, what you’ll end up with is a competitive advantage. You’re delivering projects that are solving real business problems, in the most cost-effective manner.

So where do you go from here?

Number one, review the projects you have in-flight at the moment. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What problems are these projects looking to solve?

  • How were these problems identified?

  • What’s the acceptance criteria for the solution and are these fully understood by your end-user base?

Number two, for all projects you start going forwards. Start by listening.

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