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Top 5 ServiceNow Mistakes:
The Anecdotal Edition, Part Two

Continuing on from our supermarket and luggage-based comparisons from part one, I present you with the part two of five common ServiceNow mistakes to be aware of and how best to avoid them. Prepare yourselves for more analogy-based fun! 


Number 4 - 'IS' vs 'CHANGES TO’ – FIGHT!

It’s a bright Tuesday afternoon when you receive a customer requirement to build a Notification that will send an email out to the “assigned to” once an incident has been assigned. Let’s assume that when an incident is assigned, the state moves to “In Progress.” You build your notification, which doesn’t take much time, and then a few hours later it’s tested by the customer. They inform you that it works, but maybe a little too well – it's now firing every time there’s an update to the incident where the state is “In Progress.” Can you guess what might need changing?  It shouldn’t be too difficult as I’ve already given the answer away in the title of this little pitfall.    

So, what’s the difference between “IS” and “CHANGES TO”? Well, one implies a stationary state of being while the other implies moving from one state of being to another. In other words, there’s a fundamental difference between being 21 years of age versus turning 21. For the whole year you will be 21 but you only turn 21 once – I imagine you probably don’t get birthday presents all year round for being 21?    

The point is that your notification when conditioned as “IS” will typically fire every time there’s an update to an incident AND the incident state “Is” “In Progress." On the other hand, if you condition your notification as “Changes To”” “In Progress,” then the notification will only fire the one time.    


Number 5 – Why were the apple and the orange all alone?

Let’s talk fruit!

Apples and oranges are both types of fruit, right? Course they are. Let's imagine for a moment that I don’t like the taste of oranges and suddenly have a God-like power to make all fruit taste like strawberries. Of course, the problem with this is that now every single fruit worldwide tastes the same. The smarter, more subtle thing to have done would have been to only change the taste of oranges, thus leaving all other types of fruit to their own devices.  

So how does this fruit-based metaphor relate to ServiceNow? Well, let’s apply this to the types of tasks within the platform (incident, problem, change, request item etc.). When you extend the task table, which already has a lot of fields and behaviours, you essentially pass on all those fields and behaviours into any child tables of the parent table. If you receive a requirement from a customer to update the default value of the incident state field, you will most likely end up modifying the task state field. This is a simple mistake I see very often. 

“What’s wrong with updating the task default value?” I hear you ask. Well, like in our fruit analogy, not only have you updated the default value of the incident state field but ALL task state fields, since any table which inherits from a task will also inherit its default value (unless you specifically say otherwise). As you can imagine, if a customer has different task processes running on their ServiceNow systems they aren’t going to be very happy bunnies. The solution is to use something called a dictionary override, which is the equivalent of me only changing the taste of oranges to strawberries and not all fruit. In this instance it allows me to update the default value of the incident state field without affecting any other task types.  

And so there we go, an analogy-based list of common ServiceNow pitfalls to look out for and how to avoid them, so that your team can utilise the platform in all its shiny glory. Don’t say I never do anything for you.   

P.S. - the answer to the title of number 5 is “because the banana split” … sue me.

If you’d like to understand more about Unifii’s way of working, our delivery methodology or our customer base then please do get in touch!


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Written by

Shlomo Da Costa

Senior Technical Consultant

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