A Glimpse into ServiceNow Vancouver Release: What’s New In the Latest SPM Update
It’s that exciting time of the year again. The ServiceNow Vancouver release is just around the corner, bringing along a fresh batch of features for each platform area. As an SPM specialist, I’ve been digging into the pre-release instances and ServiceNow’s documentation to catch all the changes. Let’s go over a couple of new services and some tweaks to the existing ones together, while exploring how these updates could potentially bring to ServiceNow’s SPM customers.
ServiceNow Vancouver Release Brand New Service: Data Separation
Among all the latest features, the spotlight is unquestionably shining on this spanking new service ‘Data Separation’, designed to resolve the challenge of segregating records in instances.
For those of us who have been dedicated users of ServiceNow SPM, we’re well acquainted with the issue and the various approaches ServiceNow has taken in the past to assist us in tackling it. In earlier days, “Domain Separation” theoretically allowed us to split data tables up as if we were running entirely air-gapped instances on the same platform, however, the complexity and impact on code and data were still significant. That evolved, as those who remember the early releases of HR will remember, when “Application Scopes” arrived and enabled us to hide HR data from IT Admins. That was extremely helpful in setting the foundation for the good platform management we have today.
In an SPM world, we could always split PPM and demand data between different services using TeamSpaces, but that will also segregate the data fully so common architecture like forms and scripts has to be duplicated, making tasks like reporting that work across multiple TeamSpaces to be especially challenging.
So why did ServiceNow want to add more? My experience tells me that the real benefit of the new service is that it provides a low-impact way of ensuring some super-sensitive projects (e.g. new projects to outsource work or change a staff structure) are only visible to those with appropriate access.
So what’s the difference with this service?
The model is less invasive. There’s no need to split the data up into separate tables, nor to duplicate common architecture within the platform. You can configure the separation rules in the way that works for your environment, then pick the tables you want to secure, as well as the groups of users who should be able to see each set of records. Then, once activated, when a user goes to one of the secured tables, they can only see the data that their group memberships allow them to see, based on the rules you’ve set.
How can we take advantage of it?
The service expects that your Planning Workspace is up and running, meaning that you’ll need your Strategic Planning Workspace for those with SPM Pro licenses, or Portfolio Planning Workspace for those with SPM Standard. It also presumes you’ve moved forward from the Alignment Planner Workspace configuration from the San Diego release, so make sure that you’ve updated your instance.
Lenses that form the backbone of this service are from version 2 onwards. These lenses will identify tables that form the structure of the data as offered in the Planning Workspace, while they are also an important part of the latest Data Separation service.
Data Separation will use one of those lenses (you get to choose which, but you can only choose one) as the hierarchy to divide up your Project and Demand data. When you open your lenses from the Data Separation navigator, you have the option to enable Data Separation using that lens, and then choose the entity users will need to match with in order to view the data. This flexibility allows you to segregate data by different means such as the Department, the Business Unit, the Product or the Primary Goal.
Once this is in place, you can also select which tables you want to segregate the data on. This can be done on various types of tables, including project, demand, cost plan or resource plan (or even a TeamSpace table if you’re using one).
After enabling Data Separation from the lens record, you can build a set of ‘Entity Group Mapping’ records that link your matching criteria (e.g., a department or product) to user groups, keeping it tidy and straightforward. The different tables in your Lenses are presented, and then the records on those tables are offered. Finally, you get to choose the group that you want this combination to be available to.
As a result, when a user in the named group accesses a protected table, they’ll see records that match the condition. But when other users get there who have access to the records on that table but aren’t in the required group, they’ll not be able to see the records that have specific matching rules, while still having the view of other records with no rules.
Additionally, users can be given a privileged role that prevents these constraints from applying to them, and admins, of course, can override all this. However, be aware that with this service activated, some configurations will give the platform administrator complete confidence and sensitive project records will only show to those who need to see them.
Strategic Planning Workspace 3.0.0
If you have been keeping an eye on the development of the Strategic Planning Workspace and Portfolio Planning Workspace, since they appeared as the Alignment Planner Workspace and then split into two, it won’t come as a shock that this fantastic suite of futures is still evolving.
A new update of the Strategic Planning Workspace has now landed for SPM Pro users – and you don’t even need to wait for Vancouver to be able to leverage this, all you need is to be on Utah!
What’s particularly thrilling is the introduction of an entirely new page within the Workspace, dedicated to Feedback records, or more specifically, Product Feedback. The addition aligns with ServiceNow’s emphasis on recognising that many of our customers organise work and budget by Product, rather than by Portfolio or business area. Even if you don’t typically approach your planning from this perspective, there’s great potential in this new feature.
The Product Feedback record is a straightforward way to capture customer feedbacks, which was only possible via the Idea page before the latest update. These Feedback Records are seamlessly integrated into the Strategic Planning Workspace and stored as feedback on planning items. You can associate a feedback record to any planning item such as Projects, Demands, Programs or Epics, and find them listed on the planning item’s new Feedback related list.
Because of how simple these records are, the option exists to auto-generate them quickly and easily from user surveys, simple service portal record producers, chat conversations or virtual agent. ServiceNow has also furnished a handy Outlook Add-in for added convenience.
When you, as a Product Manager log into the Strategic Planning Workspace, the newly introduced “Feedback” page will provide you with a full landscape of feedback. From there, you can identify trends and patterns, prioritise feedbacks that need urgent attention, and associate them with different planning items that are already in flight. You can even convert your feedback into an “Idea” and engage the community to collaboratively chart the next course of action.
However, similar to some other items in the Planning Workspaces, such as Dependencies, these Feedback records do not carry over to the original records when accessed through the native view. They are purposely tailored for the context of the Planning Workspace. Hence, you won’t find a Feedback related list on the Project or Demand forms that displays the same information. This backs up my interpretation of ServiceNow’s approach, which is that they see the majority of Project and Demand management activity being done through the Planning Workspace, in much the same way as how Incident Management is done.
Other New SPM Features from the Vancouver Release
There are a few more noteworthy features to highlight, and I’ll breeze through them quickly. First, the Strategic Goals now offer flexibility in setting targets – they can be either quantitative or qualitative. Just as we saw from a few releases ago when benefit plans expanded to include both monetary and non-monetary aspects, the targets of strategic goals can now either be quantifiable through counts and scores, or less tangible and more theoretical. All while still being categorised as met or not.
SPM Pro users should also be able to notice the enhancement of a new Kanban view for viewing, Roadmaps, which is a nifty addition for those seeking to gather more data on a single page.
And here’s another exciting one – one for both SPM Standard and Pro users – the Attribute-based Planning Mechanism. I’d really like to delve deeper into the topic but will keep it short for now. Planning Attributes are a dynamic tool that empowers users, particularly those engaged in Resource Management and Project Financials, to map resources and establish expenses based on attributes. The innovation builds upon the existing capacity planning service within the Strategic Planning Workspace, with an additional, and powerful layer of configuration that ensures you’re seeing the right information.
It signifies a whole new array of approaches for dissecting resource costs, such as breaking them down by new attributes on each resource’s employee profile record, their Primary Resource Group, Primary Skill and Primary Role. The new approaches add depth and power to how you interact with resource-related data, by updating accordingly the resource capacity service accessible from the front page of the Strategic Planning Workspace.
Can't wait to see how these services can add value to your organisation? Leave your contact details here and we’ll get in touch to set up a free consultation and demo session. If you’re curious to learn more about the remaining parts of the Vancouver update, stay tuned to our blogs and we’ll bring you a more comprehensive analysis shortly.