Introduction

ServiceNow® Virtual Agent makes it easy for employees and customers to get what they need whenever they need it, with an enterprise conversational experience powered by natural language understanding (NLU). Virtual Agent automatically resolves your common service requests and offers a customizable chatbot interface.

Audience

Action items in this checklist are intended for the implementation owner (s), who can be a primary business stake holder, project manager, or other stakeholder who manages the project and decision-making processes.

Purpose

A starting point to provide a workable and referenceable framework which enables us to build and deliver value faster. The benefits of using a readiness checklist are:

  • You’ll implement and see faster time to value
  • You’ll be aware of key implementation risks and receive guidance to avoid them.
  • You’ll have a superior, more efficient design so you get the most value from your Virtual Agent implementation; and assurance that you will get access to the greatest in each new release without rebuilding.

Objectives

The use of this checklist depends on the status of your Virtual Agent implementation project plan, desired timelines, objectives, and defined success criteria. The effectiveness of this checklist is dependent on the level of commitment demonstrated by all involved.

It is intended for those who: Don’t have an implementation project plan yet but are interested in what you need to prepare.

  1. This checklist highlights the standard steps to prepare for your implementation, outlines the design phase homework and provides insight into some of the major decisions you’ll make during implementation design.
  2. This checklist doesn’t provide design, configuration, or testing activities and is for readiness ONLY.
  3. Work with {INSERT} experts to plan a series of focused implementation workshop(s) for planning and assistance with execution.

Key Readiness Steps

The following steps are provided as guidance and for preparation purposes ONLY.

  1. Confirm prerequisites
  2. Define vision, objectives, and success criteria
  3. Assess team readiness
  4. Create governance structure
  5. Plan for Organizational Change Management (OCM) activities.
  6. Plan for implementation design
    1. Understanding Current Requests and Processes
    1. Document Integrations and OOTB Options
  7. What’s Next

Implementation Readiness Outline

Step 1: Confirm Prerequisites

Description

Take the time to understand Virtual Agent capabilities and features to confirm underlying platform functionality required for your intended use cases of Virtual Agent.

  • Virtual Agent overview on ServiceNow website. Take note of the application’s features, functionality, and benefits.
  • Review any presentation materials provided to you; post VA demo – If applicable
  • Virtual Agent product documentation. These resources are more technical and provide additional functionality detail.

Level

BASIC – FOUNDATIONAL

Key Takeaways & Action Items

  • You should now have a deeper understanding of Virtual Agent capabilities and functionality.
  • A better understanding of how, applications interact with Virtual Agent depends on your use cases.
  • You may need to add applications to your current environment, and these should be considered during the design phase.
  • INSIGHT: NLU can improve the user experience. An NLU model extracts relevant values from the text received by the Virtual Agent and uses those values to provide a more natural and engaging conversational experience for the user.

Step 2: Define Vision, Objectives, and Success

Description

A strong transformation vision should address four questions:
  • Vision – What’s the ideal future state for our customers and team?
  • Expected business outcomes – What business value will we realize?
  • Desired business capabilities – What execution strategies are necessary to achieve this vision?
  • Key measures of success – How will we know when we’ve realized our targeted value?

Level

MEDIUM – ADVANCED

Key Takeaways & Action Items

Setting Objectives:

  • Effective measures of success set objective targets for each business capability you want to enable. They also help you track progress on accomplishing the expected business outcomes associated with the vision and flag the need for timely corrective measures.

Suggested Virtual Agent outcomes:

  • Reduced agent workload through automating routine requests 
  • Faster time to resolution through reduced wait times and self-service for low complexity requests

Suggested Success Metrics:

  • Customer usage: Number of active users, newly onboarded users, retained users, bot sessions, and method of choice for solving problems
  • User Experience: First response time, average handling time, number of transfers to live agent, time to resolution, number of completed conversations versus total conversations, chat exits prior to resolution, and survey user rating
  • INSIGHT: When creating your implementation vision, link it to your organizationally established strategic drivers, such as operational excellence, cost reduction, or employee experience. Shape the transformation vision to ensure it translates into measurable outcomes for your team, and effectively communicate it across the organization to support roadmap planning, budget allocation, and prioritization decisions.

Step 3: Assess Your Team Readiness

Description

There are typically multiple teams involved and specific skills required to implement Virtual Agent. Make sure you have the right team in place or begin with a plan to engage them. Don’t finalize your resourcing and project plans until you’ve assessed your team’s readiness.

Level

BASIC to MEDIUM

Key Takeaways & Action Items

  • Define the responsibilities necessary to oversee the strategic roadmap and ensure it aligns with measurable business outcomes.
  • Confirm your executive sponsor(s) is committed and fully engaged.
  • Confirm your business-side platform owner(s) is committed and fully engaged.
  • Identify the business process owners who will provide input for the process design (service desk process owner, and/or any process owner with a team that will provide support with Virtual Agent). 
  • INSIGHT: Include a process owner who knows where employees go for support (if there are multiple options) and how employees communicate. Understanding the company lingo, acronyms, and how employees request support is important for creating NLU utterances when you create NLU models.

Step 4: Create a Structure for Governance

Description

Governance is a set of policies, processes, and organizational capabilities that define how decisions are made and who is responsible for the outcomes.

Governance for your Virtual Agent journey should include implementation governance and post-implementation governance. Implementation governance supports successful implementation, and post-implementation governance supports the long-term success of Virtual Agent in your environment.

What’s Needed?

You need to establish three areas of governance:

  1. Strategy governance, which defines how strategy roadmap decisions are made to align SERVICENOW functionality to business outcomes
    1. Technical governance, which governs the management and stability of the SERVICENOW support model
    1. Portfolio governance, which articulates how SERVICENOW portfolio decisions are made and captured in policy.

Level

MEDIUM, or ADVANCED

Key Takeaways & Action Items

  • Who to Involve: ServiceNow platform owner; business process owners (ITSM, HRSD, CSM depending on Virtual Agent conversations and processes in scope, IT service desk lead, project manager, and other business stakeholders as required.
  • Define a meeting cadence, standard agenda, and decision process. In addition to standard project tracking, meetings should include:
    • Project objectives (e.g., improvements to process performance, technical usability) clearly identified and prioritized.
    • A review of organizational change management activities.
  • Develop a responsibility assignment matrix (RACI) to establish a common, documented understanding of decision rights for the migration project.
  • Confirm that your governance team is prepared to define measures of success for enterprise, IT, and operational objectives. These measures of success should come from the goals and metrics discovered in Step 2.
  • INSIGHT: The governance structure you establish for implementation should set an initial baseline for the governance you’ll need for post-go-live maintenance, especially to manage demand.

Step 5: Planning for Organizational Change Management (OCM) Activities

Description

Consider organizational change management (OCM) activities throughout planning and implementation for successful adoption and long-term success.

Level

ADVANCED

Key Takeaways & Action Items

  • Build an OCM Plan: Confirm that you have leadership and executive sponsor support for OCM, including budget for an OCM program lead and/or ServiceNow expert support. This should also include an explicit definition from leadership about what good OCM should look like for your organization.
  • Conduct an OCM readiness assessment to measure how ready your stakeholders are for the organizational change needed to support Virtual Agent. This should be conducted before design discussions. Based on your readiness assessment, use this Success Checklist to create an OCM plan and develop an OCM impact analysis and risk assessment.  
  • Plan for a Proof of Concept (POC) or Pilot: Initiate a limited scope pilot after the design phase and before the larger-scale Virtual Agent implementation. This is important for showing quick wins for effective OCM—and pilot feedback will enhance the quality of the larger scale Virtual Agent implementation.
  • A few recommendations for conducting a Virtual Agent pilot: 
    • Start discussions with two to four small teams that would highly benefit from Virtual Agent, are interested in Virtual Agent, and can commit to a pilot.
    • Confirm the chosen team is willing to share feedback and the value they gained from the pilot.
    • Put a structure in place to document the lessons learned from the pilot.
    • Confirm the scope and dates for the pilot during the design phase. Most pilot scopes start small, enabling three to five Virtual Agent conversation intents.
  • INSIGHTS: If you complete a readiness assessment with a series of interviews, focus group meetings, or workshops (in addition to, or instead of, a survey), use open-ended, “what if” scenario questions to collect responses from people and/or groups in person, such as:
    • What are some good reasons for not getting involved in the proposed project (no time, no motivation, etc.)?
    • What are some good reasons for getting involved in the proposed project?

Step 6: Plan for implementation design

Step 6A: Understanding Current Requests and Processes

Description

Items in this section should be provided to {INSERT Project team and/or 3rd Party, or Applicable Resources} to enhance project planning conversations. If preferred, complete this section with {INSERT Project team and/or 3rd Party, or Applicable Resources}.

The implementation design process involves multiple teams, collaborative decision-making, and a thorough understanding of your current processes and technical environment. Due to this, it can often take weeks or longer to collect necessary information, coordinate the right people, and solidify decisions during the design phase

Level

BASIC to MEDIUM

Key Takeaways & Action Items

  • Document where you see the most value gained from the deflection of users away from processes that involve other human interactions.
  • Agree the early road mapping stages from where your going to grow the volumes of people using Virtual Agent.
  • List any concerns or roadblocks you foresee for implementing or adopting Virtual Agent.
  • List details for self-service options in your current environment.
  • Confirm existing functionality
  • Document all SERVICENOW applications currently in use that may interact with Virtual Agent. Here’s a list of the most common ServiceNow applications used with Virtual Agent. Confirm any that are applicable to your environment, based on your use cases. This information will be used to assist with architecture and process design.
Most Virtual Agent implementations use these applications.
  • Service Catalog
  • Service Portal
  • Knowledge Base
  • Mobile
  • IT Service Management (ITSM) – If use cases are for ITSM
  • HR Service Delivery (HRSD) – If use cases are for HR
  • Customer Service Management (CSM) – If use cases are for CSM
  • Performance Analytics – If incident or case analytics are desired
  • List any additional ServiceNow applications that may interact with Virtual Agent
  • List all 3rd Party systems that may interact with Virtual Agent
  • INSIGHT: Virtual Agent should be initiated from the most widely used Service Portal. If there are multiple portals in use, I recommend configuring a primary portal.

Chapter 6B: Document Integrations and OOTB Options

Description

Review and confirm which OOTB Integrations provided by ServiceNow will need to be prioritized. Document required OOTB required conversations. Document any non-OOTB conversations you would like to add or discuss.

Level

BASIC

Key Takeaways & Action Items

ServiceNow provides three OOTB integrations with Virtual Agent. Confirm which, if any, will be used in your implementation. 

  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Workplace by Facebook
  • Any additional integrations that may be needed (Additional Integration Questionnaire Required)
  • Related integration diagrams and/or technical details for planning from your architecture team

These ServiceNow Virtual Agent conversation docs have additional information on OOTB conversations. This information is useful for design planning and estimating implementation effort. 

Choose OOTB conversations based on your business outcomes or goals.

  • Choose ITSM OOTB conversations
  • Choose CSM OOTB conversations
  • Choose HRSD OOTB conversations
  • Document any non-OOTB conversations you would like to add or discuss
  • Consider whether conversations will facilitate hand-off to a live agent (Agent Workspace).

OOTB Virtual Agent Conversations (Replace with ServiceNow Release identified by your organization)

Chapter 7: What’s Next?

Description

Now that you’ve completed all preparedness items, your next steps are based on your status when you began this checklist.

Topics covered

  1. Confirm prerequisites
  2. Define vision, objectives, and success criteria
  3. Assess team readiness
  4. Create governance structure
  5. Plan for Organizational Change Management (OCM) activities.
  6. Plan for implementation design
    1. Understanding Current Requests and Processes
    1. Document Integrations and OOTB Options

Related Resources:

Still Have Questions?

  • Send inquiries to: {INSERT Project team and/or 3rd Party, or Applicable Resource}
  • When in doubt, you can always call your designated ServiceNow representative.
  • Contact Me