Los Angeles CIO Ted Ross gained operational insights and improved customer service by implementing ServiceNow.

Apr 19 2022

ServiceNow Streamlines Operations and Improves Customer Experience

Cities and state agencies modernize IT delivery with IT services management.

When the city of Los Angeles replaced its largely homegrown legacy IT services management tools with the cloud-based Now Platform from ServiceNow, the goal was modernizing and simplifying the delivery of internal IT services with Software as a Service, says city CIO Ted Ross. But urgent needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic put the wider capabilities of the new platform on full display.

ServiceNow enabled the IT team to quickly provision 18,000 city employees with key applications and services needed to work remotely. Using ServiceNow, it took the IT team less than 72 hours to roll out an app that directed Angelenos to their nearest COVID-19 testing sites and allowed them to set up appointments. A pandemic rent relief program delivered through a ServiceNow app resulted in $105 million being distributed to the landlords of vulnerable citizens in 50,000 households, says Ross.

“When we first deployed ServiceNow, we didn’t think about its substantial customer relationship management capabilities,” Ross says. “But then we were tasked with delivering apps to the public during COVID, and we learned that it made a dramatic difference in our ability to respond.”

A comprehensive IT service management platform, ServiceNow helps organizations automate business processes. The platform leverages machine learning to optimize workflows and the use of data. Designed around the IT infrastructure library (ITIL) framework of best practices, ServiceNow streamlines incident and problem management, facilitates change management and harnesses automation.

“At their core, ITSM platforms have a really simple idea,” says IDC Research Manager Shannon Kalvar. “You take the activities that people do in an organization, map out and help automate those workflows, and then store those as services so people have access to them. The idea is simple, but from there it gets very complicated.”

ITSM platforms such as ServiceNow also promote procedural justice, Kalvar says. “Digitalizing and standardizing processes so that services can be automated means that the same process is applied in every case,” he says.

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How Los Angeles' Use of ServiceNow Optimized the User and Customer Experience

Beyond its role in the city’s pandemic response, the primary driver of the Los Angeles ServiceNow deployment was the need for better service management and for a user-friendly platform.

“We were able to configure ServiceNow so that it was easy for us to get into and start, but also so that it was easy for our customers,” says Joyce Edson, the city’s executive officer and deputy CIO.

One result of ServiceNow’s frequent updates — scheduled twice a year — is an opportunity to more closely align services to customer needs.

“We’re at least six versions in from the initial installation,” Edson says. “That means that when someone says, ‘This doesn’t meet our needs,’ we can very quickly change that for them. Being able to address people’s concerns very quickly helped mitigate a lot of the nervousness around big changes.”

The platform’s Service Catalogue, a repository of organizational knowledge, provides crucial continuity, Ross says.

“Half of our department was eligible for retirement when we began implementing ServiceNow,” he says.

“In government, knowledge transfer is a big problem. This system is easily searchable, documents error codes with solutions, and has all the content that makes life easier for us now and for the next generation of IT workers,” Ross adds.

ServiceNow tracks IT services and solicits customer feedback, Ross says. “It lets us be a thinking, learning organization. It improves the customer experience, increases the amount of feedback we receive and gives us better insights.”

DIVE DEEPER: A look at IT modernization priorities in state and local government.

How Did ServiceNow Help Transform Tennessee DHS?

In 2017, the Tennessee Department of Human Services was looking for an ITSM platform to help measure and reduce in-person and telephone wait times in its service centers, says Pamela Fusting, TDHS director of operations for customer experience. Key criteria in the search were scalability, ease of workflow automation and management, and the rollout of customer-facing interfaces, she says.

“We started small with a pilot of ServiceNow’s customer service management tools, but we’ve added to it tremendously since then,” Fusting says. “Having the platform in place gave us the tools to see what it could do and the ability to scale quickly. We wanted to build momentum along with stakeholder engagement.”

Results from the initial ServiceNow deployment came quickly, Fusting says. The time to assign customer inquiries for resolution dropped from 36 hours to eight minutes as the workflow became automated. The time for resolution of inquiries dropped by 30 percent.

Later, the DHS used ServiceNow tools to create self-service kiosks across the state, leading to an 85 percent decrease in wait times, on average, for customers. By the time the pandemic required the agency to add new programs in 2020, TDHS had expanded its ServiceNow deployment and was able to stand up new customer portal tools in as little as 72 hours, Fusting says.

The success of the ServiceNow deployment has created a deluge of projects, Fusting says. “Once people started to see the benefits, they began immediately seeing additional areas where the technology would benefit the department. We’re moving at a tremendous pace as we automate and integrate more workflows.”

RELATED: How ServiceNow solutions can tools can make government IT more efficient.

ServiceNow Supported Raleigh's Technology Consolidation Efforts

Before it deployed ServiceNow in 2016, IT services management for the city of Raleigh, N.C., was constrained by a legacy ticketing system that was challenging to configure and did not meet the needs of all IT divisions, says Beth Stagner, the city’s director of enterprise applications and data.

“We were already an ITIL shop but hadn’t fully embraced the framework, and we wanted to go all-in,” she says. “ServiceNow was built for those ITIL processes.”

The initial ServiceNow deployment began with change management, followed by incident reporting and request fulfillment, and then quickly added ITIL processes already established in Raleigh, as well as a self-service portal for users.

ServiceNow replaced six separate solutions for IT service management and project management that had been scattered among city departments, freeing nine full-time employees to be reassigned to citizen services.

“We take small successes and good processes and build from there. At the same time, we also build buy-in from users and from decision-makers,” Stagner says. “We are pushing ServiceNow into more and more processes, and it gives us, among other benefits, consistency in end-user experience and in the data that we pull out of it.”

Photography by Tom Alleman

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