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ServiceNow: When to use Customer Workflow (CSM) and when to go with Creator Workflow (AppEngine)

ServiceNow offers with Customer Workflow a competitive application for Customer Service Management (CSM). You buy a product with ready-to-use processes, tables, forms, and experiences. It helps you orchestrate activities between your customers, consumers, partners, and other stakeholders involved in serving your customers. So, you get a lot of pre-packed stuff like data models, processes, tables, forms, portals, workspaces, and roles.

If you want to implement competitive Customer Service Management within your organization, this is pretty cool.

With Creator Workflow, or sometimes we call it AppEngine, you get all the tools that were used to build CSM. With those tools, you can develop your own applications and workflows on the platform. You start with great groundspeed using the App Engine toolset, to create your process and leverage all platform capabilities and some specific AppEngine features.

ServiceNow is a low-code platform at its core. Fred Luddy, the founder of ServiceNow, had that in mind when he built the platform. He was just a couple of years ahead, so he built the ITSM module on top of the platform. But now, we are ready and have the governance capabilities to support those endeavors.

AppEngine brings the AppEngine Studio (AES), our low-code developer IDE to you. It is tailored for low-code developers, but that doesn't mean you can't use it as a pro-code developer as well. I love it, and I also love to code ;), as it is not an all-or-nothing decision. You can use AES to create the app and use all the helpful features to modify, faster adopt requirements and if you need, jump into the backend or the old studio.

So, the big question is when you should use CSM an when you should create your own application with AppEngine. I genuinely believe you need to understand CSM and the processes behind it to make a good decision. Because with CSM, you get a lot of preconfigured processes out-of-the-box. This can be great, but you also need to adopt them. One rumor that floats around, I would like to address at the beginning, you don't need CSM automatically, just because your use case includes external customers/users. That can also be covered by AppEngine (external requestors).

I see "80/20" as a good rule of thumb when thinking about this decision. Can I use 80% of the processes I get and maybe need to change/modify not more than 20%? If yes, you could consider going with CSM. But if the methodology and data model don't work for you and you would need to customize/change more than 20%, I urge you to consider building your own application with AppEngine. That helps you start smaller, which means you don't need to implement the whole application and have a big-bang approach. You can start slowly and build it up over time.

That should show, that you need to understand the processes you get with CSM and see if you can adapt your organization to it. Because if you buy the application and customize it to your needs, you will have regularly trouble with future upgrades! With CSM, you also get preconfigured roles. This is great, but you need to adopt those roles, and if you want to re-write or completely change the whole role structure, you could get in trouble as there are so many flows and business rules depending on those standard roles.

I think it should also be ok to start with AppEngine, and then if you see in the future that you could adopt more from CSM, switch to the OOTB application.

The attractiveness of buying a fully functional application is high; I understand that. But you must consider its implication, as the CSM space is not as standardized as ITSM. With ITIL and the whole ITSM movement, we have excellent and well-documented incident processes that are widely adapted and match most of the time around 80% of your requirements.

Regarding licenses, CSM and AppEngine are both getting counted with the Requester, Business Stakeholder, and Fulfiller model. So, nothing different there.

There are so many processes in a company that needs to be digitalized. Sometimes it is as small as replacing an Excel. ServiceNow as a platform is such a powerful tool. With AppEngine, you get the features to leverage the full potential of the low-code platform to build your processes and achieve digitalization. With the help of the AppEngine Management Center, you also have the governance tool to get visibility over your deployments and new development requests.

I hope my summary of thoughts helps you deciding when you are thinking about going with an OOTB application or leveraging the platform to build your processes the way you want with AppEngine.

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