Many workflows in ServiceNow, such as change requests or orders, depend on Approval Groups. When the Approval Groups are not up to date, you can find yourself in situations where a change request or an order is delayed due to missing or invalid approvals. Or, your change requests go through without approval because the approver info is missing.
Does that sound familiar? These scenarios are common and can disrupt any organization’s smooth flow of operations. We work with ServiceNow data quality issues daily, so we know you need high enough quality to get the most value out of your platform investment.
The Power of Group Approvals
Using Groups for approvals and assignments is a typical way of working for many organizations using ServiceNow or other similar tools. Group Approvals offer flexibility so teams can devise task assignment strategies or mechanisms to respond to approval requests. Moreover, assigning tasks to a group rather than an individual helps with resourcing and makes workflows less person-dependent.
The problem in this article arises when members of these Approval Groups change roles or leave the organization. Even though the users typically become deactivated automatically, their group memberships may not be. This results in outdated approval groups.
Real Life Scenario
We recently ran a Free Guided Trial with an insurance company with this problem. In their Guided Trial, they wanted to see if DCM could help them address this problem, among other things.
They saw that requested items and change requests often got stuck due to missing approvers. Even though escalation paths were defined, triggering the escalation sometimes took a long time. Furthermore, the escalation could end up with an inactive user, too, or the approvers did not necessarily have the required roles defined to approve.
So, to fix these problems, they wanted to find:
- Approval Groups with inactive users.
- Approval Groups with fewer than two members.
- Approvers lacking the necessary roles for the approval.
During the Free Guided Trial, we created and audited a simple Blueprint in their non-prod instance to make this happen.
A Blueprint to Validate Approval Groups
Finding these deviations through custom reports or scripting is complicated and likely to take a lot of unnecessary time. However, creating a Blueprint in Data Content Manager based on these requirements is straightforward and only takes a few minutes.
For our Blueprint, we defined the following requirements:
- A Group must have at least two active users linked as members.
- The Group should be associated with a specific Role.
Watch the video below to see how this Blueprint is created in Data Content Manager’s Blueprint Designer.
That’s it. Running audits against this simple Blueprint will find and report all the deviations from the requirements set. Once found, fixing is easy. Running the audit on a schedule, which we always recommend, will continue to find these deviations as they occur, keeping the processes relying on Group Approvals healthy at all times.
Making the Blueprint Generic
We used the simple Blueprint above to audit very specific requirements. However, we can easily make it more generic and versatile to address all groups – not just Approval Groups. For this, we can consider adding some of these additional requirements:
- Make the Group Role link conditional based on the Group Type. You could, for example, require an approval role for an approval group. A conditional link is displayed as a dotted line in the Blueprint.
- Require a Manager reference to the Group and check that the group manager is also an active user.
- Check that every Group has a Type defined and a description to understand better how each Group is used. You can do this by creating a Field Setup to your Blueprint, which specifies requirements on an attribute level.
- Require the audited Groups to be Active with a simple filter. There’s probably not much point in auditing Groups that are no longer used.
The adjusted, generic Blueprint would look like this:
Benefits of Regular Audits
Running regular, scheduled audits against this generic Blueprint and promptly fixing any deviations that the audit finds will ensure that:
- Every Group has an active manager.
- Each Group consists of at least two active members.
- All groups have a defined name, description, and type.
- Groups with the Type “Approval” will have a role required to perform approvals.
The group manager’s information is essential. We use it to assign any deviations the audit finds to the group manager. When the Group Manager’s details are invalid, we send the deviation to a centralized team to address.
When this data is continually monitored and fixed almost in real-time, the positive impact on the processes that rely on these Groups should be very noticeable. And it all happens without scripting or customizations. Just draw the Blueprint and set an audit schedule – everything else will follow.
The Bigger Picture
We ran an audit against this Blueprint in our demo instance against demo data, and the results were illuminating. Even though it is demo data, it was obvious where the problems lie. We would probably experience the issues we described if this were production data.
All in all, it took about 20 minutes to draw the Blueprint and run the audit. From now on, a scheduled audit will automatically identify and assign tasks to responsible persons when changes occur and if any Group is no longer valid for approvals or assignments.
So, what’s the business value of doing this? Why should you put effort into validating Groups and being proactive about data quality in the first place?
The answer is simple: working with insufficient data is expensive.
Ensuring and improving data quality not only streamlines operations but also saves resources. Check out our article for an example of an impressive Return on Investment by improving CI data quality. The same principles for calculating ROI are valid for foundation data, including this example about Group Validation.
Try It Out!
As mentioned above, we recently ran this use case in a Free Guided Trial that we offer to many organizations. The Free Trial allows you to see how Data Content Manager works in your instance without spending time learning it.
The Free Guided Trial is risk-free, no-cost, and no commitment. DCM is a ServiceNow-certified app, so you can rest assured it will run nicely in your non-prod ServiceNow instance.
Read more about the Free Guided Trial here, and book an expert consultation with us to get started!