by Brian Nordli
December 20, 2018

For any company, there’s nothing more important than knowing what your customer wants and delivering it. That’s not a problem for ServiceNow — they are their own customer.

The company operates as customer zero, relying on its cloud-based workflow platform as much as it expects its customers to rely on it. Those experiences arm its engineers with the tools they need to accelerate product development and solve customer needs before they arise.  

We spoke with three engineering team leaders about how that customer-centric mindset fuels their teams.   

 

ServiceNow office space
Photography By Amelia Ingraham
ServiceNow room
Photography By Amelia Ingraham
ServiceNow lobby
Photography By Amelia Ingraham

 

FOUNDED: 2004

EMPLOYEES: 7,661

WHAT THEY DO: ServiceNow offers a cloud-based platform that helps businesses on several fronts. Their tools help to create and improve digital workflows, increase both productivity and collaboration across departments, and ultimately, create better experiences for their customers and users. 

WHERE THEY DO IT: Headquarters in Santa Clara, California, with offices in Kirkland and around the world.

THE PERKS: Beyond the tasty catered Friday lunches and supportive parental leave policy, employees can enjoy the offerings and view of the Carillon Point resort with an employee discount.

INNOVATIVE STREAK: ServiceNow seized the top spot on Forbes’ annual “The World’s 100 Most Innovative Companies” list.

 

Team at ServiceNow

Mike Portrait

 

Mike Lents, Vice President of Service Engineering

Mike captains the engineering front for the global infrastructure and automation for ServiceNow Nonstop Cloud, which enables customers to access their digital business processes at all times.

BEYOND WORK: Mike enjoys breaking a sweat outside of work, and you’ll most likely find him slicing through the ice during a game of ice hockey or pedaling on his bike.

 

How has the team grown and evolved from when you first started six years ago?

When I started, the global infrastructure team was less than 20 people, and we were just embarking on our journey as a company. Over the past six years, we have engineered every aspect of ServiceNow’s Nonstop Cloud, and the focus of each engineer is to always deliver available infrastructure services. We have an intense focus on our customers, what they need and delivering a platform that transforms their lives at work.

 

What something at ServiceNow that makes your proud to work there?

I’m proudest of our leadership. At ServiceNow, leadership isn’t a title but rather a deep-rooted culture that exists at every level within our engineering team. Every person on my team is a leader who embraces the growth mindset. We’re willing to take risks and continually build upon lessons learned.

 

We are customer zero, and this model gives us unique insights into what our customers experience, what our customers need and how we can help accelerate product development [...].”

 

What challenges did your team encounter in building cloud automation for the Now Platform?

Everything we do has to scale to exceed our growth. Building infrastructure and automation at scale require us to anticipate where we will be in future years and work backward to today — this mindset transcends all areas of my organization. We need to design and implement architectures and frameworks that meet today’s needs and allow us to quickly scale to enable digital transformation for our customers around the world.

 

What processes are in place to determine customer needs? How does that shape the way your team works?

We are customer zero, and this model gives us unique insights into what our customers experience, what our customers need and how we can help accelerate product development that creates a positive impact on our customers. Because we use the ServiceNow platform, we can share our story with our customers, what we did well, what our best practices were and together transform our enterprises.

 

ServiceNow VendorHawk

 

Brian Portrait

 

Brian Geihsler, Senior Manager, Software Engineering

Brian co-founded VendorHawk, a software-as-a-service management company, which was acquired by ServiceNow in April 2018. He now manages a team that’s building VendorHawk’s SaaS management capabilities into ServiceNow.

BEYOND WORK: Brian enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids, who ensure there’s never a dull moment.  

 

You joined ServiceNow in April. How does the company welcome new engineers?

ServiceNow has one of the most streamlined onboarding processes I’ve ever witnessed, especially when you account for its compliance requirements and complexity. Although the ServiceNow platform takes time to learn, there is a well-defined set of training and tools that enable new engineers to be up and running quickly. I’ve been impressed with how our two most recent hires were able to contribute to the product quickly even though they needed to learn a new development platform.

 

What problems are you solving with technology at ServiceNow?

Customers managing their SaaS software have two main challenges. First, they have trouble finding the software people throughout the organization have bought. Second, they have trouble knowing how well that software is being used.

Our data science staff have developed algorithms and machine learning models to discover software purchases from financial and expense data. This automates a problem away that can take our customers multiple months of manual effort to solve. We also have proprietary integrations with top SaaS vendors that identify software licenses that are underutilized. We also provide automation to de-provision those underutilized licenses.

 

What opportunities are there for career growth at ServiceNow?

ServiceNow has a robust career model for all disciplines with well-defined levels and expectations for each role, as well as clear processes for progress. There are parallel tracks for those who want to manage people and for those who want to remain individual contributors.

When you put this model alongside the rapid growth of ServiceNow, this company is ripe with career opportunity. I and other managers at ServiceNow are intentional about building our reports’ careers and continually seek to improve the employee experience and career paths here.

 

While ServiceNow is growing to become a large enterprise, it remains vibrant with entrepreneurial energy.”

 

How does the company's overall culture impact the engineering team?

While ServiceNow is growing to become a large enterprise, it remains vibrant with entrepreneurial energy. This energy feeds into our engineering team and also makes ServiceNow feel like a flat organization. If you have an idea or need help, you can find the right person and get what you need without having to cut through a lot of red tape.

 

ServiceNow software

Sri Portrait

 

Sri Vattikuti, Software Manager, Engineering Department

Sri learned the quality engineering role on the job and now oversees quality engineering for ServiceNow’s IT Operations Management teams across a suite of applications, including configuration database, operations intelligence and Blazent.

BEYOND WORK: For Sri, nothing beats a day that starts with her paint oils and canvas and ends with a movie night with her children.

 

You were given time to grow into a new position as a quality engineer. What inspired you to make that transition?

I come from a different work background and took a leap of faith joining the ServiceNow configuration management database team in a different role because I believed in the vision and direction the company was going toward. I have had enough opportunities to challenge myself and learn on the job.

 

How does the company help engineers who are new on the job?

We utilize a buddy system that gives new employees a point of contact when they need help. We also have boot camps, system administration classes and our internal wiki is very helpful to find any information a new employee could need to help guide. The self-service tool also helps install all necessary tools, and we also have an automated environment setup to ease users to the required connections and tools on their machines.

 

We gain experience not only in the feature that we work on but also have a broader understanding and experience working with all other features.”

 

What opportunities are there to work on other features within the platform?

Our cloud-based platform has various integrated features that help companies solve and simplify complex workflows — in other words, our features are built to integrate with each other. We gain experience not only in the feature that we work on but also have a broader understanding and experience working with all other features. We learn to build smaller connecting blocks to solve a large, complex problem.

 

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