Puget Sound Energy: Harnessing the power of ServiceNow

KPMG helped PSE decustomize in order to take advantage of new features.

Joe Koester

Joe Koester

Principal, Advisory, Platforms, KPMG US

+1 703-307-1104

Greg Horvath

Greg Horvath

Managing Director, CIO Advisory, KPMG US

+1 414-226-1183

How do you step backwards to move forward? Puget Sound Energy (PSE) did just that. As a long-time user of the ServiceNow IT platform, PSE had multiple customizations spanning several years but the customization didn’t allow them to take advantage of new ServiceNow features. PSE wanted to maintain their ServiceNow investment, but work with a partner that could help them maximize the tools value and get PSE back to an “out-of-the-box” platform. Within four months, KPMG implemented the Powered IT solution, moving PSE back to an “out of the box” solution - helping them maximize the platform. And, it was accomplished virtually during the #COVID-19 pandemic.


My name is Will DeMille with KPMG Advisory, and I'm here today with my colleagues from Puget Sound Energy to talk about their customer success journey. So team, if you wouldn't mind introducing yourselves, I'll start with you, Tim.

Hi, my name is Tim Foley. I'm the manager of Enterprise Data at Puget Sound Energy. And that means I'm responsible for data analytics, BI, data governance, data science, databases, as well as our IT for IT Applications. And that includes ServiceNow.

I'm Michael Molson. I'm the Delivery Services manager for Puget Sound Energy. I'm responsible for the successful delivery of our portfolio on time, on budget, on scope, on benefits. My team are power users of the project portfolio management suite of ServiceNow under the ITBM product.

I'm Jan Clawson. I'm the manager of the IT Service Management Office here at Puget Sound Energy. We manage all of the Core Intel processes. I also have IT finance, vendor management and asset management as well.

Hi, my name is Mark Tasky. I'm a senior advisor in the IT Service Management Office supporting Jan and I'm also serving as the product owner for, or the product manager for the ServiceNow implementation.

Puget Sound Energy serves almost two million electrical and natural gas customers in Northern Washington. There were a long time user of the ServiceNow platform that had been customized over time, making it difficult to upgrade and take advantage of new features. So Tim, what were some of the challenges you experienced working with the customized software and how did this impact your ability to leverage new features and functions?

We first implemented service down in 2015 and at the time ServiceNow wasn't as a robust solution as it is today. And we had features and functions that we needed. So we develop them ServiceNow subsequently released a lot of that functionality. And one of the issues is, as you mentioned, is our upgrades are a little bit more costly than they need to be, but that really isn't the biggest issue. The biggest issue is that we're not able to leverage the standard out of the box functionality as it's released from ServiceNow, because it's too complicated for us to integrate into our solution.

At the time that we implemented that section of ITBM, it didn't really have a lot of feature richness in the ideation or the intake module. So we basically built our own custom section, but as areas came in, I keep financial management, benefits management we're locked out of those features. And it really hampered our ability to dynamically adjust and respond to business needs, it was causing us to respond, frankly, a lot of offline processes that were driving time and cost into the delivery of our projects and our portfolio management process. And essentially we were stuck in circa 2016 feature set for four years until we had KPMG come in and help us out of that.

Hmm. So what did you say to do to improve your situation?

Well, in 2020, we made the decision to remove the customization and we decided that the cleanest way to do that was just a full re platform.

To add to that, for the portfolio area, we realized that not only did we need help from a tool, a scenario, we also needed to revisit our process. And so we backed into 2019 and we engaged KPMG to come in and do an assessment for us, as far as where we were at related to ITBM maturity and help us figure out a roadmap that we could execute across multiple years to get us to where we wanted to be.

Puget Sound Energy knew it wanted to maintain its investment in ServiceNow and wanted to work with a partner to get the most out of it. What were you looking for in a partner to help you get back to out of the box?

We consider doing it ourselves, but in reality, there's nothing better than having a partner. Who's done it before to help you accelerate your timelines and bring the best practice guidance that they've learned from other partners or other clients that they've worked with in the past. And so we wanted to make sure that we configured the tool and didn't customize the tool.

And why did you choose KPMG to be your partner on this journey?

We took a look at our suppliers and when they responded to our bid, KPMG came out as a clear winner because we weren't going to just do project portfolio management or just do service. We were going to hit a range of areas. And so we needed a partner who understood all the aspects of ServiceNow not just one section and frankly, there's not a lot of suppliers out there that have successfully implemented the portfolio and ITBM suite and the service suite and the cybersecurity suite. And then another evaluation criteria is we could see that KPMG had also successfully implemented at utilities and we have our own special needs, or with least we think we do. And so that also gave KPMG an advantage when it came to evaluating them as a partner.

The implementation was completed in about four months, but you took a lot of steps to get ready for the initiative. What type of preparation did you go through?

I was a part of a group actually that ServiceNow helped put together where we meet cross functionally, and we share our journey for ITBM in the utility space. And so I really leveraged the lessons learned from other utilities that were implementing the software. I also took a look at where POC was going to understand, okay, I don't have these features today, but if I get the opportunity to re implement, don't think just about what I need today, but where are we going? And what do we need to put in place so that we can support new asks by our board? And then we engaged KPMG to come in and do workshops with us to take a look at our strategy because we knew we couldn't afford everything out of the gate.

How did the powered IT solution help you speed up the implementation, but levers were valuable for you in this journey?

Well, what's interesting with Powered IT is you don't really realize it's there, which is a good thing, right? The reality is that Powered IT is an amalgamation of all the best practice that KPMG's worked with other clients on that they bring to the table. And so it really just helps us accelerate configuration of the implementation.

To add to that. I would say while we were experts in what our own internal business process would be, we were not experts at. I guess, opportunities or functionality could be leverage inside ITBM to meet our business needs. And so it really helped us speed up that section of business analysis. And I think if as PSE had not been prepared and KPMG had not come prepared with their Paradigm IT on their side, there's no way we would've hit our deadline.

The question, did the pandemic impact on how the process or our project kind of work?

Yes, for me it did. How it impacted for me was not so much. The fact that we were, or were not going to do the project. What it did was amplified the value that this project could bring in ITBM.

Yeah. In addition, I would say that the pandemic forced us to revisit our partnership model in that we typically bring people on site and that there's teeny, when you do that, what we found was that we work just as well or better remotely than when onsite. And so our model really going forward is that we don't feel like we need to have travel and expenses there so we can get things done remotely a hundred percent.

Puget Sound Energy can now take advantage of many of the features and functions within the ServiceNow IT platform, how did the re platform help you to achieve your goals?

We've used this as an opportunity to transition over, to agile methodology, which is we're delivering in sprints now, we've set up a product owner structure as well as we're leveraging the ServiceNow tools. And really KPMG helped us along that journey and showed us some good practice on how we would do that.

We leverage ServiceNow as our central portfolio platform in conjunction with Power BI. So we have one set of data with synchronized timing, but with different views for that, for the various audiences and how they need to say the data to drive their decision-making, I'm absolutely thrilled with the results of the project from that perspective.

From an ITSM perspective, everything that we're doing now, because we largely stuck to the out of the box principles, everything has been simplified. And so there are some time savings in terms of the amount of time that a functional change manager for example, will have to spend creating a change record and managing that change record through implementation hours and hours and hours per month. Our security folks are not having to spend, managing their compliance activities in spreadsheets. And Oh, by the way, that is also leading to fewer violations or potential violations just due to human error.

How did change management and training play a role in the success of the project?

I played a huge role in the success of the project. And I have to say the OCM team that KPMG brought forward was cellar, but boy, they really stepped up and helped us with communications and thinking through how things might work. And as you've mentioned, it took four and a half months for the project to try and get turn that ship. And four and a half months was a big deal. And so having that OCM team helped us out was really fantastic.

So how was the collaboration between the PSC team and KPMG critical to the success of the initiative?

From a business stakeholder perspective? One of the things I observed is that there was a high level of collaboration between KPMG, my product owner and the technical team. And I really feel like that it really led to the success of the project because everyone had their listening on which I really enjoyed as a business stakeholder. So whatever it took to get the feature across the line and do it in a way that PSE could support going forward. That was the mindset.

Yeah. We ran in a couple situations where we had to make some pretty big decisions. And what I thought was real helpful is when KPMG would lay out the options, the pros and cons to really enable PSE to be informed, to make the right decision.

So thank you to Tim, Michael, Jan and Mark for your insights. We look forward to our continued collaboration.