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ServiceNow & SAP to Power BI: How to overcome reporting challenges

Published: October 24, 2022
Last Updated: April 26, 2024
PhD, Business Development & Partnership Manager at Alpha Serve
The success of any company depends on strategic focus, people, operations, marketing and finances. Today, these 5 key factors should be driven by digital transformation.

In this article, we would like to describe the case of one of our customers - an IT company which faced a reporting challenge. It is a good example of how to create and share different reports sufficiently with Microsoft Power BI for companies using ServiceNow and SAP software in daily business processes.

We’ll start with a brief overview of the Company and platforms it uses like ServiceNow ITSM and SAP. Then, we’ll present a problem the Company faced and the primary solution. The last part will contain the best way to overcome reporting challenges with Power BI, as well as the benefits of introducing Power BI Connector for ServiceNow as an integration solution.
ServiceNow & SAP to Power BI: How to overcome reporting challenges

It is a table of contents. Click on the needed subheading and switch between parts of the article.

The Customer

The Customer
This use case is about one of Alpha Serve’s customers - international IT Service provider. It is a proactive IT company that foresees the demands of its clients and delivers a wide range of technology support services.

The Company has several big customers with 24/7 support located in different timezones. It uses ServiceNow ITSM module to manage its IT services and infrastructure, and SAP for other business workflows.

What is ServiceNow ITSM

ServiceNow ITSM combines all IT service management (ITSM) requirements in a single platform – a cloud-based service management solution integrating technology, processes and people. It allows the company to plan, deliver, and support IT services and infrastructure. ServiceNow ITSM contributes to higher employee satisfaction, ensuring self-solving issues 24/7, constant communication, relevant information, as well as improving staff productivity while optimizing processes.

The use of ServiceNow ITSM effectively lets the Company provide more proficient services with both higher availability and lower costs.

What is SAP

SAP (Systems Applications and Products) is a widely-used enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. It creates a centralized system for businesses that enables companies to manage in the field of finance, accounting and controlling, through procurement, inventory management, warehouse management, to production management, then sales and distribution management. It also ensures communication and sharing the data among departments.

For the Company in this case, SAP is used for finance management, accounting and operating activities.

Reporting challenge: ServiceNow & SAP

Reporting challenge: ServiceNow & SAP
The Company needed to create reports on their performance for each of their customers separately according to their own requirements and deadlines.

In general, ServiceNow provides built-in reporting features for key ITSM indicators but it doesn’t ensure an access of external users to it. Thus, such operations inside a ServiceNow instance are insufficient for the Company, as their customers do not have access to their ServiceNow infrastructure.

In addition, Company’s customers wanted to see all service reports in complexity, including financials (i.e. costs they spent for the Company services allocated by their own and particula cost centers), which were managed in SAP.

Consequently, the Company needed to prepare several different reports (i.e. monthly or quarterly billing reports, SLA reports, regular risk assessments, area of improvements reports or executive summaries), though all of them should include data on their performance and service-level agreements (SLA), as well as financials and cost allocation.

It was obvious that the Company needed to combine data from several sources (ServiceNow, SAP) and visualize it based on different requirements for each customer.

How did the Company handle it?

The primary solution was to create reports in Excel and share them with the customers. Nevertheless, it had a range of bottlenecks:

  • Manual processes: Analysts of each team (ITSM and Financial) had to manually extract their own data from ServiceNow and SAP, as well as to create reports manually in Excel for each of their customers separately. These operations caused significant overhead and delay, as well as discrepancies in data which led to additional team efforts for fixing errors.

  • Lack of mutual integration: Analysts needed to extract data from SAP & ITSM and to combine them together. So, employees required more time, effort and concentration to cope with their duties.

  • Poor visualization features of Excel: Excel is sufficient when it comes to showing simple data analysis, but not in the case of visual representation of some more complicated data.

  • Absence of up-to-date data: Creating reports in Excel requires a lot of effort and time, while the customer gets data that is old on the date of sharing.

How to overcome reporting challenges: ServiceNow-SAP-Power BI

 How to overcome reporting challenges: ServiceNow – SAP – Power BI
As to Anthony Robbins, “Every problem is a gift – without problems we would not grow.”

So, the Company found a solution and tackled the problem by using Power BI as a main reporting tool.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a technology-driven Business Intelligence solution from Microsoft that presents information combining analysis and visualization of raw data.

Integration: SAP – ServiceNow – Power BI

The period during which the systems continue working. But to have more flexibility in tracking your KPIs and creating reports you may need specially designated third-party tools. In the next section, we show how Power BI may help your organization to benefit from incident management.

Benefits of Using the Power BI Connector for ServiceNow

Benefits of Using the Power BI Connector for ServiceNow
This way, let’s see the key benefits of using the Power BI Connector for ServiceNow.

  • Unified Data source: Power BI Connector allows for building consolidated reports for different business functions inside the company. It can cut out the middle-man and avoid any of the intermediate steps that waste time and lead to mistakes.

  • Secure data sharing: Power BI Connector enables you to build customized reports for each customer and share it online. It contains permission settings and access control to provide secure data sharing.

  • Seamless integration: Thanks to Power BI Connector you can easily fetch ServiceNow data to Power BI for further analytics and visualization.

  • Wide visualization functionality: Unlike Excel, Power BI enables analysts to transform the most complex data into visualizations or reports with attractive designs that promote understanding and legibility. So, analysts can export any ServiceNow tables, visually explore ServiceNow data with intuitive dashboards and create necessary reports in Microsoft Power BI for data-driven business decisions. Built-in Power BI dashboard templates with pre-configured data sources are designed for Power BI ServiceNow reporting automation and efficiency.

  • Up-to-date data: Workflows automation and integration allows for having the most recent data on the report date. With the Incremental refresh feature supported by Power BI Connector for ServiceNow, users can refresh only the new or modified data from their ServiceNow instance, allowing for faster and more efficient data processing. As a result, enjoy accurate and real-time data insights, making their workflows automation and integration even more powerful.

Final remarks

The best way to show the overview of the work you have done is providing regular reports to the client.

IT service management reporting is key in the process of improving strong relationships with customers.

The use case of IT Service provider Company shows us how to simplify the reporting process effectively with switching to Power BI and building a seamless integration.

Thanks to ServiceNow Power BI integration and SAP Power BI integration the Company was able to create ITSM and SLA reports for each customer separately according to their own requirements and deadlines, enriching it with financial data from SAP, while the customer could enjoy rich interactive and up-to-date reports.

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