The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which undertakes a big chunk of the Federal civilian government’s pure science and research and promotes standards to drive U.S. innovation, has created a unified employee dashboard that gives their data-driven users the ability to see and obtain exactly what they need while driving a unified view for the NIST leadership team.

NIST officials told attendees at ServiceNow’s Knowledge19 conference on May 8 that NIST is using the ServiceNow platform to create digital workflows and deliver information to a wide range of employee groups.

“[Initially], we managed all types of IT services with ServiceNow,” says NIST Business Analyst Kellie Beall. “We created ServiceNow homepages and reports for the users.”

“Then we started doing custom applications. We developed an HR recruitment application and built ServiceNow homepages and reports for those users. And then another custom application, creating more homepages and reports. And another. And so on.”

The NIST team built modern, efficient tools for individual groups, but wanted more consistency and information integration across the organization, and more options for self service and report customization. Beall said they still received constant requests for different reports.

Beall quoted the artist Bruno Munari, “to complicate is simple, to simplify is complicated.” They needed a user-friendly framework to make customized data and metrics available to the right team members across the organization and all of the different types of services – HR, IT, finance, procurement, etc.

The first step in the process was defining needs and the different employee personas. NIST had a variety – administrative staff, managers, individual requestors, and other type of collaborators.

The development team knew that managers would want to be able to review their operating units’ requests and associated status, and easily view anything that required their personal attention or the attention of a co-worker.

They knew they needed flexible filtering options – so employees could see just their own information, or their organization’s information, or information that falls within a given date range.

And, they knew different users should have different access based on their role – for this more aggregated, centralized tool, NIST needed flexible access controls.

Beall said they moved forward with an integrated ServiceNow dashboard because of several features, including the ability to use tabs to view different service areas, interactive filters, and a responsive canvas that allows each employee to customize their view – vs. a predefined layout.

“Folks can stay in one dashboard and just tab across to the different service areas. They don’t have to go all over the platform looking for what they need. They can use those interactive filters to filter everything…” Beall explained.

The tabs “provide data across multiple service areas,” Beall says. “Here, we use one tab to show statistics and other showing requests that are in process. You can use a tab for self-help and show how the dashboard works and who has access…You can use tabs for feedback…”

The NIST dashboard enables NIST executive leadership, managers, administrative staff, and other groups to view the data they need. The executive team can filter a birds-eye view and drill down into areas where they have questions or need more information.

In a demo, NIST’s ServiceNow Developer, Stef Britton, shared how managers can filter all requests that pertain to them personally, or all that pertain to their group.  Administrators can view requests submitted by them or to them individually, and find simple directions to complete the process for requests.

Britton also explained, an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) user who needs to pull a report quickly for a manager can go to the dashboard, use a filter to pull the exact data needed, create a graph, and export the graph as a jpeg. “[A user] is able to complete this task in five minutes,” Britton added.

Beall says the ServiceNow dashboard implementation was a win-win for NIST. The development team gave users the information they need with more features, more flexibility, and better access controls. NIST gave the users a better experience by significantly cutting down on “report overload,” enabling users to customize.

And, the leadership team gained new visibility into organization-wide status, thanks to the unified dashboard approach and the ability to track usage and collect feedback. Beall says the next step is adding more performance analytics, and new services in acquisitions, facilities, and human resources.

The net – NIST has found a way to achieve two important goals. They are keeping employees happy and giving employees the customized tools and information they need to do their jobs. At the same time, the leadership team gets the unified view they need to drive continuous improvement.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.