Frequently Asked Questions - ServiceLink

NOTE: This FAQ contains general project information. See the Technical FAQ for questions related to ServiceLink functionality and usage.

What is the vision of this project?

To deliver an enterprise application that supports the University of Michigan’s shared service providers in delivering and supporting services for campus.

Why are we doing it?

To help support staff deliver an excellent customer service experience. The applications previously used for service management were inadequate and didn't provide the functionality we need to deliver the exceptional customer service that we aspire to. The Service Center staff, service support groups, and campus-facing audiences told us that they were very dissatisfied with the user interface and overall functionality. We listened and they were right: our previous application was not acceptable to offer as an enterprise solution. So we found something better: a cloud-based solution, which we call ServiceLink. ServiceLink will provide easy access to knowledge and facilitate incident resolution, allowing service support staff to do their jobs better so they can help others do their jobs.

How is this new solution better?

ServiceLink uses an application platform developed by the leading IT service management “software-as-a-service” (SaaS) provider. It is a cloud-based end-to-end solution that will deliver:

  • an improved user experience
  • a consistent approach to ITIL processes
  • a robust set of interfaces
  • improved functionality

And because it is a cloud-based, ServiceLink:

  • is very portable and easily accessible, with the ability to retrieve data anywhere, at anytime
  • eliminates the need for on-premise software or hardware, decreasing the cost of implementation
  • provides for easier upgrades, saving the time that would have been spent to maintain a legacy system

Offering this technology platform system-wide further enables U-M’s Michigan IT initiative by supporting consistent processes, increased efficiencies, knowledge-sharing, and common terminology for service management across campus.

What are the key benefits of the project?

Adoption of ServiceLink by Information and Technology Services (ITS), in partnership with IT in LSA and Administrative Services Transformation (AST), supports U-M’s shared service providers by delivering a technlogy platform that will improve productivity and reduce operational costs. This new system will provide easy access to knowledge, help solve problems, and facilitate incident resolution, allowing service staff to do their job better so they can help others. ServiceLink supports the Michigan IT vision and is part of NextGen’s multi-year strategy for changing U-M’s IT service approach and investing in technologies that will advance the university's academic, teaching, research, and clinical programs.

What vendors did you consider?

The vendors that replied to our request for proposal were: ServiceNow, Cherwell and Column. ServiceNow was the provider chosen.The ServiceNow support page contains links to documentation, a knowledge base, technical support and the ServiceNow community.

Are we going to call this new application ServiceNow here on campus?

No. We rebranded the technology and refer to the U-M deployment of the application as ServiceLink.

What criteria did you use to select the application provider?

Our key aim in selecting the provider was to maintain the architecture direction of moving to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that provided for easy integrations. Our four main criteria were:

  1. usability, intuitiveness and accessibility
  2. integration capabilities
  3. ability to support core functionality of ITIL Processes
  4. cloud-based (SaaS)

How/when will this change happen?

We will use a multi-phase implementation strategy that includes customer service approach, organizational models, behaviors, processes, roles, and tools. We will transition various functions of service management over the coming year in a series of major releases -- see the roadmap

Which key service management processes will be affected?

The ServiceLink platform will help support consistent, efficient and effective ways to:

  • resolve incidents
  • identify and solve problems
  • manage changes to the environment
  • process user requests
  • deliver knowledge to support our service offerings

Will ServiceLink only be used for IT services?

IT services are a major user of this type of application and will likely continue to be. However, ServiceLink provides a very robust and adaptable platform that can be used for many other types of non-IT campus shared services as well. For example, Administrative Services Transformation (AST) will use ServiceLink to help manage some HR and finance functions for its customers across the university.

How does the partnership among ITS, LSA and AST fit into what the project is doing?

From a strategic perspective, the partnership supports the Michigan IT vision by providing U-M’s shared service providers with an enterprise solution that will improve productivity and reduce operational costs. It is also a key part of NextGen’s multi-year strategy for changing U-M’s IT service approach and investing in technologies that will advance the university's academic, teaching, research, and clinical programs. From a technical/implementation perspective, we are working together to enable a consistent service management framework by adapting and adopting consistent out-of-the-box processes and avoiding specific service-by-service configurations.

What kind of training will you provide and how will you keep the U-M community informed?

A variety of training and support options will be provided, including downloadable content from this site, information sessions, seminars and resource materials. The training calendar will have dates, times, and locations. We will keep the community informed in a timely manner about significant developments, issues, and progress as the project goes through its various phases of implementation. We will use this website, articles and updates in various campus publications, social media, and direct outreach. You can also use our feedback form to contact the project team directly if you have concerns or questions.

What principles guide the implementation of ServiceLink?

  • Breadth before depth: We will use an iterative approach to deliver most critical business value first across all the key areas before diving into more detail in a particular area
  • We will learn as we go and adjust where needed.
  • We will keep the system as vanilla as possible. We will avoid customizations while thinking of the total cost of ownership.
  • We will focus on target personas.
  • Communication is critical: We will need to collaborate and align quickly.

Will ServiceLink be free to units (a common good) or will there be a fee (toll good)?

Currently, the technology is expected to have both common good and toll good elements. The initial partners are paying for their license users, but not paying for all the overhead and other fees. That may or may not change.

Can my unit be an early adopter or pilot group for ServiceLink?

At this time we are working with IT in LSA and AST to define the framework that will enable other units to adopt the application as part of a larger Michigan IT service managment initiative. It will take some time to work through this process before we can on-board other units. We will reach out to the U-M community as soon as we are prepared to offer this technology more broadly.

Will ServiceLink replace Footprints?

ServiceLink will replace Footprints only for those units that are scoped to manage their IT services in ServiceLink (for example: ITS, LSA, AST). This replacement will align to Footprints queues supporting those units' IT services and will take place according to the project release schedule. Footprints will still be offered externally to other units in the form of the MRequest service. Even for those units managing their services in ServiceLink, there may be instances of Footprints used for non-IT purposes that would remain.
We will continue to evaluate MRequest as we develop our service management strategy. At this point, no decision has been made about the status of Footprints for the long term. We know MRequest is used for functions beyond managing IT and we want to make the right decision for the university community. That said, we also need to be smart as an organization about managing costs, and supporting multiple applications that perform essentially the same function is not a sustainable model.

Will ServiceLink be available on mobile devices?

A mobile version of ServiceLink is available via your device's mini browser using the production URL ( and providing U-M authentication. See the Technical FAQ for more detail.