• Products
  • Use cases
  • Industries
  • Making it #EasyForEmployees
  • A guide with best practices for transforming the employee service experience.
  • Modernizing government via ITSM
  • A research doc about government agencies’ digital transformation challenges.


  • Gartner names ServiceNow a leader
  • 2018 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise High-Productivity Application PaaS.


  • General Mills transforms HR
  • Global employee service experience shows entire corporation how it’s done.


  • Do you need an AI council?
  • Formal collaboration helps implement new technology safely and effectively.

Follow the documented upgrade process

ServiceNow has experienced and documented thousands of customer upgrades. Following this documented upgrade process ensures you don’t miss a critical step.

Key insights

  • Review the release notes for all releases between your current release and the target release.
  • Upgrade the instances farthest from production first.
  • Consider using a sandbox instance to do a mock upgrade to reduce risk.

For a smooth upgrade, follow the documented upgrade process on the product documentation page and the release notes for your product upgrade. The instructions listed below summarize this documented upgrade process.

Figure 2: The upgrade process

Step 1 – Read the release notes and plan your upgrade

Start by reading the release notes for your target version so you understand the required upgrade and migration tasks.

If multiple software versions are involved, be sure to consult the release notes for each version between your current version and the target version.

Additionally, don’t forget to review the release notes for each product you have licensed. There are details on ServiceNow ITSM, ITOM, Security, HR, and more.

Step 2 – Prepare for the development instance upgrade

For a better understanding of your production upgrade duration, request a clone of your production instance onto a sub‑production instance that has similar hardware and your full database. Confirm your current and target release versions—you’ll use this information later when you schedule your upgrade in HI.

Consider designating a sandbox instance to upgrade first. A sandbox instance is a clone of your production instance that’s not part of the deployment stack.

If you don’t already have a sandbox instance, you can purchase one as part of your company’s family of instances. Or you can use a personal developer instance from ServiceNow to learn about new release features. Keep in mind, however, that you cannot clone your production instance to a free personal developer instance.

Expert Tip



Upgrading a sandbox instance minimizes risk because it lets you test on production data without impacting your development cycle.

Step 3 – Verify your upgrade configurations and schedule the development instance upgrade in HI

Check the configuration of your upgrade’s scheduled job to view how often and when it runs. Then, schedule your upgrade in HI.

Step 4 – Upgrade and validate the development instance

Track the progress of your upgrades with the Upgrade Monitor. For your first sub‑production instance upgrade (your development instance), use the Upgrade Monitor to process the skipped list of records that were not addressed in the upgrade. Then identify your update sets and perform functional testing.

Expert Tip



Refer to the product‑specific upgrade instructions like these for Performance Analytics.

Step 5 – If applicable: Upgrade and validate your other sub‑production instances, such as your test instance

If you have any other sub‑production instances in addition to your development instance, such as a test instance, request to upgrade them. Request these upgrades after you have configured and refined your development instance. Immediately after the upgrade is complete, apply the post‑upgrade changes made to your development instance, including activating optional plugins, installing and upgrading applications, and applying update sets.

Expert Tip



Hold mini training sessions or “brown‑bag lunches” to spotlight new features of the target release, especially if there are UI changes.

Step 6 – Prepare to upgrade the production instance

After you’ve configured and refined your test environment to be a good representation of your production environment, prepare to upgrade your production instance.

Step 7 – Upgrade the production instance

After you’ve upgraded your development, sub‑production, and test instances, upgrade your production instance last. Then validate that the upgrade was complete, apply update sets and fix scripts, and perform post‑upgrade user acceptance testing (UAT).

Time estimate to complete: The time varies from approximately two to eight weeks depending on the depth of testing, how recently the latest upgrade was completed, the number of overall customizations, and adherence to technical best practices.

Expert Tip



Hold a retrospective after the upgrades are complete to identify what worked well and what you can improve next time.

Tools and resources

Explore additional phases


You want to be sure everything is in place for a smooth, successful deployment.


You want to be sure you’re following best practices during implementation.


You’re up and running and want to get the most from your investment.


You’re ready to extend ServiceNow into other areas of your enterprise.

Thank You

Thank you for submitting your request. A ServiceNow representative will be in contact within 48 hours.

form close button

Contact Us

I would like to hear about upcoming events, products and services from ServiceNow. I understand I can unsubscribe any time.

  • By submitting this form, I confirm that I have read and agree to the Privacy Statement.