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Automate incident and change management

Improve the availability and agility of enterprise services

  • A working knowledge of current incident and change management processes

Readers of this best practice will understand how ServiceNow IT Operations Management:

  • Extends ServiceNow ITSM investments and helps automate incident and change management
  • Improves the visibility, availability, and agility of enterprise services

Digitization, the scaling of Agile development methods, and the use of DevOps concepts have all raised people’s expectations for incident and change management. With the growth of enterprise digital products and services, there’s less tolerance for downtime than ever before: an incident’s mean time to resolution (MTTR) can mean lost revenue when IT is a revenue driver as opposed to just a cost center. Agile development practices and the use of DevOps practices typically increase the frequency of changes and releases, and this means that tolerance for “change management bureaucracy” is dwindling.

Automation can meet the new expectations for incident and change management, and it delivers both the stability the process needs as well as the speed the new business drivers demand. But automation isn’t simply push‑button. 

To effectively automate incident and change management, you must follow a step‑by‑step approach that aligns IT operations management processes and tools to IT service management goals. Our best practice guide outlines this approach, with goals for both incident and change management.

Incident management goals:

  • Identify critical service issues early for faster and automated remediation and reduced business impact.
  • Increase service desk staff’s efficiency when assigning and managing incidents.

Change management goals:

  • Improve the accuracy and efficiency of change risk assessments.
  • Improve the overall throughput by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of change scheduling.
  • Increase the speed and efficiency of change approval processes.

When an automation program stalls, it’s usually the result of one or more factors that we’ll address in this guide. 

First, automation requires a solid set of service definitions and a framework the enterprise has agreed on that helps explain the service criticality in terms of its business impact. Automating incident and change management is only helpful when we know where the greatest risks to our business outcomes are.

Second, automation requires sufficient, credible data to support response, classification, and remediation. Automation based on bad data is arguably as bad as no automation at all. 

Third, automation should be iterative and focused on continuous process improvement. Few organizations are likely to realize the full potential of out‑of‑the‑box automation and should exploit process performance data to identify where they can continue to fine‑tune their approach.

To get the most from automated incident and change management using the ServiceNow® IT Service and Operations Management products, follow these stages:

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.

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