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Perform ServiceNow upgrades quicker and more effectively

What's in this Success Playbook

This Success Playbook will help you reduce the time it takes to conduct ServiceNow upgrades, by:

  • Providing proven processes and tools to conduct your upgrades
  • Showing you the best ways to make changes to your baseline system when required

Key takeaways

The most important things to know

  • Treat your upgrade like any other project so your time, resources, and costs are visible to everyone.
  • Follow the ServiceNow upgrade process to ensure you stay on track.
  • Review skipped changes and make decisions about them.
  • Create test plans before you upgrade to standardize the process—and shorten testing and upgrade time.
  • Future‑proof your upgrades—follow the technical best practices and check for vulnerabilities.

The payoff of getting this right


With the right planning in place, you can reduce the time it takes to conduct ServiceNow upgrades, and position your organization to take advantage of new ServiceNow capabilities available with each upgrade.

Steps covered

Step 1: Use project management practices

  • Ensure you have the right resources at the right time to deliver a higher degree of success.
  • Communicate before, during, and after the upgrade to keep everyone in sync.

Step 2: Follow the documented upgrade process

  • 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.

Step 3: Review skipped changes

  • ServiceNow upgrades will not overwrite changes you have made.
  • You don’t have to remediate all skipped changes.
  • You should at least acknowledge all skipped changes.

Step 4: Create and maintain your test plans

  • Create test plans during development so they stay current.
  • Use automated test tools where applicable to greatly reduce testing time.
  • Avoid moving updates between different instances on different releases.

Step 5: Streamline future upgrades

  • Avoid customization to reduce time and costs with future upgrades.
  • Use the published technical best practices to avoid issues with upgrades, performance, scalability, and user experience.
  • Consider purchasing a configuration review to be audited against bad practices to reduce upgrade risks.

Dive in to learn more…

What you need to get started
What you need to get started
One or more ServiceNow instances that are not at the current release
One or more certified ServiceNow system administrators
When you should start this activity
When you should start this activity
You should plan on upgrading at least once per year. With this in mind, you should ensure you’re preparing for your next upgrade at least three to six months in advance (and possibly even earlier, depending on the scale of your implementation).

Related resources

Success Checklist

Plan for upgrades at least once a year

Download our ready-made action plan to help your organization prepare for fast upgrades.

Gain insights, get custom action plans, and achieve your goals faster.

Our Success Navigator will assess where you are in your implementation and guide you, step by step, from vision to value.