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Best Practice Tips, part two: a strategic approach to upgrading ServiceNow

There are many reasons as to why upgrading your ServiceNow platform is worth the time and energy. With two releases a year, an upgrade brings with the product enhancements greater stability and new capabilities that will accelerate performance whilst keeping you up to date with the latest security patches. What’s more, they’re included in your license cost, meaning no extra charge in exchange for all the new benefits. Why wouldn’t you join the fun? 


We're aware that upgrading your platform is a challenging task for any organisation. The time it takes depends on the complexity of your instance and what features are included in the new version you’re going for. So in part two of our Best Practice Tips series, we’ll be discussing all our key tricks that allow you to prepare for and carry out a ServiceNow upgrade in the savviest way possible. 

  1. Treat each upgrade as a separate project. System upgrades can take up significant amounts of time and effort, so each one needs to have a detailed schedule. This should include key tasks delivered in each phase of the implementation, various resources and their responsibilities, and most importantly a clear communication plan.  

  2. Be prepared - it might sound obvious, but appreciating how the upgrade will change your current processes cannot be underestimated. While you may not be migrating to a different software, it’s essential to thoroughly read the release notes for your target upgrade version. Browsing the ServiceNow Community is always insightful, as you can read other users’ opinions on the upgrade you are interested in.  

  3. Identify any new UI changes or training needs - The upgrade will influence the user interface in many ways. Henceforth, it’s important to identify if any new UI changes will necessitate further training to adapt to the new look and feel. This is useful as if an organisation needs more time, ServiceNow lets you choose to stay in the old UI and roll out to the new UI at a later date.  

  4. Utilise the available info if you are skipping a release. If a release has been skipped, the ServiceNow community offers valuable information around new functionality, changes or fixes that are different in your chosen release. They can help determine whether items you previously customised are being upgraded and understand which enhancements you can fully take advantage of. 

  5. Always make a backup of your ongoing development work. Do this within the sub-production instance to avoid doing any re-work once the upgrade is complete – better to be safe than sorry.  

  6. Consider carrying out a Health Check of your ServiceNow instance. This involves an assessment of the current state of your platform: what you’re doing well, errors that need addressing and anything that you could be doing better to gain more value. This will help correct any doubt or concern that your platform could run into trouble when upgrading, now and in the future. It will allow you to stand up upgrades quickly and painlessly, minimising time spent adjusting to a new version of ServiceNow. For more information on Unifii’s Health Check, visit our website page or check out our previous blog

  7. Communicate, communicate, communicate! This is just as important with upgrades as it is when implementing ServiceNow for the first time. Notify your stakeholders of any changes or downtime they need to be aware of when the upgrade takes place, and inform them of the schedule, process and impact they can expect to see. This means that everyone will be in sync before, during and after the upgrade. Doing this as early as possible will also provide maximum visibility as to where you’ll need to set up further training for the appropriate staff.  

  8. Identify your most business-critical processes and applications and ensure they are validated and signed off.  Users involved in frequent upgrades can adopt a higher level of expertise, making them leaders within the ServiceNow world. 

  9. Use the Automated Test Framework (ATF). ServiceNow supports both automated and manual testing; where possible, we recommend using an automated testing framework to build out test cases for tests that require repeated execution of tasks. Whilst it may not be a substitute for 100% manual testing, ATF can save time with identifying any issues post-upgrade. 

  10. Think about post-upgrade measures – this involves cloning your development and test instances after upgrading production. You may encounter some issues you haven’t faced in previous instances; therefore, keeping all your instances aligned post-upgrade will help resolve any issues that may occur. 

If your business prioritises careful preparation and research into the available changes and resources, this will make for a smooth upgrade that unlocks more productivity for your ServiceNow investment. Unifii are aligned to the ServiceNow Upgrade methodology, ensuring that every upgrade is delivered like-for-like on your sub-production and production instances.

Key benefits of using Unifii’s upgrade service: 

  • Tried and tested 3-stage upgrade methodology: Plan, Review and Upgrade 

  • A dedicated team with resources allocated to manage your complete upgrade  

  • Insights and guidance from SMEs on the new innovations and releases and optimisation of services 

  • A fully managed, end-to-end upgrade path that includes post-upgrade support via Unifii’s customer service portal 

  • Predictable pricing for all your future upgrades, so you have full control of your IT budget 

In part 3 of our Best Practice Tips series, we'll be taking you through all things technical. For more information and a free consultation on how Unifii could help your business, please get in touch here.


Written by

Santosh Matada

Head of Service Delivery

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