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Staying ahead of the curve: ServiceNow version upgrades best practices

ServiceNow recently rolled out the Vancouver upgrade for 2023. Staying up-to-date with version upgrades is vital for businesses relying on the ServiceNow platform. The platform requires you to be N-1, and keeping up with these changes does more than grant access to new features. They provide access to enhanced security and improved performance. Otherwise, you may face bugs, broken integrations, and service disruptions.

The upgrade process can be a time-consuming process for busy organizations. That is where Pathways Consulting Group comes in! We provide expert guidance on ServiceNow best practices for version upgrades. Pathways has been executing our formal upgrade process since Calgary – that is over a decade of experience! We offer version upgrade management, so whether you need advice, a few extra hands to help out, or someone to take over and get it done for you, Pathways is the name to trust! If you are planning to DIY, or if you want a look under the hood to see what we do, read on.

Communicate and prepare

Effective communication is a cornerstone of any large, company-wide project. Begin the process by notifying all relevant staff within your organization about the impending upgrade. This helps keep everyone on the same page and allows teams to plan accordingly.

These upgrades require significant planning and testing. Developers must take the time to read the release notes, available in ServiceNow’s product documentation. These notes contain crucial information about the changes and enhancements in the new version.

Create a backup plan

Development work currently in progress may run into issues during the upgrade. Make sure you have a backup of your work in the sub-production instance.

Clone your sub-production instances

Clone sub-production instances before upgrading them. This creates a duplicate environment and helps avoid inconsistencies across instances. If you already have a cloned instance, consider upgrading that first to see how it will run.

Choose the right time

The entire upgrade cycle typically takes about 3-5 weeks, depending on how mature your process is. During this time it is advised to pause and blackout development. Scheduling the upgrade outside normal business hours allows for faster production upgrades with minimal disruptions. If you encounter any inconsistencies, you can correct them before people begin using the instance.

Utilize the Upgrade Monitor

The ServiceNow platform provides an Upgrade Monitor that helps you track the progress of your upgrade. Monitoring the Upgrade Monitor in real-time allows you to identify bottlenecks, skipped items, or errors. Once an update set is complete, you can commence functional testing.

Review skipped items

If users modify items during an upgrade, the system will skip the change and mark it as a “skipped item”. The system will automatically assign them to a priority hierarchy, ranging from P1 (highest priority) – to P5 (lowest priority).

These items must be individually reviewed. It can either retain its customization, revert to the base configuration, or the customization can be merged with the upgrade base configuration.

Create Test Cases with ATF

The Automated Test Framework (ATF) helps ensure your upgraded instance functions correctly. Before performing the upgrade, create test cases in the ATF that cover essential functionalities. Running these tests pre-upgrade helps streamline the process. The ATF even allows you to run multiple tests at the same time!

Perform the Upgrade

With thorough planning and preparation, it is finally time to execute the upgrade. This is where you merge the new version with your current one. Ensure you follow the recommended steps and configurations provided in the documentation.

Post-Upgrade Measures

Now it is time to validate the success of the upgrade. Start by cloning the development and test instances. Verify that all critical functions are working correctly and resolve any outstanding issues encountered in the ATF. Be prepared to address discrepancies promptly with follow-up bug fixes.

ServiceNow version upgrades are a significant undertaking. Following these ServiceNow best practices can help ensure a smooth and successful upgrade.

At Pathways Consulting Group, our team of ServiceNow experts is more than happy to assist you every step of the way. Our ServiceNow support services help organizations navigate version upgrades, implement best practices, and harness the platform’s full potential.

Don’t let version upgrades fall by the wayside. Partner with Pathways Consulting Group and experience the confidence that comes with our expert ServiceNow support. Contact us today at 917-952-5004 to learn more about our services, including our version upgrade support.