How to transition to a new ServiceNow instance

6 minutes
Dark-skinned man looking to the side with Plat4mation red artwork on the left

In this blog, we spoke about the signs that could tell you you’re in need of a new ServiceNow instance and its related benefits. We briefly discussed the migration approaches (de-customization or a new instance), and explained that a new instance has proven to add the most value. Now, let’s talk you through the process of how we would migrate an organization to a new ServiceNow instance.

The PPT framework

We always break a transition down into these three elements: People, Process & Technology (PPT). This is based on a framework with the same name that has been around since the 1960s.

Why use this particular framework? It provides us with a complete view of the transitional scope. When you leave one of the three elements out, the transition (aka change) will not be a success.

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Moving to a new instance in 6 simple steps

Step 1. Linking your current instance to the new one

From the get-go, we fire up the new instance and connect it to your current instance.

Two database icons with one old ServiceNow logo, one new. A line connects them, data sync icon above line

In doing so, we make sure all data stays in sync between the two instances and the out-of-the-box processes are agreed upon with the process owners.

And no, this is not difficult or too time-consuming. Mostly thanks to our Connector4U app.


Step 2. Onboard the 1st fulfiller group

When we migrate users, we always do this in waves, starting with a small fulfiller group.

User migration in waves

We NEVER start with first-line support or end-users! We take a 2nd or 3rd line fulfiller group instead, because when it does go wrong, the impact is limited.

Before the migration, we make sure all work a fulfiller does can be done from the new instance. This will stimulate adoption of the new process in the new instance.

Step 3. Onboard larger fulfiller groups in waves

Once we’ve done the first fulfiller group, we take the lessons learned with us to the next group, and the next. We grow the migration groups in size with each wave that passes.

Step 4. Move integrations to the new instance

After we’ve migrated all fulfillers, we move any integrations between ServiceNow and suppliers and partners over to the new instance.

Step 5. Migrate end users

The go-live of the new service portal marks the migration of the last user group: the end users (customer of client or internal customers).

Why wait till the end? In essence, ServiceNow is a supporting function. It should never lead to people not being able to do their work. By waiting till the end, we can ensure no disruptions will take place for this group.

Step 6. Decommission the old instance

Once the transition is complete, we retire your old ServiceNow instance. Sometimes, for compliancy reasons or HR regulations, it needs to stay open.

In that case, we advise to heavily restrict access to ensure adoption of the new instance.

Emphasis on People Management

When you implement ServiceNow out-of-the-box like we do, the Processes and Technology (data) are relatively set.

That means that the most effort needs to be put in adoption (aka People Management) of the new system.

With fulfiller onboarding requiring communication, training and stakeholder management to ensure a smooth adoption, here are a few words of advice from us:

  • Communicate on time
    Start sharing snippets of information whenever it’s available. Don’t wait until it’s all out in the open, because long before that, people will get wind of it and start an uproar.We’ve watched this go wrong so many times. Internal stakeholders rowing up because they disagreed, having to manage expectations and correcting information mismatches. Time and effort that could’ve been spent otherwise!


  • Use existing communication channels
    Don’t introduce a new channel, as you’ll need to create buzz to make them known to everyone. Existing communication channels don’t require that extra time and effort.Use multiple channels too, e.g. SharePoint, Yammer, Workplace or other types of intranet.


  • Never surprise!
    It’s human nature to wow people. But from a people management perspective, that is absolutely something you NEVER do. Managing people is all about providing them the right information at the right time.The best-case scenario in wowing people is a happy reaction. But it can also backfire…Once, a Lead Portal Designer wanted to wait till the very end with communicating the design to the leadership team. Once shown, the leadership team was taken aback because they weren’t involved. The result? The portal had to be completely redesigned!


  • Get buy-in from senior management
    When you create buy-in from senior management, you get the entire organization on your side.


A nice example from a large oil and gas company, who—after migrating to a new instance—wanted to stick to out-of-the-box no matter what.

To achieve this, Senior Management set up a large approval structure that prevented customizations to ServiceNow, up to the point where each customization had to be approved by the board. If that isn’t 1000% buy-in 😉

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Best practices for service portal go-live

In step 5 of the transition, we publish the new service portal. This portal is key for the success of the transition, and so, here are some portal best practices:

  • Make it intuitive
    People need to intuitively understand how the system and portal works.


  • Make it attractive
    The portal needs to look attractive, preferably in company branding, to engage users. Using the portal must be a happy experience.


  • Guide the user when needed
    We use the Pareto principle here (the 80-20 rule): 80% of people must be able to use the portal without any instructions, 20% should be able to with minimal guidance. An example of minimal guidance we used before was a guided tour that explained the portal’s functionality and a step-by-step instruction sheet on the portal itself.


  • Communicate clearly
    When it comes to communicating the go-live, we advise to create an announcement that explains when the new portal will go live, and what will happen to existing tickets that are still in the old portal. This creates clarity, preventing unnecessary calls and tickets to your helpdesk.

Benefits of our approach

A quick summary of the benefits of our approach to replacing a ServiceNow instance with a new one:

3 benefits of our approach

Jeffrey Bos

Contact person

Jeffrey Bos
Director NL

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