Update Set Deployment Best Practices

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October 2013 – Remark: This article has been written in 2011 and is referring to a document listing best practices. This document is not up to date anymore and will no longer be sent out on request.

The deployment of customisations through DTAP (short for Development, Testing, Acceptance and Production) is most of the time a laborious process. Agile software development methodologies have driven radically higher number of release events and software applications are typically in an on-going cycle of development, testing, and release. The complexity grows, when you work with a large development team or even with multiple development teams. This makes the deployment process a delicate one with exceptions and pitfalls.

Service-now.com offers strong support for the deployment of your customizations from a development instance to the production instance. It takes away most of the laborious activities and makes the process easier, but you must not forget to think about what you are doing. Service-now.com uses Update Sets to control the process of making changes to an instance. It is important to be very specific about their use to avoid errors and performance issues. This will involve planning the update process carefully to know what customizations are possible, and knowing what pitfalls to avoid in the process.

The documentation on the Service-now.com Wiki pages about this subject is very helpful, but they do not give you a complete deployment process. We created the “Update Set Deployment Best Practices” document based on our best-practices of numerous Service-now.com implementations to fill this gap. The content of the document is an addition to Service-now.com Wiki and provides a road map for the deployment of customisations from a Development instance to a Service-now.com Production instance. It will help you to avoid the pitfalls and possible errors.

We strongly recommend reading the Service-now.com Wiki pages on this subject (wiki book on Update Sets) and our best-practices document, before you (or anyone else) start customising one of your Service-now.com instances. The following gives a short overview of the document. If you want to read the whole document please drop us a mail.

Before you start customising your Service-now.com instance, you have to think about the deployment process. You have to ask yourself and your team questions like:

  • How many Service-now.com instances you want to use?
  • Which deployment method you want to use?
  • What software development methodology do you want to use?
  • Who are the people involved and what are their responsibilities?
  • What are the timelines?

When you have answered these questions, take the time to standardise the use of Update Sets. Determine how many Update Sets you are going to use and how you want to call them. You need to keep track of dependencies between Update Sets and the customisations within them. A naming convention can help you with that. Create a common path for these Update Sets and include data migration. Be warned that not all tables have their customisations tracked and not all changes get applied by update sets.

Figure 1 – Example Common Path

Good practice is to create a plan for your deployment process. It’s preferable not a lengthy document and should only contain answers to the questions raised. The “Update Set Deployment Best Practices” document can help you create that plan.

The first activity in the deployment process cycle is to request the provision of all the Service-now.com instances you want to use and to ensure that all these instances are equal. The easiest way to do this is cloning a baseline instance (preferable the Production instance) to all the other instances involved in your deployment process. Our document contains a checklist for cloning an instance based on the SNC Wiki page Post-Cloning Checklist and added with activities from our best practices.

If you are asking yourself why you have to do this, we recommend you to read the Service-now.com Wiki about Update Sets.

After you have made sure that all your instances involved in your deployment process are equal, you are good to go and can start customising your Service-now.com instance.

Remark: Please note that the Update Set document has been created in 2011. Since 2011 there have been several new ServiceNow releases. Please keep in mind the Update Set Deployment Best Practice document has not been updated since the writing of this article. We no longer send out the update set best practives document.

2 Responses to “Update Set Deployment Best Practices”

  1. imran Says:

    Given the useful best practice about Update Set. Can I know the best practices for Client Script, Business Rule and Script Includes?

  2. Ridicule Says:

    Hi Imran,
    The best practices document for Update Sets will no longer be sent out. There is no specific document mentioned about Client Script, Business Rule and Script Includes in this article.

    Kind Regards, Rik.

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