[ The Definitive Guide ]
Jira Service Desk
vs
ServiceNow

Which is better for your ITSM needs – Jira Service Desk or ServiceNow? Here’s a detailed, expert reviewed comparison that differentiates their features, and navigates through the pros, cons, pricing, support and everything in between.

Patrick Howell

October 12, 2020

Guide

INTRODUCTION TO JIRA SERVICE DESK AND SERVICENOW COMPARISON

Choosing a scalable, enterprise grade ITSM Solution for your company isn’t easy, and often takes more input than an IT organization itself can absorb. There are many choices out there such as Jira Service Desk, ServiceNow, Freshdesk, Zendesk, and BMC Remedy and each has its own feature set, product roadmap, licensing costs, deployment model, security profile, administrative costs, etc.

We’re a Platinum Atlassian Solution Partner, and often when we speak to new customers about Jira Service Desk, they often have come our way because they are either current ServiceNow customers, or are in the early stage of considering ServiceNow. Often it comes with a resigned tone. Dropping ~$250,000+ gets you a basic ServiceNow solution (~200 users), however, it is still a hefty cost for what is believed to be the best ITSM solution out there.

There’s a saying, “No one got fired for hiring Deloitte”, and ServiceNow might be compared similarly. Yes, it is the established ITSM industry leader, however, does that mean it’s the best fit for your teams? Does the high cost for features make sense? Will you even use more than 25% of the features you’re paying for?

There’s a case for comparison between Jira Service Desk vs. ServiceNow. You’ll find, from a strategic level down to a feature level, Jira Service Desk has an offering with advantages of flexibility, affordability, and broader integrations for wider ITSM/ESM use cases. Remember, zeroing down on a certain software comes with a number of long haul impacts (integrations, security, deployment model, costs, license support, administration, more). Save yourself the research. Let’s take a look.

COMPANY PROFILES & MARKET PRESENCE

ServiceNow

  • Founded in 2004 by Fred Luddy
  • Enterprise Platform-as-a-Service ITSM solution purpose built for IT Operations
  • In use with 80% of Fortune 500 companies
  • 7,000 to 10,000 worldwide customers, mainly in the mid-to-large market space
  • Q2/2020 subscription revenue was over $1B, registering 30% growth on a YoY basis
  • 933+ customers with more than $1 million in annual contract value. (source: MarketWatch)
  • 97% customer retention rate (ServiceNow)
  • Recent Acquisitions: DXContinuum (Machine Learning), Telepathy (Human-centered Design), SkyGiraffe, VendorHawk (SaaS Management), FriendlyData (Data Analytics), Appsee (Analytics), Loom Systems, PassageAI, Sweagle

Jira Service Desk

  • Founded in 2002 by Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes
  • Atlassian Jira is used 83% of Fortune 500 companies. (Source: Atlassian)
  • Q4/2020, Atlassian reported total revenue up 29% year-on-year ($430.5M)
  • Atlassian secured (as of July 2020) total revenue worth $1.6B for FY20, 33% growth year on year
  • Customer base of ~200,000+ worldwide, out of which, 45,000-65,000 are using Jira Service Desk
  • 98% customer retention rate (Seeking Alpha)
  • Recent Acquisitions: Opsgenie (Incident Management), AgileCraft (now Jira Align), CodeBarrel (Automation for Jira), Mindville/Insight (Asset Management), Halp (Ticketing via Slack)

What is IT Service Management (ITSM)?

ITSM is a set of activities performed by an IT team to design, plan, deliver, operate and control their services offered to employees and/or customers. ITSM is often tied to the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which is a framework that aligns IT services to business needs. More-so than ever, IT teams have become less of a cost center, and more of a value center of a business, and the growing capabilities of ITSM solutions, along with integrations with other applications/tools, has made this a dynamic field.

What is Enterprise Service Management (ESM)?

As a BMC Blog by Stephen Watts post put it… ESM is ‘ITSM for the rest of us’. Take the tool and process benefits of streamlining, automating, and intaking work for services, then add technology that enables it for business teams, such as HR, Security, or Legal. All of these teams provide a catalog of services. ESM ‘product-izes’ them so that they can be performed faster, cheaper, and with more transparency for the customer, thereby creating more autonomy for the servicing team.

PRODUCT DNA

ServiceNow

  • Started with workflow engine around core business processes: Incident, Problem, and Change management as IT operational events related to customers
  • Intent was to create workflows to automatically send tasks and approvals to people in a time-bound manner
  • The next iteration was around Service Catalog (Request Management) for employees to get their needs answered

Jira Service Desk

  • Puts the power of Jira into Service teams (IT Teams, Business Teams)
  • Created in 2013, a time when 40% of Atlassian customers were using Jira for helpdesk ticketing
  • Built around the same workflow engine and architecture as Jira
  • Emphasis on development process integration & configurability to suit many use cases
  • Aligns Atlassian’s business model (tools with an architecture ready for integrations and configuration)

Summary

ServiceNow was solely built for ITSM, while Jira Service Desk was born out of an Agile Development / fully integrated footprint DNA. Both solutions work from a powerful workflow engine (ready for advanced automations, validations, conditional logic, etc), and both are ITIL-certified products.

PRODUCT APPROACHES

ServiceNow

  • Built to be a single pane of glass to reach out to the entire organization
  • Bolt-on industry-specific and scope-specific apps for different service-providing teams to control and present their own offering
  • High configurability. It’s not can I do it… instead, it’s should you do it
  • Pro-code & no-code configurability, but training, support, and carrying costs are very expensive (more on that topic later!)
  • 3rd Party Implementors/trainers/resellers available on ServiceNow’s Find-a-Partner page

Jira Service Desk

  • Land & expand: Jira Service Desk is a functional extension of Atlassian’s broad DevOps, Dev, and Project Mgmt offering (Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket, Opsgenie, etc)
  • Meant for, and ready for, high degree of configuration out-of-box. Atlassian supports a DIY model (w/ solid public documentation) and many customers embrace it. You could also add complexity as your teams scale
  • Rapid Deployment: Get a functional Service Desk up in a few days, or a more complex multi-project solution in a 1-3 months
  • 3rd party Solution Partners are abound for enterprise scaling or deployment help. Atlassian provides a Partner Directory to find them

Summary

It depends how your company aligns to these approaches… If Jira is already in place with development (and ticket resolutions will need dev from time to time), there is a strong argument for Jira Service Desk. With Atlassian, Metcalf’s Law takes effect (essentially, 1+1=3). Simply put, there is a direct benefit of connecting more teams under one network. ServiceNow, on the other hand, is more monolithic, but has strong integrations and best-in-class capabilities/potential. Beware: Many ServiceNow customers bear the high cost while only using 10% of what it’s capable of.

CUSTOMER PORTAL & SELF SERVICE

ServiceNow

  • 100% customizable UX service portal
  • Works natively in mobile
  • Focused on Knowledge Availability to promote Self-Service and Request Service Catalog
  • Specific module for HR, through which, one can request a PTO, find leave policies, etc
  • Built on Angular, providing advantage of being able to do pretty much anything one is looking for in terms of look and feel
  • Widgets and virtual agents within the chat window allow people to get issues resolved hassle-free

Jira Service Desk

  • “Google-esque” portal that presents smart search and request groups to find help quickly
  • 100% sync with Confluence (knowledge base) to enable smart suggestions and self-service deflection to videos, how-to’s, or documentation
  • Self-service efficacy metrics/reporting
  • Marketplace Addons available for enhanced portal themes (beyond company branding)

Summary

In terms of total capabilities with the presentation of a customer portal, ServiceNow has all the bells and whistles and covers the long-tail of nuances demanded at the enterprise level for best in class CX.  Still, Jira Service Desk’s customer portal is UX best-in-class, and like ServiceNow, presents a converged portal promoting self service, and the service catalog for multiple service teams in a company.

INCIDENT AND PROBLEM MANAGEMENT

ServiceNow

  • Robust incident and problem modules directly linked to the CMDB (ServiceNow’s ITOM module), whether it’s from a router, server, application, etc. Multiple problems from one incident cannot be linked together. Conducts automatic assignments, powered by artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Conducts searches through the existing knowledge base by entering a short description of the incident
  • Adapts the solution to your organization’s framework and existing processes

Jira Service Desk

  • Out of box, comes with ITIL-approved configurations, issue types and workflows.
  • Ready for adjustments and nuance. Implementing custom fields, if-then logic, assignment automations, and conditions on workflow transitions are all a matter of configuration (not customization)
  • Incidents can be linked to problem management. Easily link problem tickets/issues to Jira Software using teams for traceability on resolution
  • Auto-queue and auto-routing features are simply a matter of configuration
  • Atlassian offers an enhanced Incident Management Platform in Opsgenie, (Monitoring + Alerting + Resolution + Remediation), which integrates seamlessly with Jira Service Desk

Summary

Both tools come ready for Incident and Problem Management and there is and there is parity when it comes to capabilities. Mainly, it is a matter of how much you want these tools to streamline manual interventions and reduce process churn. Choice may be driven by the total cost of additional modules/deployment/training that come (Refer to CMDB comparison, next).

CONFIGURATION MANAGEMENT (CMDB)

ServiceNow

  • Driven by a ServiceNow module, called IT Operations Management (ITOM). It tracks all the different hardware within the company, playing into all the different modules that ServiceNow offers
  • Provides Orchestration / Service Mapping with a robust relational model
  • Discovery allows searching across the network, while Orchestration enables updates and applying patches and configuring automatically
  • Enables better tracking of financial aspects of physical assets, logging incidents/problems
  • Solid metrics / reporting

Jira Service Desk

  • Robust CMDB with Jira Service Desk is enabled by established Addons, Insight (recently acquired by Atlassian) and Device42. Both add-ons have 900+ customers
  • Pay for what you need, fit for scalability and maturity in configuration as well as device management
  • Use cases in sync with custom code
  • Device42 offers a robust agentless/automatic IaaS Discovery, CMDB as a single source of truth, data center infrastructure management (DCIM), IT asset management (ITAM), IP Management, Password Management, Monitoring, Discovery, and License Management modules

Summary

ServiceNow’s offering on CMDB is a core module, while Atlassian is on it’s way to make Asset Management/CMDB a core product (ref. Mindville/Insight acquisition). However, it has not stopped hundreds of Jira Service Desk customers from bolting on Insight or Device42. Your tie-breaker may be in the costs (licenses, deployment).

KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

ServiceNow

  • Diverse Wiki/HTML style knowledge bases for diverse target groups seeking services/help (HR, IT, etc)
  • Approval workflows ready for permissions/security protocols for knowledge going out
  • While one article is published, one could also be working on another and putting that through the different approval workflows as necessary before getting it edited
  • Users can provide direct rating and feedback on articles, which in turn aid servicers in improving knowledge articles

Jira Service Desk

  • Content and knowledge management powered by Confluence (an Atlassian core software for creating knowledge management article content, in addition to all team knowledge)
  • Features to change permissions to make access to articles anonymous, public, or restricted versus internal. Set logical and physical segregations of the type of information you want published versus the type of information that is team specific
  • Instant integration with Confluence, Jira Software, Jira Service Desk, and other Atlassian core software

Summary

The offerings from both sides match their business models. Knowledge management is built into the core ITSM module for ServiceNow, while for Atlassian/Jira Service Desk, you bolt on Confluence, which seamlessly integrates (Lower cost, add complexity, functionalities as you need them). Simply put, allow for in-context knowledge creation for fulfillers/agents. There’s general parity here, however the ServiceNow Knowledge base is purpose built for Service Management, whereas Confluence in the Atlassian ecosystem is more ubiquitously used for Development, Project/Product Management, etc. If your company already uses Confluence for those teams, it’s no additional cost.

METRICS AND REPORTING

ServiceNow

  • Reporting tools for universal use. ServiceNow emphasizes people being able to build their own reports, queues, graphs, charts
  • Hundreds of canned reports/KPIs: Users can create reports for specific groups as well as themselves
  • Metrics, SLAs and OLAs on any record
  • All reports are interactive: If you have the Performance Analytics module, see snapshots and compare what the data was like at different points of time
  • AI-driven reports furnishing key intelligence
  • Auto-escalation features on metrics and SLAs

Jira Service Desk

  • Out-of-box reports and filters for performance data along with intuitive data filtering and report rendering
  • Easy access to data, along with macros, graphs, two-dimension tables and more
  • Notifications/color-coding focused on key behaviors for meeting SLAs/OLAs
  • Expand BI Reporting with addons like eazyBI (developed for Jira), which can provide deeper insights on customer and agent behaviour, speed and accuracy. Another example of paying/integrating only what you need

Summary

If you need metrics on the efficacy of your knowledge base for deflecting tickets to self-service or need to run core metrics (ie. new vs. resolved, volume over time, etc), Jira Service Desk’s native reporting does the job and you don’t need to get an add-on like eazyBI. ServiceNow has robust analytics, but be careful in your pre-sales / requirement-gathering with ServiceNow, the reporting must-haves and nice-to-haves. It gets expensive, and often customers are using only 10% of what they are paying for.

HOSTING MODEL / DEPLOYMENT

ServiceNow

  • Unlike other ITSM solutions, ServiceNow is almost exclusively a cloud-based platform company and has matured it year on year. Self-hosted option is usually for more rare, special-circumstance use cases
  • EnterpriseCloud gives ServiceNow a multi-faceted business model
  • FedRAMP servers available in the platform, for government classifications
  • Deployments are commonly 6-12 months for a base ITSM use case, and are done by 3rd party implementors. Self-guided implementations are not common due to the technical and change management requirements of adopting ServiceNow and user training is an expensive affair (see Total Cost Use Case)

Jira Service Desk

  • Atlassian provides two tiers of Atlassian Cloud hosting. Cloud Standard, and Cloud Premium. The latter offers robust Admin insights, IP Allowlisting, and unlimited storage
  • Jira Service Desk also comes with self-hosted (Server) and Data Center options
  • Hosting options provide customers self-determination on licensing costs, administration, system administration, upgrades, and maintenance/performance
  • Deployments can be self-driven out-of-box, or with support from an Atlassian Solution Partner for more scalable configurations. These are typically 1-3 months, with a solid solution deployed

Summary

Apart from cost, this is the most important deciding factor for companies while choosing between ServiceNow and Atlassian. When you commit to ServiceNow, you’re committed, both in budget, and in terms of change management. It’s not to say that the company has to bend to the software, but the investment in time and money to deploy it is big. Jira Service Desk by comparison is a lighter product and can be deployed in an agile fashion with a ‘minimum viable product’ that you layer in complexity and scale as the user base works with it and provides feedback. Setting cost and features aside, it is important to consider what is best for your team in this light.

SECURITY

ServiceNow

  • Set group/role based Access Control Lists (ACLs) with encrypted fields
  • Edge Encryption: Encrypt everything in a particular incident, visible only through a particular proxy server (advanced experts recommended)
  • SSO and 2 Factor Authentication (2FA)
  • Register/confine security incidents and vulnerabilities

Jira Service Desk

  • ACLs, for controls and accesses by role or group within Jira Service Desk
  • Control granular visibility by event type, issue type, custom field, workflows, or product features of the system for different users
  • SSO and 2 Factor Authentication (2FA)
  • Atlassian Cloud Security offers data encryption in-transit/at-rest, SAML-based SSO, 2FA, supported by industry-accepted certifications, such as SOC, ISO 27001, and GDPR. See Security at Atlassian
  • Similar security parameters for Mobile

Summary

This one is up to your CISO or perhaps to the regulatory framework you operate under. For instance, many healthcare companies use Jira Service Desk, but when it comes to PHI and HIPAA compliance, Atlassian’s Cloud platform may not tick all the boxes for you. Still, there is just about every other major security framework covered for Atlassian customers. There are only a handful of Atlassian Solution Partners that provide FEDRAMP hosting, which for the public space can be a base requirement. Apart from that, there is general parity between these tools.

INTEGRATIONS

ServiceNow

  • ServiceNow supports deep capabilities for integrations (SOAP/REST/LDAP/GDBC/GraphQL)
  • Integration Hub allows for Developers/IT to extend workflows and incorporate connections to other applications, platforms, and data sources. No code, low code options attempting to even reach the level of Zapier and the likes
  • MID Server connects network to ServiceNow cloud platform without having to open firewall or similar applications
  • Can export everything to Excel, CSV or even JSON XML
  • You can write your own scripted Rest API handle FTP, SFTP, FTPs, etc

Jira Service Desk

  • Out-of-Box integrations with Atlassian products, such as Confluence, Jira Software, Opsgenie, Statuspage, Bitbucket, and Trello
  • 800+ Addons available in the Atlassian Marketplace. Connect JSD to new feature sets (workflow extensions, rich filters, form extensions, etc.) or popular industry applications (such as Salesforce, Google Drive, and yes, ServiceNow)
  • Strong REST API for pushes & fetches for applications not covered in the Marketplace. Wide LDAP directory server integrations available
  • Note: Don’t kill your instance with too many REST APIs. It’s a robust and capable feature, but be mindful of the load fed into the system

Summary

Integrations for both platforms are strong. While Atlassian relies on a bigger developer community, and it’s marketplace addons often don’t require special development skills (.net) beyond what the Administrator is capable of, ServiceNow’s integration capabilities are robust as well. If this facet of comparison is a hinge-point for your company, reach out to a an Atlassian Solution Partner AND a ServiceNow Implementor to get expert advice for your integrations use case.

ENTERPRISE SCALING

ServiceNow

  • Fully customizable enterprise wide platform. ServiceNow occupies its place in the market for Enterprise readiness and scaling
  • Solutions for specific verticals (separately priced) such as telecommunications and financial services. Functional solutions (separately priced) such as HR Service Delivery, Governance Risk and Compliance, and Customer Service Management
  • Enterprise-ready, useable workflows
  • Most ServiceNow customers have a minimum of 500 employees

Jira Service Desk

  • Aligned with Atlassian’s land & expand approach. Lightweight, flexible, extensible. Configurable for both IT, and ESM use cases (IT / HR / Legal / Security)
  • Reusable workflows and issue types. Can be done by administration, or Solution Partners can help enable this
  • Getting to enterprise level also means intentional controls and steering in pace to keep healthy balance of team autonomy, and enterprise level of visibility/reporting

Summary

ServiceNow presumes you are going to scale it enterprise-wide, and their pre-sales process of quoting your solution will be based on “your ROI.” ServiceNow is more monolithic, and with such an investment, you must decide whether to dive into the deep-end, or to just not swim at all. Atlassian Jira Service Desk, on the other hand, is ready for a 5-Agent team, or a 500-Agent team, it’s just a matter of configuration (and, who is going to do the configuration for you, whether its internal, or with a Solution Partner). As of today, there is a ceiling to what Jira Service Desk is capable of when looking at the entire Enterprise. For instance, there are better tools out there than Jira Service Desk for a call-center and telephony integration (but it can do it). ServiceNow has advanced chatbots, whereas JSD’s are more basic. In the most common use cases, however, there is parity on Enterprise Scaling. Both companies have broad industry use cases, including manufacturing, logistics, financial services, technology, public, healthcare, retail, hospitality, and arts & entertainment.

WORKFLOWS AND AUTOMATION

ServiceNow

  • Workflows are a core premise of ServiceNow’s platform
  • No code/pro code/low code options, aimed at the user’s advantage
  • Drag & drop graphical workflow editor for automating multi-step processes
  • Core ITIL processes built in, with full extensibility, validations, enforcements, etc

Jira Service Desk

  • Out of box ITIL compliant
  • Drag & drop graphical interface for creating / manipulating workflows, at both a project and shared level
  • Drive conditional if-then logic for workflows on the field, transition, and approval levels to drive efficiency and speed

Summary

On both tools, the possibilities for workflows are just a matter of configuration and near-limitless for most use cases out there. In both cases, be sure to maintain a leash on workflow proliferation. Again, in both tools, a lack of discipline in workflow design hurts your ability to roll the productivity story up. It is easy for silos and different definitions of “done” across the org to grow over time.

TOOL ADMINISTRATION

ServiceNow

  • Delegated administration. Admin roles available per module
  • Partners abound, along with Training and Resources for Administrators, Users, and Developers. Extensive training is part of ServiceNow deployments (See Total Cost Use Case)
  • Customization requires coding, and may also require you to carry (on your payroll) a ServiceNow Developer, in addition to several Administrators. Developers will need use case experience, as well as Java/J2EE, C#/C++/C, VB/.NET, Perl, Python, SQL, JavaScript/AJAX
  • Partner companies can help users on a regular and ongoing basis, as it usually requires some amount of specialized training to understand how to tackle things within ServiceNow

Jira Service Desk

  • Global and Project level administration: A project level administrator has a certain amount of permissions for their certain projects. Site administrators can focus on environmental or architectural aspects, and then training up those project level administrators for self-service
  • Atlassian Cloud instance administration has plenty of configuration capabilities, but is more limited than Server or Data Center instances as it relates to deep audit logs, custom scripting, etc. Cloud is always on the latest supported version, while Servers are perpetual licenses that need upgrades from time to time
  • Add-on management is a normal part of administration, as is constructing dashboards, permission screens, writing scripts, and using JQL (Jira Query Language)
  • Administration can be in-house resource(s) or a Solution Partner

Summary

The market cost of full time ServiceNow Administrators (~$95k-$120k) and ServiceNow Developers (~$130k-$170k) should be accounted for, as it’s a skillset that’s technical and in demand. Jira Service Desk Administration will likely dovetail into your Jira/Atlassian Administration already in place, and may or may not be an incremental load to payroll. Larger companies with ambitions for enterprise level Jira Service Desk would want to support the solution with a dedicated administrator, or to use a Solution Partner, which can cost as low as $750/mo.

LICENSING COST

ServiceNow

  • Black Box Pricing: ServiceNow license costs are weighted by your Industry, region, size, revenue, and of course the chosen product & packages. In other words a Healthcare company with the same size and revenue as a Foodservice company will pay different prices for the same modules. The same company profile set, but in different regions, will pay different prices for the same modules
  • ServiceNow offers a free trial, and the rule of thumb is that a minimum solution cost $100/user/month. However, pricing gets very complex the more modules are added. As mentioned before, there are many modules, including ITSM, ITOM, ITBMSecurity Operations, Customer Service Mgmt, HR Service Delivery, etc. Each product module offers multiple sub- There’s also module for functions, such as Orchestration, Discovery, and several more. It piles up
  • Cost is affected by how modules are “” Some are by user type & rights (requester, approver, and fulfiller), other subscriptions are tied to every employee in the enterprise (ie. HR Service Delivery)
  • App marketplace has separate subscriptions

Jira Service Desk

  • Up-Front Pricing: Atlassian publishes one pricing table for everyone, and does not negotiate. It does not matter if you are JP Morgan Chase, or a 12-person start-up, you are referencing the same pricing table, and Atlassian will not provide volume discounts, etc
  • Example: 100 Jira Service Desk Agents (Cloud Premium) costs $27.25/agent/month
  • Pay only for Agents when buying Jira Service Desk. Approvers and requestors to do not play a part in licensing cost

Summary

ServiceNow uses ROI to sell its high cost. In order to get a quote, you have to open your door and give ServiceNow a full requirement download of your entire organization. This is an effective tactic for ServiceNow, as it puts something quantifiable in front of executives and forces their calculations into the decision-criteria (they even provide a net present value of the solution). Their ROI bakes in the implied benefits of reducing legacy applications costs, headcount savings, process/revenue cycle benefits, etc. Ultimately, those benefits may or may not be realized, but it is very important, either way, to ensure you actually need the modules you’re buying. One ServiceNow customer stated to us, “We found in many use cases within our company, ServiceNow forces you to buy a bazooka to kill a mosquito”. Overbuying is built into the solution. This is not the case for all customers, but is common. Contact us if you want more information about the Total Cost of ownership comparison between ServiceNow and Jira Service Desk.

Atlassian licensing is much more direct. The core products (Jira, Confluence, Jira Service Desk, etc.) aren’t themselves complicated or need more explanation of their purpose, such as the multitude of modules at ServiceNow need. In almost all cases with Atlassian tools and Marketplace add-ons, you pay by the user. For Jira Service Desk, you by the Agent ONLY. No extra cost for fulfillers or other roles.

Authors: The contents have been derived from a Jira Service Desk Vs ServiceNow webinar series that included participation by both Trundl, a Platinum Atlassian Solution Partner, and Finite Partners, a ServiceNow enablement company.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are exclusively those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Trundl’s official policy. Please note, information provided may be subject to change

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Cost Projection, Mid-to-Large Enterprise Deployment

Since Atlassian and ServiceNow have very different approaches to costing, and there is asymmetric information on the latter, we thought to build a cost comparison (on solutions of comparable capabilities) based on publicly-available sources. The cost comparison is for a company with an IT staff of 1250. As noted in the sources, and explanations of the calculations (especially for ServiceNow), these are estimates.

ServiceNow (ITSM Module) Core Solution Jira Service Desk
Expected ServiceNow Modules Added:
• Performance Analytics (Reporting)
• ITOM (CMDB, ~1200 nodes, Discovery)
• Orchestration (Automation)
Modules / Addons Expected Atlassian Solution Add-ons:
• ScriptRunner (Adv. Automations/Validations/Logic)
• ProForma (Advanced Forms)
• EazyBI (Enhanced Reporting)
• Device42 (CMDB, ~1200 nodes, Discovery)
250 Agents / ~1000 Approvers 1 Cost Meter 250 Agents (Unlimited Approvers) 1
$400,000 - $500,000 2 Licenses:
(Annual, Core Software + Add-ons)
$175,000 3
$185,000 - 215,000 4 ITSM + CMDB Solution Implementation + Configuration
(3rd Party, 1st Year)
$165,000 5
$50,000-$75,000 6 Training (3rd Party) (incl. w/ Implementation)
$270,000 7 Expected Payroll / Professional Services Cost Increase $24,000 - $120,000 8

1 Cost projections are for a Mid-to-Large size company, with 1,250 IT staff. ServiceNow and Atlassian meter their respective tools differently. between Fulfillers (ServiceNow) and Agents (Jira Service Desk), and Approvers (additional cost for ServiceNow solutions).

 2 Sources and Assumptions on Cost Projection:

  • ServiceNow contracts begin with a 3-year commitment. Numbers shown are for 1 year licenses/subscription + Implementation.
  • Public sources set a ‘rule of thumb’ for ServiceNow’s base ITSM Solution (without ITOM, HR Service Delivery, other modules) as $100 per user per month. Assumption is that larger organizations get volume pricing benefits as more modules and users are added, and an annualized cost of $1,200 per user is much higher than what enterprise level ServiceNow customers actually pay. Sources:
  • https://www.getapp.com/it-management-software/a/service-now-com/
  • https://sourceforge.net/software/product/ServiceNow/
  • https://www.solarwinds.com/service-desk/competitor-comparison/servicenow
  • A Nexio IDC Whitepaper investment analysis from 2015 titled “Delivering Enterprise Value with Service Management” compiled the cost data of several ServiceNow companies, averaging a total employee based of 24,117, an IT Staff of 1,934, and seven (7) in-house ServiceNow Administrators. The 5 year ServiceNow contract investment of these companies averaged $6,710,000 with licenses, implementation, and managed services. All responding companies had enterprise L4 business unity deployments, with ITSM, CMDB, and likely other modules HR Service Delivery, Business Service Management, others. None of the participating companies called out legacy data migration to ServiceNow as a cost in deployment, so this cost projection maintains that assumption. Source:
  • Pricing projection assumes 15% of total solution investment/cost over 5 years is attributed to implementation and support costs (by 3rd party). Under this assumption, the ServiceNow customers from the aforementioned whitepaper would be spending roughly $1M for the annual subscription, $700,000 for implementation, and $75,000 for YoY maintenance/support. The responding companies’ ServiceNow solutions, for an average, had ~1900 users (fulfillers, approvers), at a calculated ~$50 per user per month, or, ~$590 per user per year. The sample solution for this exercise is projected for a smaller organization (~1250 total users, of which 250 are fulfillers), and fewer expected modules.
  • The blended cost per user per year for the responding ServiceNow customers was ~$590 per user per year (1900+ users, ITSM solution plus multiple modules (HR Service Delivery, ITOM+, ITBM+, Performance Analytics, more). The sample solution for this comparison assumes a less complicated implementation (Base ITSM + three (3) additional modules). The cost assumes a $320 – $400 per user per year cost for licenses (1250 users), thus reaching $400,000 to $500,000 in annual licenses.
  • Fulfillers are priced differently than Approvers in ServiceNow. There are other rights-based tiers, but a baseline of a 1:5 ratio of Fulfillers to Approvers is assumed for the sake of this cost sample. This will vary with every use case and does affect cost. ServiceNow does not explain how this affects cost.
  • Pricing will change per Region and Industry of the company. Pricing is also affected by expected ROI presented by ServiceNow along with quotes. ROI benefits (NPV, calculated) include expected process improvements, payroll savings, productive velocity, more.

3 Jira Service Desk Solution assumes 250 Agents at Cloud Premium. Add-ons: Device42 (CMDB, 1200 Asset+ Discovery, + Software Discovery), ScriptRunner (250 users), ProForma (250 users). Cost presented is an estimate, and should not be considered a quote. Does not include licensing benefits an Atlassian Solution Partner can provide.

4 Implementation cost assumptions: Resource costs estimated at an average $155 per hour (3rd Party). An enterprise implementation of ITSM and 2-3 additional modules (ITOM, Performance Analytics, Orchestration) is estimated to be 1200-1400 hours.

5 Sample solution implementation assumes 1200 effort hours over 1 year (720 in months 1-6, 480 in months 7-12). Blended rate of $137.50 per hour estimated from average enterprise ITSM solution implementation with hybrid onshore / offshore execution (US/India).

6 ServiceNow Training varies depending on the implementing ServiceNow Partner, and the number of training modules required for the user base size. Many ServiceNow Partners publish training pricing, and they ranges from $800 per attendee per module to $2500 per attendee per module (multi-day). The costs presented in the sample assume $1000 per module per attendee, for 50-75 total sessions. NOTE: The use case for a 1250 user implementation of ServiceNow may require much higher training requirements (attendees) than those presented here.

7 Publicly available salaries put ServiceNow Consultants, Administrators, and Developers in the $129,000 to $170,000 range. Variability exists depending on region. $270,000 is a conservative estimate for 2 resources. Use cases this large may require up to 5 dedicated resources for ongoing support/customization. Sources:

8 Depending on the stability/complexity of the Atlassian/Jira Service Desk Solution deployed, the organization may use a Solution Partner for Managed Services/Support (varying tiers of support, starting at  roughly $2,000 per month) or hire an Atlassian Administrator (Average market rate of $120,000).

Other Sources:

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