ServiceNow Versions: Express Vs. Enterprise

In November of 2014, ServiceNow announced that it was launching a trimmed-down, simpler version of its' ITSM platform. The "light" version would be called Express, and they've dubbed the more full-featured edition Enterprise. But what is the difference between "ServiceNow" (Enterprise) and "ServiceNow Express"? 

ServiceNow Express is significantly less expensive than its' big brother, Enterprise; and for many companies, it is an entirely viable solution for their ITSM needs. It is however, not for everyone. ServiceNow has designed Express to appeal to businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees, who are willing and able to adopt "mostly out-of-box" ITIL processes without the need for much customization, whereas Enterprise is meant to be a "There's almost nothing it can't do" sort of tool that will bend to fit your processes and even automate them to a level that can entirely eliminate the need for some full-time staff. 

In this article, we're going to go over some of the core functionality offered in ServiceNow Express, and point out those areas and functionality which are lacking. We'll also discuss upgradeability, and some examples and tips for determining which ServiceNow option might best suit your business needs.

What's Included in Express?

ServiceNow Express is really geared more toward smaller organizations (and organizations with more limited budgets), but it would not do to shoot yourself in the foot by investing in an ITSM tool that doesn't contain much of the functionality that you need, so let's talk about what features and functionality are included in the Express edition of ServiceNow. 

Here's a basic breakdown of some of the main features of ServiceNow Express: 

  • Most of the core processes
    • Incident Management
    • Problem Management
    • Change Management
    • Knowledge Management
    • Asset & Configuration Management
    • Service Catalog
  • Notifications & Alerts (as well as inbound email actions)
  • Escalations
  • Basic reporting
  • Codeless business rules
    • Allows really basic server-side automation based on triggers
    • Does not allow code/scripting
  • Service-level Management
  • LDAP synchronization
  • Live Feed
  • Visual task boards
  • Pre-configured workflows 

Express is meant for rapid deployment, and using mostly pre-configured ITIL-aligned processes, including Incident, Problem, and Change management. 

What Isn't in Express?

It must be said that there are more than a few things missing from the Express edition of ServiceNow, as compared with its' big brother, Enterprise. - as is to be expected (you didn't think that "Express" just meant that it was faster, did you?). 

According to ServiceNow's Darius Koohmarey, here are some of the main limitations of ServiceNow Express:

  • No Scripting -- pretty much universally
    • This means no advanced business rules, no advanced conditions, no scripted ACLs, no transform scripts, no client scripts, UI scripts, script includes, 
  • Custom UI macros
  • Custom UI actions
  • No Graphical workflows
  • No Sub-prod instances (with Express, you make all changes in production)
    • There are also no "personal developer instances" of Express like there are for Enterprise. However, ServiceNow does provide an Express sandbox - but only for employees of a company that already uses ServiceNow Express. 
  • No Bi-directional web services API integrations
  • Cannot purchase additional functionality, such as...
    • Cloud Provisioning
    • Configuration Automation
    • Orchestration
    • Service Mapping
    • HR Management
    • Facilities Management
    • Field Services 
    • Many others
  • Custom CMS/branding
  • Update sets (capturing work and moving it around)
  • Plugins
  • Scheduled jobs

Express is meant to provide some optimization and standardization of your existing business processes, but cannot be too heavily configured. 

EDIT: As Homeylover pointed out in the comments, there is also no column-level encryption, or support for Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions other than OKTA, which means there's no SAML plugin, and no LDAP authentication. There is however, LDAP synchronization available in Express according to The ServiceNow blog; just not authentication. 

Cost Comparison

This is a difficult thing to discuss, as each organization can have its own negotiated licensing scheme for Enterprise. I am not a representative of ServiceNow, so I couldn't tell you anything about what ServiceNow might actually charge you. All prices in this article are based on my research (and what other articles have stated).  That said, Enterprise seems to come in at around $100 per ITIL user (ITIL users are "IT Process" users, and are generally any users with roles that go beyond a self-service interface for getting things done). ServiceNow Express however, is around $50 per fulfiller/approver user per month. 

Licensing is not the only cost to consider though, and according to one cloud services management company, a professional services kickstart package for ServiceNow Enterprise starts at around $70,000 for the implementation (although with us, that cost is significantly less than you're likely to find elsewhere). With Express, on the other hand, it would not be inconceivable to simply use it out of the box, or customize it only a bit for a much lower cost (implementation might run only around a few thousand dollars, depending on how customized you wanted the instance. We are working on one Express implementation that will come in under $10,000, including training!). Express is built with this lower level of customization in mind and, as we discussed above, if you wanted more than basic customization, you may need to upgrade to Enterprise. 


The good news, is that the upgrade path from ServiceNow Express to ServiceNow Enterprise is relatively pothole-free, and doesn't cost much (if anything) to simply make the switch. 

Unfortunately, there is no real "downgrade" path from Enterprise to ServiceNow Express. That said, upgrading can be more time-consuming and costly than if you were to go with Enterprise in the first place. 

Final Word

If your business has more than 1,000 employees, or if you are aiming to build a robust platform with automation that can save you money on person-hours/headcount now or down the road, we recommend going with Enterprise. (Shameless plug: We also recommend giving us a call to see how we can help!)

If you are a small-to-medium business looking to implement solid ITIL practices and add value without breaking the bank or needing to hire on an entire development team, then Express is probably right for you. (Plug: We can help with that too!)

If you're interested in Express, you can sign up for a free trial here. More info at ServiceNow Express

Whether you're looking to implement ServiceNow Express or Enterprise, the SN Guys are here to help. Book some time with us to discuss how our team of dedicated gurus and ITSM super-nerds can help boost the efficiency and productivity of your business. 

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