Upgrading From Express to Enterprise: What's Missing

If you're a ServiceNow Express customer, then you probably already know that ServiceNow is forcing everyone on the Express edition of the "Now platform" to upgrade to the Enterprise edition. While you might think that after an upgrade, you'll have a typical ServiceNow Enterprise instance, that is not the case.

The Enterprise edition of ServiceNow is far more powerful than Express, but there are some significant differences between the two platform editions, and much of the added functionality of the Enterprise edition is not enabled by default after an upgrade. You'll also find that some things in your post-upgrade instance have retained the names of their "Express" counterparts in the Application Navigator, for example; which can make it difficult to navigate around, or use the platform documentation. 

In this article, I'll briefly explore some of the differences you can expect, some of the features you can expect to be missing, and how you can enable that functionality post-upgrade. 

One of the first things that anyone who's upgrading from Express to Enterprise needs to be aware of, is that you're going to need a developer to handle most new customizations. While in Express, you could get away with having just an 'admin' to handle any customizations (due to the limited subset of customizations that were possible), to make use of much of the functionality in the Enterprise edition of ServiceNow, we strongly recommend having a ServiceNow developer either on-staff, or at least available, post-upgrade.

If you want some help working through the upgrade, or with customizing your instance or enabling Enterprise features and functionality, but you aren't ready to shell out for a full-time developer and/or architect, working "as-needed" with a professional services company can be a great way to keep costs down while also unlocking the Enterprise functionality that will undoubtedly justify the cost of the Enterprise edition of ServiceNow, after your Express-pricing expires. 
The ServiceNow Guys have worked extensively with both Express and Enterprise, and we've helped clients both during and after the upgrade process from Express to Enterprise. If you'd like to discuss how we can help you, you can schedule some time to chat with us here

Development Instance

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One thing you might not even think to wonder about if you're accustomed to Express, is the lack of a "development" instance. Express licenses typically come with only one instance: the production instance. However, with the Enterprise edition of ServiceNow, you can expect to be doing a lot more "heavy lifting" with your development, which adds some really exceptional capabilities, but also adds significant risk to your extant functionality during development. For this reason, every Enterprise customer I've ever worked with has at least one sub-production instance for development (and often two: one for development, and one for testing). 

For most Express customers, ServiceNow seems to be offering at least a year of Enterprise at the lower "Express" license cost, but after some fixed amount of time, most Express customers will be paying the full Enterprise license cost. However, just as with your Express instance, you'll only have one instance: your production instance. You can get a sub-production development instance as well (which we strongly recommend), but there is a cost associated with that. You'll have to speak with your account representative (I do not represent them), but the most common cost I've heard quoted is $7,500/yr. 

ITSM Applications & Plugins

Many of the more advanced IT Service Management plugins are inactive by default, which means that some OOB (out-of-box) Enterprise features and functionality are not available (initially) when upgrading from Express to Enterprise. 

While it's not too difficult to just go through and activate each of the plugins which are disabled by default after upgrading, we (and ServiceNow) strongly recommend against this. Instead, have a look at the list of plugins below, do some reading on their functionality, and see which plugins might make sense to activate. If you don't need it, it's okay not to activate it! 

Below is a list of ITSM plugins which may be enabled by default in an OOB Enterprise instance, but which remain inactive after upgrading from Express to Enterprise. The plugins in bold are ones that we believe you would find quite useful, and should consider activating early on. 


  • Assessments (com.snc.assessment_core)
  • Assessment Designer Common (com.glide.assessment_designer.common)
  • Asset Management (com.snc.asset_management)
  • Best Practice - Change Risk Calculator (com.snc.bestpractice.change_risk)
  • Best Practice - ITIL KPI Reports (com.snc.bestpractice.itil_kpi)
  • Best Practice - Task Survey Management (com.snc.bestpractice.task_survey)
  • Catalog Designer Common (com.glide.ui.ng.cc)
  • Change Management - CAB Workbench (com.snc.change_management.cab)
  • Change Management - Core (com.snc.change_management)
  • Change Management - Standard Change Catalog (com.snc.change_management.standard_change_catalog)
  • Change Management - State Model (com.snc.change_management.state_model)
  • Change Management Workflows (com.glideapp.workflow_change_management)
  • Configuration Management (CMDB Enterprise Edition) (com.snc.cmdb.enterprise)
  • Contextual Security Rules (com.glide.acl.service)
  • Contextual Security: Role Management V2 REST API (com.glide.role_management.inh_count.rest_api)
  • Contract Management (com.snc.contract_management)
  • Data lookup and record matching support for Service Catalog (com.glide.data_lookup.catalog)
  • Depreciation (com.snc.depreciation) (Note: This is installed with Asset Management)
  • DHTMLX Scheduler Library (com.snc.dhtmlx.scheduler)
  • Expense Line (com.snc.expense_line)
  • Fixed Asset (com.snc.fixed_asset)
  • Guided Setup for Performance Analytics (com.snc.pa.guided_setup)
  • ITSM Guided Setup (com.snc.guided_setup_metadata.itsm)
  • My Assets (com.snc.asset_myassets)
  • Organization Management (com.snc.organization_management)
  • Problem Tasks (com.snc.problem_task)
  • Role Delegation (com.snc.role_delegation)
  • SCSS Bootstrap Theme (com.glide.ui.scss.bootstrap)
  • SCSS Content Provider (com.glide.ui.scss)
  • Service Creator (com.glide.service-creator)
  • Service Level Management (com.snc.sla)
  • Service Portal - Core (com.glide.service-portal)
  • Service Portal - Knowledge Base (com.glide.service-portal.knowledge-base)
  • Service Portal - Service Catalog (com.glide.service-portal.service-catalog)
  • Service Portal - Service Status (com.glide.service-portal.service-status)
  • Service Portal Configuration Pages (com.glide.service-portal.config)
  • Service Portal Designer (com.glide.service-portal.designer)
  • Service Portal for Enterprise Service Management (com.glide.service-portal.esm)
  • Service Portal Social QA (com.glide.service-portal.sqanda)
  • Service Portal Surveys (com.glide.service-portal.survey)
  • Software Asset Management Extensions (com.snc.sam)
  • Survey designer (com.glide.survey_designer)
  • User guide (com.glide.user_guide)
Note: You should not go through and activate all of the plugins you want to have enabled all at once. It's important to complete an initial round of testing once you've upgraded, then test again after activating each plugin to make sure it's behaving as you expect in your environment. 

Application Modules

In Express, certain application modules (in the Application Navigator on the left side of the ServiceNow interface) had names which did not match the names of the corresponding modules in ServiceNow Enterprise. For example, the "Catalog Items" Application Module under the "Catalog Definitions" section in ServiceNow Express, is actually called "Maintain Items" in ServiceNow Enterprise.

There are several such differences, so when reading through documentation, you might find yourself a bit confused. It's important to keep this in mind if you have internal admins or developers who will be working through any new enhancements or handling any upgrade growing pains. 

Security

There is not really any additional security risk when it comes to moving from Express to Enterprise. However, you should be aware that the security rules (ACLs) in Express - particularly those around requesters and fulfillers - will remain configured as they were in Express. That is, more loosely than the "OOB" Enterprise configuration. 

You may want to lock this down by implementing new ACLs to replicate OOB Enterprise security, but to be frank, that's not really necessary unless you have a reason for wanting it to be that way. 

Express Features

Many "Express" features that don't exist in Enterprise (usually because there are more powerful Enterprise alternatives) persist after the upgrade. For example, Express has executions plans and approval rules, but it is recommended that you don't use those features going forward. Instead, it's a good idea to switch to the Enterprise equivalent, at least for all new development.

If possible, we also recommend migrating any existing Express-feature-dependent functionality over to the Enterprise versions. For example, by implementing Workflows instead of Executions Plans and Approval Rules.


We believe that for most medium-to-large businesses, the Enterprise edition just makes sense, but upgrading from Express to Enterprise can be a daunting task, especially when you think about what you'll need to do to justify the cost when the licensing term expires. ServiceNow is a powerful platform.

We'd love to help your business make full use of the ServiceNow platform. Click here to schedule some time to chat with us, and see how we can help you through the upgrade and post-upgrade process, as well as build out powerful Enterprise functionality.