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ServiceNow Alternative: Choosing ITSM Help Desk That’s Right for You

Smooth IT processes are key to ensuring non-stop, friction-free workflows of any team in the company. Imagine that your accounting department has to wait until the accounting software is being fixed. The whole team’s work is on pause, new tasks keep piling up, and the pressure poisons the working atmosphere.

IT service management (ITSM) tools have become a go-to choice for those looking to improve the internal IT service provision and optimize and automate their ticketing systems, user data management, and other help desk workflows. ServiceNow is one of such tools. In this article, we’ll describe what’s so special about it and what to pay attention to when choosing a reliable ServiceNow alternative.

What Is ServiceNow?

ServiceNow is a cloud-based software platform for ITSM. Designed according to ITIL guidelines, a library of best practices for managing IT services and improving IT support at scale, it provides service orientation for tasks, activities, and processes. Named a leader by Gartner for eight years in a row, the company offers a single platform connecting ITSM with other digital workflows supported by IT operations management tools and AI/ML capabilities.

Ease of deployment and supported platforms

ServiceNow is a platform-as-a-service tool functioning as a web-based application. It’s available for desktop (Windows, macOS) and mobile devices (Android, iOS).

Basic features

ServiceNow’s ITSM solution is packed with everything you need to support your internal clients. It includes incident, problem, request, and change management functionalities, as well as the Mobile Agent app, Agent Workspace, and Employee Service Center. AI-powered modules allow companies to quickly identify IT issues before they are reported. Automated workflows make it possible to check the progress of processes or services.

Unique features

ServiceNow was the first ITSM platform that adopted the AI and ML approaches to predict issues based on past interactions. The tool shows what apps and services are used in the system. It also tracks their statuses to improve visibility within the system and between the applications. The company introduced native process mining—data mining and process analytics to discover, validate, and improve workflows.

Pricing

ServiceNow prefers to provide each user with a custom quote upon request. They use a subscription-based model with a license fee starting at $100 user/month.

Customer support

In addition to a standard email, phone, and chat support, ServiceNow offers developer documentation, user guides, video lessons, and webinars. The company provides training and certification programs to make sure its clients get the most value out of its services.

Typical customers

Their typical clients are mid to large-sized businesses that want to manage all IT business processes from one platform.

API and extensibility

ServiceNow comes with a well-documented REST API to interact with its platform's service instances.

Security measures

It supports SSL (SHA-256 encryption), requires redirection from HTTP to HTTPS, and uses Sender Policy Framework for email addresses to avoid spamming. ServiceNow has been certified according to international standards, including ISO/IEC 27701, ISO/IEC 27018, ISO/IEC 27017, ISO/IEC 27001, SSAE18 SOC1 and SOC2, and others.

Pros


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ServiceNow is a cloud-based PaaS with a strong market presence around the globe.


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Thanks to its AI/ML components, it allows users to improve their automation processes based on the previous interactions and predictive analysis.


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Plus, the company has plenty of support options.


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Its help desk solution is fully customizable and can be used on mobile devices.

Cons


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Its fully-packed navigation panel may confuse those intending to use only a part of their service package.


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The upfront cost is relatively high, which makes ServiceNow a second option for startups.


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Plugins and solutions are quite complex and might need professional assistance.

The help desk solution by ServiceNow will be a great fit for the companies automating all IT support processes and ready for sweeping changes that entail significant investments. But what if you want to automate only part of your IT services and achieve great value for money without breaking the bank? You can choose a ServiceNow alternative.

ServiceNow Alternative List

When choosing an alternative to ServiceNow, it’s best to compare other options on the market first, keeping your business needs in focus. For example, if you are planning to scale within a tight schedule, make sure that your ITSM tool will be able to support the changes and integrate with other systems easily. Otherwise, you might need to switch to another service platform, which means transferring data and re-learning.

The charts below cover the features of the closest ServiceNow competitors to help you make an informed decision.

Zendesk

Founded in 2007, Zendesk sought to make support services affordable, easy, and effective. The company offers help and service desk options based on the business size and the expected functionality. Zendesk is a go-to tool for working with both internal and external clients. If your target is the latter make no mistake: Zendesk is perfect for businesses that handle upselling and try to provide exceptional customer support.

It has plenty of features to streamline ticket processing and organize agent work based on analytics. When comparing ServiceNow vs. Zendesk, the latter would be a good match for companies eager to automate the handling of customer requests rather than the whole ITSM workflow.

Ease of deployment/supported platforms

  • Software-as-a-service that functions as a web-based application
  • Available for desktop (Windows, macOS) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)

Basic features

  • Ticket-based service system (call, email, chat, or voice message automatically converts into a new ticket)
  • Feature-packed dashboard
  • On-demand reporting tools
  • High integration potential (700+ available options, including email, phone, Twitter, Facebook, FreshChat Sprout, Zendesk Chat Lite, Shopify, and MailChimp)

Unique features

  • Tickets shareable among users
  • Multi-brand support that enables different types of analytics
  • Benchmark tool to assess the performance of your customer service against the competition
  • Essential Card and Interaction History providing additional context for every client/ticket

Customer support

Help center, answer bot, help desk community forum, chatbot, phone, and email support for users and developers.

Typical customers

Small to medium businesses

API and extensibility

REST API to create tickets with custom ticket forms, users, migrating ticket data, and more.

Security measures

  • ISO 27001:2013
  • ISO 27018:2014
  • SOC 2 Type II
  • EU-US & Swiss-US Privacy Shield Certification
  • TRUSTe Enterprise Privacy Certification
  • SSL and TLS encryption
  • Can be configured to meet PCI and HIPAA/HITECH standards

Pricing (if billed annually)

Zendesk Pricing

Source: Zendesk

Pros


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Variety of unique features and affordable pricing plans for different sized businesses


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Strong focus on selling while supporting; ideal for those searching for a niche solution


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Intuitive dashboard


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Dedicated community of users and developers

Cons


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Per agent cost (more agents = higher prices)


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No direct CSV export of data (prior conversion needed)


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Solution focused specifically on automating ticketing rather than the whole ITSM workflow

Help Scout

Help Scout is a simple and secure solution to automate the support workflow. It’s perfect for startups and small businesses that aren’t ready to splash out on a fully packed ticketing system just now but cannot leave their employees without the IT assistance they need. However, its limited customization and analytical capabilities, alongside the support-only focus, are its biggest drawbacks when comparing ServiceNow vs. Help Scout.

Ease of deployment/supported platforms

  • Software-as-a-service that functions as a web-based application
  • Available for desktop (Windows, macOS) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)

Basic features

  • Automated workflows
  • Knowledge base
  • Live chat
  • Email filters
  • Various API integrations

Unique features

  • Shared inbox to collaborate with the team
  • Dedicated customer manager for VIP clients
  • SAML single sign-on

Customer support

  • Free training
  • Developer/user resources available
  • Live chat
  • Email

Typical customers

Startups and small businesses focused on fintech, e-commerce, healthcare, and finance

API and Extensibility

  • Mailbox API
  • Docs API
  • Public integration available

Security measures

  • GDPR and HIPAA compliant
  • PCI level III
  • SSL and TLS encryption

Pricing

Help Scout Pricing

Source: Help Scout

Pros


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Easy-to-grasp tool that can be used since day one


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Ideal for startups that want to provide exceptional support to their customers and improve satisfaction rates


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Low cost for basic support functions

Cons


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Limited customization available


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Limited analytics


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Primarily focused on email


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Primarily focused on email


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For supporting external clients rather than internal

Zoho Desk

Picking a side in ServiceNow vs. Zoho Desk comparison won’t be easy, as these companies offer similar ticketing system solutions. However, Zoho’s affordable price for a whole slew of features outwins ServiceNow and many other competitors from the list. Do pay attention, though, to your industry security requirements when choosing Zoho as it might not be the best solution for healthcare where HIPAA compliance is a must.

Ease of deployment/supported platforms

  • Software-as-a-service that functions as a web-based application
  • Available for desktop (Windows, macOS) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)
  • Easily integrated with Zoho CRM and various non-native platforms

Basic features

  • Multi-channel ticket management (multi-brand, multi-department)
  • Self-service for agents
  • Agent productivity tools (Teams, Response Editor, Modes)
  • Automation services (workflows, layouts, notification rules)

Unique features

  • Zia (AI-powered assistant that helps with sentiment analysis, auto-tagging, knowledge base navigation, voice assistance, and more)
  • Work Modes (automated workflow depending on the ticket inquiry)
  • Domain mapping

Customer support

  • Self-service plugin
  • Resource center (FAQs, knowledge base, developer guides)
  • 24/5 email and chat support

Typical customers

Small to enterprise-level companies automating IT support processes

API and Extensibility

  • REST API and Web, iOS, and Android SDK documentation for developing customized apps
  • Integration across the company’s platforms
  • Interactive widgets

Security measures

  • Role- and profile-based access
  • Data-sharing control
  • GDPR compliant

Pricing

Zoho Desk Pricing

Source: Zoho Desk

Pros


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AI-powered assistant and automation


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Real-time analytics


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Low cost per agent


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Well-documented SDK


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Easily integrated tool

Cons


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Not suitable for compliance-heavy industries like healthcare


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Not suitable for compliance-heavy industries like healthcare


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Complex interface


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Advanced features charged extra

Jira Service Management

World-leading enterprises might not see much difference comparing Servicenow vs. Jira Service Management (by Atlassian). They are the two closest market competitors offering similar options. Yet, there are a few crucial differences.

ServiceNow is more AI-oriented and invests heavily into machine learning tools to improve workflows. Jira Service Management adopts an agile approach to solve issues. In terms of front-end, Jira wins the Atlassian vs. ServiceNow battle as its admin console is more UX-friendly and accessible to smaller organizations and IT shops. The ServiceNow admin panel is ITSM-oriented, so IT departments of larger companies will find it easy to understand.

Ease of deployment/supported platforms

  • Software-as-a-service that functions as a web-based application
  • Available for desktop (Windows, macOS) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)

Basic features

  • General support management (self-service platform, configurable workflows, SLA management, reporting, analytics, automation, multi-language support, etc.)
  • Incident and problem management (on-call management, monitoring, ChatOps integration for centralized communication and knowledge collection, post-incident reviews, etc.)
  • Change management (change risk assessment management, deployment tracking and dating)
  • Asset and Service configuration management (asset and service repository, asset discovery)
  • Knowledge base

Unique features

  • Change calendar
  • Dynamic object field
  • Dependency mapping
  • Enterprise service management (templates for legal, HR, and general service and customer service management)

Customer support

  • Technical support for developers and clients
  • Email, chatbot

Typical customers

World-leading enterprises in IT, fintech, and media

API and extensibility

  • REST API for building add-ons and developing cross-application integrations
  • 2,400 add-ons

Security measures

  • SAML single sign-on
  • User provisioning/deprovisioning
  • Organization login audit
  • Enforced 2-factor authentication
  • FedRAMP, SOC 2, SOC 3, ISO 27001, PCI DSS certified

Pricing

Jira Service Management Pricing

Source: Atlassian

Pros


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Agile ITSM


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No hidden fees


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Low-code workflows

Cons


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Poorly unified platform despite a number of acquisitions


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No significant presence in the emerging markets


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Need to migrate to the cloud or use their Data Center offering

SolarWinds Service Desk

Comparing ServiceNow vs. SolarWinds is reasonable as they both are focused exclusively on ITSM, in particular, internal customer support. SolarWinds offers transparent pricing plans, ease of use, and smooth integration with other software. Together with its Web Help Desk, Dameware Remote Everywhere, and Dameware Remote Support, the company creates a reliable ITSM ecosystem. All of it makes it an affordable ServiceNow alternative.

Ease of deployment/supported platforms

  • Software-as-a-service that functions as a web-based application
  • Available for desktop (Windows, macOS) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)

Basic features

  • Incident management software
  • IT asset management
  • Employee and Enterprise service portals
  • Dashboard
  • Configuration management database software (CMDB): a database used for storing information about the company’s hardware and software assets and the relationships between IT ecosystem components
  • ITAM software
  • Procurement tools
  • SLA management

Unique features

  • SolarWinds Discovery (tool for asset discovery and monitoring licensing updates to help you analyze asset performance and status and make informed business decisions)
  • Preparation mode for Microsoft license auditing
  • Internationalization and localization
  • Multi-factor authentication

Customer support

  • 24/7 support (phone, email, chat)
  • Customer portal
  • Training and certification programs
  • Success center

Typical customers

Startups to mature organizations looking to provide IT support to their employees

API and extensibility

  • Easily integrated with third-party solutions and plugins
  • Orion SDK

Security measures

  • Follows NIST Cybersecurity Framework
  • SSAE16 and SOC 2 accredited
  • HTTPS, SSL, TLS encryptions
  • Role-based access
  • Multi-factor verification
  • Single sign-on

Pricing

SolarWinds Service Desk Pricing

Source: SolarWinds Service Desk

Pros


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Comprehensive solution for ITSM


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Tools for both internal and external customers


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Well-balanced packages in terms of price/features ratio

Cons


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Limited customization and search functionality


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Poor UI


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Skill-intensive deployment

Freshservice

Freshservice offers Freshdesk, an ITIL-aligned tool for omnichannel support. Comparing ServiceNow vs. Freshdesk, we found out that their help and service desks can be used for external and internal client support. Meanwhile, Freshdesk has an easy-to-navigate admin bar and a resource library with how-to materials.

Ease of deployment/supported platforms

  • Software-as-a-service that functions as a web-based application
  • Available for desktop (Windows, macOS) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)

Basic features

  • Incident management
  • SLA management
  • Self-service portal
  • Problem management
  • Change management
  • Release management
  • Omnichannel ticketing system

Unique features

  • AI/ML-based automation and reporting
  • Unified service catalog
  • Workflow automator
  • Virtual manager Freddy
  • Proactive outreach
  • To-do reminders

Customer support

  • Email and chat
  • FAQ
  • Developer tools and resources
  • Release notes, guides, and video library

Typical customers

Small to enterprise-level businesses

API and extensibility

  • API documentation available
  • Can be natively integrated with Slack, Freshdesk, Zoom, G Suite, Rescue, Jira, and other systems

Security measures

  • Custom SSL certificate
  • IP whitelisting
  • Single sign-on
  • HIPAA and GDPR-compliant
  • JWT authentication for APIs
  • SHA-256 encoding

Pricing

Freshservice Pricing

Source: Freshservice

Pros


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Easy setup, no training required


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User-friendly interface


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For internal and external customer support

Cons


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Analytical features available in Pro and Enterprise plans


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High-priced advanced features

Cherwell ITSM

Recently acquired by Avanti, Cherwell ITSM is a low-code business management solution that uses 11 ITIL-verified processes. Ease of use is the first thing to distinguish Cherwell in ServiceNow vs. Cherwell comparison. Like ServiceNow, it offers a pay-as-you-go subscription model. Its unique feature is Avanti Neurons targeted at automating and modernizing the existing IT landscape.

Ease of deployment/supported platforms

  • Software-as-a-service that functions as a web-based application
  • Available for desktop (Windows, macOS) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)

Basic features

  • Incident management
  • Request management
  • Change management
  • Omnichannel engagement
  • Configuration management
  • Self-service portal

Unique features

  • Discovery and dependency mapping for full visibility
  • Avanti Neurons: an IT automation platform to discover, manage, and safeguard the IT landscape

Customer support

  • Email, phone, chat
  • Developer resource center
  • User library

Typical customers

Mid to large-sized IT companies

API and extensibility

  • Pre-build integration available at Marketplace
  • API documentation available

Security measures

  • Role-based access
  • SSL/TLS certificate
  • Zero-trust access
  • Network-access control
  • Zero sign-on
  • Dynamic whitelisting
  • SOC 2, ISO 27001 certified
  • CCPA, GDPR, ICO, and HIPAA-compliant

Pricing

  • Available upon requesting a personal quote
  • Pay-as-you-go basis
  • One-time license fee

Pros


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Codeless configuration


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One-stop-shop for ticketing and asset management


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Custom workflow design

Cons


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Long setup time


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No straightforward price plans


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Time-consuming customization

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus is an all-in-one ITSM suite. It automates the management of services, IT assets, and customer issues. Comparing ServiceNow vs. ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus, it’s worth noting that the latter was designed for the IT service industry, which makes it especially effective for internal customer requests.

Ease of deployment/supported platforms

  • Downloadable software available for desktop (Windows, macOS)

Basic features

  • Account management
  • Incident management
  • Knowledge base for customers
  • SLA management
  • Self-service portal
  • Help desk reports
  • Automated billing
  • QuickBooks integrations

Unique features

  • Computer telephony integration
  • Project management
  • Automated ticket assignment

Customer support

  • Phone, email, chat
  • Resource library for agents and developers
  • Training and certification center

Typical customers

IT departments and IT support providers

API and extensibility

  • API documentation available
  • Allows integration with third-party solutions

Security measures

  • SSL, TLS, HTTPS encryption
  • Anti-DDoS
  • Single sign-on
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Role-based access and view options
  • CIS-control
  • GDPR compliant
  • ISO/IEC 20000 certified

Pricing

  • Free demo and free starter kit ready to download
  • Standard, Professional, and Enterprise packages available upon requesting a personal quote

Pros


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One-stop-shop IT support tool


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Features Zoho Analytics for data-driven decisions


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Automatic Salesforce integration and data import

Cons


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Beneficial for IT departments and IT support providers only


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No AI integrations


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Not available for mobile

SysAid

SysAid is a niche player in the ITSM field with a strong grip on the middle market, which is important when comparing ServiceNow vs. SysAid. Its low-code solution would be easy to configure even without solid coding skills. SysAid automates tasks, ticketing, self-service, and workflow, shortening time to value.

Ease of deployment/supported platforms

  • Software-as-a-service that functions as a web-based application
  • Available for desktop (Windows, macOS) and mobile devices on-premises (Android, iOS)

Basic features

  • Self-service automation
  • Ticket automation
  • Asset management
  • Remote control
  • CMDB
  • Workflow automation

Unique features

  • Codeless configuration
  • Hotkey (tool for recording the end-user screen and uploading it to the ticket for further assistance)

Customer support

  • Email, phone, chat
  • Developers resource center
  • Technical support
  • FAQ
  • Community forum
  • Events, webinars, podcast

Typical customers

Small to mid-sized businesses

API and Extensibility

  • Ready to configure with G Suite, Azure, Office 365, and other
  • REST API available

Security measures

  • ISO 27017, ISO 27001, and ISO 27018 certified
  • Single sign-on
  • SSL, TLS, HTTPS encryption
  • Automated account lockout
  • Role-based access

Pricing

SysAid Pricing

Source: SysAid

Pros


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Low-code all-in-one help and service desk


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Remote asset management


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Multi-language support

Cons


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Non-intuitive interface


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Poor reporting capabilities


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Few options for customization

The help desk market is booming with new players coming and experienced ones evolving. Here’s what you need to consider when looking for a ServiceNow alternative.

How to Choose a ServiceNow Alternative Among Available ITSM Help Desks?

If you feel like your existing help desk does not cater to your current business needs, it’s time for changes. But finding the right tool is not always simple. On the one hand, there are technical issues like transferring data between platforms while ensuring smooth IT support. On the other hand, business issues, including price, development strategy, and contract obligations must be considered. Here are a few tips.

  • Determine your business needs. Your business might need automation at scale or a help desk up and running as soon as possible. It will decide whether you will opt for a quick no-code solution or a complex one.
  • Get team feedback on their needs. Your help desk specialists know the weak spots like no other. Ask them, and you will see what features to pay close attention to.
  • Anticipate integrations. Easily integrated solutions can expand the original functionality and help build unparalleled client support.
  • Choose a tool and provider. It’s best to choose a particular tool after trying the demo or free version.
  • Identify your budget for adoption and maintenance. Analyze whether the functions covered by the free trial will be enough for the expected tasks. Then check if your budget can afford it.
  • Import your data to the desired ITSM. When all is set and done, migrate your data to the new help desk and enjoy fresh business opportunities!

Following these steps, your team will move onto the next level of support performance and customer satisfaction.

Wrapping It Up

ServiceNow is a global ITSM platform that helps companies automate their internal IT support workflows. Its tools form a holistic, all-in-one solution, but there are plenty of reasons for businesses to look for the closest ServiceNow alternative on the market. Some of them are high pricing, complicated deployment, and charges for additional, yet unnecessary features. It is no wonder that many companies want to move their existing system to a different provider. To make the migration safe and ensure continuity, they need reliable software that would do it all automatically. Migration Wizard is an excellent option.

With Migration Wizard, the switch between help desks will be safe for your data and easy for your employees managing follow-up IT processes. Ready to migrate the data? Contact our team and schedule a free demo to get a quote and check how long the migration will take.

Help Desk Migration

Automated service to migrate your data between help desk platforms without programming skills — just follow simple Migration Wizard.

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