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ServiceNow vs Jira Service Desk: Digging into Similarities and Differences

The essence of ITSM can be expressed by the following line: ITIL helps your business move along the path of delivering a quality, customer-centric service. Today’s workforce requires a set of products, processes, and procedures to provide fast and accurate service. The range of the tools you need to deploy and maintain is getting wider, and, therefore, it’s harder to make the choice. Many companies find themselves caught into the loop of changing their workflows to match the structure of the platform used. When it comes to choosing a helper software, it may seem that the list of service management systems is endless. Yet there are two leaders: ServiceNow and Jira Service Desk.

Each platform offers a vast number of features and capabilities. The key idea of this ServiceNow and Jira Service Desk comparison is to differentiate their features and get the clue of how to match them to specific business needs.

Profile Overview

ServiceNow hit the market in 2004 and a decade ago became the first cloud-hosted service desk. The solution offers a pre-built set of ITIL processes and strives to provide a unified view in three concepts: design, transition, and operation for an IT service delivery environment.

ServiceNow covers the following ITSM processes: incident management, service catalogue and request fulfilment, change management, configuration management, knowledge management, problem management.

Jira Service Desk appeared in 2013 as a Jira extension. This ticket-tracking system is built on the Jira engine in order to connect IT and service teams with ITIL processes for request, incident, problem, and change management.

In 2016 Jira Service Desk got PinkVERIFY™ certification and ISS Bronze ITIL certifications for the following processes: request fulfillment, incident management, problem management, change management. The pre-built workflows are quite simple, so any business can set up a service desk based on ITIL framework and then customize it to their specific requirements.

The Best Offer and Costs to Spend

When you buy a service desk platform, it is only half of the solution for your business needs. There are also additional expenses (time, money or both) on it usage optimization. You will want to get the most of the purchased solution from the very beginning. Also, make sure to allocate some budget for add-ons: both ServiceNow and Jira Service Desk offer a lot of extra plugins and modules to expand the out-of-the-box functionality.

ServiceNow provides a free trial and is subscription based. There is only a cloud version of the platform available. The license fee goes up starting from $100 per agent/month. It depends on the number of users, but there is a volume discount available.

Important: if you have fewer than 35 agents, you need a partner-delivered solution. In case your company doesn’t have in-house developers, you might need third-party assistance to manage software implementation.

ServiceNow typical customers are mid-sized businesses and enterprises.

Jira Service Desk provides a 7 days free trial (which can be extended upon request) and a subscription model with a license fee that starts from $10 agent/month. The cloud version is priced as follows:

  • 10 agents team - $20 user/month
  • 50 agents team - $16.5 user/month
  • 100 agents team - $15.75 user/month

And an on-premise version requires a one time payment:

  • 10 agents team - $3.000
  • 50 agents team - $12.000
  • 100 agents team - $45.000

The license fee is based on the number of service desk operators - agents. The number of customers is unlimited, and they have access only to the customer portal. Jira Core users and Jira Software users also don’t count but have access to the customer portal, can view the project level, create, view and comment issues internally.

Jira Service Desk is typically used by SMBs and enterprises.

Features & Capabilities

A. User Interface and Learning Curve

The front end of ServiceNow has an enterprise look and feel to it and is ITIL focused, that’s why some users may find it less accessible and intuitive.

Atlassian customers will feel at home with Jira Service Desk in the admin console. At the same time, Jira UI will be intuitive enough to grasp it fast for new users as well.

So, looks like Jira Service Desk is designed for IT professionals working for various types of businesses. Its learning curve is less steep in comparison to the ServiceNow.

B. Platform Support for Customers

ServiceNow provides its clients with a community portal and product documentation.

Jira Service Desk offers a developer portal and a community website.

C. Implementation Period

It’s interesting that an average industry software implementation time is 3.3 months. According to the G2Crowd Service Desk Implementation Index Report, ServiceNow has 4.5 months average implementation time, and Jira Service Desk takes 1.2 months to set up.

D. API and Integrations

In the comparison of ServiceNow vs. Jira Service Desk, both solutions feature a well-documented API for building add-ons and developing integrations with other apps.

Concerning integrations, ServiceNow has a number of custom-built integrations. As to Jira Service Desk, in the Atlassian Marketplace you can find over 600 apps that can be installed in a few clicks without any coding.

E. Platform Updates

Unlike ServiceNow customers, Jira Service Desk clients enjoy migration-free updates and can save their time, effort and money to enjoy the latest version of their software.

ServiceNow as an Enterprise High-Productivity App

ServiceNow joined the leaders of the Gartner Magic Quadrant in 2018. Being an ITSM SaaS platform, ServiceNow has gathered all of its services within a single Now Platform. It focuses on everything from workflow and integration to app support. As ServiceNow targets B2B and B2E, you can request to make it available on-premise. This service desk invests heavily in such features as chatbots, AI and mobile.


Apart from the workflow and integration capabilities, ServiceNow offers separate visual development environments for no-code and low-code development. Its automated testing frameworks and security testing dashboards keep advancing in the spheres of mobile, user experience, and chatbots.

ServiceNow has a lot of partners, 250 of which contribute to its accelerator programs for apps, components and integrations. These programs are ServiceNow Store for both free and paid add-ons and ServiceNow Share for developers interaction.

Another innovation of ServiceNow is they don’t charge for platform usage during the process of app development.


In the core of ServiceNow, there is a shared hardware multitenancy with dedicated software stacks. However, you can use subtenancy features in your instance. Yet that may increase the cost of ServiceNow and lead to additional fees or an increased subscription fee.

Be ready to pay for real-time event processing and time-series event correlation through Event Management and Operational Intelligence extensions and MetricBase time-series database. A business model of ServiceNow includes such a feature.

The mobile capabilities of ServiceNow don’t include offline modes. In addition, the platform doesn’t support external DevOps tools, and according to customers, it is rather difficult to deploy.

According to a Gartner customer survey, ServiceNow is named a high-control but not a high-productivity app. Within this analysis, a smaller (than average) number of developers are citizen or departmental developers. Along with the evaluation of the user experience as a requested improvement, ServiceNow scored lower than average for repurchase.

As it turns out, the price is no guide to quality. The advantages ServiceNow offers might be not enough for the expenses and possible extra charges.

The Value of Jira Service Desk as an ITSM Platform

If you’ve decided to implement Jira Service Desk, get ready to enjoy the benefits: lower ITSM expenses, reduced complexity, and improved collaboration in your teams.

Reasonable Pricing

Service desk managers have a lot of tasks to fix and user scenarios to support and all of this with decreasing budgets. How about reducing ITSM costs with Jira Service Desk? According to ESG Economic Value Validation report, in comparison with other platforms, Jira customers save up to 80% of costs. Atlassian’s Jira Service Desk has a transparent pricing model without any hidden fees or expiring discounts.

Less Complexity, More Value

Operational costs and reduced complexity are connected. Along with the reduced deployment time, Jira Service Desk allows its customers to save the ticket resolution costs.

Take a look at this example - opening and resolution of a level 1 ticket costs on average $24. If this ticket is escalated to level 2 or 3, the costs, naturally, go up. On the other hand, if the issue is shifted to a self-help portal, it costs on average $2 to resolve. So, ESG has figured out that Jira customers managed to shift 45% of their tickets tagged level 1 to the self-service portal. Impressive savings - an average of $22 per ticket. After migration to Jira Service Desk, users report a reduction in the number of service tickets.

The Same Platform, the Same Language

All businesses aim to improve the dev and IT collaboration. Sharing a single Jira platform, Jira Service Desk and Jira software have similar UIs and APIs, so the teams work faster, and there is no steep learning curve.

Besides, the flexible “foundation” allows applying extensive customization to the software. Jira is a scalable solution and works great for a team of 10, at the same time being able to scale to 300 users easily. Jira programming environment is substantial, so if your team works with Jira software, they will easily extend the Service Desk precisely to accommodate your organization’s needs.

In case you need more proofs, check ESG Economic Value Validation Analyzing the Economic Benefits of Atlassian’s Jira Service Desk By Brian Garrett in 2018. You can get a full report here.

The Reverse Side of Jira Service Desk

The ESG report paints an almost flawless picture of Jira Service Desk, but nothing’s perfect. After analyzing user reviews from G2 Crowd, IT Service Station, GetApp, and Capterra, we have put together a list of Jira Service Desk shortcomings.

  • The platform has little relation to customers, and you need to search the marketplace for add-ons to make it a customer-facing system.
  • Large organization (more than 2000 users) cannot enjoy SaaS version as it is limited for under 2000 users.
  • The search may be tricky sometimes. And after migration, it is rather hard to find old documents.
  • The Story issue takes more time to fill in as there are more required fields.
  • Jira Service Desk doesn’t embed a knowledge base, and portal customization may turn out a bit challenging.
  • Alerts management tends to be complicated and can lead to spamming a work email with alerts.

Final Recap

The choice of a platform for service and support is a complex task. On the one hand, it is important to pick a feature-rich solution, on the other hand - to minimize the impact on users and IT routine. So, ask yourself - do you need a platform with lots of features that add complexity and cost a fortune? Or you are determined to focus on solving regular tasks and using essential tools to fix them?

The choice is yours

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