ServiceNow vs Salesforce: ITSM Tool Comparison

    ServiceNow and Salesforce are two common tools for IT service management (ITSM) needs. The biggest difference is that ServiceNow was built for the IT operations side of the business, whereas Salesforce was designed as a customer relationship management (CRM) product meant to serve sales and marketing departments. 

    Both options offer unique advantages and disadvantages, but neither is a one-size-fits-all solution. To determine which one is best for your business, keep your unique needs in mind while comparing the pros and cons of both ITSM tools.

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    ServiceNow vs. Salesforce: Features

    ServiceNow was specifically developed to help IT operations teams work more efficiently. As such, it has all the right features to create a single system of record and automate the service management process. Salesforce, on the other hand, was not developed for ITSM specifically, but it is one of the most versatile and flexible CRM tools on the market. Therefore, it can be customized to meet many ITSM needs while also prioritizing the sales pipeline.

    Salesforce features

    Salesforce’s ITSM product, called Service Cloud, is a popular cloud-based tool for service desk needs. It lacks many of the standard ITSM capabilities like asset management or change management, but it does offer a few powerful features at the intersection of ITSM and CRM. For example, the visual remote assistant feature allows service representatives to improve the troubleshooting experience. Additionally, the incident management feature uses artificial intelligence to identify patterns based on incoming cases, then provides high level information to help proactively address underlying issues.

    It’s worth noting that anything that cannot be accomplished by Service Cloud independently can likely be accomplished with a third-party integration. Because Salesforce is such a popular platform, most top software solutions seamlessly integrate with all Salesforce products, including Service Cloud. This has the benefit of being a more customizable solution. However, a dedicated ITSM feature will offer more of these features straight out of the box, so you won’t need to spend as much time fussing with configurations.

    ServiceNow features

    ServiceNow is a purpose-built ITSM product. In fact, it was our pick for the best overall ITSM software. It has a full suite of ITSM features, including discovery, service mapping, cloud management, and orchestration. Its operational intelligence capabilities use AI to automate incident management, change management, configuration management, and service desking processes. When all of these features work in unison, ServiceNow becomes an ITSM force to be reckoned with.

    ServiceNow is also a codeless solution, which means it doesn’t require as much configuration time as Salesforce does. It still takes some time to get it up and running, but compared to other solutions, it’s a relatively low-maintenance solution. Best of all, it integrates with other business-critical applications to provide a single system of record for all IT needs.

    ServiceNow vs. Salesforce: Implementation

    Both ServiceNow and Salesforce can take a long time to implement, though Salesforce often takes more time to configure and customize to meet the business’s needs. Both solutions also require a dedicated administrator to coordinate support needs and maximize the value of each platform — for the most part, they’re too advanced for average users without some degree of technical expertise. 

    It’s also important to point out that Salesforce implementation specifically requires a significant amount of strategy and planning. Without the right controls in place, the system can accrue a large amount of technical debt that can cause major headaches down the line. Having a strategy in place will ensure the business will be set up for success long-term, but it also means ServiceNow might be a better solution if you need something to get up and running more quickly.

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    ServiceNow vs. Salesforce: Pricing

    Another significant difference between ServiceNow and Salesforce is that Salesforce offers much more transparent pricing. There are four different Salesforce Service Cloud packages:


    ServiceNow, on the other hand, doesn’t disclose any of its pricing upfront. Each customer gets a customized price based on their feature and licensing needs. This means ServiceNow is somewhat more flexible than Salesforce, but more difficult to compare cost-wise while doing preliminary research. Most users report their monthly ServiceNow costs starting around $100, so Salesforce might be a more affordable option for less advanced needs.

    To compare these contenders with other ITSM software solutions, check out our list of Top ITSM Tools & Software.

    Kaiti Norton
    Kaiti Norton
    Kaiti Norton is a Nashville-based Content Writer for TechnologyAdvice, a full-service B2B media company. She is passionate about helping brands build genuine connections with their customers through relatable, research-based content. When she's not writing about technology, she's sharing her musings about fashion, cats, books, and skincare on her blog.

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