The short answer is: it depends. It depends on what you mean and what you are expecting.

If you compare NOW’s CMS to WordPress, it’s actually pretty close. Instead of Posts, you have Knowledge articles. They both have Pages. Where WordPress has Widgets, ServiceNow has Blocks. You don’t have the opportunity for “clean URLs” or restructuring your permalink settings within ServiceNow, but that’s usually just a marketing hang-up and can be defeated in other ways.

However, if you compare it to Adobe Experience Manager, you’ll notice a bit of diversion and it’s mainly in how the content is handled. At the core of ServiceNow is a world-class workflow engine which is at the heart of many enterprise CMS. The major difference I’ve found is version control along that workflow way. OOB this is not the way things are handled so you have to layer on your own custom code to make “versions”. Not the end of the world, but just something to note.

I’m also not a fan of the core process of handling documents. You basically attach documents (PDFs, Word docs, etc.) to Knowledge articles and then reference those from an article. Those who have been using a Digital Asset Manager or some central tool for wrangling documents (and thus controlling versions, editing, etc.) will find this as quite a limitation if the desire is to have everything within ServiceNow.

However, what you get with ServiceNow’s CMS could arguably be more powerful than some of the “big guys”.

Here are just a few things I would highlight:

  • Personalization. Everyone is logged in! You know their role, location, manager, group, whatever you want. This allows you to serve up menus, content, catalog items, documents, functions all based on what they’re allowed to see.
  • Access. The CMS is not some silo’d piece of functionality, it’s tied directly into the platform. Any data that you have in ServiceNow can be accessed and delivered.
  • Control. When it comes to managing your site, the content and code are in different places. Someone who just needs to manage the content can have access to your Knowledge base or Service Catalog and edit those items, directly impacting the front-end CMS without touching any critical code. Core pages, scripts, blocks, CSS, HTML can all be locked down to just your admin group to manage. Typically the admin work is done in other instances and then promoted up the stack once they pass testing.
  • Customization. In most enterprise platforms, the front-end experience is limited to specific layouts or “themes” you can modify very subtly to match certain branding requirements. With ServiceNow CMS you can create a fully custom layout utilizing responsive frameworks (i.e. Bootstrap) or even come up with specific layouts for specific sites/pages. These layout customizations are not impacted by upgrades since they are typically layers outside of core functionality.

Like any enterprise CMS effort, it takes time to do it right. Having a list of requirements and laying out expectations on the front end will save a lot of headache.

So is the ServiceNow CMS a “real” CMS? My answer is yes.

What say you?


With over a decade of experience, I have managed online marketing for a wide range of industries including biotech, high-tech, financial, higher education, non-profit, manufacturing, hardware providers, and startups. My specialty is helping business make the right turn with their online efforts focusing on lead generation and analytics.

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