Cost Management

Cost management tracks configuration item costs. The costs can be allocated to business units and used in reports.


  • Use rate cards to properly track configuration item, contract, task, and labor costs
  • Defining configuration item (CI) costs
  • Tracking one-time costs for CIs
  • Processing recurring CI costs to generate expense lines
  • Distributing bulk costs to multiple expense line sources
  • Tracking costs related to tasks and projects
  • Aggregating configuration item costs and charging the total cost to a business service or application
  • Allocating expense lines to business units with flexible allocation rules
  • Tracking planned and actual budget costs by cost center


Turn on the plugin "Cost Management" in your ServiceNow instance.  Not to be confused with Finance Service Management or Financial Management.  Those are completely different applications.  Kind of confusing I know!


Before you start gathering requirements for Cost Management, it is important to read up on all the tables and code that runs it.  There will likely be properties to adjust and slight business rule changes to make throughout the project.

Here you can read about the Cost Management Tables, properties, UI policies, business rules, and client scripts:

Rate Cards

There are four different types of rate cards in Cost Management.

CI Rate Card

A configuration item (CI) rate card is a group of recurring configuration item costs associated with multiple configuration items.

Setup of each of these rate cards involves:

  1. Creating a CI rate cards against CIs.  You can pick the CIs with a filter or manually.
  2. Establishing a rate card cost for those CIs

For example, you'll likely setup CI rate cards for certain types of servers or network equipment.  

You can tell how much an individual CI truly costs in terms of leases, purchases, and maintenance.  ServiceNow uses Expense Lines, to add up all those costs.  Also expense lines can be aggregated to apply all configuration item expenses to a parent business service or application with relationship paths.

CI Rate Card

Rate Card Cost

Contract Rate Card 

Capture operating costs by generating expense lines representing the cost of a contract.  Associate a contract to certain assets and costs of those assets are tied to the contract.

This is similar to a rate card cost, except the contract contains all the costs. Where as with a rate card cost the costs accumulate.

Contract Rate Card

Task Rate Cards

Task rate cards are templates used to define the type of task and the method of calculating the associated costs. They can help you determine the costs of a P1 incident or an emergency change for example.

There is two versions of Task Rate cards, a flat rate and "time worked" version of Task Rate Cards.

The Time Worked version uses the "Use Time Worked" checkbox.  That way users can add up all the time spent on an incident and ServiceNow will automatically multiply it by their labor rate card to find out how much that incident or change really cost.

Task Rate Card (Flat Rate)

Task Rate Card (Using Time Worked)

Labor Rate Cards

Labor rate cards are templates used to define worker's labor rates when calculating task cost based on time worked.  Uses a reference only rate code to align rates with an external system.

You will likely get labor rate cards from HR or Finance and will have to import them into the system.  They are somewhat secret, but are only approximations of labor costs.  Sometimes you match labor rate cards to a User's Title or Department, but usually Title.

Labor Rate Card

More information on how these rate cards work: Cost Sources

Using Distribution Costs and Rules

Distribution Costs are costs which can be divided among a group of records. For example, the cost of power at a datacenter which can be divided among the CIs in the datacenter. Distribution Rules determine how the Distribution Costs are divided among the CIs.

Distribution Cost Rule

Distribution Cost

Allocating Expenses

Expenses can also be allocated to a business entity that is responsible for the expense.

This is not considered charge-back or billing but could be used as a source for billing. The primary purpose of expense allocation is to represent the consumer of the process that has incurred some expense. This can be accomplished by defining expense allocation rules.

By using Expense Allocation Rules, you can distribute the costs to multiple departments, cost centers, or groups.


Customers sometimes ask me "Can ServiceNow make Budgets?"

Yes, but not as typically expected.  Budgets take all that you learned from Expense Allocations and drive up to a cost center.  It is more an automatic process, the only numbers you can punch in are dates and your planned costs.

This is often an more accurate depiction of what the costs were.  Although more difficult to float numbers around. :)