• Luke Sorensen

Build Digital Capability with ServiceNow Flow Designer & IntegrationHub

At Knowledge 2020, CEO Bill McDermott touted ServiceNow as the "workflow workhorse" and the "Platform of Platforms". Translation, an end to end digital Platform that provides a world class workflow engine (aka Flow Designer), combined with powerful integration solutions (aka IntegrationHub).

ServiceNow IntegrationHub use cases

The real-world application of both technologies is best represented in this diagram from the ServiceNow Data Sheet.

In its simplest form, Flow Designer executes workflows to support efficient management, routing and automation of your data and processes.

Common integration use cases are pictured, further opening up an organisations ability to operate efficiently from end to end.

Spokes & Flows

No, this isn't the chorus of the Step Brothers parody music video (I'll leave that for you to Google). In short, a Flow is a sequence of actions to achieve an outcome. A low code solution to building business process automation. A flow is:

  • Triggered by a common event (e.g. a record insert, a catalog item request), that

  • Executes a sequence of Actions, to

  • Achieve a business outcome.

Actions are grouped into Spokes, a collection of common activities that can be added to a Flow. This is best represented by the screenshot below, showing common ServiceNow Actions and a list of installed Spokes.

To extend this capability to external systems, ServiceNow provide many out-of-the-box (OOB) Spokes and third party certified Spokes on the ServiceNow Store Integrations page. This list continues to grow, making ServiceNow a powerhouse when it comes to rapidly building an integrated digital capability.

Please note, some spokes require licence subscriptions.

ServiceNow Flow Designer Spokes example

Extending Capability with Actions

It wouldn't be ServiceNow if there wasn't an ability to extend the base functionality. To support this need, custom Actions can be developed using the Action Designer.

Ideally, an action should be re-usable across Flows and is made up of:

  • A set of input data for the Flow to pass into the Action,

  • A sequence of steps to execute when the Action is called,

  • A set of output data for the Action to pass back to the Flow (and subsequent Actions).

ServiceNow Flow Designer action steps example

With the exception of the Script step (highlighted), the screenshot to the left shows all of the core ServiceNow steps supported by Flow Designer.

Think of these as common building blocks. They allow an end-user to create a sequence of custom Steps very quickly without writing any code.

ServiceNow IntegrationHub action steps example

With an IntegrationHub licence there are additional Steps available (including the Script step above). These extend the Flow Designer so that it can operate as the backbone supporting a Digital Operating Model.

Chuck Norris Invented ServiceNow

....is the name of the example Flow created to provide a brief walkthrough of how Flow Designer and IntegrationHub hang together. The steps in the Flow are quite simple:

ServiceNow Flow Designer demo - example workflow

Automatically execute the Flow on a schedule. Other common Trigger examples include record creation or updates, submission of service catalog item requests and SLAs).

Make a REST API call from ServiceNow to the Internet Chuck Norris Database to get a randomly generated Chuck Norris joke.

Search for an Incident record in ServiceNow and update the work notes of the Incident with the Chuck Norris joke received.

In ServiceNow, this looks exactly like the following screenshot.

ServiceNow... when can we expect the "Chuck Norris Roundhouse Kick" trigger?

ServiceNow example workflow screenshot

You're probably asking what the Chuck Knows All action is all about. This is a custom Action (so it is re-usable in other Flows) and is made up of two steps - both of which are IntegrationHub steps.

Step One - REST

The first step is the equivalent of calling the following URL directly. In most real world scenarios, you would also have a re-usable set of credentials saved to authenticate with an API.


Note: Use with caution, the exclude Explicit filter is not a guarantee.

ServiceNow custom action step 1 - example REST API call

Step Two - Script

The second step is to a simple script that extracts the Chuck Norris joke from the API call and puts it into variables to be used outside of the action (in our case to pass it to the Incident).

ServiceNow custom action step 1 - example Script

The Chuck Norris Joke Flow

And it's a simple as that. Looking at the Incident record you can see work notes are being logged every 30 minutes with the Chuck Norris joke returned by the REST API.

We're here to help

ValueFlow is a registered DevOps and IT4IT training organisation, so you can be sure you're in safe hands when looking to design efficient workflows to support your integrated DevOps and digital enterprise capabilities.

Please reach out to us if you would like a deeper dive into how the Flow Designer and IntegrationHub can help you rapidly improve your end to end digital workflow.

We continuously deliver value through our ServiceNow projects and Managed Platform Service.

For more information, please click on the images below to download our brochures.

Upcoming Webinar & NowLearning Courses

If you'd like to learn more ServiceNow recently hosted a 2020 Update on the Flow Designer / Integration Hub. Or if you prefer to learn at your own pace, check out the IntegrationHub Fundamentals and Flow Designer Fundamentals courses on NowLearning.