Insights ServiceNow Flow Designer: Kick the code to the curb with easy-to-read rich process automation!

ServiceNow Flow Designer: Kick the code to the curb with easy-to-read rich process automation!

On the marketplace today are countless product suites that enable powerful automation capabilities. But, how many of those product suites can give the user a simple, easy-to-use designer to create those powerful workflows? Probably not many, but ServiceNow has delivered something to make all our lives easier. That’s right – I’m talking about Flow Designer within the ServiceNow platform!

This is a solution that provides so many options to interact with your CMDB as it now provides IntegrationHub functionality (separate subscription) to power other sectors of your business. Ever since Kingston, with multiple spokes ready to be activated… it’s no wonder why this is becoming coined the “Workflow 2.0” of the ServiceNow future.

See below for a peek at this marvelous new feature:

Now that we’ve seen a bit of Flow Designer, let’s talk about the internals of it. It’s made up of the following features:

  • Flows
    • If you’re new to this application, this is simply another means of enabling automated processes. As I mentioned earlier on, this method of automation is extremely versatile given that other spokes are ready to be activated for your third-party software to integrate with ServiceNow and leverage critical CMDB processes
  • Subflows
    • Think of this entity as a saved set of steps that act as a “function”, in the world of programming. This is the area where ServiceNow recommends employing the use of reusable actions and specific data points that will be called from other flows! This will be a key player when it comes to data governance and staying up-to-date from a process perspective
  • Flow Logic
    • This is where Flow Designer really shines. This is removing the programmer knowledge/background out of the administrator and enabling the business logic capabilities!
  • Actions
    • ServiceNow calls this entity an “operation” and custom actions can be created to narrow in on your business requirements. There are a lot of ServiceNow out-of-box actions handed to you for platform-level operations, and these are extremely helpful.
  • Steps
    • This is very intuitive. With every action added to the flow, you must configure the steps that are then executed to drive these automation processes. ServiceNow is starting to leverage something called the “pill picker” which is a way to bind an expected dataset to the input/output of an action or other pipeline
  • Spokes
    • This is an application that supports Flow Designer capabilities. There are a lot of ServiceNow Core features that can be used to create/update records, add an approval step, etc. On the “custom” side of things, there are third-party spokes that start leveraging the power of the ServiceNow platform either inbound or outbound to suites like Jenkins, DevOps, and many others.

Keep in touch with the architecture overview of this feature. It does a great job of speaking to the execution context and how it behaves during its lifecycle. For instance, it calls out that once the trigger condition is met or an API call triggers a flow – an event is created. This means that Flow Designer executes after process changes, which is critical to understand.

(Photo credit from ServiceNow’s architecture overview document referenced above)

Something else that I’m excited about is Inbound Actions are now supported through Flow Designer as an email trigger. This eliminates the need to parse emails with crazy complex code and build up everyone’s confidence with the “no code” strategy!

Keep an eye out for using this feature for many of your processes – it has a lot of promise for the future!

Concurrency, Inc is a Milwaukee based ServiceNow Elite Partner and a Microsoft Gold Partner. We are a consultation company that takes pride in our organizational change management approach which yields high customer success in seizing an organization’s desired business outcomes. If you have any consultation requests or would just like to chat – please feel free to reach out to