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Flow Designer

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Flow Designer

Flow Designer is a Now Platform® feature that enables rich process automation capabilities in a consolidated design environment. It enables process owners to use natural language to automate approvals, tasks, notifications, and record operations without having to code.

You can expand the Flow Designer solution to integrate with external instances and third-party applications with a separate subscription to IntegrationHub.

Watch this seven-minute video to learn how to create and test a flow in the Flow Designer.

This 24-minute podcast includes a discussion of the Flow Designer, how it helps to create automated work flows, and how it relates to other ServiceNow tools. Podcast discussion of creating automated flows Flow Designer, Flow Designer vs. Workflow, and IntegrationHub

Benefits

Flow Designer provides process owners and developers these benefits.
  • Consolidates multiple Now Platform automation capabilities into a single environment so process owners and developers can build and visualize business processes from a single interface. Includes flows and actions triggered by Service Catalog events. See Create a flow with a Service Catalog trigger.
  • Consolidates configuration and runtime information into a single environment so process owners and developers can create, operate, and troubleshoot flows from a single interface.
  • Provides natural-language-descriptions of flow logic to help non-technical users understand triggers, actions, inputs, and outputs.
  • Promotes process automation by enabling subject matter experts to develop and share reusable actions with flow designers.
  • Reduces upgrade costs, with upgrade-safe Now Platform® logic replacing complex custom script.
  • Reduces development costs by providing a library of reusable actions.
  • Allows extending Flow Designer content by subscribing to IntegrationHub or installing spokes.

Interactions with existing automation processes

While learning Flow Designer, make sure that you understand how existing Now Platform automation processes such as business rules and workflows change records to avoid creating conflicting logic. See the Architecture Overview to understand how Flow Designer works within the Now Platform. If you are replacing an existing automation process, you may need to deactivate it before replacing it with Flow Designer flows and actions.

Flow Designer content

Flow Designer consists of the following content types.

Flows
A flow is an automated process consisting of a sequence of actions and a trigger. Flows automate business logic for a particular application or process. For example, the VTB Sample Flow creates and assigns a VTB card whenever a priority 1 incident is created. Flows require some familiarity with the Now Platform tables and fields the application or process uses. Process analysts can create flows using available actions or copy an existing flow to use it as a template. You can add application-specific flows by activating the associated spoke.
Subflow
A subflow is an automated process consisting of a sequence of reusable actions and specific data inputs that allow it to be started from a flow, subflow, or script. Subflows automate generic business logic that can be applied to multiple applications or processes. For example, you could create a subflow to notify users of record changes. Subflows require some familiarity with the Now Platform tables and fields the application or process uses. Process analysts can create subflows using available actions or use an existing flow as a template.
Actions
An action is a reusable operation that enables process analysts to automate Now Platform features without having to write code. For example, the Create Record action allows process analysts to generate records in a particular table with particular values when certain conditions occur. Core actions like Create Record require some familiarity with Now Platform tables and fields. Action designers can create application-specific actions to pre-set configuration details. For example, creating a Create Incident Task action ensures that the process analyst uses the correct table and field configuration each time the action is used. You can add application-specific actions by activating the associated spoke.
Core actions
A core action is a ServiceNow-provided action available to any flow that cannot be viewed or edited from the Action Designer design environment. For example, the Ask for Approval action is a core action that allows process analysts to use Now Platform approvals. Flow Designer provides a set of core actions to automate Now Platform processes. You can add application-specific core actions by activating the associated spoke.
Action steps
An action step or step is a single reusable operation within an action. For example, the Create Record step allows action designers to specify the table and field values to use during record creation. Action steps require subject matter expertise with application tables, fields, and business logic. Application developers or IT generalists add action steps to actions from the Action Designer design environment. Flow Designer provides a set of core action steps to automate Now Platform processes. You can add application-specific action steps by activating the associated spoke.
Spokes
A spoke is a scoped application containing Flow Designer content dedicated to a particular application or record type. For example, the ITSM Spoke contains actions for managing Task records such as the Create Task action. Spokes are activated when their parent application is activated. For example, the ITSM Spoke is activated when the Incident, Problem, and Change applications are activated. Creating a spoke requires familiarity with application development as developers must add Flow Designer content to a scoped application. See Spokes for a list of available spokes.

Consolidated design and operation environment

The design environment consists of these components.

Landing page
Access or create flows, actions, or flow executions.
Flow Designer
Create and edit flows by defining a trigger and adding actions. Test flows to see if they complete successfully and to review the runtime values they generate. Activate flows to make them available for execution on your instance and to preserve their current actions, inputs, and sequence as a snapshot separate from further configuration changes.
Action Designer
Create and edit actions by defining inputs and adding action steps. Copy actions to use existing actions as templates. Publish actions to activate them, which makes them available to activated flows and to preserve their current action steps, variables, and sequence as a snapshot separate from further configuration changes.
Flow execution details
View runtime information about a flow directly from the design environment such as the current state, actions run, and values produced. Open related records from embedded Now Platform editors or in a new tab.
Operations dashboard
Identify and troubleshoot potential issues by reviewing flow executions, the event queue, and the operations dashboard.
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