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Flow with ServiceNow Orlando

Author by Bryan Schrippe

ServiceNow is about to release Orlando, and if you have not gotten a chance to look at the release notes, I urge you to click here to see a full list of everything that’s coming. There is an exponential amount of enhancements to almost every module within the tool.What I would like to do is take a moment and talk about a few of the enhancements I find particularly interesting within one module I find is the most powerful for clients and that is:

Flow Designer

If you are not familiar with flow designer, please read the flow designer primer, from a brilliant co-worker of mine Michael Dugan.  This will explain why this solution is so important for companies to adopt in this new age of automation.  ServiceNow has increased this functionality with a plethora of enhancements in Orlando.  Let’s look at what they have in store for their customers.


ServiceNow has developed FlowAPI, a suite of methods you can use with your script objects to essentially manipulate a flow right within a script object. This is powerful, as you can now use conditional programming to execute actions such as:

  • Cancel or Pause a running flow, subflow, or action.
  • Execute an action from a server-side script asynchronously.
  • Execute another flow.
  • Execute a subflow.
  • Set an output as encrypted.
  • Start an Action.
  • Start / Stop flows and subflows.

All of these are extremely powerful seeing that we can do this from a script action.  Think of the possibilities within code and using logic to start and stop flows based on an event you grab from a third-party system!

Create a flow with an SLA Task trigger

Now we can design flows that will initiate based on SLA percentages!  Ever wanted to execute a business process automatically when an SLA hits a specific threshold?  Well now you can with this added benefit to flow design.

Transform data pill values with transform functions

We can now use transform functions to do apply a variety of actions to data pill values.  Specific categories include:

  • Date and Time Transforms
  • String Transforms
  • Utility Functions
  • Simple Math Transforms
  • Sanitize Shell Transforms
  • Sanitize SQL & Complex Transforms

You can use these functions to transform the output from a given data pill into something manageable you can pass on to another action. Examples of this include.

  • Trimming white space from a string before integrating it into the CMDB.
  • Adding days, hours, minutes, and seconds to a date or time to localize for a specific time zone.
  • Sanitizing SQL values to prevent injection as part of a JDBC step for an IntegrationHub spoke.
  • Retrieving an appropriate value from a map of priorities that have equivalent values in a third-party database.
  • Transforming a complex object into raw XML as part of a REST step Request Body field.

Having the ability to transform data pills with these functions will save in the creation of flows and speed up processing as we won’t have to write custom code to achieve the same functionality.

Trigger a flow every time a record updates

We can now the flow trigger update type to have a flow start on any unique change to a record.  This can be useful for a variety of reasons, especially if you have business critical systems that you need to track.  If you are tracking events on a server for instance and see that system go down, you can park a flow on that record which can look for a state change and act.

You must specify when to run the flow and you can do that a few different ways.

  • For each unique change.
    • For each non system field you can trigger on each unique change given service now tracks each on a given record.
  • Once – This triggers the flow only once during the life of a record.
  • Only if not currently running – This setting will check if a flow is already executing and will not trigger a second time.
  • For every update – Triggers the flow for any update to the record.

Final Thoughts

ServiceNow is really giving us some impressive updates about flow in this patch.  I’m looking forward to trying these out for our clients.  Having the ability to run FlowAPI commands through script actions, Ability to trigger flows from SLA percentages, Data Pill transformation, and Triggering flows from an update.  These capabilities will not only enhance but speed up architecture and design.

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

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