Action Based Service Automation – Setup (Part 2)

For the second part of this series, we’re going to focus on creating a new service in the ServiceNow service catalog and reviewing the core foundation we will use to create an action-based service.  Action-based services in ServiceNow are created in the same way you would create any service catalog item.

Rather than just discuss the steps theoretically, we will build a basic service.  The service will be a generalized I Need Help service that will allow the user to choose from a variety of options (Actions) to narrow down the type of help they need.  Depending on the option selected, the form will dynamically display fields to capture more specific data and will in turn route the ticket to an appropriate group for fulfillment.

The key things to focus on is that we will be creating a single service to handle multiple support requests.  This will allow the user to go to a single service and have the service guide them, rather than hoping they have selected the correct support service from a list of many and will be able to collect the specific information necessary for the fulfiller to complete the task without having to engage in a back-and-forth conversation with the user (thus elongating the fulfillment time)

Creating the Catalog Item


We begin by going to the Service Catalog menu in the ServiceNow console.  This menu provides a variety of functionality related to the Service Catalog, but the one we want to focus on is Maintain Items.  Selecting this option will display a list of existing catalog items and will also give us the option to create a new service catalog item.


Clicking the New button, will present a screen to capture details about the service.  Since we are creating an I Need Help service, we will begin by using that as the catalog item name.  We will also want to provide a short description and more detailed description.   Finally, there are several options we want to select.  These are:

  • No Quantity
  • No Cart
  • No proceed to checkout
  • Omit price in cart

The reason why we select these options is that, in this case, we are not “ordering” something per se, but rather making a request for some action to be taken.  Each of these options is focused on a shopping cart model which we do not need for this particular service offering.

When your done, your screen should look something like this:


Creating the Variables

Now that we have created the catalog item, our next step is the create the necessary variables.  The first variable we create will be the Action variable.  This is what gives our action-based service its name and provides the mechanism for the remainder of the functionality.  To create our variable, we select the New button from the variables section of the catalog item form.  This will present a screen to define the variable.


For this example, we are going to define the question choices directly in the variable.  Ideally, we will create a table that will allow us to make changes to the variable choices through configuration rather than requiring a development activity.  At this point, we’ll leave this to a future post to discuss.  In addition to setting the variable name (Action) and its type (Select Box), there are a few other options we want to set.  First, we want to fill in the question.  This tells the user what is expected of them when they view the form.  We also want the field to be mandatory and always visible.

I’d like to point one thing out at this time.  The example screen above shows a Visible on Summaries option.  By default, ServiceNow does not display the Visible on Summaries field on the variable form.  This field tells the summary formatter (used in approvals) to determine is a field should be displayed or not to the approver.  This is very useful if you have variables that are used for tracking or other purposes that are not relevant to an approver.  To add this option to the form, you can personalize your form layout.  This field is always set by default and we want it to remain that way for the Action field.

Finally, we add 3 options for our initial version of the service.  These allow a user to request a password reset, get help with an application that is not functioning correctly and make a generic help request for other types of help not specifically listed.

After we save our Action variable, our catalog item variable list should now look something like this:


At this point, it may not seem like we’ve done much, but we’ve laid the foundation to build upon to expand the functionality of our service.  To see what we’ve got so far, you can click on the Try It button on the catalog item screen.  You should see something similar to this:


In our next installment, we will build out the variables associated with the different actions and use catalog ui policies to help us dynamically build the screen displayed to the user based upon the action they selected.

Posted in Development, Service Catalog.