Discover What’s New in ServiceNow HR Service Delivery (HRSD)- Playbooks

07 Feb, 2021

In business terms, a playbook is defined as- A plan which consists of process workflows, standard operating procedures that outline a consistent response. It reflects an approach defining predetermined responses to a given business process well ahead in time.

Imagine a scenario, an HR professional from the onboarding team (using HR Agent workspace) is performing the daily activities of onboarding new hires into the organization. HRSD dictates onboarding process will have multiple activity sets like Preboarding, Day 1, Day 30, Day 90 “milestones” and corresponding activities to complete these milestones. Putting this time-consuming activity into just 3 lines in a blog is really undermining the time, cost, and business value sensitivity of doing things correctly and at the correct time.

Elaborating the same example, a little further consider the major milestones in onboarding a new hire:

Infographic 1: Example of onboarding steps in an organization


  • Prioritize your teams’ work
  • View progress of activities across different departments
  • Having a central repository of all SoPs and forms
  • View all completed activities
  • Next activities in scope

Wouldn’t it be great to have a single pane solution that an employee can use to see the workflow of associated tasks and steps to resolve/complete it? Here, I would like to introduce “PLAYBOOKS” from ServiceNow. A playbook takes a workflow and breaks it into multiple stages. Each stage includes:

  • A list of activities or steps that the agent needs to perform.
  • Status indicators that display the current state of each activity or step.
  • Check-boxes and counters that indicate where an agent is in the workflow.

As an HRSD consultant, you would think this concept is familiar, taking a workflow and then breaking it down into activity and activity set… This is a LIFECYCLE EVENT!! And you would be spot on! Playbooks can be created using the Process Automation Designer platform feature, a similar feature available in HRSD under Lifecycle events. The only catch here is to integrate this playbook into the HR Agent workspace so that we get a single pane, one-stop solution, I was talking about earlier. The playbook can have multiple activity sets in a lifecycle event case that also contains multiple activities, being able to view all aspects. Using an accordion button, the HR agent can expand, or collapse activity sets to view the activities within. Within an activity set, tasks are displayed with details like state, owners, and can act.

The below screenshot looks at the basic structure of a playbook. It resides in the HR Agent Workspace as a TAB on the Life Cycle Event case. This TAB is visible only once the LE case is Ready or WIP. It gives detailed insights on the Lifecycle Event, Activity Set and Activities:

Screenshot 1: Playbook screen (Source: ServiceNow Product Documentation)

Features of Playbook are:

  1. The Assigned agents can log their comments and work logs into the playbook activities
  2. Check and work on the HR case/task on the same windowpane
  3. Manage and/or Refer to the help aids, training videos, and catalog items in the same playbook activity stream
  4. Cancel and revert work done in a lifecycle event case

By the way! Do not like the Out of box (OOB) default playbook experience? NO PROBLEM! Service now is here with its customized HR Playbook Experiences. This is a really great feature to tweak and customize these documents based on your organization’s needs! These are as simple as changing a few configurations and setting up activity overrides so that the final playbook will look different from what OOB pre-configured playbooks.

Infographic 2: Components of HR Playbook Experience

To conclude, playbook is a powerful feature introduced by Service Now to apply their motto “WORKFLOW IT”! It aids the users to complete complex multi-team, multi-process tasks by providing step by step guidance and integrates it with HR Lifecycle event cases to manage the life cycle of specific customer process requirements.

P.S: I mentioned HR Agent workspace a lot in this blog. This is also a great feature introduced for the HRSD module in the Paris release, but discussion on that is for another day! 😊

About The Author:

Manas Chafekar is a Senior Consultant at Alcor Solutions, Inc. with 9 years of IT experience. He has extensive knowledge of ITSM, HRSD, FSM, ITIL- Service Operations and Continuous Service improvements.

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