ServiceNow JIRA Integration: 6 Easy Steps

on Data Integration, Jira, Project Management Tool, ServiceNow, technical management tool, Tutorials • November 17th, 2021 • Write for Hevo

servicenow jira: featured image

Teams using Jira and ServiceNow will collect and organize large amounts of data. Much of this data is useful to other teams. If you have two teams using these platforms separately, connecting them can benefit everybody. 

ServiceNow JIRA Integration allows you to share data automatically, and also control exactly how the data exchange takes place. You don’t have to go to the trouble of manually collating it and sending it to the other team.

This article gives a step-by-step guide on setting up ServiceNow JIRA Integration.

Table of Contents

What is ServiceNow?

ServiceNow JIRA: servicenow logo
Image Source: upload.wikimedia.org

ServiceNow is a cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) company that provides tools for technical management support. The company specializes in IT services management, IT operations management, and IT business management, allowing users to manage projects, teams, and customer interactions via a variety of apps and plugins under a single platform.

ServiceNow can integrate with other tools easily. ServiceNow also provides an app store of tool offerings from third parties.

Key Features of ServiceNow

  • Ease of customization
  • Better Support to your customers with low maintenance cost
  • Real-time analysis and reporting
  • Data confidentiality and integrity
  • Improved operational tracking
  • On-demand IT Service Management
  • Instance-based implementation
  • Low configuration requirement to quickly run within an enterprise

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What is JIRA?

ServiceNow JIRA: JIRA logo

Image Source: gstatic.com

Jira is a software application used for issue tracking and project management. The tool, developed by the Australian software company Atlassian, has become widely used by agile development teams to track bugs, stories, epics, and other tasks.

Use case of JIRA

As it grew in popularity, and as the agile development methodology became more widely used by software companies, Atlassian expanded the Jira platform to offer services to different types of teams. Today, it offers a number of internal products, including:

Jira Core

This is the platform’s basic project-management tool, designed for non-technical teams. Departments such as HR, marketing, finance, and operations use the Core tool for change requests, workflow approvals, and general task management.

Jira Software

This is the version designed for software development teams. Jira Software offers all of Core’s features but also includes agile functionality. Software teams use this tool for bug tracking, managing basic software-development tasks, and product management.

Jira Service Desk

This is an add-on developed for IT teams. Call center managers, helpdesk agents, and other support professionals use Jira Service Desk for issue ticketing, incident management, and change management.

Servicenow Jira Integration

The ServiceNow JIRA integration allows for seamless transfer of data between ServiceNow and JIRA platforms

let’s start by installing Exalate on both platforms, and then set up ServiceNow JIRA Integration. 

Step 1: Install Exalate on Jira

  • First of all, install Exalate on Jira. There are different versions of Jira and the process is slightly different for each of them. There’s Jira Cloud and Jira on-premise for enterprise users. 
  • In the top right of the screen, click the cog to open the Jira Administration menu. Click “Add-ons”. Make sure you’re in the “Find new apps” section. If you’re not there, select it from the left-hand menu.
  • Click on the text field that says “Search the Marketplace”. Type “Exalate” and press the “Enter” key. You’ll see several versions of Exalate appear. Choose “Exalate Jira Issue Sync & More”.
ServiceNow JIRA: Exalate app on marketplace
Image source: exalate.com
  • On the app screen, click “Try it free”. On the next pop up click “Start a free trial”.
ServiceNow JIRA: free trial of exalate
Image source: exalate.com
  • Next, click the “Get started” button. Exalate is now installed on Jira, so head over to ServiceNow for the next step.

Step 2: Install Exalate on ServiceNow

ServiceNow JIRA: get exalate for servicenow
Image Source: lh5.googleusercontent.com
  • Click on the ServiceNow logo. A pop-up will appear. Enter your name and other details in the form, then click the green “Submit” button. After a short wait, you’ll get an email with your node URL.
ServiceNow JIRA: download the xml file for a jira servicenow sync
Image Source: lh4.googleusercontent.com
  • You also need to download an XML file that contains the information ServiceNow needs to access your Exalate node. 
  • Now, log in to your ServiceNow account. In the left-hand menu, look for “System Update Sets”. You can search for it by typing it into the “Filter navigator” search field. Click the “System Update Sets” entry to expand it, and then click “Retrieved Update Sets”.
ServiceNow JIRA: exalate for servicenow
Image Source: lh3.googleusercontent.com
  • On this screen, look under the “Related Links” heading and click the text that says, “Import Update Set from XML”.
ServiceNow JIRA: upload the xml file to servicenow
Image Source:lh5.googleusercontent.com
  • On the next screen, click the “Choose File” button and then navigate to the XML file you downloaded earlier. After selecting it, click the “Upload” button.
  • Once the XML file uploads, you’ll see it listed. Click on it, followed by the “Preview Update Set”. You might need to do an update, so if asked to do so, click “Accept remote update”.
  • Next, you need to click “Commit Update Set” to finish the ServiceNow installation. Exalate is now ready on Jira and ServiceNow. From here, you can set up a ServiceNow JIRA connection between the platforms.

Step 3: Connect your Jira and ServiceNow Instances

  • To create the ServiceNow JIRA connection, you initiate it from either Jira or ServiceNow and then accept it at the other end. In this walkthrough, I’ll start with Jira, but you can use either one. One of the advantages of Exalate is that things work the same way, regardless of which platform you use.
  • Log in to Jira, then click the cog in the top-right and select “Add ons”.
  • Click “Connections” in the left-hand menu under the “Exalate” heading. If you’ve set any ServiceNow JIRA connections up before, you’ll see them listed here. To create your new ServiceNow JIRA connection, click the green “Initiate connection” button.
ServiceNow JIRA: connect jira and servicenow
Image Source: exalate.com
  • On the next screen, enter the URL of the other instance. In my case, I’m creating the ServiceNow JIRA connection in Jira, so I enter the ServiceNow instance URL here. Exalate will check the address you enter to make sure it can find an Exalate installation there.
ServiceNow JIRA: configuration modes in integration
Image source: exalate.com
  • After a brief pause, more fields will appear. You will be prompted to select the configuration type.

Continue with the Basic Mode

  • After you click “Next” on the screen shown above you need to select the project in Jira where you want to create and synchronize issues received from the other side. Select the correct one from the drop-down list.
ServiceNow JIRA: select project for integration
Image Source: exalate.com
  • You need to now verify if you have admin access to the ServiceNow side. Click “Yes, I have admin access” if you have it otherwise click “No, I don’t have admin access” and follow these steps.
ServiceNow JIRA: verify admin access for integration
Image Source: exalate.com
  • After Exalate performs a quick verification you will be redirected to the ServiceNow side. The ServiceNow JIRA connection in Basic mode has been successfully established and you can now proceed to synchronization.
  • In the Basic mode, synchronization can happen by directly entering the Incident key on the ServiceNow side or the issue key on the Jira side as shown below. You can also choose to create automatic synchronization triggers in this mode that allow Jira and ServiceNow entities to sync after the trigger condition given is met. You can also choose to synchronize existing entities in bulk using the “Bulk Connect” option.
ServiceNow JIRA: The Incident number for synchronization
Image Source: exalate.com
  • After you click Exalate, wait for some time for the synchronization to be successful. A successful synchronization looks like this. You can also click on the Incident and the issue links generated.
ServiceNow JIRA: ServiceNow and Jira integration
Image Source: exalate.com
  • This is all that you need to know about the Basic mode. As mentioned above to use the full functionality of Exalate you can upgrade to the Script mode anytime.

Continue with the Script Mode

  • After you select “Script” on the screen asking you to choose the configuration type click “Next”.
  • After that, you can name each side of the ServiceNow JIRA connection. It will use the names you enter to generate a connection name, but you can modify that if you prefer to call it something else.
ServiceNow JIRA: Initiate a Jira ServiceNow connection
Image Source: exalate.com
  • You can also enter a description for the ServiceNow JIRA connection. Doing so is very useful. When you or someone else looks at it in the future, they may not know what it is for, so if you explain it here it can save time later. It’s also helpful to enter some information here if you have multiple ServiceNow JIRA connections, as you can easily lose track of what they all do. Click “Next” once you are done.
  • Now, you need to select a project to use for this ServiceNow JIRA integration. Entities coming from the ServiceNow side of the ServiceNow JIRA connection will be created within Jira in the project that you select.
  • When you’ve picked a project from the drop-down box, click the “Initiate” button.
ServiceNow JIRA: Initiate a Jira ServiceNow connection
Image Source: exalate.com
  • When you click “Initiate”, Exalate will generate an invitation code. Click the “Copy invitation code” button. The code will be copied to your clipboard. It is best to paste it somewhere safe, such as a text file, at this point.
  • Click the “Go to remote” button when you’ve finished and you will be redirected to the ServiceNow side. In case, you don’t want to do that, simply close the window and switch over to ServiceNow.
  • Once you’ve logged in, look for Exalate in the left-hand menu. Type “Exalate” into the search box at the top if you have trouble finding it. Select “Exalate Console” and login if it’s the first time you’re using it.
ServiceNow JIRA: Exalate console for ServiceNow
Image Source: exalate.com
  • Click “Connections” in Exalate’s left-hand menu. Then click on the white “Accept invitation” button. On the screen that appears, paste in the code you generated in Jira. I hope you copied it down somewhere! Click “Next” when you’re done.
ServiceNow JIRA: accept invitation
Image Source: lh4.googleusercontent.com
  • After clicking “Next”, your ServiceNow JIRA connection will be successfully established. You can now choose to configure your ServiceNow JIRA connection by clicking the “Configure Sync” button or simply close the window and choose to configure it later as shown in step 4.
ServiceNow JIRA: Jira and ServiceNow integration
Image Source: exalate.com

Step 4: Configure Your Connection

  • Now the ServiceNow JIRA connection is ready, you can tune it to share exactly what you want. This and the next step can be done in either Jira or ServiceNow. I’m using Jira here. 
  • In the Jira connections list, hover your mouse over the ServiceNow JIRA connection you just created. Click the square icon to edit it. 
ServiceNow JIRA: edit jira snow connection
Image Source: lh6.googleusercontent.com
  • Other icons here let you activate or delete the ServiceNow JIRA connection, as well as generate a new invitation if the ServiceNow JIRA connection is still pending. You can also visit the remote side of the connection.
  • I’ll cover the rules tab here. And in the next step, I’ll look at the triggers. There is also a statistics page, where you can see how many issues are being synced. This is likely to be zero at this stage. There’s also an info tab that shows some details about your ServiceNow JIRA connection, including the other instance URL.
  • On the rules tab, you can see lists of outgoing and incoming sync rules. These rules determine how information is matched from one item to another. In Jira, the outgoing rules show us how item attributes in Jira are mapped to ServiceNow items that they are copied to. The incoming rules show us how ServiceNow item attributes are mapped onto Jira items.
  • The rules are written in the ‘Groovy’ scripting language. Here’s a general guide to how it works.
ServiceNow JIRA: Outgoing and incoming sync rules in integration
Image SOurce: exalate.com
  • By default, fields are mapped to identical or equivalent fields. That makes sense as a starting point, but it isn’t always what you want. Sometimes, you may only want some of the fields shared. Some data might be private to one team, or it might be irrelevant to the other. Customer service teams might not want to know about the technical data, 
  • You can give specific values to fields, so instead of copying the labels over, you could replace them with a label that says “from ServiceNow”. To do that change the incoming sync rule line: issue.labels = replica.labels to issue.labels = “from ServiceNow”
  • You could change the assignee so that a specific person deals with issues synced from the other side of the connection. To do that add an incoming rule that says: issue.assignee = “Rachel”
  • The incoming sync rules don’t have as many mappings as the outgoing ones. The outgoing rules just define what is made available to the other side of the connection. The incoming rules set what is actually mapped onto the matching items.
  • There are also some advanced helper functions for managing groups of items, like comments. You can read more about those in this script helpers guide.
  • You’ll also see comments in the code. These have // at the start of single lines, or /* and */ for multiple line comments. Comments are notes that are there to provide information. You can add or remove these as you need to let you know exactly what any rules are for. You can also use a comment to temporarily disable a line of code you might want to reuse later.
  • Adjusting the sync rules might seem tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it gives you a huge level of control over what you share. Take a look, try to figure out the basics, and build up your knowledge from there. If you get stuck, the documentation and Exalate support are both there to help you.

Step 5: Set Up Automated Synchronization Triggers

  • Now that your ServiceNow JIRA connection is sharing what you want, you can make sure it shares information at the correct time. Triggers set the conditions for synchronization. 
  • There are two ways we can create and edit triggers. Both of these can be done in Jira or ServiceNow. This guide uses Jira.
ServiceNow JIRA: servicenow jira connection triggers
Image Source: lh6.googleusercontent.com
  • Firstly, in the same edit ServiceNow JIRA connection screen used in the previous step, click the “Triggers” tab. If there are any existing triggers, they will be listed here, but the first time you use them, they will be blank. Click the “Create trigger” button to get started.
  • On the “Add trigger” pop-up that appears, there are several fields you can interact with. The entity type drop-down at the top, lets you select the kind of entity that this trigger will apply to. 
  • The entity selection will differ from platform to platform. In Jira, we can select “issues” or “sprints”. In this example, “issues” are selected. 
ServiceNow JIRA: add sync triggers
Image Source: h3.googleusercontent.com
  • In the next box, with “If” above it, we set the conditions that cause the trigger to activate. In Jira, triggers are written using the JQL query language. You can read more about that here. The query can refer to any of the fields that entities contain. Have a look at the sync rules in the last step to see a list of these.
  • Under the query area is a field where you can make notes. You can enter whatever you like here, but as with ServiceNow JIRA connections, it is a good idea to explain what you are doing and why you are doing it. This will help you and others when you look at the trigger later.
  • At the bottom is the “Active” switch. You need to activate the trigger to make it work. This also gives you a quick way to turn triggers on and off when you need them.
ServiceNow JIRA: activate a jira snow sync trigger
Image Source: h3.googleusercontent.com
  • Once you’ve filled everything out, click “Add” to create the trigger. You’ll now see it listed and available for editing or deletion.
  • You can also view triggers by clicking “Triggers” from the left-hand menu, under the “Exalate” heading. This shows you all the triggers for all your ServiceNow JIRA connections. From the list, you can activate or deactivate them, as well as edit, delete, “Bulk Exalate” and “Bulk Unexalate” via the action button on the right of each entry. 
Create triggers for Jira issue sync
Image Source: exalate.com
  • To create triggers on this screen, click the “Create Trigger” button. If you do it like this, you’ll see a similar screen to the one above. The only difference is there will be a drop-down box to select the connection the trigger applies to.
  • Now that you can create triggers, you can get Exalate working on the entities you want to sync. You can add as many triggers as you like, and they are easy to activate and deactivate, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Step 6: Start Synchronizing Tasks

  • After following the above steps, your ServiceNow JIRA connection will start sharing tasks that match the conditions you have set. The ServiceNow JIRA connections list shows how many tasks are under sync, so you’ll be able to see when it starts working.
  • Synchronization isn’t instantaneous, it happens every few minutes, so don’t assume your connection isn’t working if issues don’t immediately update when you make a change.

Conclusion

This article gave a comprehensive overview of ServiceNow and JIRA. it also provided a step-by-step guide on setting up ServiceNow JIRA integration.

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