How to Trigger a Flow – 6 Ways to Run a Flow

Okta Workflows how-to guides are questions and answers from weekly community office hours, MacAdmins Workflows Slack channel, and other places. Read all previous how-to guides

On to the question. 

How do you trigger a flow?

There are six ways to trigger a flow. They are:

  • Schedule (flow runs periodically)
  • Event (flow is called when a particular event is fired)
  • Manual (clicking the Test button)
  • API endpoint (another system invokes a flow via an API endpoint)
  • Helper flow (flow calling another flow)
  • Delegated flow (let someone else in your organization invoke it)

Schedule (flow runs periodically)

A flow can be scheduled to run periodically. For example, you can schedule a flow to run every hour, every day or once a week (there are other options also).

To schedule a flow, add the Schedule event:

Events to trigger a flow

To configure the schedule, click the 🕔 in the bottom of the card:

A flow that runs on schedule

Options to configure when to run a flow:

Flow schedule options

Event (flow is called when a particular event is fired)

Another way to trigger a flow is when a particular event occurs in an organization. For example, this flow will run when a user is added to a group:

Trigger a flow when a user is added to a group

Every connector supports different events:

Events available from the Okta connector

Manual (clicking the Test button)

If you have a flow that needs to run manually, infrequently or just once, use the Test button to trigger a flow. Even though it says Test, it’s a perfectly fine way to run a flow.

Running a flow via the Test button

When manually running a flow you don’t need to have an event card set (1st card).

As API endpoint (another system invokes a flow via an API endpoint)

It is possible to trigger a flow from an external system via an API endpoint. For example, an event occurs in an external system which in turn makes a call to an API endpoint which triggers a flow.

To trigger a flow via an API endpoint, use the API Endpoint event card:

Triggered a flow via an API endpoint

The API endpoint information is available by clicking the </> icon at the bottom of the card.

API endpoint settings

To test an API endpoint use a service such as Postman.

Helper flow (flow calling another flow)

A helper flow is a flow that is called from another flow. A helper flow is usually used when there is a list of objects (users, groups, etc.) and you need to iterate over each item in a list to perform an action.

In this example, a flow named Check last login will be called for each user found via List Users with Search card:

Calling a helper flow

Helper flow is called for each item in a list:

Helper flow

A flow becomes a helper flow when using On Demand – Helper Flow event card:

Flow trigger event cards

Flow chart view of the main flow and helper flow:

Main flow and helper flow

Delegated Flow (let someone else in your organization invoke it)

Delegated Flow is when you delegate to another user to run a flow. That person might not be an administrator but needs to be able to trigger a particular flow.

To make a delegated flow, add Delegated Flow event card:

Note: as of this writing Delegated Flow is an Early Access feature.

Delegated flow event card

A delegated flow event card can define one or more inputs. In the screenshot below the flow has two inputs: Name and ID.

Delegated flow

Flow execution is delegated to another user within an organization. In the screenshot below, the user can run this flow:

A flow delegated to a user to run

When Stella invokes the flow, Stella will need to enter flow inputs:

Delegated flow inputs

Looking at flow history after Stella triggered the flow:

Delegated flow history

In this How-To Guide you learned six different ways to trigger flow. Here are a few more resources to help you learn about Workflows:

📺 Short how-to Workflows videos to help you become a better automation builder.

🔮 A collection of helpful Workflows tips.

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