Parent Cases in ServiceNow

Parent Cases


Parent cases are cases that are linked to other cases which are called child cases. This linking can be useful for grouping, managing, and tracking cases more efficiently. ServiceNow treats parent-child relationships as one-way synchronization events where changes that are made to fields of a parent record get automatically copied down to all child cases (but not the other way around). The system has a defined set of these fields that, once updated, have their new values automatically copied down to the same field for the child cases. These fields include the case status field, comments, work notes, and priority. This allows agents to rapidly communicate changes to child cases simply by updating a specific field of the parent case. One example where this might be useful would be if you encountered a major incident along with many other smaller incident cases. The major incident could be set as a parent case to these incidents. Doing so would allow you to update, say, the status field of these individual cases all at once just by updating the parent.

Whenever a somebody changes the value of an enabled field in a parent case the system will automatically also make that exact change on that exact field on each of that parent's child cases. No other fields will get updated exact for the one that is changed in the parent. What is tricky is that, based on the value of the child's status field, this behavior sometimes won't happen. The status field of any case record is always one of either New, Open, Awaiting Customer Action, Solution Proposed, or Closed. When a record is closed it gets locked for editing which means that its fields cannot be changed. So, it makes sense then that closed case records will not receive updates because their fields can't get updated. What's tricky is that this happens to also be true for child cases with a status of "Solution Proposed". So, to clarify, if a case is either "Closed" or "Solution Proposed" then it will not receive any updates from its parent case. This restriction does not apply to parent cases meaning that a parent case can still send down changes to its children if it is on "Solution Proposed".


Setting a Case as Parent

Follow these steps to set a case as a parent of another case:

  1. Navigate to an open case in Agent View which you intend to make the parent.
  2.  Copy the case number (typically "CS" followed by a 7-digit number).
  3. Navigate to an open case which you intend to make a child of the previous case.
  4. Locate the Parent field on the case form - it should look something like this: Parent field on the case form
  5.  Paste the case number into this field and save. Alternatively use the magnifying glass icon to open the Tasks list and locate the desired case there.
  6.  Navigate back to the first case.
  7.  At the bottom of the page in the Related Lists section locate the Child Cases tab. Select it - the child case should now be listed. This indicates that this case is now a parent of the child case.
  8.  To add more children to the parent case you just need to repeat this process for each child. If you want to remove a child from it's parent, simply change the value in it's parent field. You can add, remove, or change children at any point.


Using Parent Cases

When a parent case's field is updated that update will propagate down to its child cases (assuming that the updated field is enabled for parent cases). Here's how to do that:

  1.  Navigate to the parent case in Agent View.
  2. Change the value of an enabled field and save. A warning popup message will appear as below, click OK.Warning popup window in case form view
  3.  Navigate to a child case. The value of this field in the child case will change to match the parent. When this happens a circular icon will appear next to the field to indicate that the system has synchronized its value with the parent.The case priority field with the synchronization indicator
  4.  Remember, this updating actually happens for all child cases so this field should be the same across each of them.


Parent Cases Advanced Details