Intro to SharePoint Workflows

A workflow is nothing more than a series of steps that help a process move along- flow, if you will. In terms of SharePoint 2010 workflows helps to reduce unnecessary interactions between people while performing business processes. The idea behind a workflow is that human interaction in business processes inhibits the speed and the quality of decisions, and work. So now, instead of having humans manage the software workflow we now have software that manages “human workflow”- next thing you know robots will manage humans, sound familiar?

The benefits of introducing workflows into a SharePoint are numerous:

  • Contract Approval: A workflow can guide the contract directly to- and only to- the members who must review it.
  • Expense Reporting
  • Technical Support: A workflow can guide the progress from technical support to support engineer to technical expert (if needed)
  • Scheduling: A workflow can help you schedule and track appointments, collect any feedback on appointments, and aiding in any posts appointment decisions that may need to be decided by the members of the appointment.
  • Content Publishing

SharePoint Server 2010 includes the following predefined workflow templates:

  • Collect Feedback: Routes an item to a group for feedback.
  • Approval: Routes an item to a group of people for approval. Can even be used in the approval process for the publication of Web Pages.
  • Disposition Approval: Manages expiration and retention by allow members to keep or delete expired documents.
  • Collect Signatures: Routes a document- can only be created in a Microsoft application- to the group of people who need to sign it.
  • Threestate: The three states are Active, Resolved, and Closed.

The following example uses approval and expense reporting.

Suppose you are a sale representative for a high class bike company. You are tasked with scouting new locations to set up shop. Each time you find a place you must submit an expense report to your boss for the estimate of building the store in said location. If the expense report is more than $1,000,00.00 your manager cannot sign-off on it and it must go to the Vice President.

The workflow is as follows:

  1. You submit your expense report to your manager.
  2. If it is less than $1,000,000.00 he can choose to approve or deny the expense report- giving comments on the reason why he disapproved it if so.
  3. If it is more than $1,000,000.00 he can either deny it or forward the expense report to the Vice President.
  4. Once it is forwarded to the Vice President, he can either approve or deny the expense report. If he denies the report it will send back to your manager who can then make changes on it and resubmit it to the Vice President.

With the workflow it is as simple as sending an expense report to your manager, and at most you may have to clarify some expenses or explain why you chose one possibility over others.

Workflows make decision making and most business processes much faster, and less subjective. With workflows you can accomplish a better quality of work in less time- what business wouldn’t want that?!

July 29, 2013