Join Gini von Courter for an in-depth discussion in this video Customize the three-state workflow, part of SharePoint 2016 Essential Training.
- [Voiceover] We're going to return to the Landon App project site that we created earlier to add a three-stage workflow to the issues list in this site. Most workflows are made to run in a list app or a library app. The most common workflow, one that has been in every version of SharePoint, that included workflows is called the Three State Workflow and it's made to work with apps like the Issues app. Let me click to open this app. And I'm going to click New Item to show you why.
The Three State Workflow is looking for a choice item with exactly three choices that track progress. And the Issue Status choice field is exactly what it's looking for. For example, in this workflow, an item starts as active, it's been created. Next, after someone has fixed it, it's resolved. And finally, when it's all done, the person who requested the action, or perhaps someone else, can go in and mark it as closed. Now Priority also has three items, but these don't have a chronology.
We're looking for three criteria, a choice field that has exactly three options and that those three options are chronological. I'm going to cancel this item and we are going to add the three-state workflow to our issues list. By the way, if I had done this in our project site that we saved as a template, then every single site that we created would have an issues list that had a built-in workflow, which is a pretty nice thing to give to your project teams.
In the issues list, we need to click List, and in the Settings group, choose the Workflow Settings drop-down, and choose Add a Workflow. We have two workflows to choose from here. These are both SharePoint 2010 templates. As I said, these workflows have been with us for a while. And this workflow tracks items in lists. The other built-in workflow here, Disposition, manages document retention and document expiration. But we want this one.
Now we need to enter a name for the workflow. And this is not the name of the library, it's not the name of an item, it should be a unique name that describes what this particular workflow is designed to do. And the reason that I care about the name is I can have multiple workflows in a list or a library. And when I see information about the workflow, this name will be attached to it. So this is going to be Issue Resolution.
That's a great name for this workflow. There are two different lists that will be used by SharePoint to manage this workflow. This isn't the Issues List that we're creating the workflow in. The two workflows provide logging space for SharePoint to use. The first is the Task List, where it will keep track of the tasks in the workflow. The second is where it will track a workflow history. I can create a new task list if I wish. I can also create a new workflow history, even if I have items in the drop-down.
And if you have a lot of workflows and need to log them separately, then you can create different task lists and histories for them if you wish. But in most sites, one task list and one history list will be used for multiple workflows. Next we have our Start Options. By default, every workflow can be manually started by a user who has the ability to edit an item. I can up the ante and say that you need to be able to manage list permissions to start a workflow manually or I can turn this off.
And this workflow, I will actually turn this off later. But right now, I like this because when I'm testing, I want to be able to manually start workflows. I also want to say that when someone creates a new item, it will start the workflow, and this is the primary method that I will have for launching the Three State Workflow. I can always always come back and modify those options either here or in SharePoint Designer. On the next page, we have the workflow.
There are a lot of fields that we need to choose here. Let me start by saying if you change nothing, this workflow will work perfectly. That's the nice thing because everything is built in just as it should be. First, we need to select a choice field, and the only fields that will show up are fields like Priority, Category, and Issue Status. And remember, not just choice, but chronological. And in our issues list, which was built really with the Three State Workflow in mind, those initial, middle, and final states are already here.
If you add the Three State Workflow to a custom list, and you have your own terms, for example Logged, Fixed, and Closed, you might need to choose those items here after you choose your custom field. Here's the first stage or first state of our workflow. This is what happens when a workflow is initiated. A custom message is sent that includes a field from the list. Now ID is the first field and there's not a problem with that. If you have people who are managing a lot of issues, for example, if this Issues list is being used to submit tickets for help from your IT department or Help Desk, then maybe they need to log this ID number and it's a good thing to have there.
But the other possibility is that I could have whatever the title of the workflow is. Instead, ID is made to make it easy to log. Title provides more description. So it' really a choice. The custom message says "A workflow has been initiated on the following list item." And then it provides a description. And it also provides a hyperlink to go back to that item. Notice your choices here are Title, Version, Description, or Comments. And all of these columns are coming to us from the issues list.
Next, the Due Date, which is coming from the issues list, and Assigned To. All of these items are part of the task. So we're forming up a task that we are going to send to the assigned user. And if I wanted to add anything else, I can click and add other information. Rather than including the list field Assigned To, for example, we might might say that regardless of who it's assigned to, we're going to instead assign this task to a broader group, rather than assigning it to the person who's been selected, so that we could treat Assigned To, for example, as a sort of guideline or suggestion, but actually assign the task to that person's supervisor, who sorts out who should work on each task.
These are the details of the email message that we'll be sending when this workflow is initiated. We're sending an email message to the person who the task is assigned to, we're using the task title as the subject of the email, and then we are going to insert a link to the list item in the body. I can also add more information to the body simply by entering it here in this textbox. It's not a huge textbox, it doesn't even feel that inviting, but it works if you want to add more information.
But imagine that you are a person who is receiving eight or nine of these requests in a day or in a week. You really don't want a lot of extraneous information in the email message. You wanna know that it's assigned to you, what the title is, you want a link that you can click, and you are good to go. So the only time that I will insert a significant amount of body text is if I have a workflow where some of the assignees or some of the recipients or those who launch the workflow participate in the workflow infrequently.
If I could assign this to someone who would only be assigned a task two or three times a year, or even a couple times a quarter, then they might need more information. And we'll that same type of a dialog where we can add information here. So if my business users who are raising issues might only do it a couple of times, then it would make sense to me to provide them with more information, a little more direction. The next section says what happens when we go the middle state.
Remember, our first state was active. Our middle state is resolved. So even though we don't see the magic happening between these two states, in fact what's happened is the person who this task was assigned to has taken care of the issue, and they've now said this is resolved. The custom message now is to review the task. We could include the title or we could include the list field. And you might notice that title is there three times. We've seen this before, that one of these will be title for a link, another will be title for a menu.
These are the choices that are available to us in our columns list. A review task has been created. This is the custom message. If we wish, we could say more than this or different than this. For example, the custom message might be this task is marked as resolved. And requires your review.
There we go. And then we're going to insert the list field description, and a link so that the person receiving this can easily get back to that item. The task due date is included, who the task was assigned to, and we could again, put in custom information instead. Why might we do that? We might do that if we have users raising issues. We have our staff resolving them, but rather than returning this to the original person who raised the issue, to ensure that it's been resolved to their satisfaction, we want to have someone else in our department double-check to make sure it's done.
So we could then have someone specific or in a specific role that we would send this to. One more thought about this, I can add people here, for example. I can say, you know actually I wanna send this to Victor, for example. That's not a great idea. And the reason is if Victor gets promoted or moves to another position, I now have to change my workflows. What we'll normally do is set up an account that's about the role. For example, issues reviewer at Landon Hotels dot net.
Then we can assign that alias to Victor for now, and if Victor has another gig later, we assign it to whoever takes his place. Because otherwise you'll notice we're not putting people and their email addresses in here, it's all about roles. Who initiated this workflow? Who was the task assigned to? And finally the same choices, who was this task assigned to. Now this task is the task of reviewing. Use the Task Title for the subject, and again insert some body text only if we need to because we have a link there and that's all we need.
Notice that I only made a couple of minor modifications. And I really did it so that you would know that you could as well. Because this Three State Workflow is designed to run with minimal modification on your part. Let's click OK to save the workflow in our issues list. If I go to my Workflow Settings, and click Workflow Settings, you'll notice that we have an issue resolution workflow that run on this list.
And I can click to see information about it, or to make some modifications. If I modify a workflow when it's already being used, then any changes that I make will only be reflected in newly initiated items going forward. The workflows that are already in process will continue as they were to begin with.
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