Join Gini von Courter for an in-depth discussion in this video Customize the three-state workflow, part of SharePoint Online Essential Training.
- [Voiceover] Most workflows are made to run against either a list app or a library app. The most common workflow, one that is in every version of SharePoint, is called the three-state workflow, and it's made to work with the issue tracking app. So I'm going to begin by creating a new issue tracking app for customer issues. I'm creating a URL, so maybe c-issues. That'll be good. And we'll fix that when it's time to do that. The reason this works beautifully with this three-state workflow is that when I create a new item in this list and the form opens, I have an issue status that has three states.
And the three-state workflow is exactly what it says it is. There's an assumption that there are three states, three possibilities. Now, there's three priorities, so there's something more than just one, two, three, it's that these represent a sequence. An issue is active because it's been opened, somebody has fixed it so they believe it's been resolved, somebody has checked it, the person who raised it originally, normally, and they say, "Yep, that's closed." So this can be used for so many things. I use issue tracking lists for every software development project I work with because if someone has an issue then I can have them come in to SharePoint and log it and we can easily see how many issues we've closed and how many issues remain active or have been resolved but that the person who raised them hasn't finished with them yet.
This is just a fabulous workflow to be able to put on this type of a list, because what the workflow is going to do is to notify, to take care of all of the emailing that says "Hey, by the way we got your issue, "thanks so much, it's been given to somebody to work on." "The issue's been resolved could you please check it." "The issue's been closed, everything's done." All of those emails that somebody would have to type and spend time thinking about, or not spend time thinking about and be a little grumpy or discourteous, all of those emails handled for you absolutely by SharePoint.
Let's see how this works. To create a new workflow, I go to the List tab here in my list and then say that I would like to add a workflow. Now I have other choices here: workflow settings are to change workflow settings but we don't have a workflow yet, add a workflow, create a custom workflow in SharePoint Designer, that's something that is beyond the scope of this course, create a reusable workflow, in other words a workflow that could be used on many different apps in SharePoint Designer, but we're simply going to add a built-in workflow.
I've always thought it would help if it said, add a built-in workflow, or an existing workflow. And here are our workflows. Some of them are based in SharePoint 2010, yes we can still be using those depending on how your server is configured but I wouldn't jump in and use them without talking to your SharePoint admin. I'm going to choose the three-state workflow. Use this workflow to track items in a list. Enter a unique name for this workflow. Remember that I'm not describing the list, it's not the customer issue list, it's the resolution, so this could be Resolve Issue, that would work, or, Issue Resolution Process.
Why do I need to care about the name? I can have multiple workflows within the same document library. I can have multiple workflows on the same item at different points in time. So I'll want to make sure that I'm actually describing the workflow, and in this case, this is the workflow to resolve issues. There are two different lists that are used for this workflow. These aren't the list that has the issues, this is a working surface for SharePoint to use.
Where will it keep track of the tasks that are being created, where will it keep track of the history of what has been done in the workflow. We don't have either of these lists yet, and so we're going to create them. A new Tasks list and a new Workflow History list, and I don't even have the choice to enter something different. If I already had a Tasks list and a Workflow History list I would have the choice to create another one. The next possibility are the start options. First, by default, every workflow could be manually started by a user who has edit item permission, so a workflow is like editing.
If I don't want a user to be able to manually start a workflow, I can turn this off. But right now, while I'm testing, it's actually a nice feature to have. Normally what I will want to have happen is that every time a new item is created in this list it will launch the workflow automatically. And if I want to set a higher bar, I can allow this workflow to be manually started but required a higher level of permissions right here, manage list permissions to start the workflow.
I'm going to leave Allow this to be manually started, again, just for testing, and I'm going to also indicate that every new item will start the workflow because that's how this particular workflow should operate. Let's now click next, and we're going to set up the workflow states. First, what is the field that is changing? Is it issue status, is it priority, which we looked at a minute ago, is it category? What's happening here is SharePoint's going out and saying, let's find some field that has three choices in it, and if that's the case, is it true that the initial state is active, the middle state is resolved, and the final state is closed? It's possible if you have different names for these, like Open, Cleared, and Closed, or whatever your vocabulary is for processing this type of work, that these values would not be in the right order.
So this is where it starts, where it is in the middle, and where it's done at the end, and this very, very important that you get that part right. Here's our first stage, when the workflow is initiated. There's some text on the left that you can read, but I'll walk you through it. We're going to create a custom message that is going to say, workflow initiated, and it will include a field from the list. Now, ID is simply the first field. If I wanted to have the title of that workflow initiated, I could do that instead.
The description of the task says, a workflow has been initiated on the following list item. It includes a description of the list item, it indicates the due date for that task, which would have been assigned by the person who filled out the issue, an expected date for example, and who the task has been assigned to. I could include some other custom information if I wished, but I really don't need to. Here are the details of the message header.
That email message is going to go out, and it is going to be sent to the person the task was assigned to, the subject will use the task title, and the body will include a link. Now, I could enter some other information in the body, but if you are a person who's receiving these requests, if you're working in development or you're working at a customer response desk, you really don't need a lot of other flowery text around this or a description. The only time I'm going to insert a significant amount of body text, is if I have a workflow that sounds messages to people and some of them only receive a message every quarter, or twice a year, and they really need a higher level of information.
But if you're working on a project and you're getting three of these a week, you actually don't need an explanation of what this is and how it's working. The next section says, what happens when we move to the next state? So, the next state is, that someone needs to review the task that's been done. For contrast, let me roll up and show you the first one. The first message it that a workflow has been initiated. The second is, now that somebody has paid attention to this and fixed it, it's time to review this task.
And we can include a list field again, we can include the ID or we can include a title. A review task has been created for the following list item here's the description, here's the link, here's the due date. Include who this was created by because this is the person now who needs to review it. Again, I can include more information, what are my message details, I'm sending an email message to the person the task was assigned to, in this case, the person who created the task, use the task title, use the body.
Now, you can modify this, but you'll notice I did very little and I could even have left the ID field in place. If you're using the built-in issue status field in issues, there's nothing you really need to do here. And if you've created a custom three-choice field with your own information in it, there's still going to be not a lot to be done. This is a really straightforward workflow. I'm going to click OK. I wouldn't like this to say c-issues all the time, so I'm going to fix it I'll be right back.
Here's my new Customer Issues app with a workflow. If I'm not really sure if it has a workflow, well, it's not hard to tell. I can go down to workflow settings, and look at my workflow settings, and I'll see that there actually is an issue resolution process workflow associated with this list. In the next movie, we'll run the workflow, and see how it turns out.
- What is SharePoint?
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