New to workflow design? Gini Courter walks through SharePoint Designer workflow basics she's found that provide positive impact to business process design.
A workflow is an organizational process that has a clear beginning, some sequential steps and then an end. And a workflow might sit at the very core of your business, like an order entry process or a shipping process, to send products to customers. Or it could serve more of a supporting role, like a process that allows employees to submit a time sheet or request time off for a vacation. This workflow is a small simple workflow that was designed to allow an employee to apply to be part of a management training program.
This is one of those supporting workflows. In this workflow, the employee has an idea that they'd like to apply and they fill out a form and submit that form to their immediate supervisor. Perhaps they carried over and put it on their desk or maybe it's sent as an attachment to email. Perhaps its a form that's filled out online. After their supervisor decides whether or not they should accept the request, they forward this form to the HR department, and everyone who applies then is sent back an email indicating whether they were accepted or rejected for the program.
So this is a very simple workflow. Perhaps there's another step as well. For example, it might be that for some employees, or for some specific management training programs, the immediate supervisor's signature isn't always enough. Perhaps it needs to be sent on to management, moved up the chain, so to speak, and then moves along to HR, and employee notification. This is a case where a workflow has two different branches and a condition. Does this need to be approved by others, as well as some actions.
Workflows can also incorporate parallel branches. So here's a work flow that's a little bit more complex. We have an employee creating a presentation that's going to be used at the company's annual meeting. In our first step we see the employee working away and creating the presentation, then they need to send it to the marketing department where it's going to be buffed up a little bit. That's all nice and clean. Now three different people need to sign off on this presentation before we're going to share it with our stock holders. We have the Chief Financial Officer, we have the Chief Operations Officer and the Chief Executive Officer, or CEOs.
So all of the CXOs need to take a look at this. They don't need to do it in any particular order. And as a matter of fact, ordering these might actually create a bottleneck or a slow down because it could be that the Chief Financial Officer is out of town. And by the time we wait for him or her to finish their review, now the CEO has other obligations. So this is a time that it makes more sense to allow each of these reviews to happen at the same time, in parallel with each other. We need three signatures, but we don't need them in any particular order.
Finally, after all three of our chief officers have signed off, the presentation is sent to the IT department, and they're going to post it on the webpage, so it will be available for the annual meeting. Now, whether or not there are parallel branches in a work flow, every work flow goes through a series of steps. It has a start, a series of steps, and an end. New to SharePoint 2013, we can actually create a workflow that would double back on itself. And it used to be that in the prior version of SharePoint, we could never back things up, we could never actually send them back, but in SharePoint 2013 we can.
We have a new structure called the loop, that would allow us to say that if any of the three executives turn down this presentation, they send it back for more comment. We can actually have the workflow send it back either to the marketing or send it all the way back to the originator. So when you think about workflows, the workflow is an outline of a business process that contains some way for users to interact, usually with forms, and logic that drives all the steps in between. We'll spend the rest of this course learning how to develop and build workflows in SharePoint.
- Automating workflows
- Documenting workflows with Sticky Notes, Excel, and Visio
- Driving workflow interactions with forms
- Using workflow actions
- Making choices and controlling flow with conditions
- Creating a simple form
- Using email notifications
- Pausing and stopping workflows with core actions
- Building a dictionary
- Creating a site workflow
- Deploying workflows
- Creating workflows visually
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: In the video "Creating a workflow with conditions," the email workflow generates the email and successfully changes the value in AreaCalc but the workflow does not complete, and raises no errors. How can I fix this?
Q: Where do I get InfoPath Designer 2013 (mentioned in the "What you need to know" video)?
- If you have Office 2013 Pro, you may already have InfoPath Designer 2013, but it may not have been installed. Try reinstalling Office and choose to install InfoPath Designer.
- Sign up for a free 30-day trial of one of the Office 365 plans that include InfoPath Designer—for example, Office 365 Enterprise (E3) Edition, which also includes SharePoint, or Office 365 ProPlus, which does not include SharePoint. After the 30-day trial you will need to pay a monthly fee for Office 365.