SharePoint Workflow: Service Delivery options – Part 2


Geoff EvelynThe following article is contributed by Geoff Evelyn, SharePoint MVP and owner of SharePointGeoff.com

This article is part of a four part series. 

Options for SharePoint on-premise

In SharePoint 2003, there was no workflow platform. This changed when SharePoint 2007 came onto the horizon, with the addition of the Windows Workflow Foundation platform. This is a development platform that allows the provisioned workflow templates in SharePoint to be extended and customized. When SharePoint 2010 arrived, so did improvements to the workflow system. This included improvements to workflow design with the arrival of Microsoft Visual Studio including 'workflow projects' so that developers could directly create workflows for deployment. SharePoint Designer 2010 came on steam around the same time providing a workflow design, and the ability to edit SharePoint 2010 workflows. SharePoint 2013 workflow architecture was redesigned to meet performance, availability and flexibility of workflows on the platform. This workflow architecture, now known as Windows Workflow Foundation 4, is available with SharePoint Server 2013.

SharePoint carries workflow features that are generally based around specific documents or list items, however, they can represent larger human-based processes and actions through customization and development. Specifically:

  • SharePoint workflows are specific to users defined against the SharePoint platform. Workflows require users or groups for specific activities and tasks are created for those users.
  • SharePoint workflows are serial or parallel by nature; that is, the ability for users to participate one at a time, or multiple users at a given stage and in an undefined order.
  • SharePoint workflows are varied in nature and templates are provided that can be configured to suit the organizational process, and they can be associated directly to document libraries or lists. Workflow templates include common activities related to content approval, feedback or collecting signatures.
  • SharePoint workflows can be created using a number of tools such as Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Visual Studio, or SharePoint Designer. Note that Microsoft InfoPath=, used for forms development in SharePoint 2010 and prior, is being phased out. Suggested route for forms development using Microsoft tools is Microsoft Visio (or development through Microsoft Visual Studio).

The following section describes the objectives the available workflow templates and options in building workflows.

Templates

The following describes a list of templates available in SharePoint on-premise.

- Collect Feedback

  • Examine interpretations on documents. Reviewers can provide feedback, which is compiled and sent to the document owner when the workflow has completed.

- Collect Signatures

  • Sign off document or request
  • Works with Microsoft Applications only
  • Utilises Digital Signatures

- Approval

  • Obtain approvals on documents from colleagues or superiors
  • Assign for approval document marked pending until approved

- Transition Management

  • Task management concerning the translation of documents and content into other languages. Manages document translation by creating copies of the document to be translated and assigning translation tasks to translators. Is not available for SharePoint 2013

- Disposition Approval

  • Manages document expiration and retention by allowing participants to decide whether to retain or delete expired documents.

- Three State

  • Track the status of a list item through three states (phases). It can be used to manage business processes that require organisations to track a high volume of issues or items, such as customer support issues, sales leads, or project tasks. For example, the three states for a project task could be, Not Started, In Progress, and Finished

Custom Workflows using SharePoint Designer and Microsoft Visual Studio using SharePoint Designer and Microsoft Visual Studio

Workflows can be created and edited in SharePoint Designer 2013. Additionally, if there are legacy SharePoint 2010 workflows that are needed to be reused in SharePoint 2013, the SharePoint Workflow Interop functionality can be utilized. This enables SharePoint 2010 workflows to work with the SharePoint 2013 workflow engine based on Windows Workflow Foundation 4.

Platform Type Options

  • SharePoint 2010 workflow requires Windows Workflow Foundation 3
  • Workflows are installed automatically with SharePoint 2013
  • SharePoint 2013 workflow requires Windows Workflow Foundation 4
  • SharePoint 2013 must be installed, Workflow Manager is not installed automatically and must be in order for SharePoint 2013 workflows to be available
  • SharePoint 2013 with Project Server requires Windows Workflow Foundation 4
  • Must be used with SharePoint 2013, Workflow Manager and Project Server 2013. Project server workflows will not function without these in place
  • SharePoint 2013 with SAP requires Windows Workflow Foundation 4
  • Must be used with SharePoint 2013, Workflow Manager and SAP. SharePoint 2013 SAP workflows will not function without these in place

Articles within Series

Great insight into the Workflow in SharePoint. Keep your eyes out for part 3 which will talk about Options for SharePoint Dedicated Online through Office365, Options for Hybrid and Options for Third Parties. 

Comments (3)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Let’s take a service delivery examination concerning workflow provisions around SharePoint, Office365, Windows Azure and what implications there are for organisations needing to improve business process automation, collaboration and productivity

  2. Anonymous says:

    With SharePoint Server 2010, and with SharePoint Online for Office 365 for enterprises, all five of the following workflow types are included. With SharePoint Online for Office 365 for small businesses and professionals, however, only the Three-state

  3. Anonymous says:

    Workflow involves the various tasks that employees must complete on a business activity, and these tasks often occur in a specific order. A workflow could be something completely non-technical, such as feeding a horse; however, it usually involves some

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