Workflows allow larger IT shops to coordinate efforts for large rollouts and software conversions. A workflow defines the actionable steps, so each department knows what is necessary to complete the project. SharePoint’s workflow application lets IT and other business managers produce a workflow on the fly without purchasing any third-party software. Workflows facilitate control of projects and business processes, because managers can keep track of each step necessary for process flow without skipping critical steps.

Designing an Efficient Workflow

The hardest part of a workflow is knowing where to begin. The most efficient workflow keeps it simple by avoiding superfluous or unneeded steps, but the designer must also make sure it documents the process properly. In SharePoint, workflows and workflow parts are included with no extra programming. However, SharePoint allows developers to create custom workflows using Microsoft Visual Studio.

To use the SharePoint workflow, you must have “Manage Lists” permissions, which are set up in the SharePoint administration panel. Workflow steps and tasks are set up in a spreadsheet-looking interface. The user creates an action title, a description, and action type. Additionally, the workflow owner can define who can change the steps and tasks in the spreadsheet using the permissions tool.

After tasks are created, the workflow designer sets up who has the assigned task. This is useful for larger IT shops that have several users working on a project. The assigned programmer can see the task and description, and the programmer can later look up related detail for the task process in other project documentation hosted on the SharePoint server.

After the workflow tasks and layout are designed, and tasks are assigned to developers, the designer can monitor progress and any changes made to the workflow. For instance, if a workflow has several tasks that need to be finished in a particular order, the designer can mark off tasks completed, so the developers can move on to the next task. This ensures that the tasks are finished in order, and tasks are not accidentally overlapped with different programmers.

Additionally, if multiple people have access to the workflow and it is changed considerably, the owner of the workflow can go back into the logs and determine who changed the workflow tasks and design. All changes and the people who make those changes are logged in the SharePoint service. This gives the owner some control over the business process, so the project is never out-of-scope.

After the design and tasks are created, the owner can then send the workflow to email recipients stored in SharePoint. SharePoint handles the email functionality, and it contains a list of contacts within the company.