If you’re using Microsoft SharePoint for document sharing and collaboration within your organization, you may know about a feature known as workflows. Many users are unaware of this feature and its functions, however. As a result, they aren’t using the full functionality of SharePoint.
A workflow refers to the movement of documents or items relating to a business process through various actions or tasks. This can include creating applications or documents, tracking sales leads, or routing purchase orders. Any task requiring multiple approvals as well as the completion of a series of interrelated, complex tasks—namely, software development—can have a workflow created for it.
What makes workflows most useful is that they are .NET-based, which gives you options for developing workflow templates tailored to your organization’s needs.
Creating Workflows in SharePoint 2013
SharePoint Designer has given users the ability to create workflows consistently since the release of SharePoint 2007. As new releases of SharePoint have rolled out, this feature has iteratively improved. But with SharePoint 2013, the process was altered so significantly that those workflows created in SharePoint 2010 could not be automatically ported to 2013.
Third-party solutions are also available for SharePoint 2013. Until this version of SharePoint, the only tool with which users could create workflow forms was InfoPath. Several non-Microsoft options are now available, some of which can be used together to create complex workflows. Vendors include AgilePoint, Formotus, K2, and Nintex. The advantage to this approach is that any workflow created should be compatible with the next SharePoint release as it’s in these companies’ best interest to keep their product current and their customers happy.
Using SharePoint Designer
The best possible option for creating workflows in SharePoint Server 2013 is to use SharePoint Designer. This workflow management service sits atop the .NET Framework 4.5 and ties readily into SharePoint Server 2013. Some professionals consider it the go-to tool for power users, especially those creating workflows.
The new platform allows workflows to function and scale because it uses SharePoint 2013 style workflow, which is native to SharePoint, but not tied to it. The difference is that it allows users to build declarative workflows. Declarative workflows have many benefits, including the ability to use sandboxed solutions for deploying a workflow.
In SharePoint 2013, workflows are considered a “true service,” meaning the workflows are executed on a different server using Windows Azure Workflow. The workflow doesn’t run on the SharePoint servers.
Detailed Info on Building Custom Workflows
You should now have some ideas about how to create custom workflows. We describe the different available options for creating SharePoint workflows in more detail in our white paper .NET Workflow Solutions for SharePoint, which is available for download.
Now that you’ve created some workflows, how about I show you how to design them in my post: Designing Custom SharePoint Workflows with .NET. For a more detailed view, please contact Datavail to discuss a custom solution designed for your enterprise. Datavail can work with you and your organization on tasks designed to optimize these assets.
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