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Using SharePoint Workflows to Improve Business Processes

Author: Owens Gollamandala | | March 17, 2015

What can you do with SharePoint Workflows? A lot.

Standard workflow tasks you can complete in SharePoint include project approvals, document reviews, and signature requests. You can also create custom workflows for your organization.

Everyone in business seems to define workflow uniquely based on a specific industry or organizational structure. Microsoft explains:

“In the context of Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies, workflow is defined more narrowly as the automated movement of documents or items through a sequence of actions or tasks that are related to a business process…

…Workflows can be used to consistently manage common business processes within an organization by enabling the organization to attach business logic to documents or items in a SharePoint list or library. Business logic is basically a set of instructions that specifies and controls the actions that happen to a document or item.”

The Approval Workflow, for example, ensures a document or item is properly routed to a person or team in the organization for approval or rejection. The document can be automatically routed and monitored as it is passed from colleague to colleague. This workflow can be used for content in a SharePoint list or library as well as an individual item.

Document review is a task you can complete using the Collect Feedback workflow. Any comments or notes stay with the document as it is reviewed. Automatic processing eliminates much of the confusion associated with handing a printed document from person to person in an organization. As with Approval, the document is automatically routed, streamlining the process of gathering feedback on an item.

Related to these is the Collect Signatures workflow. As the name suggests, this SharePoint workflow is used to gather digital signatures on a Microsoft Office document. In addition to Word documents, it can be used with Excel documents and InfoPath forms.

Another option is to create a custom workflow, by either customizing an existing workflow or creating a new workflow from scratch. It’s easy with SharePoint. For example, you may want a purchase order exceeding a specific monetary threshold to be routed for an additional approval before it courses through the existing workflow path. You can trigger the re-routing of that document easily.

Workflows can be particularly useful for software developers or web designers within an organization. The tasks associated with creating an application or document can involve many different items requiring varied approvals as well as the completion of many layered and complex tasks. Instituting one of more of these standard workflows automates, streamlines, and simplifies the process from inception, through testing, to deployment. Ideally, this increases productivity.

What Else Can You Do with SharePoint?

Workflows are just one of the many things you can do with SharePoint besides internal project collaboration. For five more good ideas, see the new Datavail whitepaper, Six New Ways to Use SharePoint. It covers such uses as managing a library of digital assets, building websites, or improving discovery and compliance procedures. If you’re already working with Sharepoint and need a speed boost, try our complimentary piece, Top 10 Reasons SharePoint May Be Running Slowly.

If you have questions about how to implement and integrate any of these ideas into your operations, or to learn more about our SharePoint management services and how our experts can help with your ongoing SharePoint operations, please contact Datavail to discuss a custom solution designed for your enterprise.

Datavail can work with you and your organization to effectively leverage SharePoint and your data assets for your benefit and that of your clients and customers.

To Image: 123RF/kentoh

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