Have you heard of SharePoint Workflows before, but not quite sure what they are or what they can do for you? Simply put, SharePoint Workflows make your life easier, save time, and increase efficiency by automating manual tasks.

Read along to learn what SharePoint workflows are and the types of SharePoint workflows you might want to implement in your organization. We will also go into a bit more detail about how you can customize workflows to make it perfectly suited to your needs.

What are Sharepoint Workflows?

Think of SharePoint workflows as little mini-programs that run within your SharePoint environment. Ranging from collecting signatures to tracking statuses, workflows are designed to save you both time and effort, while also bringing consistency and efficiency to tasks that your organization performs on a regular basis.

There are a number of different types of workflows, as we’ll discuss in the next section of this blog, but ultimately, you can think of workflows as the chain of events that happens after you do something with a file or document that lives in your SharePoint environment.

5 Commonly Used SharePoint Workflows

There are five commonly used Workflows that can be set up within SharePoint: Approval Workflows, Status Workflows, Notification Workflows, Automation Workflows, and Custom Workflows.

Approval Workflows

This is the most common type of workflow within SharePoint. It allows you to start an approval chain the moment a document is uploaded into SharePoint.

How You Can Use It: Let’s say your sales team sends out a proposal to their clients, but before they do, that the proposal needs to go through an approval process. For example, the sales associate prepares the proposal, then sends it to the project team (who will be doing the work) to approve, then it gets sent to their sales manager to approve. From there, it’s sent to the director to review and finally approve the document. Rather than having to keep track of all of this manually, Approval Workflows would be able to automate this approval chain all without leaving SharePoint.

SharePoint workflows

Status Workflows

Status Workflows allow you to automate the status of documents as they’re uploaded to SharePoint, and, based on the conditions set, automatically changes the status based on what happens to that document.

How You Can Use It: Using the sales team example above, let’s say that the sales associate who’s prepared the Statement of Work uploads the document to SharePoint. A Status Workflow would automatically tag that document as a “draft”.  Then, after it’s reviewed by the project team, the Status Workflow would automatically change that document to “being reviewed”. When the sales manager reviews the document, the tag gets automatically changed to “read”. Then, when the sales director gets the document, they can either approve the document (in which case, the status could change to “approved”), or they can decline the document (in which case, the status would get changed to “declined”).

SharePoint workflows

Notification Workflows

Once a condition has been met within your SharePoint environment, Notification Workflows will send a notification (for example, an email) to the assigned members of your organization, prompting them to take some sort of action.

How You Can Use It: Your sales manager uploads their monthly sales report to SharePoint. Because of the Notification Workflow in place, this triggers a notification email to be sent to the Sales Director informing her/him that the monthly sales report has been uploaded.

SharePoint workflowsAutomation Workflows

Automation Workflows allow you to be able to automate certain actions based on what’s happening within your SharePoint environment. It typically piggy-backs off the other workflows that have been described above.

How You Can Use It: Let’s go back to the example we used in the Status Workflow section.  Sales associates upload a proposal into a folder called “Proposal – Drafts” as it’s going through the approval process.  Once your sales director has looked at it and has decided to approve it, though, it needs to move into another folder called “Statements of Work – Published.” Rather than having to manually move that document from the “Draft” to “Published,” an Automation Workflow could be set up to automatically move that document for you.

SharePoint workflowsCustom Workflows: the “Workflow Catch-All”

Of course, once you figure out what these types of Workflows can do for your organization, you’re likely to want to do more than one of them – maybe even a combination of all four! Custom Workflows allow you to create your own mini-program within SharePoint.

How You Can Use It: You could create a custom workflow that looks something like this: Your sales associate uploads a document to SharePoint, which, because of the Status Workflow, sets the status to “in approval”. Then, as it goes through the Approval Workflow, SharePoint sends out the various notifications that have been set through the Notification Workflow. Once everything’s done, the Automation Workflow automatically publishes the document to the appropriate document library for consumption by your organization’s sales team.

SharePoint workflows

SharePoint Workflows Open Your Organization up to Numerous Possibilities

SharePoint helps open your organization to many possibilities, and automating any part of your process improves efficiency within your organization. Need help with SharePoint Workflows? Give us a shout and talk to our SharePoint experts today.  Also, this is our first post from our newest SharePoint blog series, so be sure to stay tuned for more posts.

Want to see a demonstration of SharePoint Workflows? Sign up for our on-demand webinar. It is 100% demo-based and you will be able to see SharePoint in action, including SharePoint Workflows.

SharePoint On-Demand Webinar

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