SharePoint Workflow - The Conundrum The SharePoint Workflow Conundrum An examination of the workflow

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Transcript of SharePoint Workflow - The Conundrum The SharePoint Workflow Conundrum An examination of the workflow

  • SharePoint Workflow Conundrum Author: Geoff Evelyn

    1 | P a g e

    The SharePoint Workflow Conundrum

    An examination of the workflow provisions around SharePoint, Office365, Windows Azure and what implications there are for organisations needing to improve business process automation, collaboration

    and productivity through workflow adoption. SharePoint has through most of its versions provided workflow systems, but how do they stack up as future technologies grasp the cloud? How will

    organisations benefit from the available features?

  • Publication Date: 01/07/2016 Page 2 of 13

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    Contents

    Analysis❋ ............................................................................................................................................ 3 Introduction ........................................................................................................................... 3 Workflow - The Business Process Automated ...................................................................... 3 Developing workflows ........................................................................................................... 3 Types of workflow ................................................................................................................. 4

    Serial workflow ......................................................................................................... 4 Parallel workflow ...................................................................................................... 4

    Segments of the Analysis...................................................................................................... 4 Options for SharePoint on-premise ....................................................................................... 5

    Templates ................................................................................................................ 5 Custom Workflows using SharePoint Designer and Microsoft Visual Studio .......... 6 Platform Type options .............................................................................................. 6

    Options for SharePoint Dedicated Online through Office365 ............................................... 7 Templates ................................................................................................................ 7 Custom Workflows using SharePoint Designer ....................................................... 7 Custom Workflows using Microsoft Visual Studio .................................................... 7

    Options for going Hybrid ....................................................................................................... 7 Workflow Manager ................................................................................................... 8 Publish to Azure ....................................................................................................... 8 Tools that can be used ............................................................................................. 8

    Options from Third Parties .................................................................................................... 8

    Strengths❋ .......................................................................................................................................... 9 Configuration of SharePoint built in Workflows ..................................................................... 9 SharePoint Designer Workflows ........................................................................................... 9 Custom Code Workflows using Visual Studio ....................................................................... 9 Workflow Manager for Cloud ................................................................................................ 9 Third Party Workflow products .............................................................................................. 9 Other ...................................................................................................................................10

    Weaknesses❋...................................................................................................................................11

    Guidance❋ ........................................................................................................................................12 Measure the Cost versus Value in building workflows ........................................................13 Evaluate development practice and review managed services ..........................................13 Identify the workflow roadmap and link to IT and organizational content management strategy ............................................................................................................................................13

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  • Publication Date: 01/07/2016 Page 3 of 13

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    Analysis❋

    Introduction

    Total automation of business processes is practically unachievable without considering human interaction. This is a factor that is tied to many aspects of process automation and integration. Human interaction is present in some of the most common business processes, like order approvals and human resources management.

    SharePoint is by definition a collaborative platform with integration to external systems. There will be ongoing requirements for that platform to provide systems (known as workflow) to solve collaborative and information and technical challenges around human interaction issues, and to enhance user productivity. SharePoint provides frameworks for workflow provision; present in SharePoint on-premise, SharePoint Online Dedicated and in Office365. This article will explore the main components that are present in those platforms, comparisons, high level features and benefits. This article will also assess the current perspectives around the provision of Workflow and top level impacts.

    Workflow - The Business Process Automated

    Key to solving collaborative and information challenges in organization is business process automation. This is the ability for the business to improve productivity of their users by providing methods to aid with day-to-day functions with little or no human intervention; in order to increase user productivity and decrease inefficiency. Content management systems all include workflow systems and plugins, which is used to support communication between people and systems. These workflow systems generally carry out these through the automation of a business process tied to content stored in content management systems.

    To accomplish this, the workflow system will need to provide basic functions like task assignment, identity management, notifications, tracking and inter-operation. SharePoint provides workflow systems to solve these collaborative and information challenges.

    However, before diving into the features of workflow systems available in SharePoint on-premise, SharePoint Dedicated Online, Office365 or Windows Azure, there needs to be clarification concerning the purpose of workflow and involvement. Additionally, there needs to be clarification on the main components in the relevant workflow architecture.

    Developing workflows

    Having workflow features and using them correctly are two very different things. A mindset is needed to achieve successful use of workflows. This mindset would, before actually choosing any workflow solution, identify the type of workflow to use, the template to be assigned and the customization level requirements (if any), people involved, the objective, security, the various states that need to be achieved, and notifications to inform of progress. Presumably, organisations would adopt this mindset in order to choose the workflow solution to match their requirements. However, there are further considerations such as the flow of the business process and then mapping the relevant options within SharePoint to that flow.

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  • Publication Date: 01/07/2016 Page 4 of 13

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    Types of workflow

    The aspect of the business process to automate is defined as a workflow. A workflow is a template, which contains task components. Tasks are the main communication unit between business processes and people. Typically, a task is assigned to a user who needs to perform a related action. Normally a user has to perform a series of tasks that a grouped semantically. As part of the business process, the task is assigned to a group of users acting on the same task. The workflow system (which utilizes a key component known as the task management service), manages the business process to get the status update of the task.

    To understand more about the task management service in the context of workflow, and circumstances in which they are used, we need to examine two types of workflow solution - Serial, and Parallel.

    Serial workflow

    The serial (also known as sequential) workflow represents a scenario in which a task must be completed by a set of users. This solution has interactions:

    • Interact with the task management service to configure tasks and set appropriate rules

    • Define the sequence of users that should act on the task

    • First user will claim the task, and upon completion the task management service will route t