Thursday, 25 July 2013

SharePoint Designer Workflow Tips

SharePoint without Workflow is like 'Cheers' without Diane. Good but not brilliant. Workflow really brings SharePoint to life allowing many mundane information processing tasks to be automated.

As a SharePoint consultant with Office Talk I have helped many companies create a whole range of Workflows with the help of the 'free' SharePoint Designer.

These have included;

1. Project Bid Request Systems
2. Holiday Approval Systems
3. Automatic Document Disposals
4. Patient Appointment Systems

5. New SharePoint Site Requests
6. Purchase Order Systems
7. New Employee Setups

With only a little training writing quite complex Workflows with SharePoint Designer is fairly straightforward, but here are 10 tips that might help.

Office Talk do provide SharePoint Designer Training.  

1. If the Workflow includes changing any fields that the current logged on user is unable to change then in SharePoint Designer add an 'Impersonation Step' and place all the Workflow inside it.

2. If the Workflow only refers to one Content Type then make sure that your first condition removes any of the other Content Types.

3. Change SharePoint Farm Workflow configurations on your server. By default only 15 concurrent Workflows are allowed but this number can easily be changed to at least ten times their original values Find Out More

4. The addition of a 'Pause for Duration' is often needed to save the current information on changes Workflow has made to any field. A setting as low a 0 minutes can be used. It saves the recently changed fields.

5. Use the 'Approval Comments' field to add text that will stop Workflow from looping if it is set to run on 'Change'. (eg 'Approved Automatically' then first condition is Approved Comments does not equal 'Approved Automatically')

6. Use the 'Information Management Policy' to automatically start Workflows using  one of the Date fields. Warning though 'Calculated' fields cannot be used. If you need to use a 'Calculated Value' then your Workflow will need to include the step to copy calculated value to a Date field.

7. Add a variable (Date) to your Workflow that will allow you to manually enter a date to test that Workflow is correctly started on the appropriate date.

8. If you have a number of Workflows that need to be run sequentially then change the Workflow Timer Service in Central Admin to run every minute. This means the Workflow will start in at the most one minutes time.

9. If you need a Workflow to continually run then try creating the workflow twice and varying the length of the pause at the start. Every time one of the Workflow finishes the other will then start if they are set to start on 'Change'.

10. When setting Workflows to send emails always use the Text box to insert all the text and  fields you want. Don't forget to include a field value in the Subject again by using the text box.  

Hope these tips will help you when you start to use SharePoint Designer to create Workflows. But if you need any assistance then Office Talk are very happy to build these Workflow for you. Just give Frank a shout on 0121 3680055.

Outside of SharePoint a sad event this week for the death of the brilliantly funny Mel Smith. So I shall end with a video of Mel at his best.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

SharePoint 2013 Training Videos

Welcome to this week's SharePoint Blog with just a hint of football chat.

The new football season is only four weeks away and what a Premier League season is promises to be. The 'Special One' is back at Chelsea, Sir Alex has finally gone and Arsene Wenger is about to take the padlock off his wallet. Bring it on!

Down at Villa Park, slipping under the radar, Paul Lambert has been a very busy man shopping more than my ex-wife used to. He has been busy buying young potential from all over Europe. Now, I have to say that not one of his six signings (many full internationals) were names I had ever heard of but then I hadn't heard of Christian Benteke this time last year. But despite my lack of knowledge of these players I am still very excited. The reason is the media of video and the amazing YouTube. Within seconds of the transfer news that Villa were chasing Danish superstar Helenius all Villa fans were YouTube searching and what they found they really liked.

So maybe another goalscoring gem has been unearthed, but what about SharePoint? Well, Office Talk are delighted to now be able to offer the full range  of the latest SharePoint 2013 training videos.Over the last six years Office Talk have had many happy customers who have purchased CBTClips for SharePoint. They are a set of short video clips (no more than 5 minutes) showing the end user how to perform basic SharePoint tasks. A video can say so much more than a manual. It is like the Helenius video shows Villa fans so much about the forward they have purchased. We know what kind of shooter he is, how good a header, his pace, goal celebration and that he is built a bit like Peter Crouch.

Video is very much the media of twenty-first century so it makes sense to you it to back up your SharePoint End User Training. These SharePoint CBT Clips are also a great addon to any Help Centre. Where users can search for the help they need and  then watch a video that shows them exactly what to do. Over the past twelve months Office Talk have created 'Help Centres' on SharePoint for a range of companies. If you would be interested in us creating one for your environment please give Frank a call on 0121 368 0055.

If you haven't already check out these brilliant CBT Clips for SharePoint by visiting

Youtube is great for cute animal videos as well as potential Villa signings and SharePoint so let me leave you with two of my recent favourites;

1. The Baby Pandas on the Slide.

2. Cute Cats and Kittens