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.


Verlene said...

This is cool!

Oxy said...

JFYI - a solution contains more 200 custom actions and conditions for SharePoint Workflows:

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Roman said...

Thanks for useful article. Just to add more information, if you need more functionality from your SharePoint Designer you always can use 3rd party tool such as Workflow Actions Pack from

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