Workflows in SharePoint

What is a Workflow in SharePoint?
Ø  In simple words, we can say workflow is a serious of activities occurs in steps which will produce an output at the final step.
Ø  In SharePoint, workflow is an automated movement of documents or items through a sequence of actions or tasks that are related to a business process
Ø  Business process is a sequence of steps that occurs on a document or a task or an item and finally produces a result as an outcome.

Types of Workflows
Basically, there are two fundamental types of workflows in the SharePoint:
                       
   1.   Sequential workflow
It represents the steps that execute in order until the completion of last activity. It is represented graphically in flowchart with start, end and all the sequential activities in between.
Example

   
  2.   State-Machine workflow
It represents a set of states, transitions and actions. As sequential workflows, it does not have prescribed execution flow and need not have an end. It can have any number of states and transition and it can any items related to any transition.
Example


The different types of workflow in the various versions of SharePoint present by default are listed below:

Ways for creating workflows in SharePoint
The different ways of creating the workflows in SharePoint are as follows:
    1.   In SharePoint site directly
    2.   SharePoint Designer
    3.   Microsoft Visual Studio with workflow extensions installed (WWF- Windows Workflow Foundation) – basically called custom workflows
    4.   Third party tools like K2 Black Perl, Nintex, etc.,

What are the pre-requisites for creating a workflow in SharePoint?
    1.  There should be a at least one list or document library to create and associate a workflow.
    2.   If you do not have a single list or document library in your site, you will be prompted for creating a list or library.
    3.   If you want your workflow to be associated with custom columns or settings in the site, then those changes should be made before you create the workflow so that it will be available in the designer.

Advantages
 Ø  Allow the business activities to be automated, enabling actions such as document review, approval, issue tracking and signature collection.
 Ø  Allow the document to be routed to one person to another for approval by assigning a task to each person. This is followed by analysis, review, and approval and finally the document is published. Hence making the document management easier.
 Ø  Also improves the collaboration in an enterprise.

To know about creating a designer workflow in SharePoint using SharePoint designer 2007, read this article.


To know about the new features added in SharePoint Designer 2010, read this article.

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