Flowcharts — visualizations of business processes — can range from the deceptively simple to the truly complex. As can be seen in many such charts, going through a process manually involves a lot of tedious tasks such as send-offs, tracking, and sending reminders. The repetitive and fatigue-inducing nature of these tasks makes processes prone to inconsistencies, guesswork, and random hitches that hamper productivity.
To avoid this, you can automate those error-causing tasks with SharePoint workflows. SharePoint workflows are mini-applications that are pre-programmed and are self-monitoring. Simply put, these track process completion for you and fulfill tasks automatically if certain conditions are met. To illustrate, if someone is running late with a certain task, the SharePoint workflow itself will send a notification to the errant staff.
To help you see what SharePoint can do for your business more clearly, here are several built-in workflows you can choose from and customise to your needs.
This allows you to start an approval chain or route a document to a group of people for approval when it is uploaded to SharePoint. For instance, if a proposal authored by your sales team needs approval, this workflow can automate all the steps needed in the approval chain, from sending it to the project team for approval, then to the sales manager for the same purpose, and finally to the sales director. There will be no need to keep track of that manually.
Collect Feedback workflow
This workflow works in the same way as an approval workflow, except that a questionnaire or survey is sent to a chain of respondents. Once feedback is collected from them, this workflow makes a compilation and sends it to the one who initiated the workflow.
Collect Signatures workflow
Manually transferring a document from person to person can be confusing and time-consuming. Running this workflow sends a Microsoft Office document or form to collect digital signatures from a group of designated people.
Publishing approval workflow
Similar to the approval workflow, the publishing approval workflow automates sending content to subject matter experts or other stakeholders for review and approval. What makes it different is that it’s specifically for publishing sites where publishing and editing new and updated web pages are tightly controlled. It automatically routes web pages, assigns review tasks, and sends notifications to approvers.
This is best suited for tracking a high volume of issues or items, such as customer support issues, sales leads, or project tasks. You could, for instance, track tasks in three states: active, ready for review, and complete in a project task workflow.
This workflow automates the status of documents and automatically changes it based on what happens to that document. This can be useful for tracking the status of a ‘statement of work’ document prepared and uploaded by a sales associate. Upon uploading, its status will be labeled as ‘draft.’ Once reviewed by the project team, its status will change to ‘being reviewed’ and then on to the sales manager and so on until this document is labeled ‘approved’ or ‘declined.’
A Notification Workflow sends a notification, such as an email, to chosen members of your organisation to remind them to take some sort of action. For instance, whenever your sales manager uploads a monthly sales report to SharePoint, the notification workflow can be used to trigger an automatic notification email for the sales director, informing them to take a look at the report.
Not all of SharePoint’s built-in workflows can fit the specific requirements of an organisation. SharePoint allows users to create their own workflows with significant customisations to fit the scenario. Custom workflows can, for instance, do the task of multiple built-in workflows based on the parameters you’ve set.
Here are some of the possibilities with custom workflows: help desk ticket management, inventory tracking, sales lead pipeline review, compliance support, meeting planning and management, and policy review and approval.