Give Business Users the Power to Create SharePoint Workflows

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SharePoint 2010 has provided many enhancements in the workflow arena.  Workflows are conditions with actions on those conditions to automate processes.  An example could be an approval of an expense request.  When a user submits an expense request in SharePoint it automatically begins the approval process with his manager.  A condition might be, for example,  if the expense  is over $1000., the request automatically routes to the department head for approval.  Although this may sound like it saves only a few minutes here and there, a few minutes every day can really add up over a week, month, or year.

Up until SharePoint 2010, workflows needed to be created by site administrators and people with training / technical knowledge of how to develop them with SharePoint Designer tools.  Now with Visio 2010, business users are able to develop SharePoint workflows and deliver them to the trained employees for importation  into the SharePoint system.  Let’s walk through a basic Visio workflow buildout.

First, start up Visio and create a new Microsoft SharePoint Workflow through the Flowchart selection.

Next, build out your workflow using the tools in the Shapes pane.  For this screenshot, we are following the example listed in the above scenario.

The business user then selects the Process Tab in Visio and Export SharePoint Workflow.

The file created can then be sent to the site administrator to implement the workflow on the site.  Once imported, the administrator will see a view similar to this, setting up all the steps and requiring a few technical inputs to make the magic happen.  The notes the business user provided are right there to assist.

This can really give some freedom to the business users, and allow for the site administrators to focus on site maintenance and other enhancements.  Even though site administrators may build these workflows all the time, it should be interesting over time to see how giving these tools to more and more people will develop some neat ideas.

For more information, check out Visio’s website or the official Visio blog.

By: Jason McKinney, RSM – Microsoft SharePoint Professionals for Minnesota, Iowa, New Jersey, and New York

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