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SharePoint Workflow
Best Practices
About me
• Vadim Tabakman
• Lead Technical Evangelist, Nintex
• Over 20 years consulting, development and corporate IT exp...
Introduction
• There are more best practices and errors to avoid
• Based on real-world projects
• Advice applies to any wo...
SharePoint Workflow
and Multiple History Lists
Why Not One Workflow History List?
• History Lists are just SharePoint lists
• Performance degradation with 2000-4000 item...
Don’t Always Use
SharePoint Workflow
Good Uses of SharePoint Workflow
• Managing how people work
• Document approval & feedback
• Collaborative reviews & discu...
Good Uses of SharePoint Workflow
• Automating some of SharePoint’s behavior
• Approve site creation requests
• Parse incom...
Possible Uses of SharePoint Workflow
• Manipulating other applications, data sources
• Employee onboarding
• Resource sche...
Bad Uses of SharePoint Workflow
• Transaction-oriented processes
• Blocking or modifying activity
• Application-to-applica...
Plan to Fail
Consensus May Not Exist
• Get 3 employees and 1 manager together
• Talk about a process
• Little agreement
• Documentation...
The Process Will Change
Exceptions are Initially Ignored
• Rarely is this considered in advance
• Rarely does everyone agree
• Ignored exceptions ...
Initial Failure as a Winning Strategy
• People do not want to hear these hard truths.
• You may have to create an initial ...
Process
Step
Step
Step
Start Simple
Automate
this
first
Automate
these
later
Focus on Everyday Process
Everyday Processes
• Steal time
• Get in the way
• Annoy users
Everyday Processes
• Have few stakeholders (even if many participants)
• Are easier to automate
• Free up time to focus on...
Everyday Processes
• Automating them trains users how to think
When to use a :
List Workflow
Site Workflow
Reusable Workflow Template
Reusability
• You should think about reusability first
• Save yourself time
• Save your colleagues time
• Save your busine...
What if I can’t do what I need to
with the given actions?
Extensibility???
• Web Service calls – Call HTTP web service action
• 21 web services, just from SharePoint itself
• 3rd p...
Put Forms in Their Proper Place
The Form is the User Interface
• Not the workflow
• Not the data
If (x and y) then
do this
do that
End if
If (user is Bob) then
do this and that and the other thing
undo that
End if
If (x...
Form-Only App Problems
• Hidden logic
• Disconnected logic
• Security
• Complexity without code
• Inheritance / Knowledge ...
Presentation Process Integration
Think About the Whole App
Make the Workflow Do the Work
• Documented
• Auditable
• Easier to change
• Easier to manage
One Form Per Step
• Submit
• Start
• Task
Task Forms
• Workflow can route new data
• New data can be written to original form
• All info can be sent to other places
Self-Reporting Workflows
Least-Loved Techniques
• Browsing individual history entries
• Building custom reports
You’re Already Using SharePoint
• The list itself can be the report
• Users can sort, group, filter on metadata (Leverage ...
Summary
• Don’t always use SharePoint Workflow
• Plan to fail
• Focus on everyday processes
• It’s not about forms
• Self-...
Questions?
SharePoint Workflow Best Practices
SharePoint Workflow Best Practices
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SharePoint Workflow Best Practices

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presented at SharePoint TechFest Houston 2016

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SharePoint Workflow Best Practices

  1. 1. SharePoint Workflow Best Practices
  2. 2. About me • Vadim Tabakman • Lead Technical Evangelist, Nintex • Over 20 years consulting, development and corporate IT experience • End user advocate
  3. 3. Introduction • There are more best practices and errors to avoid • Based on real-world projects • Advice applies to any workflow product • No demos
  4. 4. SharePoint Workflow and Multiple History Lists
  5. 5. Why Not One Workflow History List? • History Lists are just SharePoint lists • Performance degradation with 2000-4000 items • Multiple Workflows and One History List • Grows very quickly • Multiple Workflows and Multiple History Lists • Shares the load. • Faster to access workflow history
  6. 6. Don’t Always Use SharePoint Workflow
  7. 7. Good Uses of SharePoint Workflow • Managing how people work • Document approval & feedback • Collaborative reviews & discussions • Gathering signatures
  8. 8. Good Uses of SharePoint Workflow • Automating some of SharePoint’s behavior • Approve site creation requests • Parse incoming email in a list and act on it • Publishing items to target • Moving documents through lifecycles
  9. 9. Possible Uses of SharePoint Workflow • Manipulating other applications, data sources • Employee onboarding • Resource scheduling • SharePoint lists become work queues
  10. 10. Bad Uses of SharePoint Workflow • Transaction-oriented processes • Blocking or modifying activity • Application-to-application service activity • Aggressive data transformations • Work that doesn’t involve SharePoint at all
  11. 11. Plan to Fail
  12. 12. Consensus May Not Exist • Get 3 employees and 1 manager together • Talk about a process • Little agreement • Documentation disagreement, too
  13. 13. The Process Will Change
  14. 14. Exceptions are Initially Ignored • Rarely is this considered in advance • Rarely does everyone agree • Ignored exceptions lead to bypass
  15. 15. Initial Failure as a Winning Strategy • People do not want to hear these hard truths. • You may have to create an initial workflow just to show how awful a process is. • Only then can you change it.
  16. 16. Process Step Step Step Start Simple Automate this first Automate these later
  17. 17. Focus on Everyday Process
  18. 18. Everyday Processes • Steal time • Get in the way • Annoy users
  19. 19. Everyday Processes • Have few stakeholders (even if many participants) • Are easier to automate • Free up time to focus on more critical stuff
  20. 20. Everyday Processes • Automating them trains users how to think
  21. 21. When to use a : List Workflow Site Workflow Reusable Workflow Template
  22. 22. Reusability • You should think about reusability first • Save yourself time • Save your colleagues time • Save your business time and money • Is a List workflow the best solution for you? • It’s probably the quickest and easiest, but is it the best solution?
  23. 23. What if I can’t do what I need to with the given actions?
  24. 24. Extensibility??? • Web Service calls – Call HTTP web service action • 21 web services, just from SharePoint itself • 3rd party LOB systems which have web services • 3rd party SharePoint solutions that exposes web services • Build Custom Web Service • Build Custom Actions
  25. 25. Put Forms in Their Proper Place
  26. 26. The Form is the User Interface • Not the workflow • Not the data
  27. 27. If (x and y) then do this do that End if If (user is Bob) then do this and that and the other thing undo that End if If (x and y) then do this do that End if If (x and y) then do this do that End if If (user is Bob) then do this and that and the other thing undo that End if If (x and y) then do this do that End if
  28. 28. Form-Only App Problems • Hidden logic • Disconnected logic • Security • Complexity without code • Inheritance / Knowledge Transfer
  29. 29. Presentation Process Integration Think About the Whole App
  30. 30. Make the Workflow Do the Work • Documented • Auditable • Easier to change • Easier to manage
  31. 31. One Form Per Step • Submit • Start • Task
  32. 32. Task Forms • Workflow can route new data • New data can be written to original form • All info can be sent to other places
  33. 33. Self-Reporting Workflows
  34. 34. Least-Loved Techniques • Browsing individual history entries • Building custom reports
  35. 35. You’re Already Using SharePoint • The list itself can be the report • Users can sort, group, filter on metadata (Leverage Views!) • Write progress information to item properties • Stage Workflows already do this
  36. 36. Summary • Don’t always use SharePoint Workflow • Plan to fail • Focus on everyday processes • It’s not about forms • Self-reporting workflows
  37. 37. Questions?

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