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Thursday, May 31, 2018

6 SharePoint Workflow Ideas to Save Time and Boost Productivity

Automating business processes is critical for staying competitive. But 40 percent of employees spend at least a quarter of their workweek on manual, repetitive tasks.

SharePoint workflows equip your IT department with the tools to simplify processes and automate low-value tasks. In this post, we’ll break down the different types of SharePoint workflows you can use to increase productivity for your business.

Benefits of SharePoint Workflows

A SharePoint workflow is a mini-application that takes the labor, guesswork and randomness out of your standard work processes. SharePoint workflows are designed to save you time and effort and bring consistency and efficiency to routine tasks.

Manual processes like collecting signatures and getting plans approved can drag out for days or weeks when they aren’t monitored. And when simple tasks don’t get completed in a timely fashion, productivity suffers.

When you use SharePoint workflows, all of the checking, tracking and reminding is done automatically. Workflows can manage and track human tasks involved with processes like project approval or document review, cutting down on time, manual labor and frustration.

Here are some common tasks you could automate with a SharePoint workflow:

  • Due date reminders or escalation for time-sensitive processes or tasks
  • Approvals and reviews of any documents or internal items
  • Assigning tasks and various work types
  • Reminders for project phases that have little visibility and tracking
  • Scheduling vacations or requesting time off

Depending on the complexity of your business process, you can use a built-in SharePoint workflow template or create your own from the ground up.

Built-In SharePoint Workflows

SharePoint includes five pre-programmed workflow types that address common business scenarios.

Approval Workflows

Approval workflows route a document or item to one or more people for approval. They allow you to assign review tasks, track their progress and send reminders and notifications.

Let’s say your sales team needs to send a proposal to a new client. After the sales associate prepares the document, it needs to go to the project team, sales manager and director for approval. Approval workflows automate the approval chain so you don’t have to manually track the process.

This workflow streamlines your approval process to avoid hold-ups and prevent important documents from slipping through the cracks.

Collect Feedback

This type of SharePoint workflow routes a document or item to a group of people for feedback. It consolidates all the feedback from participants and sends it back to the person who initiated the workflow. It also provides a record of the review process for future use.

Collect Signatures

Manually transferring documents from person to person can be confusing and time-consuming. This workflow automatically routes a Microsoft Office document or form created in Word, Excel or InfoPath to one or more people to collect their digital signatures.

Publishing Approval

Similar to the examples above, this workflow automates the routing of content to subject matter experts and stakeholders for review and approval. But the publishing approval workflow is unique because it’s designed specifically for publishing sites with tightly controlled publishing and editing access.

The workflow automatically routes web pages, assigns review tasks and sends reminders and notifications to approvers when necessary.

Three-State Workflows

This workflow is used to manage business processes that require organizations to track a high volume of issues or items, such as customer support issues, sales leads or project tasks.

For example, you could build a project task workflow that tracks tasks in three states: active, ready for review and complete.

Custom SharePoint Workflows

Do you have a business need that can’t be met by SharePoint’s pre-programmed workflows?

SharePoint’s templates are ideal for simple scenarios, but they can’t accommodate significant customizations. Custom workflows let you create mini-programs within SharePoint and tailor them to your unique business process needs.

The possibilities with custom workflows are endless. But if you’re looking to extract the greatest ROI of time and money from process automation, start with these workflows:

  • Help desk ticket management
  • Inventory tracking
  • Sales lead pipeline review
  • Compliance support
  • Meeting planning and management
  • Policy review and approval

SharePoint Designer is a flexible HTML editor used for creating and editing SharePoint workflows, sites and web pages. It lets you build custom workflows without having to write a single line of code.

Using SharePoint Designer, you can define custom rules that associate conditions and actions with items in your SharePoint lists and libraries. Changes to these items trigger actions in the workflow.

Want to learn how to create and administer SharePoint workflows today? Here are some good training courses to help you get started:

Discover more SharePoint courses being offered now.

Learn SharePoint With Expert-Led Training

SharePoint workflows can boost your organization’s productivity, cut out inefficiencies and leverage automation to avoid repetitive tasks. And having the technical skills to recognize process gaps and design efficient SharePoint workflows is the key to a successful implementation.

As the world’s largest independent IT training company, New Horizons offers comprehensive SharePoint training for every skill level and business need. Professional SharePoint training will equip you with the skills and confidence to build SharePoint workflows and websites for any business.

Ready to learn the advanced SharePoint skills you need to get ahead? Get prepared today with New Horizons SharePoint training courses.

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