Workflows in SharePoint helps improve efficiency in organizations

Microsoft has always been the company that brought forth new innovative technologies and capabilities to get the maximum advantage and ease various business processes. The new versions of SharePoint come with new features, which not only extends confidence to its users but also makes working in projects a seamless process. This has led to its rapid adoption in all kinds of organizations. More than 78% of Fortune 500 companies are currently using SharePoint and reaping the benefits of the platform. There were some major changes brought on SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 continues with the same trend by introducing various kinds of innovative features for web content management, workflow, big data, social analytics and workflow.

Besides these features, like the Workflows in SharePoint, the following are some of the major reasons for companies to migrate to SharePoint 2013 from their existing collaborative platforms. The ones who were using the older versions of the platform are now using 2013 for the list of compelling features which have instigated various enterprises to take this leap.

Applications for SharePoint
The application that exists on the SharePoint platform allows the users to quickly add functionalities to their site whenever required without having any knowledge of coding. The site owners can add various apps to the SharePoint platform or remove them whenever needed. The applications in the platform come with an isolated URL and therefore, it does not open the environment to cross site scripting risks. Various enterprises can develop its own apps for SharePoint platform or make the applications available from the Store, which can be easily updated from whenever the user needs it. The web apps are free for both internal and external users. The Office web apps are also functional on mobile devices like the iPad.

Improved Workflows in SharePoint
There is a new add which is the Workflows in SharePoint. The Workflow Manager can be downloaded and installed separately which operates on its own server and has its own databases for the manager and users itself. Therefore, now creating workflows for SharePoint 2013 has become much easier because of integration of Task process designer canvas that integrates itself with Visio 2013 which is an add in with SharePoint Designer 2013.

Integration of Yammer
Each version of SharePoint platform comes integrated with advanced social features and capabilities. Microsoft took over Yammer recently and therefore released the Yammer integration roadmap. This Yammer will work in place of SharePoint Newsfeed replacing it completely.

Support for Big Data
The SharePoint 2013 enables usage of larger data sets with help of integrated PowerPivot technology. The larger data sets can be compressed and filtered while in memory on the server enabling the operations on data to occur faster. The users can leverage Power View data modeling for large sets of data to represent the same with charts, graphs, runtime data filtering and slicers.

Improved publishing capabilities vs. cross site publishing
The cross site publishing for web content management enhances the authoring and publishing processes of organizations. The process allows the users to store, maintain or change content in one or more authoring site collections and display this content on all site collections at one go, whichever are the ones using the content.

Improved design capabilities
The SharePoint 2013 server comes with new and advanced features for designing of websites and laying out of content by simply dragging and dropping menu items. Since the SharePoint designing tool looks similar to Dreamweaver, it is something which can be easily used.

Role of Workflows in SharePoint
The Workflows in SharePoint is a series of steps that highlights a particular process of the business. To define it more accurately, the Workflow is an automated movement of items through sequential tasks that are related to the particular business process. The purpose of Workflow is the specify and control tasks by attaching different sets of instruction to an item or document in the SharePoint server. These Workflows in SharePoint server helps perform different kinds of business processes.

ApprovalOne of the Workflows in SharePoint, this one re-routes a document or item to a specific individual group of people for approval. The group of people can choose to either approve or reject the document or can even modify if needed be. Approval workflows is associated with Document Content Type by default and is thus available in various document libraries. The same version is also associated with the Pages Library in a publishing site that can be used to manage the approval process of webpage publication process.

Collect Feedback This Workflows in SharePoint is responsible for collecting various feedback from a specific set of people. The workflow collects feedback on a particular document, and sends it to the person who actually initiated the document. The workflow is also integrated with Document Content Type and thus is available in the documents library.

Collect signatures
This kind of workflow is routed with Microsoft Office documents to people so that it can collaborate their digital signatures on them. The workflow is meant to complete the task of associating their signatures in MS office documents. This document is also associated with Documents Libraries, however, it would appear only if the document in it contains one or more of the Microsoft Office Signature Lines.

Disposition Approval
This workflow is designed to support various kinds of records management processes, manage the documents expiration and retention. It helps the participants in the workflow to decide whether the documents should be retained, edited or deleted. However, the workflow is intended to be kept only within the Records Center site.

Three state
This workflow in SharePoint is able to manage different processes that tracks issues such as sales issues, project problems and various issues related to the project, etc.

Group Approval
This Workflow in SharePoint works similar to Approval Workflow, but it is designed to use only the designated document library and only offers personalized approval process views to the participating users. The workflow presents a hierarchical organizational chart which the approvers actually select to approve a particular document. Moreover, instead of getting any signature, it just requires stamp from approvers for approving the particular project.

Translation Management
This workflow just manages translation process by creating copies of documents to be translated. It is however, only available for Translation Management Libraries.

Benefits of using Workflows in SharePoint
All these kinds of workflows help in providing a seamless processing of business tasks. However, all these workflows can be customized in several kinds of ways. The user can customize the workflow by mentioning the different number of participants, instructions, due date, etc. and employ the same for efficient management of business processes.

If your business involves a huge amount of paper works which requires multiple employees collaborating over a single document, then the business needs a workflow in SharePoint services. The SharePoint workflow is designed to help the enterprise by automating various kinds of manual business processes that would drive effective workflow collaboration among all the participants. The workflow is basically a series of steps in the business process which needs to be done to complete the particular business objective. For improved control, productivity, efficiency and accountability, the SharePoint workflow functions to solve a varied number of business processes including management of paper work, customer issues, news, leave requests, etc.

The following are more such benefits of using Workflow in SharePoint:

Increasing productivity
It helps in reduction of time spent on performing certain business activities, enabling the employees to concentrate more on other business tasks like management of customer queries. Developing an automated workflow, it not helps in improving external and internal business procedures but allows the managers to get a top level view of various kinds operational processes.

Seamless project management
With multiple business projects operating at the same time in an organization, it becomes quite difficult to deliver on tasks on time and quality focused results. Therefore, whether it is about handling and management of internal and external communications, team management, resource allocation, one needs a complete workflow solution that would enable centralized web based collaboration, document and content management. Besides all this, there is also the need of phase wise project monitoring in a configurable, scalable and extensible format. With workflow, the enterprise is able to get all this.

Tracking progress with SharePoint Workflows
With Workflows in SharePoint,you can determine the productivity levels of various individuals and even teams. The tracking capabilities help the organizations to improve workflow by enhancing communication. These tools assist the employees in completing all tasks completed on time and correctly. The large business organizations receive the greatest benefits from this tool as it helps to monitor, assign and review work progress on a project with ease and effectiveness.

Document management
One of the biggest concerns for any kind of enterprise is ensuring that work gets completed quickly and efficiently. The biggest challenge to this is the human factor as in people make mistakes. They sometimes pass their work later than expected or mistakenly send the paper work to the wrong person. To ensure that the business operates with optimal efficiency, the workflow needs to be seamless as possible. A good electronic document management system improves the workflow when the process is automated. Processing paper work is a step by step process, and with an excellent workflow, response time is improved ensuring that work is completed as soon as possible without any kind of complications down the line.

Supportive of various business operations
Workflows in SharePoint automates the workflows across different operational scenarios. Some of these include collecting feedback, collecting digital signatures and even document translations and so on. The workflow solutions help enterprises to save time and effectively use the resource.

Workflow collaborative solutions enable teams to work together on a centralized platform that can be accessed across geographies and departments and get their desired objective. Effective and efficient collaboration is something which is something very important among teams. To ensure that productivity levels are maintained, these teams should use these tools and technologies to work together. The workflows are designed to adopt the latest technology to address the specific business needs to ensure work is done in real time.

More than just a collaborative and document management platform
Majority of the organization believe that SharePoint is an amazing platform for document management, workflows and collaboration. However, one of the most overlooked and valuable aspects is that the software is able to automate various business processes. Now, one must be wondering as to what kind of business processes is most appropriate for implementation of this platform. The answer to this question is that the tasks that requires workflow, and are form centric and the ones that requires utilization of paperwork.

The following are some of examples of SharePoint business process management:

  • PTO approval
  • Loan approval
  • Management of change
  • Capital expense request
  • Employee off-boarding and on-boarding
  • Contract management, etc.
Why use SharePoint business process automation?

The following are the biggest benefits of using SharePoint platform as it:

  • Prevents the need for another system or application that has operational and administrative expertise or skills
  • Minimizes the need for any kind of additional training
  • Common interface all management of tasks, workflows and other work items status
  • Saves time and money

Technologies and Tools
The capabilities in SharePoint are twofold. Firstly, the designer software is accessible by all as it is a free tool that allows the businesses to integrate simple programming logics that would build them basic workflows. Secondly, there are already document approvals that are pre-built workflows.

For some workflows that are more complex for example the implementation of business processes, there are already tools integrated within the application. Furthermore, you can also customize the application to enhance its features further that would be best suited for the organization.

The features in SharePoint platform helps in escalating the visibility of process management. Transforming paper based and manual processes into automated processes allows the organization to improve, monitor and measure their effort and increase their outcomes. The SharePoint automation process helps in driving transparency and accountability in the organization as it highlights the opportunities for enterprises.