Plan workflows (Windows SharePoint Services)

Applies To: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0


Topic Last Modified: 2009-03-16

In this article:

  • What are workflows?

What are workflows?

Much of the work in any enterprise is done using business processes, which depend on the flow of information or documents and the participation of information workers to complete tasks that contribute to their workgroup's decisions or deliverables. In Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, automated, people-centric business processes are implemented by workflows.

Examples of business processes that could be facilitated by workflows include:

  • Contract approval Guiding a proposed contract among members of an organization who must approve or reject it.

  • Expense report Managing the submission of an expense report and associated receipts, reviewing it, approving it, and reimbursing the submitter.

  • Call center Guiding the progress of a technical support incident as it is opened by a customer, investigated by a support engineer, routed to technical experts, resolved, and added to a knowledge base.

  • Interview loop Managing the process of interviewing a job candidate. This includes scheduling and tracking interview appointments, rolling up interview feedback as it accumulates, making feedback available to subsequent interviewers, and facilitating the hire/no hire decision.

  • Content publishing Managing the approval of the publication of content on an enterprise's Internet presence site.

One of the problems faced by many IT departments when implementing automated, people-centric business processes is that the processes do not integrate with the way people work. For a people-centric business process to be effective, it must be integrated into the familiar, everyday tools and applications used in the workplace, so that it becomes part of the daily routine of information workers. In the electronic workplace, this includes integration with e-mail, calendars, task lists, collaboration Web sites, and client applications such as Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 and Word 2007. This is the approach implemented in workflows based on Windows SharePoint Services.

In Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, site designers can associate workflows with libraries, lists, or content types to make them available to run on documents or list items. A workflow's progress is recorded in a workflow history list and workflow tasks are assigned to participants using a tasks list.

Workflows in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 are built on the Windows Workflow Foundation component of Microsoft Windows, and software developers can create custom workflows using the Windows Workflow Foundation Designer in Microsoft Visual Studio 2005. After it is installed and enabled by an administrator, users can associate a workflow built on the Windows Workflow Foundation component of Microsoft Windows with one or more libraries, lists, or content types.

Users can also create custom workflows using Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007. Each workflow created by using Office SharePoint Designer 2007 can be associated with a single list or library. Office SharePoint Designer 2007 includes a visual workflow design environment and a set of workflow actions that users can add to workflows without having to write source code, including:

  • Setting list metadata

  • Creating, copying, deleting, or changing list items (including documents)

  • Checking items in or out

  • Pausing, starting, or stopping the workflow

  • Sending email messages

  • Setting the moderation status of an item

  • Setting an item's metadata

  • Assigning tasks

Using Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, you can create custom workflow actions that can be made available in Office SharePoint Designer 2007.