Once upon a time, Melissa, while pondering the use of SharePoint, asked the question, “Does it have workflow?” Her teacher answered, “Since workflow, defined in your case as the ability to move information through an organization so that a series of activities can be performed to accomplish an overall goal, the answer is yes.” Melissa smiled and asked politely, “Is is suitable for all types of workflow?”
Her teacher responded, “Let me explain how I see it being used. Use of wworkflows are a good tool to use where business processes need to be applied consistently like when you need to comply with internal procedures or to meet the requirements of certain standards such as ISO 9001. It is not appropriate to apply the technology when the process is too complex, not properly defined or does not exist at all.” He continued, “SharePoint can provide this capability and to a degree, some of the provided workflows like those for gaining approval, collecting feedback, managing a three state process, collecting signatures, and approving the disposition of content may be suitable to meet your needs. If not, there are ways to create or design and develop your own workflows. The key is in knowing what you are trying to accomplish through the use of workflow, assessing the current state and planning properly which includes selecting the appropriate tools. In your case, it may or may not be SharePoint but you certainly have a good place to start.”
In my view, Melissa is one of many who are wrestling with this same question and facing the same challenges related to the use of SharePoint to address workflow. The real issue is to understand what problem you are trying to solve and if SharePoint alone will meet the need. In some cases, it might be a perfect fit and in others, for more complex environments, you may need a full BPM class product. In either case, assess, plan, select and implement is a good approach to using workflow so Yes Melissa, SharePoint does have workflow but what you really need to know, is whether it is appropriate for you.
If you are not sure how to go about moving in that direction, seek professional assistance and/or training to get you started.
What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? What is on your mind? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.
To all of you who take time read these posts, I thank you and wish you the very best this Holiday Season.
Bob Larrivee, Director and Industry Advisor – AIIM
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