Chapter 6: Using Workflows and Information Management Policies

One of the challenges that organizations face is how to accurately monitor and guide the flow of information in their business processes. To meet this challenge, SharePoint Server 2007 provides Information Management Policies that enable you to define a set of rules that govern content labeling, auditing, and expiration of documents and list items. SharePoint Server 2007 also includes a set of built-in workflow templates that allow you to program the sequence of steps that a document or list item must go through for approval or completion.

Automating Document Management in SharePoint Server 2007

Many of your business processes can now be automated using the document management features of SharePoint Server 2007. Although it is possible to create workflows in Windows SharePoint Services implementations, the built-in workflow templates are only available with SharePoint Server. To create custom workflows for either Windows SharePoint Services or SharePoint Server, you must use SharePoint Designer to create basic workflows with custom logic, or Visual Studio to create unique workflows that can include .NET code modules.

Workflow Automation

The purpose of adding workflow to your sites is to automate repetitive operations and ensure that critical tasks are assigned to the appropriate person and then completed. Workflows can be configured so that users can start them manually, but most are scheduled to start when a document or list item is created or when it is updated. Combining the automatic triggering of a workflow with business logic that evaluates conditions on an item allows you to create workflows that only take effect after specific criteria are met.

There are several workflow templates available with SharePoint Server 2007, and each is covered in this chapter. The standard workflows and their functions are described below:

  • Approval Workflow: routes a document for approval

  • Three-State Workflow: tracks items in a list

  • Translation Management Workflow: manages document translation

  • Collect Feedback Workflow: routes a document for review

  • Collect Signatures Workflow: gathers digital signatures needed to complete a Microsoft Office document

  • Disposition Approval Workflow: manages document expiration and retention


There is also a Group Approval workflow that is available only in East Asian versions of SharePoint Server 2007, and therefore it is not covered in this chapter.

In addition to the pre-installed workflow templates, you can also create new workflows and attach them directly to lists and libraries using SharePoint Designer 2007. When you need to implement more complex logic than is provided by the pre-installed workflow templates listed above, then consider using SharePoint Designer to create custom workflows. A custom workflow allows you to specify complex criteria that permit the workflow engine to execute business logic against a document or a list item. Workflows built with SharePoint Designer are stored in the site, but are always assigned directly to a specific SharePoint list and cannot be used for items in another list. Using Visual Studio 2005, it is possible to create true custom workflow templates that can be installed as Features on the server and made available to all sites and lists. Building custom workflow templates involves writing custom code and is outside the scope of this chapter.

Whether customizing a pre-installed workflow template or creating a custom workflow with SharePoint Designer, you can program the workflow to start automatically under specific conditions, such as when a document is first created or when it is changed. Workflows started in this way can be used to incorporate business practices and policies into your SharePoint environment and to ensure that certain procedures are always followed.

To determine which type of workflow you need for your organization, refer to Table 6-1.

Table 6-1: Common Workflow Scenarios
Open table as spreadsheet

If you want to do this

Use this workflow

Add workflow for draft document approval in a document library


Authorize the publication of a Web page on your Intranet or Internet site


Route a document to others for review and comment

Collect Feedback

Obtain digital signatures on a document

Collect Signatures

Schedule a document to be reviewed for deletion when it expires in the Records Center

Disposition Approval

Track the handling of an issue


Manage the routing of documents for translation to other formats or languages

Translation Management

Build multistep workflows or include specific business logic

Create a custom workflow

Information Management Policies

Many organizations need to implement controls on their information to remain in compliance with government regulations, such as HIPAA and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or to meet other legal requirements. Information Management Policies in SharePoint Server 2007 can be applied to lists and content types to help you meet these requirements. An Information Management Policy represents a set of rules governing one or more of the following:

  • Label policy: automatically generate a text label that can be embedded in a document

  • Audit policy: log some or all user activities on list items and documents

  • Expiration policy: set a specific duration for a document or item and the method for deleting it when it expires

  • Barcode policy: automatically generate a barcode that can be embedded in a document

Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Administrator's Pocket Consultant
Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Administrators Pocket Consultant
ISBN: 0735623821
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 110
Authors: Ben Curry

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