Workflow best practices

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Five Workflow Project Mistakes and Five Ways to Avoid ThemMike FitzmauriceVP Workflow Technology, Nintexmikefitz@nintex.com@mikefitz.IntroductionThere are more than fiveThese are extra top-of-mindBased on real-world projectsAdvice applies to any workflow productWarning: no demosMistake 1:Overusing SharePoint WorkflowInstead:Dont Always Use SharePoint WorkflowGood Uses of SharePoint WorkflowManaging how people workDocument approval & feedbackCollaborative reviews & discussionsGathering signatures

Good Uses of SharePoint WorkflowAutomating some of SharePoints behaviorApprove site creation requestsParse incoming email in a list and act on itPublishing items to targetMoving project proposals through lifecycles

Possible Uses of SharePoint WorkflowManipulating other applications, data sourcesEmployee onboardingResource scheduling

SharePoint lists become work queuesBad Uses of SharePoint WorkflowTransaction-oriented processesBlocking or modifying activityAggressive data transformationsCalculation-intensive processesMistake 2:Trying Too HardConsensus Probably Doesnt ExistGet 3 employees and 1 manager togetherTalk about a processLittle agreementDocumentation disagreement, tooThe Process Will ChangeExceptions Will Be IgnoredRarely is this considered in advanceRarely does everyone agreeIgnored exceptions lead to bypass

14Instead:Plan to Fail the First TimeInitial Failure as a Winning StrategyCreate an initial workflow just to show how awful (or incomplete) a process is.Only then can you change it.ProcessStepStepStepStart SimpleAutomatethisfirstAutomatetheselaterMistake 3:Starting with High-Profile ProcessesInstead:Focus on Everyday ProcessesPolicy is the abdication of thought.-Nathan MyrvoldProcess is the reuse of thought.-Mike FitzmauriceEveryday ProcessesSteal timeGet in the wayAnnoy usersAttract mistakesEveryday ProcessesHave few stakeholders (even if many participants)Are easier to automateFree up time to focusTeach users how to thinkEveryday ProcessesAre best designed following a screw-upMistake 4:Thinking in Straight LinesInstead:Use StagesSequential workflows get messy quicklyExample: Press ReleaseAuthorManagementLegalPublisherYou may think it looks like thisStartPublisher deploys to public web siteEndEndEndManager approvesYesNoLawyer ApprovesYesNoOr perhaps thisStartPublisher deploys to public web siteEndEndAuthor RevisesYesNoManagerApprovesYesNoLawyer ApprovesYesNoWe can make it messierProfessional editorial reviewLawyer with question for managementHow About This Instead?AuthorManagerLegalPublisherHow About This Instead?(re)Submit?AuthorEndManagerOK?ManagerAuthorLegalChoiceLegalAuthorManagerPublishPublisherManagerPublisherEasy User ParticipationWho Understands All of This?StartPublisher deploys to public web siteEndEndAuthor RevisesYesNoManagerApprovesYesNoLawyer ApprovesYesNoWho understands this part?This person.(re)Submit?ManagerAuthorLegalWho understands this part?This person.(re)Submit?AuthorEndManager39Easy User ParticipationAny user understands his/her partFew people understand everythingProcess = sum of stages

Easy to adjustHow About This?(re)Submit?AuthorEndEditorOK?ManagerAuthorLegalChoiceLegalAuthorPublisherManagerPublisherEndPublisher(re)Submit?EditorAuthorManagerWithout stagesA lot of If-Then-Else conditionsA lot of loopingVery confusing diagramsGoTo statements

Mistake 5:Making Forms Do Too MuchInstead:Use Forms and Workflow TogetherRethink the ProblemWorst Example:Form-Only AppIf (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (user is Bob) then do this and that and the other thing undo thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (user is Bob) then do this and that and the other thing undo thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd ifIf (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (user is Bob) then do this and that and the other thing undo thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (user is Bob) then do this and that and the other thing undo thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd ifIf (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (user is Bob) then do this and that and the other thing undo thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (user is Bob) then do this and that and the other thing undo thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd ifIf (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (user is Bob) then do this and that and the other thing undo thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd if

If (user is Bob) then do this and that and the other thing undo thatEnd if

If (x and y) then do this do thatEnd ifForm-Only App ProblemsLogic either hidden or disconnectedSecurityComplexity without code

Process LogicPresentation LogicThree-Tier SolutionsPresentationProcessData

All forms have processesBetter Example:Workflow on a FormProblems That RemainForm rules still neededForm & workflow must be kept in syncWorkflow has many extra steps

This is not 1 form with 31 pages

This is 1 workflow with 8 forms for 3 people

Best Example:Workflow with Multiple FormsOne Form Per StepContent Submit (list item or form library)Workflow Start (manually-executed workflows only)Workflow TaskTask FormsWorkflow can route data to tasksForms contain exactly whats neededSecurable to specific usersCan combine with structured document

Why this is goodForms stay simpleForms are specific to tasksWorkflow is simplerData can live anywhereEasier to secureIt doesnt fight the platform

Master/Detail FormsMaster-DetailProblems with Master-DetailNo two-phase commitNo set integrityPresentationLogicData AccessLogicProcess LogicUse a Repeating Section with a WorkflowSummaryUse SharePoint Workflow when it fits the use caseFail quickly and fix itFocus on everyday processesEmbrace stagesUse forms and workflow togetherThank You

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