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Use a Parallel Block to enter Two Conditions for a Workflow Built with SharePoint Designer 2010

SharePoint Designer 2010 is the preferred tool to build workflows for SharePoint Server 2010. If a workflow requires two conditions to be run, for example: If condition A AND If condition B, then the way to enter both of these tests into the workflow, joined with “and”, is to first add a “parallel block” to the workflow.

Before we define a “parallel block”, it may be useful to talk about action sequence in SharePoint Designer 2010. As noted in Introduction to designing and customizing workflows, on the Microsoft® Office website, “[w]hen you have more than one action associated with a condition, the actions can be set up to run at the same time (parallel) or one after another (serial), the default.” So, the default sequence of actions in workflows built with SharePoint Designer 2010, is serial, literally a linear progression from action 1 to 2 to 3, etc.

But testing for two conditions is considered a “parallel” action, where both steps run simultaneously. We had a lot of difficulty finding any documentation on this simple point, so to alleviate the frustration other people may experience as they try to find a method of adding an “and” or an “or” to a pair of tests in a workflow, we decided to add a post on “parallel” sequencing for actions in SharePoint Designer 2010.

Now we can define a “parallel block” as an optional method of adding actions, or conditions to a SharePoint Designer 2010 workflow. This method appears as a clickable option in the SharePoint Designer 2010 ribbon. A parallel block will not work unless a pair of actions, or conditions, are added to it. Be sure to click on the amber form immediately below the “parallel block” label, or else you will not successfully enter the tests you need. Once you have successfully added your two-stage test to your workflow, you can click on the “and” and change it to an “or” if you so require.

Ira Michael Blonder

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