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Using Third Party Workflow Apps with SharePoint 2013 via the Browser to Manage Business Processes

Workflows are the next scenario presented by Asif Rehmani in his presentation, “Building Composite Solutions for SharePoint 2013 with the Browser” which he delivered at the SharePoint Conference, 2012, which was held in Las Vegas, NV in the U.S. We need to note that the workflow tool discussed in this section of Asif’s presentation is offered by Nintex. He made the decision to build this workflow section of his presentation on Nintex’s product, in part, as the result of Microsoft’s recommendation that this presentation include some mention of 3rd party applications, as appropriate.

Appropriately, workflow comes up with regard to a typical governance requirement. In the case of Asif’s presentation, the control that needs to be exercised is to record any management review of any expense reimbursement requests over, and above, $200.00 prior to processing them. Including this type of control in the expense reporting process demonstrated by Asif’s presentation correctly positions line of business (LOB) organizations as process owners. Of course, as process owners, these organizations need to manage the expense reporting process, and, in particular, how employee expenditures are reimbursed.

The Nintex workflow tool used in our presentation is the preview version of Nintex’s Workflow App, for SharePoint 2013, as presently offered by the Microsoft® Office App Store.

In his introduction to the actual implementation of the Nintex workflow tool for this demonstration, Asif Rehmani notes that in-context, task-specific help files should be exposed to users directly from the SharePoint 2013 ribbon, in order to ensure a successful experience for users who opt to build workflows with a point and click, no-code tool like Nintex Workflow. Of course, no one likes to fail. Where pervasive adoption of SharePoint is an important requirement for enterprise IT organizations, it makes sense to provide the resources required to ensure that user efforts are successful. Our VisualSP, is an example of the type of in-context access method to context-sensitive training content that Asif is alluding to at this point in his presentation.

The approval workflow must be added to SharePoint 2013 as an App. Our presentation demonstrates how a conditional action can be added to a Nintex workflow. This conditional action is triggered if requested expenses exceed $200.00. Once triggered, our workflow example produces an email and sends it to an identified user. The specific user is identified for the action by adding the recipient’s email address during the “configure” process for the conditional action within the workflow. The whole process is simple and built entirely with a series of clicks of a mouse. As such, producing a comparable workflow should be well within the range of capabilities of LOB users who need to manage the process.

Readers working in heavily regulated industries should note that Asif demonstrates an additional feature of the Nintex Workflow Tool — “log to history list”. By using this feature, an audit trail for any expense reimbursement procedures (regardless of whether requested amounts fall within, or outside of, approved limits) can be recorded (automatically) for later review, as required. Any conditional actions built with the Nintex workflow tool can include this feature, which may produce substantial savings for organizations that would have to use other methods of collect this type of information into an audit trail for compliance reviews.

Once the workflow has been added to the same Document Library App where the expense report, itself, is created, a simple click of the mouse on the specific workflow initiates the conditional action based upon the amount of money requested for reimbursement via the expense report.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved
on behalf of Rehmani Consulting, Inc.