Evolutionary approach to process automation with SharePoint workflows
Automating business processes through workflows in SharePoint can be a daunting task if it’s the first time your organization is going to implement them. If you take an evolutionary approach to developing workflows your organization can benefit from the following best practices while incrementally gaining expertise.
Assess the organization SharePoint maturity. An evolutionary approach involves three phases: information gathering, experimenting, and adoption. Learn as much as possible about the organization during the first phase, this includes gathering an inventory of skills available. For example: Is there anybody experienced as a SharePoint Designer? Is there InfoPath expertise? If not, can anyone be trained on using the Microsoft suite of tools.
Find the right tools. Decide if the workflow out-of-the box from SharePoint Designer is going to be sufficient or whether you need to use Visual Studio for customized workflows. Verify whether or not your organization allows for use of these tools internally. Discuss the pros and cons purchasing third-party tools such as K2 or Nintex.
Ensure a strategic plan is in place for the organization. Consider the adoption sentiment towards SharePoint. Is SharePoint being accepted as an valuable platform? Consider the impact in all areas of the business, establish clear goals, and define plans and timelines for an overall strategy.
Experiment with non-critical workflows first. Pick departmental applications with a small set of users and track its success. Once you have worked out the kinks, start extending the reach to more critical applications.
Find a trusted partner that can help you through the process. An overall business process automation strategy and plan for implementation demands a meticulous understanding of SharePoint. Pick a partner that has such expertise.