Archive: SharePoint Designer Workflow 2010 – Task Actions

This article was originally written in July 2012.  It is being reposted here as an archive.

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I’m currently working on putting together a SharePoint Saturday session on the new 2010 Task Process in SharePoint Designer.  This is part of my “Lessons Learned” articles to help me organize my thoughts to prepare for this session (SPSNY – July 28, 2012).

In SharePoint Designer 2010, you can choose six different task actions to create and assign a task.  I personally prefer the more robust Task Processes, but it’s important to understand what the other Task Options that are available to you are and how they work.

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow Task Actions

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow – Task Actions

The following items are true for the first three actions (Assign a Form to a Group, Assign a To-do item and Collect Data from a User):

  • You are prompted for  a task name and description through a task wizard
  • The task is added as a site Content Type and fields you create are added as site columns

o   Content Types are added to “Custom Content Types” Group

o   Fields are added to “Custom Columns” Group

o   Field names are given a GUID internal name, such as: _C3C1C1F5_9957_43D5_ABB

  • The only outcome available is to “Complete Task”

o   Cancel just closes the form, it does not cancel the task

  • Workflow remains paused until each task is completed

o   If  Jim and Joe are each assigned a task and Joe goes on vacation, the workflow remains paused until Joe gets back and completes the task

o   If you assign to a group, “Claim Task” is available if you have Enterprise

  • Note: If you a assign a task to a group, that counts as one task and only one person in the group needs to complete it for the workflow to move on to the next step.
  • There is no way to set task fields, such as Due Date, Priority etc. in the workflow.

o   To set other task fields, such as Expires, Priority, etc. you must add create a secondary workflow and apply it to the task

  • Note: I have not been able to successfully run a workflow on a workflow task in SP2010.
  • There is no way to send an email to the assignee via the running workflow.

o   To send an assignee a task notification, email notifications must be turned on in Task List OR users must sign up for Alerts

o   You can’t customize these notifications

  • Note: You can’t use the workflow to send notifications because it pauses after creating the task until it is complete

Assign a Form to a Group (Available in SPD2007)

  • Allows you to add fields to the task form to request information from the person or group the form is assigned to

o   Responses to task fields are stored in task list

o   No way to access these responses in the workflow

  • You could use a workflow action to look up the field in the task list (I used the Task’s Workflow Item ID =Current Item Id) BUT this will not work if you have several tasks created during the workflow or run this workflow more than once.
SharePoint Designer 2010 Lookup Current Item ID

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow – Lookup Current Item ID

  • Field Types Available: (all can be set to allow blank values):

o   Single Line of Text

o   Multiple Lines of Text

  • Plain, rich or enhanced rich

o   Number field

  • Can set min/max values, set decimal places or set as percentage

o   Currency field

  • Can select currency, set min/max values,  set decimals places

o   Date and Time

  • Date or date and time

o   Choice Field

  • Checkboxes or dropdown, can allow fill-in choices
SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow Initiation Form Fields All Field Types

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow Initiation Form Fields – All Field Types

Assign a To-Do Item (Available in SPD2007)

  • Assigns a task but does not include a form to collect any information from the user.

o   The form displays the form name, the description and Complete Task and Cancel buttons.

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow Assign a To Do Task

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow – Assign a To Do Task

Collect Data from a user (Available in SPD2007)

  • Works exactly like the “Assign a Form to a Group” action, except it stores the ID of the task in a variable, which you can then use later in your workflow to lookup the contents of the field in the task list.

The following is true for the last three options (Approval Process, Custom Task Process, and Feedback Process).  You can:

  • create new fields or use existing site columns to assign to the task

o   the same field types as “Assign a Form to Group”, plus “Person or Group” field and “Hyperlink or Picture”

  • determine what happens before, during and after a task is created, assigned and completed
  • set rules on how to determine if the task process should end
  • set basic task fields, such as “Due Date” and “Priority” or give the user X number of days to complete their tasks before it is considered overdue
  • send customized task notifications and emails to the workflow initiator, assigned to and anyone else you need to during the process and cc: people as needed
  • set rules to send reminders before and after the due date

o   set the frequency of reminders after the due date to Daily, Weekly or Monthly

o   determine how many reminders will be sent to the assignee

  • allow assignees to reassign their task to someone else
  • allow assignees to request a change from someone else
  • assign multiple tasks within the same task process
  • tell the workflow what to do with the task if the item the workflow is running on is changed or deleted
  • determine if the task should be kept or deleted upon its completion
  • determine if everyone in a SharePoint group you assign a task to should get their own task or if just one task can be created for the entire group
  • create simple or complex if/then scenarios throughout the process.

As with the first three actions, the following is also true:

  • The task is added as a site Content Type and fields you create are added as site columns

o   Content Types are added to “Custom Content Types” Group

o   Fields are added to “Custom Columns” Group

o   Internal field names are a numerical GUID

Approval Process

  • Comes with prepopulated task processes that can be edited as needed

o   See Custom Task Process images to see what options can be set.

  • Default Outcomes – Approved, Rejected

o   These outcomes can be changed

Custom Task Process

  • Gives you the framework of the task process, but is completely blank so that you can start from scratch

Task Process Settings:

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow Task Process Settings

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow – Task Process Settings

Task Settings:

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow - Task Settings

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow – Task Settings

Task Process Completion Conditions:

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow Task Completion Conditions

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow – Task Completion Conditions

Feedback Process

  • Comes with prepopulated task processes that can be edited as needed

o   See Custom Task Process images to see what options can be set.

  • Default Outcomes – Completed (Submit Feedback)

o   These outcomes can be changed

I personally favor the task processes that are listed as the last three task actions available.  I’ve listed some of the cool things they can do above, but I plan to go into much more detail about all the things you can do and some pitfalls to avoid in future articles.

 

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