11 min read

5 Ways to Automate Workflows with SharePoint

April 20, 2023

The market for workflow automation and related technologies is growing at a rate of 20% per year and is poised to reach $5 billion by 2024.  

With a landscape that big and fast-growing, it’s no surprise that most companies are hopping on board the workflow automation train. 

But what many businesses don’t know is that they can automate workflows using software they already use daily, including Microsoft SharePoint. 

SharePoint has risen in popularity beyond its humble document management and collaboration origins to include ticketing and workflow management capabilities. 

Read on for 5 ways to use SharePoint to automate workflows to achieve streamlined ticket and task management. 

1. Team Up with Power Automate 

One advantage of using a SharePoint ticketing system is how seamlessly you can integrate with other Microsoft applications, including Teams, Forms, and, most notably, Power Automate. 

Microsoft Power Automate, formerly Microsoft Flow, is a SaaS platform for automating recurring tasks. It can be used in tandem with SharePoint to: 

  • Manage approval flows: Customize page approvals, route tickets and documents to the proper team member, and require approval of documents. 
  • Work with files and lists created by Microsoft Lists: Manage list, item, and file permissions, automatically move files to different folders once approved, create a flow for a list or library in SharePoint using Power Automate, and more. 
  • Create and manage custom flows, and reminder flows: Develop and control your own flows and migrate classic workflows to Power Automate flows in SharePoint for a more flexible, secure, and high-performing experience. 

2. Use Built-in SharePoint Workflows 

SharePoint itself contains some built-in workflows for basic operations, which enable you to simplify and optimize certain standard processes: 

  • Approvals: Route a document or ticket for approval or rejection. This is mainly used for content approval but can extend to ticket approval. 
  • Feedback collection: Send a document or ticket to specific team members to collect feedback. 
  • Status changes: Track an issue or project through three phases with a three-state workflow. 
  • Reminders: Send notifications and alerts to end users to update them on a ticket or document status or remind internal employees of a task.  
  • Signature collection: Route a document or ticket to designated users to collect digital signatures. 

To enable SharePoint workflows, simply: 

  1. Go to Settings in your SharePoint server, then Site Settings. 
  2. In Microsoft 365, click Settings, the Site Settings, and then Site Content. 
  3. On the Site Settings page under Site Collection Administrator, click Site Collection features. 
  4. You should be able to search for basic workflows and click “Activate” for the ones you want to enable. 

Of course, to level up and enhance these basic workflows, many tech teams opt to integrate SharePoint with a third-party ticketing system that can sit directly within SharePoint. This allows for the creation of advanced, customized workflows that go beyond the basics. 

 3. Use SharePoint Designer to Build Workflows 

Though SharePoint Designer isn’t as popular as it once was, many still turn towards the 2013 version to design no-code workflows for a specific list or library in SharePoint. 

As one expert explains, “SharePoint Designer workflows are created from a list of available workflow activities, and the person who creates the workflow can deploy the workflows directly to the list or library where they will be used.”  

Users simply need to download SharePoint Designer 2013, connect it to their SharePoint site, and create a list workflow based on the SharePoint workflow platform. Again, while this isn’t the most popular solution in recent days, many who already use SharePoint Designer appreciate this option. 


 4. Customize Workflows in SharePoint 

Once you get the hang of the basic SharePoint workflows, such as approvals, statuses, notifications, and other automation workflows, you can combine what you’ve learned and create your own catch-all workflows unique to your organization. 

This is easiest to do when you integrate SharePoint with a more sophisticated ticketing platform. Then, you can seamlessly customize ticketing and other workflows within SharePoint and immediately be taken to your portal, allowing for a cohesive ticket management experience.

5. Use Nintex or Visual Studio

In addition to SharePoint Designer, automation experts sometimes turn to Nintex or Visual Studio to enable multi-stage workflows. These third-party tools are popular for expanding SharePoint’s workflow flexibility and functionality, and both offer tight integrations with SharePoint. You can also create helpful workflow templates in each designer platform, making it easy to reuse effective workflows. 

SharePoint Ticketing Systems: The Conclusion

 

Microsoft SharePoint has a world of uses many don’t know about. Using SharePoint, you can create workflows to optimize business processes with a system you might already use daily.  

For those in larger businesses looking to try out SharePoint’s ticketing and workflow capabilities, integrating with a third-party system that levels up SharePoint’s powerful features is an effective way to create a cohesive tech stack. 

Looking for a ticketing and workflow management solution that will sit directly in your SharePoint and integrate with the Microsoft suite? Sign up to try DeskDirector! 

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