Automating the Manual Start of a SharePoint Workflow
Written By: Rob Fisch -- 2/15/2011 --
(416) comments --
Categories: Design, MOSS 2007, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint Foundation 2010, Workflow, WSS3
When planning a SharePoint Workflow, sometimes you just need to let the user
initiate it manually. But the standard interface is awkward. First the user must
find the item dropdown, then select "Workflows", then (assuming they pick the
right one). they must click on it...and then click "Start". That's too many
steps and leaves too much to chance. Here's a better way...
This tip assumes you already know how to create a simple
workflow using SharePoint Designer 2007 or 2010. If you need a step by step
tutorial on creating workflows, check out the
tip on creating a Helpdesk
The solution is to create a new column (Yes/No), and to use that column to
trigger the workflow. The user initiates the workflow by simply checking the box
and saving the item. The workflow does the rest.
This solution works for both document libraries and other SharePoint lists
for WSS3, MOSS2007, SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2010 Foundation. Here are the
Create a new column of the type Yes/No. This will make a checkbox on the
form. In this example, I use the Column name "Send Referral Status Update". You
can change this to whatever is appropriate for your business process.
Let's take a look at what the column looks like to the user:
Once created, I use SharePoint Designer to create a new workflow based on the
library or list.
In the workflow, I set the Workflow Settings to start whenever an item is
created or changed.
"Hey what's this all about, Rob? I thought you said this was going to be
a manual workflow."
It is, it is. Just not one the user has to do the old fashioned way (see
The trick is to set a condition prior to creating the workflow action. The
workflow checks to see if the column I created is checked (which means "Yes").
Then, in the workflow designer, I set that as a condition. Then I proceed
with creating the Action.
In this case, the "Action" that follows the condition is to send a targeted
One last bit of clean up. After the desired action is complete, I reset the
checkbox as unchecked. That way, if other fields are updated, the workflow does
not get repeated unintentionally.
There you have it. A simple, but elegant solution to providing a
workflow that is initiated by the user based on a condition. Obviously, you can
get creative with the conditions and workflow login. But the point is, to make
it easy for users.
- For a more thorough, step by step tutorial on how to create a basic
workflow, follow the tip on this site on
creating a Helpdesk.
- Return to
MSSharepointTips to read about other topics and ideas.
- Check out MSSQLTips.com for great
information about Microsoft SQL Server.