Notes From The Field: Beyond SharePoint Workflow

Beyond SharePoint Workflow

What Companies Look For As A Next Step In Their BPM Journey

As I continue to work with customers and prospects, I find some common ground in those looking to expand beyond SharePoint Workflow and Forms (And those products that rely on the underlying engine) .   There is definitely a BPM journey that organizations seem to take, regardless of whether they realize they have embarked.  This journey almost always leads to expanding beyond the confines of SharePoint, as well as a deepening need for more complex capabilities.    Here are some of the common trends I see in organizations looking to take their business process management to the next step:

  • The Requirement for Complex Workflow Patterns (With No Code) – simple serial workflows can only take you so far, and organizations quickly realize that rework steps, and moving to previous steps in any process is an absolute necessity in common business flow.  Having a BPM platform that integrates with SharePoint lists and libraries, and provides support for all types of workflow patterns can provide immense value, and eliminate the need for complex custom code and management of state.
Complex Workflow in SharePoint
Rework Should Not = Custom Code
  • Wanting Reusable, Shared Data Layer and Simple LOB Data Access – Accessing external data in SharePoint can be challenging, and I find many companies are looking to simplify the integration with external business systems.  The tiresome process of setting up Business Connectivity Services/External Lists in SharePoint, and maintaining them can be problematic.   A reusable model, as seen in K2’s smartobjects, can provide agility and reduce the overall time required to configure forms, workflow and reports.  The “create once” and reuse theme provides power and flexibility.
SharePoint External System Integration with Data
Simple, Visual Data Integration Tools
  • The Need to Surface Forms and Workflows Outside of SharePoint – SharePoint is a great tool, but should every form and workflow live  within its UI?  More and more, I am seeing organizations that want to have business apps (forms, workflow, data and reports) that live outside of SharePoint and can stand alone.  This is especially true when it comes to mobility, and the need to support various device types with web-based forms.
Supporting SharePoint access through mobile devices
Support for Mobile
  • The Need for A Broad Set of Design Tools – BPM in any organization is a broad undertaking, and usually involves a wide variety of individuals, with varying skill sets.  With Business Process Design, one size does not fit all, and organizations are looking to support power users, business analysts and developers.  See my post: BPA, BPM and Design.

So, in summary, if you are looking to step outside of the SharePoint workflow engine and its forms capabilities, take some time to evaluate your next step in the journey and focus on at least these 4 points.   For some additional considerations, see the below post:

10 Key Features In 3rd Party SharePoint Solutions

Comments?  Thoughts?

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SharePoint 2010 End of Life

SharePoint 2010 Workflow end of life

Where will all the workflow go?

We have passed the end of life of SharePoint 2010, and it will no longer be supported through standard support as of 10/13/2015.  This will force the hand of customers that have been lagging behind in migration to SharePoint 2013/SharePoint Online, and it will be quite interesting to see how customers will transition.   Many of the prospects and customers I see in the field are slowly moving their content in phased projects from 2010 to 2013.

If you haven’s evaluated your forms and workflow options, it is a great time to examine your future platform for both forms (Move away from InfoPath), and workflow.  K2 is a great option for an overall BPM/BPA platform, and can help bridge the gap during migration, as we support SharePoint 2010, 2013/Online.

End of life announcement below:

SharePoint 2010 End of Life 10-13-2015

For more information on an InfoPath replacement, see: InfoPath Replacement in K2

To see how you can transition your SharePoint 2010 Workflow to K2, see:  SharePoint 2010/2013 Workflow with K2