Thursday, June 15, 2006

SharePoint 2007 is full of surprises – let's talk workflow!

I will be periodically blogging about our firm's venture with SharePoint 2007 (SP07). Our initial interest was to use this in replacement of our current intranet/portal, LawPort, but as we've begun to explore its capabilities further, there are some truly hidden gems in SP07.

We've had a workflow solution collecting dust for a while and we (like many firms) have significant need for an automated way to address a number of workflow related issues. Historically, getting a BPM system up and running has been a Herculean effort, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and required highly specialized development talent.

SP07 comes with WWF (not to be confused with the old World Wrestling Federation), which stands for Windows Workflow Foundation. Before we gave up on our investment, we thought we'd try a simple proof of concept. Within a couple weeks, using WWF coupled with SharePoint Designer we have already created a simple sequential workflow, which was more than we'd done in 2 years with our other workflow product. The workflow utilizes a Form Library list with a custom content type (InfoPath 2007 form - opened in the web browser using Office Forms Services). The workflow engages and creates a task for each step of the workflow with custom data collection in the task. We used custom views on the library list in order to display the pertinent properties of both the workflow and the task list. Keep in mind this is all beta code, so it's sort of slow going, but the good news is that we're 100% confident that this solution will handle ALL our workflow needs. Beside the software being included in SP07, development can be done by someone with SharePoint or .Net skills. AND InfoPath form creation can be done by a non-developer. Needless to say, this was a great unexpected benefit of SP07 and one we plan on leveraging for a number of needs within the firm.

On a related note, we plan on sharing our portal requirements document (well, a redacted version) to all ILTA members, which we've developed with the help of Microsoft and a local Microsoft partner. You can get even more info at the ILTA Annual Conference this August, where we will be co-presenting with xmLaw on SharePoint.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I've been enjoying your SP posts.. Are you planning on posting any code for the apps/implementations you have been referencing? Whitepapers? nada? :)