Using workflows to automate business processes has become a common theme for successful business enterprise solutions. This ability to move the responsibility for and management of processes off users and onto an application has allowed users to focus on performing their day-to-day activities without having to worry about the underlying details. In addition to increasing user productivity, this allows for business processes to run more effectively by eliminating human error, tracking each activity, and guaranteeing consistency for each process. With SharePoint, this powerful concept is built in and can be leveraged for a wide range of workflow solutions.

Improving upon SharePoint 2007, the upcoming release of SharePoint 2010 provides users the additional tools for creating workflow solutions. In the native application, users are no longer limited to associating workflows with just lists and libraries, and they can now also target content types and sites. This allows for more flexibility when creating workflow solutions. If your organization has purchased the enterprise license for SharePoint Server 2010, you will also be able to enjoy full integration with Microsoft Office 2010. This will allow users to start workflows from the Office 2010 application they are working in, rather than opening up their browsers to SharePoint sites and then performing workflow activities.

With Outlook 2010, users are able to respond to workflow requests and update items by using various workflow options within the application. This is the beginning of a new trend where everything a user needs can be accessed from the Office Ribbon (all Microsoft end-user applications are incorporating the Ribbon into their solutions) in whatever application he or she is working in.

Workflows have really burst onto the scene in the past few years, and their impact on collaborative solutions has no limits. Keeping up with this growing demand, SharePoint 2010 provides organizations the necessary tools needed to create various workflow solutions, as well as the compatibility to work smoothly with other applications frequently used in the workplace.

Chris Caravajal is a consultant with SharePoint911.