Using a User Tasks web part for collaboration and document approval in SharePoint

Learn how you can add and use a User Tasks web part in WSS 3.0 or MOSS 2007 to notify users that a certain action is required of them, such as approving a document or providing input for collaboration.

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It is common in document management scenarios to have multiple people approving a document. In such a case, you can assign a task to a user so that the user knows that there is a document for him/her to approve.

The out-of-the-box (OOTB) Approval Workflow in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 uses this method to notify users that there is a document to be approved.

You can use the User Tasks web part in SharePoint to notify a user that there is a document that requires approval and/or allow a user to instantly see which tasks have been assigned to him/her. The User Tasks web part is available in both WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007.

The User Tasks web part, just like the Relevant Documents web part, is part of the suite of document management web parts available in SharePoint.

A User Tasks web part in SharePoint displaying a document approval task for the current user
Figure 1. A User Tasks web part in SharePoint displaying a document approval task for the current user.

The User Tasks web part can be seen as a view of all tasks that are assigned to the currently logged on user.

For example, if your organization uses several independent Tasks lists on a SharePoint site and tasks are added to these lists and assigned to a particular user, you can add a User Tasks web part on the home page of the SharePoint site, so that the user, to whom the tasks have been assigned, can see all of the tasks that have been assigned to him/her as soon as he/she logs onto the SharePoint site.

To add a User Tasks web part to the home page of a SharePoint site:

  1. Go to the home page of the SharePoint site to which you want to add a User Tasks web part.
  2. On the Site Actions menu, click Edit Page.
  3. On the home page of the SharePoint site on one of the web part zones, click Add a Web Part.
  4. On the Add Web Parts web page dialog, select the User Tasks web part, and click Add.
  5. On the home page of the SharePoint site, click Exit Edit Mode.

To test the User Tasks web part, you can create two Tasks lists, add tasks for a particular user to each Tasks list, log on as that user, and then check whether the tasks you created appear in the User Tasks web part.

A second option to test the User Tasks web part would be to create a SharePoint Designer workflow that runs on a document library and uses the Collect Data from a User workflow action to assign a task to a particular user.

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