Introduction to SharePoint workflows

Learn what the difference is between collaborative and transactional business processes and what type of workflows SharePoint has to offer.



As discussed in Defining and using workflows (BPM) in EDM, workflows are generally used in document management as processes to route electronic documents between people, departments, companies, or systems.

The 2 base types of workflow

There are two types of workflow:

  1. Collaborative processes
  2. Transactional processes

Collaborative processes are driven by people and consist of an unknown number of steps. Examples of collaborative processes are: E-mail, instant messaging, tasks lists, document approval, vacation approval, etc.

Transactional processes generally consist of moving data between systems and transforming data. Examples of transactional processes are: Expense reporting, management dashboards, extending line-of-business applications, supply chain, etc.

Collaborative processes tend to be ad hoc or semi-structured, and performed by individuals or people within a team. Transactional processes tend to be highly structured or fixed, and performed across teams or by enterprise applications.

Workflows in SharePoint

SharePoint and Office provide support for mainly collaborative processes, while BizTalk would be more suitable for transactional processes.

For the specific types of workflow that are available in WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007 right out of the box, see Standard out-of-the-box workflows in WSS 3.0 and Office SharePoint Server 2007.

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