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Workflows I: Basics you should know

A document library sending e-mail messages to three reviewers

A file going through the Approval workflow.

The simplest of the three workflows is the Approval workflow. We’ll teach you this workflow first, in this course. That way we can get across some basics, before you learn the other two, more complicated workflows. (Note that the other two workflows are taught in courses II and III of this series.)

So, how does the Approval workflow generally work? When you start the workflow from a file in a document library, the following things happen:

Callout 1 A special e-mail message is sent to the first approver. Your SharePoint site calls this e-mail message a “task” because the message is like a “to do” item for someone in the workflow. The task asks them to approve the file. To do that, they click the Approve button (details on that button in a moment).
Callout 2 Then the next person receives a task. They click the Approve button.
Callout 3 Then a task is sent to the last person. When they click Approve, the workflow is complete.

The main point we want to get across here is that each task is sent out to each approver one at a time, in an order you specify beforehand. If one person neglects to approve the file, it could hold up the next person from getting their task. But, you can set a due date so that the workflow will send a reminder message. You’ll see all these particulars in the animation coming up.

Note for Microsoft Office Outlook users    These workflow “tasks” are not the same thing as Outlook tasks that help you keep track of things to do. They’re different.

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