Tag Archives: Nintex Workflow 2007

Updating the Item Properties Displayed on a Nintex Workflow Task

By default, certain Nintex workflow task forms include an Item Properties panel that displays all the metadata and certain SharePoint columns for an item in a list/library .  Since there could be a long list of columns, you can actually limit the columns that are displayed in the Item Properties panel.  Here are the steps:

  1. Go to the list/library that the workflow applies to.
  2. Open and modify the “Workflow Task View”.  If a view with that name does not exist, then create a new view with that exact name.
  3. Add or remove the desired column fields in the view, then click OK to finish.
  4. The Item Properties panel on workflow tasks for that specific list/library will now display the column fields in the Workflow Task View.
  5. Notes:
    • The “Workflow Status” column will always be the first item in the Item Properties panel.
    • Any list/library view has to have at least one column in the view, so the Item Properties panel will always contain at least two columns.

Workflow in Business Processes

All organizations run on processes – complex or simple, clearly defined or ambiguous, automated or by hand. Some of these processes are manual and have been that way for as long as anyone can remember. Employees often unknowingly spend hours, days and weeks annually waiting on manual approvals, written signatures and printed documents. Identifying these processes as candidates for automation offers the chance to improve efficiencies, streamline efforts and gain back lost time.

While SharePoint offers some out-of-the-box basic workflow functionality, combining SharePoint with Nintex Workflow allows organizations to leverage many powerful and sophisticated features, like a drag-and-drop designer, external system connectivity, user and email account creation and real-time workflow status. But Nintex Workflow also excels at handling small details and automating simple tasks – email notifications, reminders, task approvals and status updates.

Examples of typical business processes include:

  • Contract Approval – Certain organizational contract documents need to go through a defined approval process that could span across multiple users, departments and business units.
  • Expense Requests – Employees need a way to submit and track reimbursements for expenses incurred in conducting everyday business.
  • Employee On-Boarding – Human Resources departments facilitate the hiring process for new employees including all personal information, tax forms and background checks.
  • Procurement Tracking – A defined auditing process to track the ordering and delivery of everything from paper clips to computer equipment.
  • Paid Time Off Requests – All organizations have some type of process for employees to request personal time off for vacation, medical and personal reasons.

This month’s Tip of the Month examines the typical Paid Time Off request process. An employee starts by filling out an online request form, which can be a SharePoint, InfoPath or custom web form. Submitting the form automatically kicks off the Paid Time Off workflow. The workflow immediately sends the employee a successful form submission notification, which can be easily configured in Nintex to include a custom message and any form data (see the “Configure Action – Send notification” screen below).

WF_In_BusinessProcesses1

The employee’s manager then gets assigned an approval task that they can complete online or on a mobile device via the Nintex LazyApproval feature, which allows a user to respond to a workflow task via email with a predetermined keyword. Manager approval of the request generates an email notification to the employee and then can automatically add the request to a consolidated departmental calendar complete with data from the request form. If the manager declines the request, the employee receives a notification with any supplied comments.

Workflows are designed using the Nintex Workflow Designer palette which provides a powerful and easy to use “drag and drop” interface for building simple, moderate or complex workflows in a very efficient manner. The Paid Time Off Request workflow design is shown in the Workflow Details screenshot below.

WF_In_BusinessProcesses2

Whatever the business requirement, SharePoint combined with Nintex Workflow, streamlines operations, limits wasted time and adds confidence that processes will be completed quickly and accurately. Once Nintex Workflow is implemented in an organization, it can be leveraged throughout your entire SharePoint environment wherever workflow is needed and can be imagined.

Whatever the business requirement, SharePoint combined with Nintex Workflow, streamlines operations, limits wasted time and adds confidence that processes will be completed quickly and accurately. Once Nintex Workflow is implemented in an organization, it can be leveraged throughout your entire SharePoint environment wherever workflow is needed and can be imagined.

Implementing a Contract Management Workflow Solution using SharePoint and Nintex

Most organizations deal with contracts in some form or another sales, legal, real estate, support agreements, equipment and services. The Contract Management process sometimes consists of a multi-step manual process that involves multiple employees in several departments. Contracts often go through several iterations and get passed back and forth between organization and client many times. This post focuses on automating the Contract Management process within an organization.

The Contract Management process typically starts with some form of initial agreement with a client. The organization receives the contract and passes it through an internal review process. This review process usually routes through several individuals or groups within multiple departments across the organization, such as legal, sales, marketing and contract management. Many organizations handle this contract distribution process via some mixture of phone calls, email attachments, faxes and shared network drives. Once internal signoff is achieved, the contract gets emailed, faxed or mailed back to the client for review. If the client requires changes, the contract review process starts all over again and follows the same path. The review process usually concludes with signed final copies of the contract printed and filed away for archival in folders in a file cabinet.

Organizations encounter many challenges throughout this contract management process:

  • Process participants usually have very little insight into the current status of a contract.
  • Employees question if they are working with the latest contract version.
  • No approval audit trail can be accurately determined thus making it difficult to know who approved what when.
  • Many times no central repository exists for current and archived contracts.
  • No easy way exists to quickly search for and find needed contract information.
  • Periodic process reports are produced and updated manually.

Contract Management can be automated utilizing key features of SharePoint and Nintex Workflow to provide a greatly improved and more streamlined process. All incoming and archived contracts are housed in a contract library that includes version control and customized views. Each library item contains required and optional metadata which is used for searching, grouping and classification. Adding a contract to this library automatically kicks off the contract review workflow. Notifications and tasks alerts automatically route to the assigned process participant. Workflow tasks are completed and the contact review process continues on to the next steps. After the organizational review process is completed, the client automatically receives an email with the contract as an attachment. Depending on their response, a client can approve or request changes to the current contract and the workflow branches accordingly. Client contract approval triggers a series of events marking the contract as final, updating contract status and notifying organizational employees.

Automating the Contract Management process provides several key benefits:

  • Employees always work with the latest version of the contract, no matter how many times it has been changed.
  • Contract approval workflow tasks are automatically assigned to individuals or groups and can be delegated or escalated based upon predetermined criteria.
  • Contracts can be approved or declined on a mobile device via the Nintex LazyApproval feature.
  • Users easily determine the real-time contract status by accessing a graphical view of the workflow or a workflow history report.
  • Users can quickly find the contract information they need with site search capabilities.
  • A workflow dashboard provides a view of all current workflows running with their status, along with workflow tasks assigned to and workflows initiated by the current user.

Workflow reporting is available on each workflow, along with a graphical web part for viewing workflow statistics such as details on average run time, amount of workflows in progress, user performance, average workflow completion time and user response times.

The Contract Management process can be a frustrating exercise for organizations. But it doesn’t have to be. Leveraging the powerful features of SharePoint and Nintex Workflow allows organizations to realize higher levels of automation and efficiency. Not only does this solution save organizational employees a tremendous amount of time, it also provides more timely and accurate information to both client and company.